1st Edition

The Temple of Venus and Rome and Santa Francesca Romana at the Roman Forum Preservation and Transformation

By Cristina González-Longo Copyright 2021
    238 Pages 46 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    238 Pages 46 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book examines the influence of architectural design in the conservation of historic buildings by discussing in detail an important building complex in Rome: the Temple of Venus and Rome, the monastery of Santa Maria Nova and the church of Santa Francesca Romana. As the most complete site in the Roman Forum that has reached our times with a rich architectural stratification almost intact, it is a clear product of continuous preservation and transformation and it has not been studied in its complexity until now.

    The Temple of Venus and Rome and Santa Francesca Romana at the Roman Forum unravels the original designs and the subsequent interventions, including Giacomo Boni’s pioneering conservation of the monastery, carried out while excavating the Roman Forum in the early twentieth century. The projects are discussed in context to show their significance and the relationships between architects and patrons. Through its interdisciplinary focus on architectural design, conservation, archaeology, history and construction, this study is an ideal example for scholars, students and architects of how to carry out research in architectural conservation. 

    Table of contents


    Foreword: Giovanni Carbonara, Professor Emeritus in Architectural Conservation, University of Rome "Sapienza"




    Chapter 1: The First Architecture: The First Architecture: From the Velia to the Vestibule of the Golden House of Nero

    1.1 The primitive landscape: the Roman Forum and the Velia hill

    1.2 The first settlements in the Roman Forum

    1.3 The Etruscan Mark

    1.4 The Velia from Republican to Imperial Rome

    1.5 Augustus and the Giulio Claudia dynasty

    1.6 Nero’s urban project: from the Domus Transitoria to the Domus Aurea

    List of References

    Chapter 2: The Place Transformed: The Temple of Venus and Rome of Hadrian

    2.1 Flavian Architecture

    2.2 Helenism, Mithraism and the Eleusinian Mysteries

    2.3 Hadrian architect of the Urbs¬: conservation and innovation of the classical temple

    2.4 The Temple of Venus and Rome

    2.5 The fortune of the temple after Hadrian: the Antonines and Maxentius’ Intervention After the Fire of 283 A.D.

    List of References

    Chapter 3: Decadence, Destruction and Recovery of the Place: The churches of Ss. Peter and Paul and S. Maria Nova and Alexander III

    3.1 From Pagan to Christian

    3.2 The Constantinian basilicas

    3.3 Byzantine Rome, Rome in ruins

    3.4 Honorius I and the expolio of the Temple of Venus and Rome

    3.5 The church of Ss. Peter and Paul

    3.6 Santa Maria Nova (s. IX-XIV)

    3.7 The Frangipane Rocca

    3.8 Cultural Renaissance: the work of Alexander III and the ‘International Style’

    3.9 The Gothic restoration of Honorio III

    3.10 Civitas and delimitation of space: the first monastery

    List of References

    Chapter 4: Architectural Preservation and Transformation, Patronage and Innovation: The Olivetan Order, Carlo Lambardi y Gianlorenzo Bernini

    4.1 The Olivetans in S. Maria Nova and their Regeneration of the Place

    4.2 Santa Francesca Romana and Santa Maria Nova

    4.3 The first Renaissance in Rome and the Tridentine Reforms in Santa Maria Nova

    4.4 The canonization of S. Francesca Romana and the transformation of the church (1612-1614)

    4.5 The new urban dimension of the church: the Facade of S. Francesca Romana (1614-1615)

    4.6 Bernini’s Confessione

    4.7 The Monastery and "L'universale ristabilimento" from the middle of the eighteenth century

    List of References

    Chapter 5: The New Conservation Ideology: Giuseppe Valadier y Giuseppe Camporesi

    5.1 The end of seventeeth-century: a new architectural awareness

    5.2 The changes at the end of the Roman Settecento: Archeology, Conservation and the Taste for the Ancient

    5.3 Napoleonic Rome: Looting, Count of Tournon’s Programme and the Archaeological Park

    5.4 Demolition and Reintegration of the Monastery of Santa Maria Nova

    5.5 The Arch of Titus ... or the Arch of Pius?

    5.6 The love for the ruins and the Grand Tour

    5.7 Architectural Conservation in the second half of the nineteeth-century: Restoration versus Conservation

    5.8 The transformations for Roma Capitale and the monumental complex at the end of the nineteenth century

    5.9 The first Vienna School, Alois Riegl and the Kunstwollen

    List of References

    Chapter 6: Conservation and Architectural Project: Giacomo Boni as pioneer of the the ‘Critical Conservation’

    6.1 Giacomo Boni: ‘The Method’, instruments and education

    6.2 Boni, Ruskin, Webb and SPAB

    6.3 The innovation in the conservation of the cloister of the monastery of Santa Maria Nova: from ‘com’era, dov’era’ to scientific ‘stratigraphic architectural conservation design’

    6.4 Giovannoni and Mussolini: Romanità and Modernity

    6.5 The Via dell’Impero and the desctruction of the Velia

    6.6 The restoration of the Temple of Venus and Rome and the Athens and Italian Conservation Charters

    6.7 Theory of Conservation: Cesare Brandi on Painting, Sculpture and…Architecture?

    6.8 Boni, Cirilli, Scarpa, Brandi y Venturi

    6.9 The Roman School of Conservation, the ‘Critical Conservation’

    6.10 Rebuilding the Velia: reflections on architectural and urban conservation in the second half of the s. XX

    6.11 Old and New: The Contemporary Discourse

    List of References

    Conclusion: The Architectural Conservation Project: Preservation and Transformation

    7.1 The Continuous Architecture

    7.2 The Skillful Conservation of the Architectural Idea

    7.3 The conservation project as preservation and transformation of preexistences

    7.4 Conclusion

    List of References

    List of Figures



    Cristina González-Longo, RIBA SCA RIAS FHEA FRSA, is the Founder and Director of the MSc in Architectural Design for the Conservation of Built Heritage at the Department of Architecture of the University of Strathclyde, where she has also created and is leading the Architectural Design and Conservation Research Unit (ADCRU). Her research group deals with the challenges of conserving built heritage while allowing changes to adapt historic buildings for contemporary uses, as well as with the design of new buildings to conserve the environment, which requires an interdisciplinary approach. After graduating at the School of Architecture of the Technical University of Madrid (ETSAM), Cristina spent three years in Rome with a scholarship from the Italian Government to study architectural conservation at the prestigious Specialisation School of the Sapienza University of Rome. She is also a practising architect with over twenty years’ experience as a Chartered architect both in the UK and Spain, RIBA Specialist Conservation Architect (SCA) and member of the RIBA Conservation Register Assessment Panel. She has had a central role in taking decisions concerning historic buildings of outstanding national and international importance and wide experience in leading the design, management and procurement of award-winning architectural projects (both conservation and new-build). She was the project architect and resident architect of Queensberry House, a Category A Listed building, part of the new Scottish Parliament complex in Edingburgh (RIBA Stirling Prize 2005). She also designed Bowbridge Primary School in Newark, UK (RICS Sustainability Award 2009), with an innovative lamella glulam structure. She is the President of the ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) International Scientific Committee on Education and Training (CIF).

    Cristina González Longo has carefully and lucidly analysed one of the most interesting architectural "metamorphosis" in Rome, studied here for the first time in all its complexities, from Nero’s hall and Hadrian’s temple of Venus and Rome to its current configuration of the church of Santa Francesca Romana and the monastery of S. Maria Nova, occupied by the Olivetan order since 1352 and now also partially occupied by the offices of the Soprintendenza. With the support of many original illustrations, she has unravelled all the various architectural transformations over more than two millennia, situating them also within their cultural, theoretical and ideological context. A fascinating research which challenges existing praxis of architectural conservation.

    Antón Capitel, Emeritus Professor of Architectual Design at the Technical University of Madrid (ETSAM), RIBA International Fellow and author of Metamorfosis de Monumentos y Teorias de la Restauracion


    Perhaps only in Rome it is possible to understand that time does not flow, but accumulates. Mankind’s creations do not escape this rule. Architecture is made of bricks, stones, mortar, but also and above all of time. A famous and prominent church such as Santa Francesca Romana, very well known to locals and tourists visiting the Roman Forum, is actually the result of an overlapping of constructions, destructions and conservation interventions. Even its beauty is made of time. In the winding of a building on the other, from the great temple of Hadrian, to the solemn medieval church of S. Maria Nova, the sumptuous Baroque church and the intervention in the monastery by the conservation pioneer Giacomo Boni, different generations have followed one another, without ever completely erasing previous architectural layers. Cristina González-Longo has the great ability to unravel the complexity of this site and to explain it to those who are willing to listen. It allows us to understand that architecture is the only art form where past and present manage to dialogue among them, giving meaning to our future.

    Claudio Varagnoli, Professor of Preservation of Built Heritage and Conservation at the University of Chieti-Pescara and the Italian Archaeological School of Athens. Member of Italy’s Superior Council of Cultural Heritage, and Roman.


    González-Longo provides here a riveting account of the complex evolution of the great Olivetan monastery and basilica, Santa Francesca Romana, leading us for the first time through its integral relationship with the Temple of Venus and Roma, adeptly drawing throughout on primary and contemporary sources, literature and imagery and showing insightful command of the rich instruction they unravel.   The author’s research revealed phases and aspects of the many engagements with the site unknown until now and which ensure the assessment brings new depth to our understanding of this monumental  edifice.  Conservation architects and historians, however familiar with the study of destruction, transformation, re-use and regeneration, will also find delight in these well-illustrated chapters in their perceptive discovery of a late seventeenth century emergence of conservation ideology.  The monograph  traces the development of the conservation discipline following Carlo Lambardi’s transformation of the medieval church, through respective ideologies in their application, showing lineage with the later thinking of Ruskin and SPAB, the influential, ground-breaking approach of Giacomo Boni in the early twentieth century and on to stratigraphic architectural conservation or design and the informed conservation we prize today.  This is, most satisfyingly, a refreshing and exceptional biography of a building that leaves the reader complete with an intimate appreciation of the subject, its context and its immense significance.

    Dr Deborah Mays, Head of Listing, English Heritage