Essential guide to Largo di Torre Argentina in Rome (Piazza Argentina): what to see, what makes it unique, tips for visitors.
Largo di Torre Argentina is a large and significant squares in Rome.
Located in the city center, between Rome’s ghetto and the Pantheon, the square houses an important archaeological area: this is where Julius Caesarmet his fate on the Ides of March of 44BC!
Cat lovers also know it as the place where you find Rome’s cat Sanctuary.
Despite being theater of this momentous historical event, and the special place this square occupies in the heart of cat lovers, this Rome piazzas is usually overlooked by tourist itineraries.
Visitors stumble upon this place often by chance, as they step off the bus on the way to nearby Piazza Navona.
However, this is now likely to change as 2023 brought great news: from the 20th June 2023 the Sacred Archaeological area or Torre Argentina is open to the public, and equipped with info panels that showcase its important and history!
In this guide, we share interesting facts about the archaeological area of Largo di Torre Argentina and some interesting facts about the piazza that hosts it.
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Why visit Largo di Torre Argentina (Piazza Argentina)
Largo di Torre Argentina in Rome is a busy square and a bit of a transport hub. People tend to come here on the way somewhere else, however, there is more to this square than convenient bus stops and taxis.
Largo di Torre Argenina has:
A wonderful and significant archaeological area, finally open to the public (this is new! Started in June 2023)
Rome’s cat Sanctuary
Teatro Argentina (theater)
Largo di Torre Argentina is also significant as a testimony of urban works done during Fascist times and the scars left on the city by many of these interventions.
How to visit Piazza di Torre Argentina
|Address||Largo di Torre Argentina, 00186 Rome|
|Buses||30, 40, 46, 62, 64, 70, 87, 492|
|Access||Free to the piazza|
|Best time of day||All|
A quick history of Largo di Torre Argentina
The area we now know as Largo di Torre Argentina has been inhabited since the IV century, if not earlier.
Ancient ruins from Rome’s Repubblica era tell archaeologist of part of the city with temples to several deities and public spaces.
As it seems, the area is there Pompey built his curia and where the Senate used to meet during the last years before the birth of the Roman Empire.
In the Middle Ages, religious and residential buildings took the place of the ancient ones: this type of development it very common in Rome and it is one of the reasons why so much of Rome’s history is now underground.
You can find here >>> our visitors’ guide to Rome’s underground attractions.
From the Middle Ages onwards, the piazza became residence of many powerful Roman families who built here towered buildings, to showcase power and wealth.
Torre del Papito and the nearby portico are the most impressive vestiges of that time.
In the XV century, Giovanni Burckard, part of the entourage of Pope Alessandro VI, built a towered residence in this piazza and called him after his native town Argentoratum (now: Strasbourg).
The name stuck and, centuries later, we still know this square are Largo di Torre Argentina (the square of the Argentine tower).
The most significant event for this square, however, didn’t happen until the years 1926-29.
At that time, new urban planning foresaw the destruction of this area, intending to create a main road in its place.
The Fascist Government was well aware of the presence of ancient ruins and Mussolini decided he would preserve the area creating a Forum Argentina.
This decision however wasn’t as positive for the archaeological area as it may seem.
Like it happened in many other sites in Rome (such as the Mausoleum of Augustus), the digging happened with little knowledge or respect for the findings.
Many constructions from later imperial times were demolished as ‘of secondary importance’.
This resulted in an archaeological area mutilated of its stratigraphic history and context.
The archaeological area of Largo di Torre Argentina (Area Sacra di Largo Argentina)
At the center of Largo di Torre Argentina lies a large, sunken area with impressive Roman ruins.
The area is several meters below the current street level and now appears as contained between four tall walls and only accessible via several sets of steps.
In origin however, this space was an integral part of Ancient Rome.
Archaeological findings tell us that this area was already in use between the IV and the III century BC.
Temple C, still partially preserved, dates from that time and archaeologists believe it was consecrated to Feronia, and ancient Roman Goddess from Sabina.
To a later time, probably the III century, belong Temple A, probably sacred to Goddess Giuturna; in the II century BC, Temple D joined the group, probably sacred to the Lares of the Nymphs.
After a large fire, new pavements and one more temples, Temple B, were built, probably to Goddess Fortuna Huiusce Diei or other female deity.
The part of this archaeological area that attracts the curiosities of visitors, however, is not the temples.
Instead, what attracts attention is the area immediately beside the one we see today and that has been identifies and Pompey’s Curia (Curia di Pompeo).
Curia di Pompeo was the place devoted to reunions of the Roman Senate. Famously, on the Ides of March of 44BC Julius Caesar walked into the Senate and met his fate in the form of 23 stabs but an equal number of enemies.
The story arrived to us thanks to ancient author Plutahc who mentioned this place as the location of the fall of Caesar.
It is good to know that this location is not currently visible: in its place, there is a busy tram stop!
June 2023 news: from 20 June 2023, the area is open to the public. An accessible ramp allows to walk along the area and see the temples from up close.
The Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary
The archaeological area of Torre Argentina is now home to a cat refuge, know as Il Santuario dei Gatti di Torre Argentina (Torre Argentina’s Cat sanctuary).
Rome has very many cats, you can read why in our guide to the cats of Rome here and this archaeological area, being car free, quickly became a beloved shelter for stray cats of central Rome.
The presence of the felines, first uncontrolled, pique the attention of cat lovers who decided to create a structure for them and create a program of trap, neuter, reales and adoption center.
The cat sanctuary is open for adoption, donations and quick visits.
This is a must see for cat lovers in Rome and a great place to pop into if you are visiting Rome with kids.
Teatro Argentina is a beautiful, historical theater overlooking Largo di Torre Argentina.
The theater was founded in 1732 over Pompey’s Curia and it is one elegant, grand building with a large performance area (the stage is one of the biggest in Europe) and additional spaces for events and persformances, some of them overlooking the archaeological area.
the theater is the official seat of the Teatro Stabile della Città di Roma and a significant point of reference for performing arts in the city.
You can find info and program here.
Where to eat in and neat Largo di Torre Argentina
Largo di Torre Argentina is close to many excellent food establishments, ranging from take out to sit down meals.
Worth knowing are:
Alice – take out pizza
La Ciambella TOP PICK! – lovely restaurants and wine bar in Via della Ciambella
Roscioli – restaurants and wine bar among the most famous in the city
Beppe e i suoi formaggi – award winning cheese shop.
Renato e Luisa – nice traditional Rome trattoria
Mr 100 Tiramisu – just what it sounds like, delicious tiramisu place
Where to stay near Largo di Torre Argentina
Largo di Torre Argentina is in the center of Rome and is a great spot for accommodation as it places you close to many of Rome’s main attractions.
Good addresses you may like are:
Residenza Gens Giulia – in a fantastic position just off Largo di Torre Argentina, this is a lovely accommodation option with pretty rooms with traditional Rome charm yet all the comforts (wifi, air conditioning, etc)
Otivm Hotel – 4 star ,lovely boutique hotel in a stellar position between Torre Argentina and the Capitoline Hill. It has delightful rooms and a wonderful rooftop terrace with views of the the dome of the Synagogue and the Capitoline Hill.
Other things to see near Largo di Torre Argentina
Close to this area, you can easily see:
- The Jewish Ghetto
- Crypta Balbi – archaeological site
- Campo de’ Fiori – famous piazza with statue of Giorndano Bruno and cafes
- Pantheon – works famous, ancient temple
- Tiber Island – Rome’s island
Tips for visiting Largo di Torre Argentina
Since the archaeological area of Torre Argentina is currently closed, you only need a few minutes to visit this piazza, a little longer if you want to try and identify the temples or you want to pop into the cat sanctuary.
Visitors’ guide to Largo di Torre Argentina – Pin this