Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia

Colonna-Barberini Palace/Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia, Palestrina (Praeneste), Italy. 2nd century BCE/1050 CE. The model of the Sanctuary is located at the Archaeological Museum of Palestrina.

The Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia consisted of five terraces carved into the base of Mount Ginestro. It was originally topped with a tholos (circular) temple, which was surmounted by a statue of Fortuna depicted as a warrior.

An ancient oracle, the Antro delle Sorti, was located in a grotto on the site. The cult statue of Fortuna is said to have represented the goddess nursing the infants Juno and Jupiter.

This complex was probably the largest in Italy, and could be seen from the sea as well as from Rome. It’s immense size was supported by concrete barrel vaults on the lower levels.

The Colonna family built a palace on the upper level of the former sanctuary in the eleventh century, duplicating the curve of the foundation. The property was passed to the Barberini family in the 1600s. The town of Palestrina was heavily damaged by bombing in WWII. During clean-up operations, the Sanctuary of Fortuna Primogenia ws rediscovered. The site became a museum in the 1950s, and became the National Archaeological Museum of Palestrina in 1998.

On this day, the ancient Romans celebrated the dies natalis (anniversary) of the Temple of Fortuna Primigenia.

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