Piazza del Foro and Roman Theater
Historic Site in Brescia
Piazza del Foro is one of the oldest squares in Brescia, born on the forum of the Roman city in the 1st century AD . It is part of the Brescia Antica district , in the heart of the historic center , crossed to the north by via dei Musei . It is rectangular in shape and contains most of the Roman remains of the city, divided between the Capitolium , the civil basilica and the archaeological excavations of Palazzo Martinengo Cesaresco Novarino.
Although dating back to the early Iron Age , as evidenced by some archaeological studies on the finds kept in Palazzo Martinengo , the square had its maximum splendor in Roman times .
The ancient Roman forum has been attributed by many to the role of center of the civil and religious life of Roman Brixia , as evidenced by the presence of the Capitoline temple , located in the northern part of the square, which included two rows of side arcades of which some remains sign in the central part of the square, and of the Basilica (or court), of which some finds are preserved in the surrounding buildings.
A further demonstration of the centrality that this square covered in the life of the ancient Roman Brixia , is the presence of the ancient Decumano Massimo , an ancient city road that allowed connections with the other inhabited centers of the area on the Bergamo – Verona axis , the one that currently it is Via Musei, which divided the square from another Roman building, albeit from a later period, the theater .
Located on the slopes of the Cidneo hill , the square, which has a more than accentuated slope towards the south, is an example of the combination of various architectures that Brescia has undergone over the years. Together with the buildings of the Roman period we find post – Renaissance buildings and from later periods, while there are few testimonies of the medieval period , perhaps due to the progressive abandonment of these places by the citizens of the time to prefer the “new” areas of the current square Paul VI and Piazza della Vittoria.
In fact in the northern part, at the opposite corners formed by the intersection with via Musei, we find two examples of post- seventeenth -century architecture such as the church of San Zeno al Foro , built in 1745 , and the noble palace Martinengo , built by Cesare IV Martinengo Cesaresco towards the middle of the seventeenth century on the basis of a previous building, inside which it is possible to visit an archaeological itinerary that welcomes testimonies from the Iron Age to the late Middle Ages , obviously passing through the Roman age.
Along the Decumano , and in the areas adjacent to the square, there are numerous buildings, also from the Renaissance period , such as the Maggi di Gradella palace, the Lana palace, the Uggeri palace and the Maggi Gambara palace , built by the Brescian architect Lodovico Beretta .