The Tomb of Cecilia Metella

The Tomb of Cecilia Metella

«Out of the current gate of San Sebastian, nearly a mile away from the ancient Capena, at the sides of Via Appia are orchards and vineyards.[…] The first existing estate on the Via Appia at the borders of the vineyards is Capo di Bove. It was called so for the “bucrani” commonly called “Capi di Bove” (Heads of Ox), which are used as ornaments at the tomb of Cecilia Metella. You can see likewise in the same remains a circus ring once commonly called Caracalla, and now it’s of Romulus son of Maxentius» ( Antonio Coppi, Memoirs relating to some of the Roman estates adjacent to the Via Appia, 1885)

Thus, in 1885, described the location of the Tomb (or mausoleum) of Cecilia Metella,  the most famous tomb of the Via Appia Antica, positioned immediately after the tomb of the son of Emperor Maxentius, Valerius Romulus. The area was called “Capo di Bove” in the Middle Ages for the ornament placed on top of the mausoleum, decorated with ox heads alternating with wreaths.

This monument is dedicated to the daughter of the consul Quintus Metellus, wife of Marcus Crassus, the son of Marcus Licinius Crassus that in 71 BC suppressed the slave revolt led by Spartacus in 60 BC and formed the first triumvirate with Caesar and Pompey. The Tomb of Cecilia Metella has a structure similar to the mausoleum of Emperor Augustus: the original monument consisted of a circular building ,that still can be seen today, installed on a square foundation. The same battlements, later rebuilt higher in the Middle Ages, were already present in the structure in travertine.

In 1303, the mausoleum was built in the Castrum Caetani (a medieval castle owned by the noble Caetani family or Cajetani) becoming the “maschio” (male), which is the main tower of the fortification. The area that contained the burial chamber has a diameter of about 30 meters and a height of about 39 meters (including the battlements) and was entirely covered with blocks of travertine. It is assumed that the Tomb of  Cecilia Metella ended in a small dome given that in the eleventh century, it was called “monumentum peczutum” meaning “pointy monument”. The burial chamber – open again today – is accessed by a “dromos” (an open-air corridor of varying length, dug into the ground or carved into the rock) in the base itself. Unfortunately the original furnishings were completely lost.

For more information on how to book entrance tickets to the Tomb of Cecilia Metella, archaeological sites and the major museums of Rome visit the Rome Museum web site or call us at (+39) 055-713655.
Available Entrance TicketsGuided Group TourPrivate Guided Tour.
You may also be interested in: Thermae of Caracalla – Quintili’s Villa

 

Schedule Open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9.00 am  to 4.30 pm.
Closed on Mondays, January 1st, Christmas.

Address  Via Appia Antica, 161

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