Rome, a city to be celebrated throughout the world, mistress of all things in Latium, and lying beside the River Tiber, was named after Romulus its founder. They state that it was founded by him in the eleventh year of Hezekiah, king of Judah, and in the second year of the eighth Olympiad. Pilny, working from the records of Augustus, writes that the city’s circuit was twenty thousand paces. Flavius Vopiscus writes that the emperor Aurelian enlarged the circumference of the city to thirty thousand paces. However, our way of measuring is quite different from that of the ancients. If we wish to make the measurements in accordance with those employed in our time, the circumference of all of Rome and the Janiculum would scarcely add up to fourteen thousand paces, even if one includes the region ‘Across-the-Tiber and the Vatican. The Tiber flows into the city from the north and out again on the southern side towards Ostia, so that from the right side [of the Tiber] one finds the Vatican and the Janiculum which together make up the region ‘Across-the-Tiber.’ But on the left [side of the Tiber] the circumference of the [ancient] Roman city encircles seven hills. Pilny writes that the city had thirty open gates and seven that were closed. I would like to make clear the names that were employed by the ancients.For since the city has increased in size at different times, and the gates that were remaining within the final circuit of walls lost their form, and Rome was then later destroyed, for these reasons we will not undertake to investigate them all. The first gate was called Flumentana, which they state the Tiber flowed through (most recently it is called ‘Gate of the People’): the second, Pinciana, [was called] Collatina after the town of Collatia near Rome; the third, which is now called Salaria, was once called, Quirinal, and afterwards Collina, because it leads to Quirinal Hill; the fourth Viminal, now St. Agnes, or Nomentana, because it used to lead to the Viminal Hill; the fifth, Esquilline, because it goes to the Esquiline, now called St. Lawrence; the sixth, Naevia, which is called Greater; the seventh Asinaria, now St. John, but called Caelimontana by the ancients after the Caelian Hill; the eighth, which is now seen enclosed in a hidden corner, is called the Porta Metrovia and was named by our ancestors Cabiusa; next, the Porta Latina retains its name unchanged because it led to the [Via] Latina. Porta Appia, formerly Capena; Trigemina, the last gate that remains within the region of the Tiber, was at one time called Ostian and St. Paul since it leads to his church and towards Ostia. There is yet another in the Roman city’s Tiber region, Carmentalis Lastly, Porta Triumphalis, the most celebrated of all, which in our own time is still standing, and through which triumphs used to proceed. The great size of its foundations can be seen on the far bank of the Tiber; also a bridge leading to that same gate all the way to the Hospital of the Holy Spirit and a road that leads from that bridge all the way to Nero’s circus, in which the obelisk of Gaius Caligula is seen, which now is incorrectly called the tomb of Julius Caesar; and to the left side of Saint Peter’s Basilica lies that which is called the field of victory. But the field of victory and the places attached to it have taken the name Vatican from the Vatican Hill. And now the Vatican is known as that hill which is next to the Church of Saint Peter. The Vatican, in fact, in comparison with all other things, is considered more famous and more holy because of the relics of Saint Peter, and because of its loft basilica and the palace of the Roman pop, which Pope Nicholas II founded, and the large garden surrounded by walls. Janiculum indicates the entire ‘Across-the-Tiber’ region itself, with the exception of the Vatican. In fact, Pope Leo IV first fortified the Vatican with a wall, and he called it Leonine City after his own name. That city has six gates now standing. The first, Holy Spirit, which goes down into the Janiculum, took its name from the church that lies below it. Another, Pertusa, is on a loft hill; this is also called Perforata. A third has taken the name Posterula. A fourth, lying under the pontiff’s garden. Is called Viridaria. A fifth, next to the tomb of Hadrian, which is now called the Castel Sant’ Angelo, is named the Gate of Saint Angelo. A sixth, under Hadrian’s pyramid, from its bronze doors leads to the city over a bridge, and is called Aenea. The seven hills of Rome are described by authors, with Vergil saying in Book 2 of the Georgics.’ And of course Rome was made of the fairest of things, and ringed her seven hills with a single wall. The names of these are: Capitoline, Aventine, Palatine, Caelian, Esquiline, Viminal, and Quirinal, and apart from the Janiculum and the Vatican, the city itself was called ‘Sven-Hilled.’ The Capitoline Hill was so called [since], when on it the foundations of the Temple of Jupiter were being dug, a human skull was found there. Previously it was called the Tarpeian [Rock], after Tarpeia, the vestal virgin, and the Hill of Saturn after the Saturian Land. There was on this hill of the Capitoline the very famous Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus and of Juno Moneta. And it was in that place that, by the loud cackling of the geese and the rustling of their wings, Marcus Manlius threw down the Gauls. The adornments of this entire hill were to be valued over all the wonderful works of the Egyptians; and for this reason it was also called the Golden Capitol and abode of the gods. Around that place two markets were joined, one of oxen and the other of fish. Now, however, except for the damaged house built by Boniface the Ninth upon some ruins, and except for the church Ara Caeli of the Brothers of Saint Francis that was constructed on top of the foundations of the Temple of Jupiter Feretrius, the Capitoline Hill has nothing, though it once was adorned with such great buildings when it had more than sixty sanctuaries, shrines, chapels, and temples. The Aventine Hill was named after the people who came there, or after King Aventinus Albanus who was buried there. On this hill the altar of Hercules was set up by Evander. Also on it are the temple of Juno and the temples of Diana, Minerva and Lucina. There was once on top of this hill a grove of laurels sacred to Jupiter and a temple of liberty. But now this hill has the monastery of Saint Sabine and another of Saint very ancient. The Palatine Hill derived its name from the native Palatinians, who came to Rome with Evander from the Reatine countryside. On top of this hill, as we learn from Cornelius Tacitus, the city of Rome was first built. And on this hill kings, then consuls, and later emperors for the most part had their residence. Here too was the house of the general Vaccus. Livy also said that they brought from Greece the great Mother of the Gods to the Temple of Victory, which is on the Palatine. There was also on the Palatine, according to the testimony of Pliny, a shrine named for Febris, and the Temple of the Devine Augustus, which was later destroyed by fire. By means of a bridge over this temple, Gaius Caligula joined the Palatine and Capitoline; there are some remains of this which it is still a pleasure to behold. The same emperor Augustus erected a temple of Apollo in this place; he added to it a colonnade with a Latin and Greek library; in this place, by now an old man, he often convened the senate. That building was adorned with wonderful works. And many of these buildings were constructed by many peoples. Now, except for the Church of Saint Nicholas built by Pope Calixtus, which itself is barely intact, that very famous hill has no [other] building. The ruins to be seen throughout the other parts of the city indicate what sort and how great a number of buildings there were at one time. And so when [one gazes] upon these three hills, which were the first and only one that had been included in the first city by Romulus, with the ruins removed [from them], that nakedness is able to be seen which Rome, not yet founded, once had. There was in this part of the Palatine, toward the north, looking in the direction of the triumphal arch of the emperor Constantine, the site of the Palladium, of which notable ruins are extant, including double gates of marble. Then, enclosed by the surrounding wall, is the Church of Saint Andrew de Pallara. The other regions are covered with a vineyard and surrounded with a high wall. The Caelian Hill took its name from the leader Caelius Iubonnius (who came to the assistance of Romulus against Latium), and was added to the city when Tullus Hostilius destroyed Alba; and afterwards he lived there and built a court which was named Hostilia. On that hill Vespasian built the Temple of the Diveine Claudis. There were in this place shrines, alters, and temples of Faunus,Venus, and Cupid, and other gods; and the great market; the cave of the Cyclops; the houses of prostitution; the five cohorts of the watchmen; the tents of the pilgrims and the herdsman. In the middle of its ridge two aqueducts of very excellent work are visible. Now this hill is adorned with Christian churches. In that region turning toward the Palatine Hill is the Monastery of Saint Gregory, built by him on his father’s house; next, the Church of Saints John and Paul. And in that place is the Hospital of Salvator, and the church of Saint Mary in Dominica; and another church, the Rotunda of Saint Stephen, its name taken from the Caelian Hill itself. Its foundations were first built on the shrine of Faunus. Pope Simplicius adorned it. To the left of this hill is seen the intact Church of the Four Crowned Saints, and the Monastery of Saint Erasmus. The latest building on the Caelium Hill is the Lateran Pilgrim’s refuge. At the extreme end of this same hill there is now the Lateran Basilica, so called because it was built on the houses of the very noble Lateran family. This venerable church contains the heads of the apostles and other holy relics. And of buildings it is the tallest structure and the most famous in the entire world. It was given to Saint Sylvester by Constantine, and them. Now, however, the palaces by which the Basicilca was surrounded for the most part are in ruins. Also worth seeing on the Caelian Hill is the grewt gate of Naevia and the half-destroyed amphitheater, which our ancestors named Statilius Taurus. And in that place is another basilica, that o the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, built by Helen, the mother of Constantine, where the Temples of Venus and Cupid used to be; connected to it is a monastery that is now inhabited by Carthusians. Varro set forth a long exposition about the Esquiline Hill, the largest of all, saying that its name derived from the watchmen of king Tullius. In fact, two hills make up the Esquiline. The more famous part, beginning from the Forum of Trajan and its towers, which the soldiers also named comitium, goes through the hill whosename is now Cavallo, extends all the way up to the Baths of Diocletian, and ends at the Porta Esquiline, which now is famous for Saint Lawrence. The other part of the hill is cut in half by a road that is called the Vicus Patricii. And in this place is the very famous Church of Saint Mary Maggiore. It is separated from the Caelian Hill by the road that runs from the Porta Naevia all the way up to the amphitheater that we call the Colosseum. On the Esquiline there were very many wonderful buildings; and first, going up from the tower of the soldiers, are seen the ruins of the Baths of Constantine, and giant marble statues of half-naked old men. After that, in a place almost next to it, are seen giant marble horses with half-naked men holding reins, fashioned with amazing skill; one of which is the work of Praxiteles, the other is inscribed with Latin letters as the work of Pheidias. Not far from that place are the Baths of Diocletian, a very beautiful and wonderful structure, and other baths of famous men. There was on that same hill a market; and the church of Saint Vitus is seen there, next to which the Triumphal Arch of Gallienus; and many churches as well as countless other things are still standing there. Viminal Hill derived its name from Jupiter Vimineus, whose altars are there. Although many buildings were on it, nothing certain is [now] found there except three of the most beautiful palaces in the whole city: those of M. Crassus, Q. Catullus, and C. Aquilius, a Roman knight. There were on that hill, according to some authors, the Gardens of Sallust, whose utterly astounding remains they describe as extending from the Porta Viminalis up the Collina, and they think all the way to Saint Susannah. The Quirinal Hill was named after the Temple of Quirinus. This hill held the Temple of Fortuna Primigenia. Varro, moreover, because they were small, called them hills and not mountains. Livy writes that Servius the king added these two hills since he had intended to increase the size of the city; and that he lived there himself in order to give this region prestige; and that he surrounded the city with a wall and a moat. Rome is bounded on the east by the mound of Tarquinius, among the first wonderful works constructed in the city; for Tarquinius raised to be equal with the walls where it was especially open to Rome’s enemies since the level plain made for an easy approach. And it is this mound that we now see towering over the Church of Saint Mary of the People and extending towards the foundations of the Pincian Hill up to the Palatine. The Campus Martius is described by Livy thus: They called the mound of Tarquins, which was between the city and the Tiber, the Campus Martius, since at that time the city ended at the Capitoline or a little less than this. And the Aqua Virgo flows through the recesses of the Quirinal Hill into what was once called the Campus Martius, but is now called the Trivium district. This aqueduct alone of the outer aqueducts now makes its way to Rome. The Campus Martius once had wonderful buildings, of which very small ruins still remain. Also a church, which is called Saint Mary in Ecuria, can still be seen. There was also a temple of Isis. Still visible is a column carefully embellished with great deeds. Next to this the five comitia used to take place. There were also twelve baths and wonderful aqueducts; the latter are very tall arches raised up with supports. We read about and see very many triumphal arches, some of which, however, have been destroyed, others have been buried in ruins, and still others have been removed from the sight of man by new buildings. And so are seen the sights of different buildings and famous ruins. Therefore we leave the description of Rome with these words: Rome, it delights me to gaze upon your ruins. From your fall ancient glory is made clear. But your people today have heated the hard marble dug up from your ancient walls into the pliancy of lime. If such and impious people should live three thousand more years there will be no sign left of its nobility.


Allison Hansen


Hartmann Schedel (1493). Liber cronicarum cum figuris et ymaginibus ab inicio mundi.
USC Libraries, Special Collections Call No: D17.S34 1493b, f. 58.

Hartmann Schedel (2010). Liber chronicarum: translation.
USC Libraries, Special Collections Call No: D17.S3413 2010 v.1-v.4




Allison Hansen, “Rome,” Nuremberg Chronicle, accessed December 19, 2018,

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