Drawings by Mercati (1629) of Aurelian’s “Temple of the Sun” / temple of Serapis

The excellent Ste Trombetti has discovered online a couple more drawings made in the days when more of ancient Rome existed than does now.  This is really valuable, since locating such items is difficult for most of us.

These drawings are by G. B. Mercati, from 1629, from the series Alcune vedute et prospettive di luoghi dishabitati di Roma (Some Views and Perspectives of the Uninhabited places of Rome).  They are online at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and the series is visible here.

The two etchings given below depict the remains of the huge temple on the Quirinal hill, thought to be the Temple of the Sun built by Aurelian in 274 AD, but generally today believed to be the Temple of Serapis.  Remains of it may, apparently, be found in the Colonna gardens even today, but I have yet to locate them.

The first one is of a view which is new to me (plate 26).  You can click on the images below to get the full-size picture:

Mercati (1629). Aurelian's Temple of the Sun. Cartille [sic] del Cardinal di Fiorenza Leone XI (Courtyard of the Cardinal of Florence Leo XI), pl. 26 from the series Alcune vedute et prospettive di luoghi dishabitati di Roma (Some Views and Perspectives of the Uninhabited Places of Rome)
Mercati (1629). Aurelian’s Temple of the Sun. Cartille [sic] del Cardinal di Fiorenza Leone XI (Courtyard of the Cardinal of Florence Leo XI), pl. 26 from the series Alcune vedute et prospettive di luoghi dishabitati di Roma (Some Views and Perspectives of the Uninhabited Places of Rome)

Here’s the second one (plate 27):

Mercati (1629), Aurelian's temple of the sun in Rome
Mercati (1629), Aurelian’s temple of the sun in Rome

I think that we owe Ste Trombetti a debt of thanks.

7 thoughts on “Drawings by Mercati (1629) of Aurelian’s “Temple of the Sun” / temple of Serapis

  1. That’s a very nice capture of the area, isn’t it? I don’t think I’ve ever been into the Temple of Venus and Roma, you know? And I’ve walked past it any number of times.

  2. I don’t think many people do. It doesn’t seem to show up in many historical novels or movies, which I would guess is a good index.

  3. Oh! I have seen it before! Wikipedia points out that it’s where the Pope sits during the Good Friday Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum. (But it’s always dark by the time they start showing it on the Vatican TV feed and EWTN.)

  4. I found some articles that said it’s included in your Forum ticket, and that it’s only been cleaned up and restored and open to admission since 2010.

    From Google Earth, it looks like you just go up the road from the Colosseum until you’re close to the big Arch of Titus or whatever it is, and then you just turn toward Santa Francesca Romana. Then there’s another little road in the Temple of Venus and Roma area that goes parallel to the Colosseum road. It looks like a lot of people only go in there to take pictures of the Colosseum, actually.

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