This post, originally published April 20, 2021, has been updated with new information.
The spot in Rome where Julius Caesar was assassinated has opened to the public for the first time.
Located just south of the Pantheon, Largo di Torre Argentina, also known as the Area Sacra, is a large sunken square containing the ruins of four ancient temples and the Curia of Pompey.
On March 15, 44 B.C., a group of senators stabbed Julius Caesar to death in the latter building, a large rectangular hall where the Roman Senate sometimes met. One of the assassins was Caesar’s friend Brutus. Surely you read the Shakespeare play in 9th grade English class.
Today, all that remains of the Curia are parts of the foundation and a wall behind two of the temples, according to the website of the government agency that manages the site.
Archaeologists believe they’ve located the right place where the assassination occurred, reports the Associated Press, because latrines were found on the sides of Pompey’s Curia, matching up with ancient texts that mentioned the 2,000-year-old potty. (We gotta say, Indiana Jones makes archaeology look a lot more glamorous.)
The Italian jewelry company Bulgari funded the project to make the temple complex an open-air museum, installing walkways and lights so that the ruins are visible at night.
In addition to seeing where Caesar met his end, visitors can get a close look at the four temples’ imposing columns and other surviving features dating as far back as the 3rd century B.C.
The square, which was later built over, was rediscovered in the 1920s as workers were tearing down medieval houses on the orders of Fascist leader Benito Mussolini.
From then until the opening of the walkways, the archaeological site was viewable from street level only, with members of the public barred from getting close.
Human members of the public, that is. For years, a large colony of stray cats has inhabited the square. Don’t worry: They will be allowed to stay, remaining, in true feline fashion, unbothered by whatever petty historical dramas took place here (Et tu, Fluffy?).
(Cats at the Area Sacra in Rome | Credit: Sophie Lenoir / Shutterstock)
The square also has two new exhibition spaces displaying finds from the excavation, such as sculptures and statue fragments.
From the sidewalk, you can reach the sunken Area Sacra via stairs or elevator platform. The new pathways throughout the complex are wheelchair-accessible.
Admission costs €5 ($5.50). For more information or to reserve tickets in advance, visit the official website.