Campus Martius
For the pioneer fortification at Marietta, Ohio, see Campus Martius (Ohio)
Campus Martius (Ohio)
Campus Martius was a defensive fortification at the Marietta, Ohio settlement, and was home to Rufus Putnam, Benjamin Tupper, Arthur St. Clair, and other pioneers from the Ohio Company of Associates during the Northwest Indian War. Major Anselm Tupper was commander of the Campus Martius during the...

; for the park in Detroit, Michigan, see Campus Martius Park
Campus Martius Park
Campus Martius Park is a re-established park in downtown Detroit, Michigan. After the fire of 1805, Campus Martius was the focal point of judge Augustus Woodward's plans to rebuild the city. It is where the "point of origin" of Detroit's coordinate system is located...


The Campus Martius (Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 for the "Field of Mars", Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 Campo Marzio), was a publicly owned area of ancient Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 about 2 square kilometres (494.2 acre) in extent. In the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, it was the most populous area of Rome. The IV rione
Rioni of Rome
A rione is an Italian term used since the Middle Ages to name the districts of Rome, according to the administrative divisions of that time. The word originates from the Latin word regio A rione (pl. rioni) is an Italian term used since the Middle Ages to name the districts of Rome, according to...

 of Rome, Campo Marzio
Campo Marzio
Campo Marzio, is the IV rione of Rome, which covers a smaller section of the area of the ancient Campus Martius. The logo of today's rione is a silver crescent on a blue background.-External links:*...

, which covers a smaller section of the original area, bears the same name.


Before the founding of Rome
Founding of Rome
The founding of Rome is reported by many legends, which in recent times are beginning to be supplemented by scientific reconstructions.- Development of the city :...

, the Campus Martius was a low-lying plain enclosed on the west by a bend of the Tiber
The Tiber is the third-longest river in Italy, rising in the Apennine Mountains in Emilia-Romagna and flowing through Umbria and Lazio to the Tyrrhenian Sea. It drains a basin estimated at...

 River near Tiber Island
Tiber Island
The Tiber Island , is a boat-shaped island which has long been associated with healing. It is an ait, and is one of the two islands in the Tiber river, which runs through Rome; the other one, much larger, is near the mouth. The island is located in the southern bend of the Tiber. It is...

, on the east by the Quirinal Hill
Quirinal Hill
The Quirinal Hill is one of the Seven Hills of Rome, at the north-east of the city center. It is the location of the official residence of the Italian Head of State, who resides in the Quirinal Palace; by metonymy "the Quirinal" has come to stand for the Italian President.- History :It was...

, and on the southeast by the Capitoline Hill
Capitoline Hill
The Capitoline Hill , between the Forum and the Campus Martius, is one of the seven hills of Rome. It was the citadel of the earliest Romans. By the 16th century, Capitolinus had become Capitolino in Italian, with the alternative Campidoglio stemming from Capitolium. The English word capitol...


According to the Augustan
Augustan literature (ancient Rome)
Augustan literature is the period of Latin literature written during the reign of Augustus , the first Roman emperor. In literary histories of the first part of the 20th century and earlier, Augustan literature was regarded along with that of the Late Republic as constituting the Golden Age of...

Roman historiography
Roman Historiography is indebted to the Greeks, who invented the form. The Romans had great models to base their works upon, such as Herodotus and Thucydides. Roman historiographical forms are different from the Greek ones however, and voice very Roman concerns. Unlike the Greeks, Roman...

Titus Livius — known as Livy in English — was a Roman historian who wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people. Ab Urbe Condita Libri, "Chapters from the Foundation of the City," covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome well before the traditional foundation in 753 BC...

, the Campus Martius was originally a field belonging to the family of Rome's seventh and last king Lucius Tarquinius Superbus
Lucius Tarquinius Superbus
Lucius Tarquinius Superbus was the legendary seventh and final King of Rome, reigning from 535 BC until the popular uprising in 509 BC that led to the establishment of the Roman Republic. He is more commonly known by his cognomen Tarquinius Superbus and was a member of the so-called Etruscan...

. After the revolution that established the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

, the field (which had already been consecrated to Mars) was harvested, and the grain thrown into the Tiber where it settled and, along with accumulated sediment, formed islands in the centre of the river.

In the first centuries after the city's founding, the area was still outside the Servian Wall
Servian Wall
The Servian Wall was a defensive barrier constructed around the city of Rome in the early 4th century BC. The wall was up to 10 metres in height in places, 3.6 metres wide at its base, 11 km long, and is believed to had 16 main gates, though many of these are mentioned only from...

. The Campus was used for pasturing horses and sheep, and for military training activity of both the army
Roman army
The Roman army is the generic term for the terrestrial armed forces deployed by the kingdom of Rome , the Roman Republic , the Roman Empire and its successor, the Byzantine empire...

 and of private people who could use the training equipment the army had left. As such, it was dedicated to Mars, the Roman god of war, with an ancient altar and became closely linked to soldiers and the army. At first, the field was often used by soldiers for purposes of training. Later, it was frequently the focus of triumphs
Roman triumph
The Roman triumph was a civil ceremony and religious rite of ancient Rome, held to publicly celebrate and sanctify the military achievement of an army commander who had won great military successes, or originally and traditionally, one who had successfully completed a foreign war. In Republican...

, the celebrations of successful military campaigns.

Because at the time it was outside the city walls, the Campus Martius was a natural place for audience given to foreign ambassadors who could not enter the city, and foreign cults were housed in temples erected there.

In 221 BC, the Circus Flaminius
Circus Flaminius
The Circus Flaminius was a large, circular area of land in Rome that contained a small race-track reserved for mysterious games, and various other buildings and monuments. It was located in the southern end of the Campus Martius, near the Tiber River. It was ‘built,’ or sectioned off, by Flaminius...

 was built on the southern side of the Campus Martius, near the Tiber. This large track for chariot racing was named after Gaius Flaminius Nepos, who also constructed the Via Flaminia
Via Flaminia
The Via Flaminia was an ancient Roman road leading from Rome over the Apennine Mountains to Ariminum on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, and due to the ruggedness of the mountains was the major option the Romans had for travel between Etruria, Latium and Campania and the Po Valley...


Starting in the time of Sulla
Lucius Cornelius Sulla
Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix , known commonly as Sulla, was a Roman general and statesman. He had the rare distinction of holding the office of consul twice, as well as that of dictator...

, building lots were sold or granted to influential Romans, and insulae
In Roman architecture, an insula was a kind of apartment building that housed most of the urban citizen population of ancient Rome, including ordinary people of lower- or middle-class status and all but the wealthiest from the upper-middle class...

(apartment blocks) and villas
Roman villa
A Roman villa is a villa that was built or lived in during the Roman republic and the Roman Empire. A villa was originally a Roman country house built for the upper class...

 encroached on the common land. It later became the place for comitia centuriata, civic meetings with weapons, and for the city's militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

. Pompey
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, also known as Pompey or Pompey the Great , was a military and political leader of the late Roman Republic...

 built the first stone theater in Rome
Theatre of Pompey
The Theatre of Pompey was a structure in Ancient Rome built during the later part of the Roman Republican era. It was completed in seven years, starting from 55 BC, and was dedicated early in 52 BC before the structure was fully completed...

 in the Campus Martius in 55 BC: This was the first real monument in the area. When the Curia Hostilia burnt down in 52 BC, the theater was sometimes used as meeting place for the Senate. The area was also used as the meeting ground for elections. Julius Caesar planned for the Saepta (enclosures used for elections) to be placed there; they were later completed by his heir Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

. In 33 BC, Octavian dedicated the Porticus Octaviae
Porticus Octaviae
The Porticus Octaviae is an ancient structure in Rome.Built by Augustus in the name of his sister, Octavia Minor, at some time after 27 BC, in place of the Porticus Metelli, the porticus enclosed within its colonnaded walks the temples of Jupiter Stator and Juno Regina, next to the Theater of...

, built from spoils of the Dalmatian War.
During the Augustan period
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

 of the early Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, the area became officially part of the city: Rome was split up into 14 regions
14 regions of the Augustan Rome
In 7 BC, Augustus divided the city of Rome into 14 administrative regions . These replaced the four regiones or "quarters" traditionally attributed to Servius Tullius, sixth King of Rome. They were further divided into official neighborhoods ...

, and Campus Martius was divided into the VII Via Lata on the east and the IX Circus Flaminius nearer to the river.

The Campus Martius also held the Ara Pacis
Ara Pacis
The Ara Pacis Augustae is an altar to Peace, envisioned as a Roman goddess...

 (Altar of Peace), built by the Senate
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

 to mark the establishment of peace by Augustus. It was intended to symbolize the successful completion of Augustus's efforts to stabilize the Empire.

Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa
Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa
Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa was a Roman statesman and general. He was a close friend, son-in-law, lieutenant and defense minister to Octavian, the future Emperor Caesar Augustus...

 had the original swampy ground made into a pool and baths in a setting of parkland and temples, the Laconicum Sudatorium or Baths of Agrippa
Baths of Agrippa
The Baths of Agrippa were a structure of ancient Rome, built by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, the first of the great thermae constructed in the city. In their first form, constructed at the same time as the Pantheon and on axis with it, as a balaneion , they were apparently a hot-air bath with a cold...

, and he built the Porticus Argonautarum
Porticus Argonautarum
The Porticus Argonautarum was an ancient structure in Rome.The building was located in the Saepta Julia, a large square in the Campus Martius used for public comitia . The square, a large free space surrounded by porticoes, was finished by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, admiral and friend of emperor...

 and the Pantheon
Pantheon, Rome
The Pantheon ,Rarely Pantheum. This appears in Pliny's Natural History in describing this edifice: Agrippae Pantheum decoravit Diogenes Atheniensis; in columnis templi eius Caryatides probantur inter pauca operum, sicut in fastigio posita signa, sed propter altitudinem loci minus celebrata.from ,...

, which was later rebuilt by Hadrian as it still stands today. In 19 BC, he also completed the Aqua Virgo
Aqua Virgo
The Aqua Virgo was one of the 11 aqueducts that supplied the city of ancient Rome. The aqueduct fell into disuse with the fall of the Roman Empire, but was fully restored nearly a whole millennium later during the Renaissance to take its current form as the Acqua Vergine.The Aqua Virgo was...

 to supply water to these new baths and fountains.

In the non-populated northern area, there was the huge Mausoleum of Augustus
Mausoleum of Augustus
The Mausoleum of Augustus is a large tomb built by the Roman Emperor Augustus in 28 BC on the Campus Martius in Rome, Italy. The Mausoleum, now located on the Piazza Augusto Imperatore, is no longer open to tourists, and the ravages of time and carelessness have stripped the ruins bare...

. Other buildings were made: the Theater of Marcellus, the temple for Isis
Isis or in original more likely Aset is a goddess in Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. She was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife as well as the matron of nature and magic...

 (from around the time of Caligula
Caligula , also known as Gaius, was Roman Emperor from 37 AD to 41 AD. Caligula was a member of the house of rulers conventionally known as the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Caligula's father Germanicus, the nephew and adopted son of Emperor Tiberius, was a very successful general and one of Rome's most...

), the baths and bridge by Nero
Nero , was Roman Emperor from 54 to 68, and the last in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius to become his heir and successor, and succeeded to the throne in 54 following Claudius' death....

 and Pompey's Theatre where the Julius Caesar was murdered by Marcus Brutus, then later buried at the base of the Pantheon.

After the great fire of 64, Domitian
Domitian was Roman Emperor from 81 to 96. Domitian was the third and last emperor of the Flavian dynasty.Domitian's youth and early career were largely spent in the shadow of his brother Titus, who gained military renown during the First Jewish-Roman War...

 rebuilt the burnt monuments plus a stadium
Stadium of Domitian
The Stadium of Domitian , also known as the Circus Agonalis, was located to the north of the Campus Martius in Rome, Italy. The Stadium was commissioned around 80 AD by the Emperor Titus Flavius Domitianus as a gift to the people of Rome, and was used mostly for athletic contests.- Construction and...

 (eventually to become today's Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona is a city square in Rome, Italy. It is built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian, built in 1st century AD, and follows the form of the open space of the stadium. The ancient Romans came there to watch the agones , and hence it was known as 'Circus Agonalis'...

) and an Odeion
Odeon of Domitian
The Odeon of Domitian was an ancient Roman building on the Campus Martius in Rome, used for plays and musical competitions and with room for an audience of 11,000. Begun by Domitian in imitation of Greek odeons , it was completed or restored in 106 by Apollodorus of Damascus...

 (a small performance hall).

Gradually, the Campus filled with temples and public buildings, circuses, theaters, porticoes, baths, monuments, columns, and obelisks. It is interesting to note that, even though the area was originally named for Mars, there was no monument dedicated solely to him in the later Roman period.

Although the region had been left outside the earlier walls, it was finally protected defensively when the Aurelian Walls
Aurelian Walls
The Aurelian Walls is a line of city walls built between 271 and 275 in Rome, Italy, during the reign of the Roman Emperors Aurelian and Probus....

 were built around 270.

The Middle Ages

After the barbarian invasions cut the aqueducts, the rapidly dwindling population abandoned the surrounding hills and concentrated in the Campus Martius, depending on the Tiber for water, but subject to its flooding.
Since it was next to the river and next to the Vatican
Vatican City
Vatican City , or Vatican City State, in Italian officially Stato della Città del Vaticano , which translates literally as State of the City of the Vatican, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of...

, the area became the most populous part of Rome in the Middle Ages. The river supported a thriving economy and a supply of water, and the continuous stream of pilgrims to the city brought wealth to the area.

The main road connecting Rome to the rest of Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 was the Via Cassia
Via Cassia
The Via Cassia was an important Roman road striking out of the Via Flaminia near the Milvian Bridge in the immediate vicinity of Rome and, passing not far from Veii traversed Etruria...

, entering Rome through the Porta del Popolo ("door of the people") in the northern part of the Campus Martius. Via Cassia became the most important road in medieval times, because it connected Rome with Viterbo
See also Viterbo, Texas and Viterbo UniversityViterbo is an ancient city and comune in the Lazio region of central Italy, the capital of the province of Viterbo. It is approximately 80 driving / 80 walking kilometers north of GRA on the Via Cassia, and it is surrounded by the Monti Cimini and...

, Sienna
Sienna is a form of limonite clay most famous in the production of oil paint pigments. Its yellow-brown colour comes from ferric oxides contained within...

, and Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....


The other main road to Rome, the Via Aurelia
Via Aurelia
The Via Aurelia was a Roman road in Italy constructed around the year 241 BC. The project was undertaken by C. Aurelius Cotta, who at that time was censor...

, became unsafe in medieval times with the spread of malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

, because it passed through the unhealthy marshes near several coastal lakes in the Maremma
The Maremma is a vast area in Italy bordering the Tyrrhenian Sea, consisting of part of south-western Tuscany - Maremma Livornese and Maremma Grossetana , and part of northern Lazio - Maremma Laziale .The poet Dante Alighieri in his Divina Commedia places the...

 lowlands (as Orbetello
Orbetello is a town and comune in the province of Grosseto , Italy. It is located c. 35 km south of Grosseto, on the eponymous lagoon, which is home to an important Natural Reserve.-History:...

 lagoon, Capalbio
Capalbio is a comune in the Province of Grosseto in the Italian region Tuscany, located about 150 km south of Florence and about 45 km southeast of Grosseto....

 lake, and other Tombolo
A tombolo, from the Italian tombolo, derived from the Latin tumulus, meaning 'mound,' and sometimes translated as ayre , is a deposition landform in which an island is attached to the mainland by a narrow piece of land such as a spit or bar. Once attached, the island is then known as a tied island...

s), and because its route by the sea made it more susceptible to attack from raiders. The coastal towns around Via Aurelia were areas subjected to women kidnapping and plunder made by Muslim Saracen
Saracen was a term used by the ancient Romans to refer to a people who lived in desert areas in and around the Roman province of Arabia, and who were distinguished from Arabs. In Europe during the Middle Ages the term was expanded to include Arabs, and then all who professed the religion of Islam...


Because of the increasing importance of the area, several popes decided to improve its conditions. In the period 1513-1521, Pope Leo X
Pope Leo X
Pope Leo X , born Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici, was the Pope from 1513 to his death in 1521. He was the last non-priest to be elected Pope. He is known for granting indulgences for those who donated to reconstruct St. Peter's Basilica and his challenging of Martin Luther's 95 Theses...

 built a route connecting Porta del Popolo to the Vatican. This road was first called the Via Leonina after the pope, later the more famous Via di Ripetta after the name of the river port. To improve the hygiene of the area, several ancient Roman aqueducts were restored to operating condition.

As the population of Rome greatly increased in the Middle Ages, the Campus Martius became a crowded multi-cultural place where many foreigners settled. In 1555, Pope Paul IV
Pope Paul IV
Pope Paul IV, C.R. , né Giovanni Pietro Carafa, was Pope from 23 May 1555 until his death.-Early life:Giovanni Pietro Carafa was born in Capriglia Irpina, near Avellino, into a prominent noble family of Naples...

 designated part of the southern part of the Campus Martius as the ghetto
Roman Ghetto
The Roman Ghetto was a ghetto located in the rione Sant'Angelo, in Rome, Italy, in the area surrounded by today's Via del Portico d'Ottavia, Lungotevere dei Cenci, Via del Progresso and Via di Santa Maria del Pianto close to the Tiber and the Theater of Marcellus...

 to contain the city's Jewish population.

Modern Rome

After the Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

, like all the rest of Rome, Campus Martius did not change much; there were no other great building projects and the population decreased. This was reversed after Rome became capital of the new-born Kingdom of Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 in 1870. After this, the area became even more crowded, and protecting embankments were built to stop the flooding of the Tiber. This made the area much safer from threat of water, but the tall embankments effectively destroyed the traditional embarkation point called the Ripetta ("little bank"), the narrow streets leading down to the river, and the vernacular buildings along the river edge.

See also

  • The Champ de Mars
    Champ de Mars
    The Champ de Mars is a large public greenspace in Paris, France, located in the seventh arrondissement, between the Eiffel Tower to the northwest and the École Militaire to the southeast. The park is named after the Campus Martius in Rome, a tribute to the Roman god of war...

     in Paris shared the name and military orientation of Campus Martius.
  • Detroit, Michigan
    Detroit, Michigan
    Detroit is the major city among the primary cultural, financial, and transportation centers in the Metro Detroit area, a region of 5.2 million people. As the seat of Wayne County, the city of Detroit is the largest city in the U.S. state of Michigan and serves as a major port on the Detroit River...

    's Campus Martius Park
    Campus Martius Park
    Campus Martius Park is a re-established park in downtown Detroit, Michigan. After the fire of 1805, Campus Martius was the focal point of judge Augustus Woodward's plans to rebuild the city. It is where the "point of origin" of Detroit's coordinate system is located...

    is a downtown park inspired by Rome's Campus Martius.

External links

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