4. Medieval Rome

Mappa Bufalini

The south-western part of the Quirinal hill in the late Middle Ages. Detail of the map (1551) by the engraver Bufalini:

  1. The area on the south-western edge of the Quirinal hill, site of the future Villa Aldobrandini, is indicated as Balnea Paulli.
  2. Church of S. Agata dei Goti (founded 462-470)
  3. Monastery
  4. Torre delle Milizie
  5. Church of S. Silvestro al Quirinale (Mentioned for the first time in 1030; the present edifice dates from 1524.)
  6. Baths of Constantine, not yet in the total state of ruin apparent in the later map by Antonio Tempesta. This is the site on which the Pallavicini-Rospigliosi palace was built at the beginning of the 17th Century.
At the time of the dissolution of the Roman Empire (5th Century A.D.) and the adoption of Christianity as the official religion, the papacy, supported by the dominant Roman families, came to power. During the Middle ages Rome’s fate was influenced by military events (invasion of the Visigoths and Vandals) and political vicissitudes (the byzantine influence, domination by the Lombards, the establishment of the Holy Roman Empire, conflicts between the papacy and the Holy Roman Emperors). This was a dramatic period in the history of Rome leading to the depopulation of the city. The inhabitants dwelt mainly in the Campus Martius, i.e. the low-lying part of the city near the Tiber River. Small, humble dwellings had replaced the monumental buildings of Imperial Rome which were by then in ruins. In particular, large areas on the hilltops had been abandoned or were being cultivated as vegetable gardens and vinyards.

Nevertheless, life in the eternal city was certainly not dying out. From the time of the birth of Christianity to the first Jubilee Year in 1300, proclaimed by Pope Boniface VIII, crowds of pilgrims "romei" made pilgrimages to Rome to pray on the tombs of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, obtain indulgences, view the image of Christ (the "Veronica") and admire the marvels of the Holy City.


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