Cestia Pyramid

The Cestia Pyramid (or Pyramid of Gaius Cestius) is an Egyptian-style pyramid found in Rome, next to the Porta San Paolo and the city’s Protestant cemetery.

cestia pyramid

The Cestia Pyramid (or Pyramid of Gaius Cestius) (Italian: Piramide Cestia or Piramide di Caio Cestio) is an Egyptian-style pyramid found in Rome, next to the Porta San Paolo and the city’s Protestant cemetery. It was built around 18 and 12 BCE as a tomb for Cayo Cestio Epulón, Roman praetor and tribune of the plebs. He was a member of the Septemviri epulonum, one of the four priestly colleges. Burials within the city were prohibited until the 5th century. Therefore, tombs were usually constructed along the arterial roads. The Cestius Pyramid stands prominently along the Via Ostiensis, one of Rome’s busiest streets leading to the port city of Ostia.

Its square base is about 30 meters on a side and reaches a height of 36.40 meters. It is covered with marble, although its internal construction is made of brick. On the eastern and western sides, there are inscriptions in Latin where both the name of Cestius and the circumstances of the construction are recorded, which according to this lasted 330 days.

At the time of the Caesars, gigantic tombs began to be built in Rome, some of them, such as that of Gaius Cestius, were inspired by models of Ptolemaic Egypt. In times past the pyramid was thought to be the tomb of Remus. In 271 AD, the pyramid was incorporated into the city wall built by Emperor Aurelian (the Aurelian Wall). Adjacent to it was the Porta Ostiensis, now known as Porta San Paolo.

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