Set on a high platform facing the Valley of the Colosseum stands the Temple of Venus and Roma.
Commissioned by the emperor Hadrian, the sanctuary was dedicated to the goddess Roma and to the goddess Venus, mother of the city’s founder, Aeneas.
Construction began in 121 AD following Hadrian’s plan but was not completed until 140 AD, under Antoninus Pius. The temple consisted of two main chambers oriented back-to-back (one for each goddess), each preceded by a vestibule.
Only the apse remains of the chamber facing the Colosseum, dedicated to Venus, while the second chamber, dedicated to Roma, has undergone various transformations.
In the 8th century, an oratory dedicated to Sts. Peter and Paul was built within this part of the temple, subsequently transformed into the church of Santa Maria Nova and then, in the 15th century, into the church of Santa Francesca Romana.
Damaged by fire in 283 AD, the temple was restored by Maxentius in 307, who substituted its original ceiling with the coffered vaulting still visible.