Built in the second century B.C. replacing the Porticus Metelli so as to enclose the two temples of Juno Regina and Jupiter Stator, the Porticus Octavia was restored during the Emperor Augustus’ reign and was dedicated to his sister, Octavia.
The scars left by the passing of time and a number of fires however made further restoration work necessary (the last was undertaken in 191 A.D.). The ruins standing before our eyes today in fact date back to this very period, that is the entrance propylaeium and the stretch of portico to its right, as far as the far southern corner.
In Medieval times, over the ruins of the Portico, a large fish market was erected as well as a church, Sant’Angelo in Pescheria. The market was called Forum Piscium (Fish Forum) or Pescheria Vecchia (Old Fish Market) and the stone to be found to the right of the Portico’s great arch is all that has survived.
The Latin inscription on the arch speaks of the tradition whereby the Conservatori or Magistrates of Capitol Hill should be given the head of every fish which is longer than this stone, as far as the first set of fins included. Moreover it was from the Portico of Octavia that Mid-14th century Politician Cola di Rienzo said off to triumph over Capitol Hill on May 19th 1347. It was here also, at the end of the 18th century that the Jews were forced on Saturdays to listen to the sermons given by the Jesuit priests in the hope “Li Giudei” would be converted. It is however said that the Jews plugged their ears so as not to hear.
Temporarily closed from April 1 2019