The site of the Forum was a marshy and unhealthy valley which lay roughly at the centre of a circle of hills upon which grew small villages. Their inhabitants used the valley as a burial ground. In the VII cent b.C., under the Etruscan king Tarquin the Elder, the stagnant water in the Forum was drained into the Tiber through a channel which was to become the great Sewer Cloaca Maxima, it was paved and became a real square at the centre of a town. The buildings we see today in the Forum do not date back to the same period and were not discovered at the same time. The sacred Way was the most famous street in ancient Rome, along which victorious generals rode in triumphal procession proceeeding to the Capitoline Hill to give thanks to Jupiter, the Great and Good. Immediately on its right are the ruins of the Basilica Emilia (named after the Aemilia family), it was used for the administration of justice.
Walking forwards the Sacred Way,stands the great Curia Iulia, seat of the Senate. The northern short side of the Forum was closed by the Rostra, the orators’ platform to which the Romans had fixed the prows (rostra) of the enemy ships defeated at Antium (338 b.C.).
Immediately to the east of the temple of Caesar is the Regia which was held to have been the residence of the second king of Rome, Numa. Right in front it stands one of the most ancient and important sanctuaries of Rome, the temple of Vesta, and next to it the House of the Vestal Virgins. Opposite side there were the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina and the Temple of Romolus.
The outstanding building which rises next to it was the Basilica of Maxentius, started by that Emperor in the early IV century. At the north-west end of the Forum stands the Temple of Venus and Rome, erected by the Emperor Hadrian (135 A.D.). The southern short side of the Forum is closed by the Arch of Titus (around 81 A.D.)