Reopened to the public in 2011 after over 20 years of restoration work, the House of the Vestal Virgins (Casa delle Vestali) is among the most fascinating of Rome’s ancient ruins. Dating back to the 6th century BC, the 50-room complex stood next to the Temple of Vesta, and was home to the six high priestesses of the Cult of Vesta. The priestesses, virgins chosen from noble Roman families, were tasked with keeping the sacred flame - revered as a symbol of Rome’s eternal life - of the Temple of Vesta alight and each served up to 30 years.
Today, the sparse ruins merely hint at the once-lavish residence and mostly date back to 64AD, when it was rebuilt after a fire. Visitors can follow the ancient Via Nova from Palatine Hill to the Temple of Vesta, and view the remains of the large atrium, two-story portico and a series of statues the Vestales.
The House of the Vestal Virgins is located next to the Roman Forum in central Rome and is open daily from 8.30am until 1-hour before sunset. Admission is included in the entrance fee for the Colosseum and Roman Forum, starting from €16 for adults.