House of the Vestal Virgins Reopens After 20 Years

Mon, 01/31/2011 - 04:17

An artist's reconstruction of the House of the Vestal Virgins

After 20 years, the House of the Vestal Virgins has reopened in the Roman Forum.

The ancient palace was one the home of the priestesses of Vesta, goddess of the hearth. The priestesses were selected from the richest land-owning families in Rome. Beginning in childhood, the girls took a 30-year vow of chastity and were trained to care for the eternally lit flame in the Temple of Vesta.

The Vestals lived in luxury, and unlike most Roman women, were allowed to own property, make a will, and vote.

The renovation of their sacred palace is part of the larger 19 million Euro archeological restoration of the ancient Roman Forum.

Vistors to the Forum can now take a new path called Via Nova that leads tourists across the Palatine Hill and ends in the Atrium Vestae.