Pyramid of Cestius.
So last Thursday, I realized that the weekend was going to be a quiet one.
Worried about the prospect, I thought it was going to be a good time as any to go check out L’Asino D’oro Website.
Scrolling through, there it is! A monument I have always been so mesmerized by – the Pyramid of Cestius / Piramide Cestia.
Now, I was going to have the luxury of walking inside – I had to book but I was a little late, as all the places were full.
Next day, they receive a cancellation and I am in! I cannot stress enough how good these guys are with offering ‘off the beaten track tours’ and customer service.
Tip: Hungry or just want something to drink? Well you are in a great neighbourhood for food options and bars! Just follow one of the roads and see where it takes you – it will be good!
Pyramid of Cestius a Quick History
In the same way the Pyramids of Giza were tombs of the great Pharaohs, Gaius Cestius built his pyramid as his eternal resting place, as a lover of all things Egyptian.
Gaius was a magistrate and an extremely influential person in Rome. He also belonged to an important family and was a member to the Septemviri Epulonum, one of the four great religious corporations in Rome.
Built between 18 BC–12 BC, it stands at an impressive 37m high! It is thanks to its incorporation into the city’s fortifications, that make it one of the best-preserved ancient buildings in Rome.
While a Pyramid in shape, it was not built like any of the Pyramids of Giza. It rather a brick-faced concrete tomb with large slabs of white (Carrara) marble standing on a travertine foundation.
As one of the people from the tour put it – ‘quindi construita alla Romana’ – ‘built Roman style’ (the whole group chuckled). A little jab at how sometimes us Italians may be known to ‘cut some corners’.
The Pyramid has also a number of inscriptions, one of which states the details of its construction:
‘The work was completed, in accordance with the will, in 330 days, by the decision of the heir Pontus Mela, son of Publius of the Claudia, and Pothus, freedman.’
You can see this inscription on the east-facing side of the Pyramid.
I met L’Asino D’oro group at the side entrance of the Pyramid on Saturday morning (11:45am). We are a good number of people (all Italian) and Ilaria was going to be our tour guide again today, along with Federica who was helping out.
Through the gate, we are welcomed by a gorgeous park of sorts, that must have been even more spectacular when it was first built.
We spend 15-20 minutes admiring the Pyramid up close and personal, as Ilaria gives us an in-depth look at the amazing history of Piramide Cestia.
Well Ilaria and Federica ask us to split into groups of max 7 people, as we enter a small tunnel that leads to the rectangular burial chamber approx. 6m long, 4m wide and 5m high – yes it is not big.
Total time: 1-1.5 hour
Availability: Contact L’Asino D’Oro
Regardless, the outside remains incredibly impressive. What always blows my mind is how so much of this once ruling Ancient Empire is still with us today!
Do not miss Piramide Cestia! Make time to visit and get the most out of your experience with L’Asino D’Oro!
This is not my first time taking a L’Asino D’Oro tour so make sure to read A Tour with L’Asino D’Oro | Castel Sant’Angelo by Night.
L’Asino D’Oro is a cultural association and they offer great tours at great prices! Their website is currently only in Italian, however, do Contact Them for any queries.
Enjoy the knowledge, the passion and above all the great customer service L’Asino D’Oro offers! The prices are incredibly reasonable and a great learning (and photography) experience!
Where is it?
Pyramid of Cestius is near the Porta San Paolo and the Protestant Cemetery (directly opposite the Pyramid). It stands at a fork between two ancient roads, the Via Ostiensis and another road that ran west to the Tiber along the approximate line of the modern Via della Marmorata.
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