Basilica of Maxentius in Rome

Basilica of Maxentius in Rome: Tickets, History & Reconstruction


The Roman Forum’s largest building was the Maxentius Basilica. Located along the Via Sacra – the main thoroughfare of the Roman Forum – the building turned heads.

Its design and features became the base for painters, designers, architects and builders for centuries after its construction in 312 AD.

The Maxentius Basilica ancient Rome was the last of its type to be constructed in the capital. Learn more here today about the construction, who actually claims the completion, and some interesting facts.

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The Basilica of Maxentius History

Basilicas in ancient Roman times are not exactly how we picture them today within the catholic church.

Whereas the catholic church basilicas are reserved for special churches as designated by the Pope, the Roman basilica was more general. A meeting place for council sessions, as well as a general gathering point was the real purpose of the roman basilica. It was only later, once the Romans adopted Christianity, that the basilica was equated to a church.

Although Maxentius began the construction of the Maxentius Basilica – or the Basilica Nova as it is also known – it was actually finished by Constantine in 312 AD.

In the 9th and 14th centuries, earthquakes damaged the structure. Now, very little remains of the structure. Some parts were carried off, others were broken down into building materials. You can see three remaining vaults on the site – which are pretty cleverly built for the time and continue to baffle historians.

Who Built the Basilica of Maxentius?

Basilica Maxentius building
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The Basilica Nova in Rome was commissioned by Maxentius. He was an emperor of Rome for 6 years until his death in 312 AD.

He was in a battle with Constantine over legitimacy to the throne. Constantine eventually became the victor and took the reins. He also finished off the basilica.

What was the Maxentius Basilica used for?

Now, we know that ancient Roman basilicas were meeting places more than places of worship. But, for the Basilica Nova, there aren’t really any records to prove what actually went on in there.

Other similar basilicas also had places of trade located within the structure – again there is no evidence of this.

We can assume however that it was some form of governmental meeting place.

Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine Architecture

Basilica Maxentius Architecture and contruction
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The Basilica Nova Maxentius architect sure was clever. In particular, the concrete vaults were mind boggling to modern archeologists, architects and engineers.

The mixture of cross and barrel vaults leaves many scratching their heads as to how the structure stood. The remains of the basilica are still the tallest in the Roman forum.

Maxentius Basilica construction, height, windows & materials

Covering 6500 metres squared, the site is impressive. The height of the vaults reached 35 metres, with 14 ½ metre columns supporting the weight.

Internally, the basilica was equally as impressive as the exterior. The 8 corinthian columns are long gone, although you can see some evidence of their existence in the corner of one of the naves.

Reportedly covered with bronze guided wall coverings, and a delightful marble floor, the effect would have been jaw dropping! From outside, bronze covered roof decorations ensured you couldn’t miss this sight.

Basilica of Maxentius Reconstruction

To get a true sense of the size and scale of this impressive structure, there are several great reconstructions available.

Check out this one here to truly appreciate the size and exterior. But our favourite are by far the mock-ups of the interior.

Interesting facts about the Basilica of Maxentius

Facts about Basilica Nova
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  • Maxentius got a bit of a bad deal. He was given the reputation of a tyrant. That’s not entirely true however – he was known for saving the Christians from persecution for example. Constantine initiated a slander campaign against Maxentius after his death. He even renamed the basilica after himself.
  • Maxentius died at the Milvian Bridge battle. Rumour has it he drowned in the river.
  • To add insult to injury, Constantine built a huge statue of himself. You can see some of the remains of this – the head and a foot – in the Capitoline Museum.
  • The height of the structure you can see today is impressive. But those are just remnants of the side aisles. The centre nave was much bigger!

Basilica of Maxentius tickets

Get tickets basilica ancient Rome
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You will not need a ticket just for the Basilica of Maxentius. You can visit it as part of a whole range of ancient attractions in the Roman Forum. Tickets can be bought as part of the Roman Forum and Colosseum package, which start at about 10 euros. Check out the options available for Colosseum tickets here.

How to get to the Basilica Nova Location

The Basilica Nova is located within the Roman Forum. It is handy to visit this attraction when coupled with the Colosseum. You can take the metro, which from Termini for example will take under 5 minutes. Get off at the Colosseo stop.

To get your bearings when you arrive in the Roman Forum, check out this handy map below.

Frequently Asked Questions

frequently asked questions faq visit colosseum rome

Learn the answers to these common questions, then impress your travel companions with your knowledge!

When was the Basilica of Maxentius built?

Work started during the Maxentius period in 308AD, however Constantine had it finished off after his death in 312AD. Then, he changed the name to Constantine. And built a huge statue of himself outside. I have absolutely no idea how they managed to build it in 4 years with no machinery! My local council has been resurfacing one road in my town for 10 months!

What was the purpose of the Basilica of Maxentius?

Generally, an ancient Roman Basilica would be a political meeting place. Maxentius had intended it to be an audience hall. Who knows really what it was used for during Constantine’s time. However, we can assume some sort of assembly space.

Is entry to the Basilica of Maxentius free?

You can visit the Basilica as part of your visit to the Roman Forum - it will be included in your ticket. Find out which ticket is best for your Roman Forum and Colosseum visit here.

How tall is Basilica Nova?

The original structure stood at 25 metres. Now, when you see the height of the ruins, they seem pretty impressive. However, remember that these are just side wings of the Basilica. The main structure was much taller!

Who built the Basilica Nova?

The construction of the building was commissioned by Maxentius. Once he died, Constantine finished off the (largely complete) works. So, sometimes it is known as the Basilica of Constantine and Maxentius.

Conclusion

This impressive attraction cannot be missed when visiting the Roman Forum. Luckily, you can hardly miss it on the Via Sacra. This area is teeming with ancient Roman ruins. But the Basilica Nova is surely one of the most impressive. Make sure to send us some pictures if you get there! For more information on the Colosseum and Roman Forum attractions, visit our homepage.

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