Pyramid of Cestius

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Pyramid of Cestius is an ancient pyramid in Rome located near the Porta San Paolo and the Protestant cemetery. It was originally not the only pyramid of this type in Rome, but the only one that preserved. It was incorporated into city’s fortification and therefore it is one of the best preserved ancient buildings in Rome.

The Pyramid of Cestius was built during the reign of Augustus probably between 18 and 12 BC as a tomb for Gaius Cestius Epulo. It strongly reminds of the pyramids of Nubia, particularly of the kingdom of Meroë. It is quite steep (steeper than Egyptians pyramids), has a square base (22 metres) and is 27 metres high. It stands on travertine foundation and the construction itself is made of brick-faced concrete covered with slabs of white marble. Inside the pyramid, there is a barrel-vaulted chamber (5.95 metres long, 4.10 wide and 4.80 high). In 1660 the frescoes were found on the walls. They were recorded by Pietro Santi Bartoli. Nowadays, there are only scantest traces remained. However, nothing else was found inside the tomb probably because of the antique plundering. The tomb is not accessible for visitors because it had been sealed after it was built. There are several inscriptions to be found on the pyramid.

Originally, the pyramid stood outside the city but as it grew bigger it became its part. At first it was surrounded by statues, columns and other tombs (this was proved by excavations in 1660s). During the construction of the Aurelian Walls between 271 and 275, the pyramid was incorporated into the walls to form a triangular bastion. In Medieval Times the Pyramid of Cestius was sometimes called Meta Remi (the tomb of Remus), despite the inscription identifying it as the tomb of Cestius. The pyramid in the Borgo (similar to this one) was called Meta Romuli.
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