Pyramid of Caius Cestius

Pyramid of Caius Cestius

History

The Pyramid of Caius Cestius was built around 12 BC by praetor Caius Cestius as his tomb. The pyramid was later integrated into the Aurelian Wall, which helped its preservation.

Caius Cestius Epulonius, a rich praetor (an elected magistrate) and member of a group of priests responsible for sacred banquets died in 12 BC. Caius Cestius is now best known for his tomb, modeled on Egyptian pyramids. Anything Egyptian had become fashionable after Rome had conquered Egypt uncommon choice for a pyramidical tomb.

Appearance

The pyramid, which was constructed in Rome a mere 330 days, is more than 36 meters high and 29.5 meters wide. It was built of concrete and brick on a travertine foundation and covered with Carrara marble blocks. Thanks to the use of concrete it was possible to build a pyramid sharper angle ­ and relatively taller ­ than those in Egypt.

On the east and west sides are inscriptions with the names and titles of Caius Cestius. A corridor at the northern side led to the burial chamber. The walls of the rectangular chamber, which measured six by four meters (20 x 13ft), were decorated female figures.

The pyramid was originally surrounded by four columns and the entrance was flanked by two bronze figures, now on display in the Musei Capitolini at the Capitoline Square.

While the interior is badly preserved the exterior has survived relatively well thanks to the incorporation of the pyramid into the Aurelian wall in 275 BC. Its marble casing was restored in the twelfth century.

Only three Egyptian pyramids ­ the main pyramids of Gizeh ­ are taller than this Roman imitation. The Pyramid of Caius Cestius can be found at the southern edge of ancient Rome, near the Porta San Paolo, part of the Aurelian Wall. The subway station ‘Pyramide’ is right across square.

Note

Location: Piazzale Ostiense, Rome

Nearby sights: Protestant Cemetery, Aventine Hill, Baths of Caracalla

How to get there: Subway: Piramide (B)

Nearby hotels: A Casa a Testaccio, B&B RomAntica Home, Aventino apartments ­ Historical area

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