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All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to romapip@quipo.it. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
Page revised in October 2009.

S. Eusebio (Book 3) (Map A3) (Day 2) (View B8) (Rione Monti)

In this page:
The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
Today's view
S. Eusebio
Trofei di Mario (Ninfeo dell'Acqua Giulia)
Aqua Iulia
Porta Magica di Villa Palombara

The Plate (No. 49)

S. Eusebio

Vasi entitled his books of etchings "The Wonders of Ancient and Modern Rome"; this view which shows an XVIIIth century church next to an imposing ancient building, could have been used as a cover for the books.
The view is taken from the green dot in the map below. In the description below the plate Vasi made reference to: 1) Chiesa e Monasterio di S. Eusebio; 2) Derelict aqueducts; 3) Street leading to S. Bibiana; 4) Castello dell'Acqua Marcia; 5) Street leading from S. Maria Maggiore to S. Croce in Gerusalemme. The small 1748 map shows also 6) Chiesa di S. Giuliano. From this map one can see that at Vasi's time S. Eusebio was at the edge of the populated part of Rome.

Small ViewSmall Map


The view today
The view in January 2009

After the 1870 annexation of Rome to the Kingdom of Italy the area around S. Eusebio was chosen for a new large development in stile torinese i.e. a chequered net of streets flanked by large buildings with porticoes and shops. The main square of the new neighbourhood was dedicated to King Victor Emmanuel II; its gardens include the ancient ruins. In recent years the square has become the heart of Multi-ethnic Rome.
The church of S. Giuliano ai Monti which was located opposite S. Eusebio was pulled down in 1874 in the frame of the general reorganization of the area.

S. Eusebio

S. Eusebio
(left) Fašade; (right) bell tower

In 313 Emperor Constantine issued an Edict of Tolerance which put an end to the persecution of Christians, but not to the list of martyrs. Eusebius was a priest who preached full adherence to the Nicene Creed and for this he was sentenced to starve to death in his home by Emperor Constantius II, a supporter of the Arian heresy.
The very ancient church was entirely rebuilt in the XIIIth century and in 1711 this second church (with the exception of the bell tower) was replaced by a new building designed by Carlo Stefano Fontana, a nephew of Carlo Fontana (you may wish to see the building as it appeared in a 1588 Guide to Rome).

S. Eusebio
Detail of the fašade

The coat of arms is greatly damaged and it is difficult to see the mountains and the star of Pope Clement XI. The interior of the church contains a ceiling by Raphael Mengs, a German painter who was highly regarded by Johann Joachim Winckelmann, one of the fathers of Neoclassicism.
On January 17 the traditional blessing of the animals takes place in the square in front of the church.

Trofei di Mario

Roman ruins
Trofei di Mario

The imposing Roman ruins were part of a fountain built at the time of Emperor Alexander Severus inside an imperial villa. It had a large central niche (probably housing a statue) flanked by two smaller ones which were decorated with the marble panoplies known as "Trophies of Marius" (actually dating back to the time of Emperor Domitian). In the late XVIth century the panoplies were moved to the balustrade of Piazza del Campidoglio.
This fountain is said to have inspired baroque artists in designing the monumental fountains which celebrated new or restored aqueducts (Mostra dell'Acqua Felice, Mostra dell'Acqua Paola and Mostra dell'Acqua Vergine - Fontana di Trevi).

Aqua Iulia

The Aqueduct
Remaining arches of the aqueduct supplying water to the villa

Aqua Iulia was an aqueduct built by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, son-in-law of Emperor Augustus, in 33 BC. It started near Frascati and it reached Rome at Porta Tiburtina where it joined other aqueducts. In the IIIrd century a short branch was built to supply water to the imperial villa.

Porta Magica

Porta Magica
Porta Magica and enlargement of the relief above the door

The redesign of the area at the end of the XIXth century led to the loss of many villas including Villa Montalto, Villa Altieri and Villa Palombara. Massimiliano II, Marquis of Palombara (1614-85) was interested in alchemy and it is said that he received the formula of the philosopher's stone from a mysterious visitor. After several unsuccessful attempts to decipher it, he decided to share it by putting it, with many other alchemist symbols and puzzling sentences on a side door of his villa. The door was relocated to the gardens of Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II; the sentence containing the magic formula is:

The two statues at the sides of the door are a modern addition; they represent Bes, an Egyptian deity, and they belonged to a Temple to Serapis found in Piazza del Quirinale.

Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:

Trofei di Mario
Nessuno nega, che quello sia stato il castello dell'acqua Marzia; ma con difficoltÓ si crede da alcuni esservi stati i Trofei eretti a Mario per la vittoria, che riport˛ de' Cimbri, e Teutoni, e ancor di Giugurta. Furono quelli rovinati e gettati a terra da Silla; ma poi da Cesare essendo stati ristaurati, furono collocati nel medesimo luogo, ed ora si veggono sulle balaustre del Campidoglio.
Chiesa di S. Eusebio
Era quivi la casa del Santo nobile Romano, nella quale sotto Costanzo Imperatore chiuso in una camera morý di puro stento. Da diversi sommi Pontefici fu ristaurata; e l'anno 1238. da Gregorio IX. fu dedicata ai ss. Eusebio, e Vincenzo martiri, i corpi de' quali si custodiscono sotto l'altare maggiore insieme con quei di s. Orofio, e di s. Paolino martiri. Ultimamente Ŕ stata rinnovata da' fondamenti da' Monaci Celestini, che la custodiscono per un legato del Card. Enriques. Il quadro dell'altare maggiore Ú opera di Baldassare Croce, il ss. Crocifisso di Cesare Nebbia, e le pitture a fresco nella volta le ha fatte Mons¨ Mens Sassone, ora andato al servizio di Sua MaestÓ Cattolica. Nel monastero si vedono le rovine del palazzo di Gordiano;

Next plate in Book 3: Ruine del Tempio di Ercole Callaico
Next step in Day 2 itinerary: Chiesa di S. Bibbiana
Next step in your tour of Rione Monti: Chiesa di S. Bibbiana