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Rome Attractions The Pyramid of Cestius

The Pyramid of Cestius: A Unique Blend of Roman and Egyptian Architecture

Step into the intriguing world of ancient Rome and uncover the enigmatic secrets of the Pyramid of Cestius.

Like a time capsule from a distant era, this majestic structure stands tall, silently whispering stories of its construction and purpose.

But what is the true significance behind this enigmatic pyramid? How does it connect to the rich history of Rome?

Join me as we unravel the mysteries surrounding the Pyramid of Cestius and prepare to be captivated by the hidden wonders that await.

History and Significance

Having explored the construction and importance of the Pyramid of Caius Cestius, let’s now delve into its fascinating history and significance in ancient Rome.

The pyramid, constructed around 2000 years ago, is one of the best-preserved buildings from the Imperial Period. Its architectural features include brick, cement, and white marble. The pyramid was built as a mausoleum for Caius Cestius, a powerful Roman magistrate. It’s in Rome’s Testaccio neighborhood, near the Piramide train station and Non-Catholic Cemetery.

The historical context reveals that Emperor Aurelian incorporated the pyramid into the Aurelian walls between 272 and 279. Archaeological discoveries have shed light on the pyramid’s construction materials and exterior appearance.

In terms of cultural significance, the pyramid confirms that the Romans did build pyramids, with the Pyramid of Caius Cestius being one of them. Preservation efforts, including extensive restoration projects, have ensured the pyramid’s survival as the only pyramid in Europe.

Interesting Facts

Let’s dive into some intriguing facts about the Pyramid of Caius Cestius, a unique and well-preserved structure from ancient Rome.

  • The pyramid was included in the Aurelian Walls, with an inscription stating its construction took 330 days.
  • Japanese businessman Yuzo Yagi donated €2 million for the pyramid’s extensive restoration project.
  • The restoration project focuses on cleaning the exterior and restoring the frescoes in the inner chambers.
  • Other pyramids exist in Rome, including one along Via Della Conciliazione and another at the site of the twin churches of Piazza del Popolo.
  • The Pyramid of Caius Cestius was mistakenly identified as the Meta Remi, the tomb of Remo, the twin brother of Romolo.

The restoration of the Pyramid of Caius Cestius is an ongoing project to preserve this ancient structure for future generations. Although mostly lost over time, the interior frescoes are being meticulously restored to give visitors a glimpse into the past.

It’s also interesting to note that the pyramid’s misidentification as the tomb of Remo adds an element of mystery to its history. Located in Rome’s Testaccio neighborhood, near the Piramide train station and Non-Catholic Cemetery, the pyramid is a testament to the architectural prowess of the Romans.

With its unique location and surroundings, including nearby attractions like the Orange Garden and the Baths of Caracalla, the Pyramid of Caius Cestius continues to captivate visitors worldwide.

Useful Information

Continuing our exploration of the Pyramid of Caius Cestius, let’s focus on some helpful information to enhance your visit to this remarkable ancient structure.

The Pyramid of Caius Cestius is located at Via Raffaele Persichetti in Rome’s Testaccio neighborhood. When planning your visit, it’s important to note that the pyramid’s opening hours may vary, so it’s best to check in advance.

Accessibility to the pyramid is restricted, and special permission is required to access the tomb. Guided tours may be available, giving you a deeper understanding of this unique structure’s architectural features and historical significance.

The pyramid, built between 18 and 12 BC, stands approximately 36 meters (120 feet) and is constructed using brick, cement, and white marble. Its interior once featured frescoes, but most have been lost over time.

Visiting the Pyramid of Caius Cestius offers a fascinating glimpse into the Egyptian influence in ancient Rome and is a must-see for history enthusiasts.

Nearby Attractions

When visiting the Pyramid of Caius Cestius, you’ll find a variety of nearby attractions to explore

Here are five attractions that you can visit during your trip:

  • Orange Garden: Located just a 19-minute walk away, the Orange Garden offers stunning panoramic views of Rome. Take a leisurely stroll through the garden and enjoy the fragrant orange trees while enjoying the beautiful scenery.
  • Porta Portese: Situated only 20 minutes away on foot, Porta Portese is a famous flea market where you can find various goods, from antiques to clothing and accessories. Browse through the stalls and discover unique treasures.
  • Baths of Caracalla: Accessible within a 20-minute walk, the Baths of Caracalla is an ancient Roman thermal complex that showcases impressive architectural ruins. Explore the vast site and imagine life during the Roman Empire.
  • Circus Maximus: Located within a 22-minute walk, Circus Maximus was once the largest chariot racing stadium in ancient Rome. Take a walk around the historic site and envision the exhilarating races here.
  • Church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere: Situated just 25 minutes away on foot, the Church of Santa Cecilia is a beautiful basilica dedicated to the patron saint of music. Admire the stunning architecture and visit the crypt where the saint’s relics are kept.

These nearby attractions offer a range of experiences, from breathtaking views to historical sites and cultural landmarks. Explore them during your visit to the Pyramid of Caius Cestius.

Unique Tomb in Europe

The Pyramid of Caius Cestius, located in Rome’s Testaccio neighborhood, is a unique tomb in Europe. It was constructed over 2,000 years ago as a mausoleum for Caius Cestius and his family. This pyramid is a remarkable example of Egyptian architecture in ancient Rome and holds significant importance in European archaeology.

Unlike other Roman tombs, the Pyramid of Cestius showcases the cultural influences of ancient Rome, particularly the fascination with Egyptian culture during its construction.

Built between 18 and 12 BC, the pyramid stands at approximately 36 meters (120 feet), with a steeper angle than the pyramids in Egypt. It was constructed using brick and cement, and its exterior was covered in white marble. Although the interior was once adorned with frescoes, most have yet to be recovered. An inscription on the pyramid identifies the tomb as belonging to Gaius Cestius Epulo.

The Pyramid of Cestius is the only pyramid in Europe, making it a significant archaeological site. It showcases the unique blend of Egyptian and Roman influences that characterized ancient Rome. The pyramid’s proportions, with its steeper angle, have been credited as inspiration for oddly proportioned pyramids in European art. This tomb offers a fascinating glimpse into the cultural exchanges and influences that shaped ancient Rome and European history.

Egyptian Influence in Rome

Egyptian influence permeated ancient Rome after the conquest of Egypt in 30 BC, leading to the emergence of Egyptomania and the incorporation of Egyptian artifacts and structures into the city’s landscape.

Egyptian art in Rome was highly sought after, and many original artifacts and inspired copies of Egyptian structures appeared in the city. Egyptian imports into Rome became popular, and obelisks and other Egyptian objects were widely embraced.

The Pyramid of Cestius is one of the few Egyptian structures in Rome that still exists today. It stands as a testament to the Egyptian influence in the city and showcases the unique pyramid architecture in Europe. Nubian influence can also be seen in the pyramid’s design, as the Nubian pyramids near Jebel Barkal in Sudan may have influenced its construction.

The location of the Pyramid of Cestius at the city’s edge, surrounded by columns and bronze figures, further highlights the Egyptian influence in Rome.

Pyramid Proportions and European Art

The unique proportions of the Pyramid of Cestius compared to traditional Egyptian pyramids have been credited as inspiration for oddly proportioned pyramids in European art. The steeper angle of the Pyramid of Cestius may have resulted from incorrect information or innovation by Roman builders. This distinct design has influenced the artistic interpretations of pyramids in European culture, particularly architecture.

To better understand the impact of the Pyramid of Cestius on European art, let’s compare its proportions to those of traditional Egyptian pyramids:

Pyramid of CestiusEgyptian Pyramids
ShapeSquare baseSquare base
HeightApproximately 36mVaries
Angle of InclineSteeperLess steep
ConstructionBrick and cementStone blocks
Exterior MaterialWhite marbleLimestone

The Pyramid of Cestius, with its unique proportions, has served as a symbol of artistic expression and architectural innovation in European art. It has been a source of inspiration for the creation of pyramids with unconventional shapes and angles. This artistic interpretation reflects the cultural and historical context of the time, as Europe experienced a fascination with Egyptian culture during the Roman Empire. The Pyramid of Cestius, the only remaining pyramid in Rome, is a testament to this influence and continues to captivate visitors with its intriguing design.

Rediscovery and Restoration

After its rediscovery, the Pyramid of Cestius underwent multiple restoration projects to preserve its historical significance and architectural beauty. The impact of its rediscovery was significant, as it shed light on the existence of Roman pyramids and their Egyptian influence.

However, the restoration of the Pyramid of Cestius posed several challenges. First, the preservation efforts had to address the deterioration of its exterior and the loss of frescoes in the inner chambers. Second, the delicate nature of the pyramid’s architectural features required careful handling during restoration.

Despite these challenges, restoration projects were carried out in 1999 and 2015 to ensure the pyramid’s long-term preservation. These efforts included cleaning the exterior and restoring the remaining frescoes.

Today, the Pyramid of Cestius is a testament to ancient Roman architecture and its historical significance. Its unique design and incorporation into the Aurelian walls make it a remarkable landmark in Rome. Visiting the pyramid offers a glimpse into the Egyptian influence on Roman culture. It serves as a reminder of the rich history of the city.

Visiting the Pyramid

To visit the Pyramid of Cestius, visit the Porta San Paolo at the Piramide subway station in Rome. You can easily access the pyramid and explore its fascinating history from there.

Suppose you want to avoid traffic and get a unique pyramid view. In that case, you can visit the Protestant Cemetery on the northwest side of the Aurelian walls. This cemetery isn’t only home to the final resting place of poets Shelley and Keats. Still, it also provides a great vantage point to admire the pyramid.

Once you arrive at the pyramid, you’ll be able to see the Egyptian influence in ancient Rome firsthand. The pyramid expresses the Egyptian style and was constructed between 18 and 12 BC. Inscriptions on the pyramid’s east side reveal the name of Caius Cestius and his titles. In contrast, another inscription on the opposite side states that the construction took fewer than 300 days.

As you explore the pyramid, you’ll have the opportunity to see the burial chamber and its rich pictorial decoration. Access to the burial chamber is from the west side of the pyramid. Descriptions from its rediscovery in 1656 mention monochrome panels with standing or seated female figures and winged Victories with crowns in the ceiling angles, possibly representing the apotheosis of Caius Cestius. The decoration represents one of the first examples of the third painting style in Rome.

While visiting the pyramid, keep an eye out for the bronze statues that were created by Caius Cestius. Unfortunately, only the inscribed bases of these statues survive and can be seen in the Capitoline Museums.

Visiting the Pyramid of Cestius will give you a unique glimpse into the Egyptian influence in ancient Rome. Take the time to explore the burial chamber, admire the pictorial decoration, and appreciate the craftsmanship of the bronze statues.


As you stand before the Pyramid of Caius Cestius, its ancient walls whisper tales of the past. This remarkable monument stands tall, symbolizing the Roman’s mastery of construction and their admiration for Egyptian culture.

The pyramid’s rich history and unique design captivate visitors, transporting them back in time. Rediscovered and restored to its former glory, this mausoleum stands as a testament to the enduring allure of the ancient world.

What is the Pyramid of Cestius?

The Pyramid of Cestius is an ancient pyramid in Rome, Italy, near the Porta San Paolo and the Protestant Cemetery. It was built as a tomb for Gaius Cestius, a magistrate and member of one of Rome’s four great religious corporations.

How Does the Pyramid of Cestius Blend Roman and Egyptian Architecture?

The Pyramid of Cestius incorporates Egyptian elements in its pyramidal structure – a shape not traditionally used in Roman architecture. However, it also features Roman elements like inscriptions and the use of concrete. This fusion reflects the cultural exchange between Egypt and Rome during that period.

When Was the Pyramid of Cestius Built?

The Pyramid of Cestius was built between 18 and 12 BC as a tomb for Gaius Cestius Epulo, a member of the Epulones religious corporation.

Why Does the Pyramid of Cestius Have an Egyptian Design?

When Gaius Cestius lived, there was a fascination with Egyptian culture in Rome due to their political relations and cultural exchanges. This fascination led to Egyptian influences being incorporated into various aspects of Roman life, including architecture.

What Materials Were Used to Construct the Pyramid of Cestius?

The core structure is made from brick-faced concrete covered with slabs of white marble standing on a travertine foundation. These materials were common in Roman architecture but were used here to create an unusual pyramidal form inspired by Egyptian design.

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