Minervia Scolacium was a thriving Roman colony dedicated to the goddess Minerva, having arisen between Catanzaro and Borgia, on the Calabrian stretch of the Ionian Sea. Its foundation dates back to 123 BC, the year in which Caio Gracco decided to build atop the ruins of the ancient Greek colony of Skylletion. In the Augustan Age, the Roman Scolacium became rich and powerful, prospering until the 6th century AD, when it was finally abandoned.
Today, positioned within an evocative setting, adorned and protected by ancient olive trees, is the Scolacium Archaeological Park – called the “Roccelletta” by locals – which safeguards precious testimonies, from which emerges the architectural, artistic and urban magnificence of a city able to recount its rich past.
Between cardines and decumans are the imposing remains of the town centre of Minerva; the Forum was the main piazza, being the meeting place and the site of public and religious buildings. On the natural inclination of the hill are the remains of the ancient Roman theatre, which has its roots in the 1st century AD. Within this area, precious items have been found, such as marble pieces or capitals and columns that formed part of this evocative scene.
Nearby is the amphitheatre, known for being the only one in Calabria and rediscovered only thanks to recent excavation works, between 2010 and 2011.
At the entrance to the Park stand the majestic ruins of the Basilica of Santa Maria della Roccella presumably built by the Normans between the end of the 11th century and the first half of the 12th century. Although the church is characterised by the Western Romanesque style, it still retains evident Arab and Byzantine influences.
To offer more in-depth knowledge and a broader perspective, the Scolacium Archaeological Museum was set up in the same area as the Park within a building dating back to the 1800s. Along a congruent path, which extends from the ground floor to the upper levels, are the renewed exhibits that underline the epigraphic riches to have been found, adorned with the small- and large-scale statues. Amongst these the most well-known are the Statua della Fortuna and the Avambraccio in Bronzo discovered thanks to Paolo Orsi in the 18th century.
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