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Rome, Italy - the Crypta Balbi - visit with the Rome archaeological pass

The Crypta Balbi is one of the nine Rome museums / archaeological sites that may be visited using the Rome Archaeological pass. Below is some background information.

The site of the Crypta Balbi is superb, dating back 2,000 years and thus putting these pieces in the perfect Classical setting. This was the backstage area of one of Rome’s three Augustan theatres, the others being the Pompeii and Marcellus theatres.

Lucio (or Lucius) Cornelio Balbi was a general under first Julius Caesar and then the emperor Ottavius Augustus. With his rewards and plunder from the African campaigns, Balbi retired to Rome and decided to build a theatre. Inaugurated in 14BC, Balbi’s vanity project lay on the banks of the River Tiber between the Palatine and the Capitoline hills.

The excavations of the area have revealed the fascinating transformations and uses of the site which followed the decline of Rome through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance up to today. The museum is housed in the restored complex between Via delle Botteghe Oscure and Via M. Caetani: this includes the dormitorio barberiniano and two medieval houses leading onto Via delle Botteghe Oscure.

Your trip round the Crypta Balbi will consist of a tour around the three floors and through the various buildings. The theme of the tour is the evolution of the urban landscape from ancient times to the 20th-century … this is illustrated by archaeological material from other excavation sites and the historical collections of the Roman museums. Of particular interest are materials and work tools from a seventh-century workshop found during the excavations in the Crypta.

Only a few columns of the old theatre remain, it is the material excavated around them that provides the main focus. Marble fragments, utensils, pottery pieces, coins, cutlery and other artefacts discovered here are arranged in a series of displays that give snapshots of the site at different historical periods.

Via delle Botteghe Oscure 31. Open 9.00am - 7.30pm; closed Mondays. Click here for the main information page for the Rome Archaeological Pass.

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