Leading from the Capitoline Hill to the Colosseum via the first-century AD Arch of Titus as it traverses the Forum from west to east, the Via Sacra (Sacred Way) was once the main thoroughfare of Ancient Rome. With its origins stretching back to at least the fifth century BC, it was later paved and later still, in the times of Nero, lined with colonnades. The street was backed by Ancient Rome’s temples, civic buildings and the palaces of the wealthy; it was here that festivals were held, where prostitutes came to solicit clients and where crowds gathered to gossip and gamble along its route. Via Sacra was also scene of triumphal processions to celebrate military victories, when slaves and prisoners were dragged to market. Today the road forms part of the open-air museum that is the Forum; over the centuries this has been ravaged by fire, plundered for its stone and used as cow pasture but still retains something of its ancient majesty among scattered boulders, shattered arches and broken columns.
Via Dei Fori Imperiali, Campitelli, Rome. Admission to the Forum complex: adults €12; students €7.50; free for over 65 and under 18. Open daily 8.30am–one hour before sunset. Much of this area of Ancient Rome is
pedestrianized, so Via Sacra is best approached on foot; the entrance to the Forum is at the junction of Via Dei Fori Imperiali with Via Cavour. Taxis stop outside the Colosseum, where there is also a metro station.