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Portus - 21 Temple of Portumnus

The so-called Temple of Portumnus is in the extreme east part of the city, near a main gate in the city wall (20). It was a round building (diam. c. 19 m.), of which a high stump of masonry has been preserved. It is made of opus latericium. It rests on a platform with two corridors covered by cross-vaults. The upper part consists of a single room that was covered by a cupola. In the interior are huge rectangular and semicircular niches. The lower part of the walls was decorated with marble, the upper part with paintings imitating marble. The exterior was decorated with 24 marble columns. The structure has been dated to the early third century.

The function of the building is not clear, perhaps it was a mausoleum. It is interesting to note however, that it is located at the precise point where the arches of an aqueduct (to the east) end, and where the aqueduct continues underground (to the west). The roughly triangular shape of the city wall here (19, 22) indicates that it was deemed important to enclose this area within the city wall.

Plan of lower part (top left) and upper part of the Temple of Portumnus.
Reconstruction of the exterior (top right) and section.
Testaguzza 1970, p. 217.

The interior of the Temple of Portumnus.
Testaguzza 1970, p. 209.

The exterior of the Temple of Portumnus.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

Detail of the exterior of the Temple of Portumnus.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

[jthb - 22-May-2009]