House of the Vestal Virgins

Orientation & Geography

Europe, Italy, Rome

The House of the Vestal Virgins (Latin: Atrium Vestae) was the place where Vestal Virgins lived. It was located just behind their circular Temple of Vesta at the eastern edge of the Roman Forum, between the Regia and the Palatine Hill, in Rome. The domus publicae where the Pontifex Maximus dwelled, was located near the Atrium until that role was taken up by the emperors. The Atrium Vestae was a three-story 50-room palace in the ancient Roman Forum built around an elegant elongated atrium or court with a double pool. To the very east is an open vaulted hall with a statue of Numa Pompilius, the mythological founder of the cult. Today, remains of the statues of the Vestals can be seen in the Atrium Vestae. The complex lay at the foot of the Palatine Hill, where a sacred grove that was slowly encroached upon lingered into Imperial times, when all was swept away by the Fire of Rome in 64. The House of the Vestals was rebuilt several times in the course of the Empire.