Egyptian wonders in the heart of Rome
Although not as famous as the Imperial Forum or the Colosseum, the Pyramid of Cestius remains one of the most fascinating monuments in the Italian capital. It is the only surviving example of a building craze that took hold of Rome in the 1st century BC, following the conquest of Egypt. The three other pyramids from the same period, two in today’s Piazza del Popolo and one on Via della Conciliazione, have been destroyed.
It was built by tribune of the plebs Gaius Cestius, who was buried in the pyramid. Initially, the monument was located on the Via Ostiense, but it was moved by Emperor Aurelian to be incorporated into the new city walls.
Even today, it is impossible to not marvel at the scale of the Pyramid of Cestius – standing more than 36 metres high, with a square base of almost 30 metres on each side.
The entire monument is covered with gleaming slabs of Carrara marble and was surrounded by a low-walled enclosure with four columns, which are still partly visible. But it is inside the tomb where the most precious treasures are hidden. The white walls of the burial chamber feature rich frescoes in the Pompeian style, with female figures of winged victories and nymphs.