Giovanni Lattanzi

The most beautiful building the world has ever seen, according to Pliny the Elder’s description of Vespasian’s Temple of Peace, is shown here at the center of a model of Rome commissioned by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Built with remarkable speed in 70 C.E. and dedicated five years later, the Temple of Peace stood on the southeast side of the Imperial Forum. The temple made up part of one of the walls of the Forum of Vespasian, which was a large, colonnaded square encompassing a formal garden. The façade of the temple, which faced the Forum of Augustus, was flanked by two large halls, one that served as a library. Vespasian called his structure the Temple of Peace to symbolize the pacification of the Roman world. According to Josephus, it was here that “he laid up the vessels of gold from the temple of the Jews, on which he prided himself.” The Temple of Peace was abandoned sometime in the fifth century, and nothing but remnants of the library wall and a piece of a small exedra (a semi-circular niche) off the colonnade exist today.