The Roman Temple is located in the junction between Claudio Marcelo and Capitulares Streets, and its back limit is María Cristina Street. The ownership of the space where the site is belongs to the Council of Córdoba and the old town hall was also located there.
Popularly known as Roman Temple of Claudio Marcelo, this area of Córdoba could have been created between the 1st and 2nd century AD, like the provincial forum of the Colonia Patricia, a title the city was granted during the Roman domination. This is what can be suggested both by the appearance and the parallels of the best known building, the great hexastyle temple (six columns at the front of the portico), as well as its eastern location, and in its axis, the oriental circus. Both buildings were arranged in different heights, making the most of the natural slope of the land in this point, partially outside the wall. In order to do that, a great terrace was built over which the temple was erected. The great volume of land was held by a system consisting of buttresses in a zip or fan shape known as anterides. The difference in height between the temple and the circus contributed to the hypothesis, still believed, that there was an intermediate terrace that could have been used as an urban connection between both buildings.
The building of the Roman Temple started with the levelling of all the structures belonging to previous phases. This project contemplated the building of the square and the temple in its centre, as well as the modification of the urban planning around and the obvious works of infrastructure, among them, the construction of an aqueduct, the Aqua Nova Domitiana Augusta, which supplied this magistrates’ complex with water.
The complex started to be built in times of Emperor Claudio (41-54 AD), although it was not finished until Domiciano’s mandate (81-96 AD), when water supply started. It experienced some modifications in the 2nd century AD, which seems to coincide with the change in location of the colonial forum, which was transferred to the area of the current Convent of Santa Ana.
The materials used in the building of the Roman Temple were varied. Over a base of opus caementicium countless blocks of local calcarenite were arranged; the most outstanding elements, like columns and capitals, were carved in white marble, whereas the higher space was paved with violet nodulose limestone, also from the area. This higher space is the best known and the one we can visit, whereas we have little information about the configuration of the other two platforms or terraces, mainly due to the fact that nowadays they are under modern and contemporary buildings. The scarce epigraphy preserved up to now in the vicinity contrasts with the varied sculptural pieces which have been documented so far, which are very incomplete but they provide with important information about the decoration the complex could have had. The magnificent temple, whose columns of the portico can be seen today restored by Félix Hernández, had six of them at its front and ten on the sides, and it was one of the biggest in the city.
If you are wondering what to visit in Córdoba, a good option would be Roman Córdoba, choosing one of our guided tours. This way you learn everything about the Roman Temple. Choosing to do high quality sightseeing is choosing ArtenCórdoba.
Text: Fran Peña.