The Sanctuary of the Cats of Torre Argentina
Among the special places to visit in Rome we also find the largest colony of cats in the city. It is located in Largo Argentina where in 1927 the historical ruins in this square were discovered. Here you can spend a fun day admiring the archaeological site which is made up of the remains of four temples dating back to 300-400 BC. The area today is an archaeological site that includes the ancient theatre of Pompey where Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC. It is, in fact, the Sacred Area of Torre Argentina, or the archaeological complex in the center of the homonymous square discovered during the construction works of 1926 and which, in 1929, brought to light the ruins that can still be admired today.
But beyond the historical importance of this place, what attracts the most is the colony of cats that since 1993 has housed over 150. In that same year began the story of the permanence of cats in this place that made history.
However this place is not the only one in Rome to host so many cats. Just take a ride to the non-Catholic cemetery next to the Pyramid of Cestius, a magical place to visit, or to the Verano monumental cemetery.
Certainly the workers intent on demolishing the crumbling medieval houses in the area of Via San Nicola de ‘Cesarini, in 1926, did not imagine that they were facing the severe face of a gigantic statue of a goddess.
In the Town Plan of 1909, the demolition of old buildings was foreseen due to the need to adapt the viability of the city to its new importance as the Capital of the Kingdom and new buildings were planned in that area.
But the vestiges of a republican Rome emerged from the subsoil was not expected!
Immediately a fierce dispute arose between the owners of the area to be restored and the archaeologists who wanted to continue the excavation and conservation work and only in 1928, by personal intervention of the then Head of Government, was resolved the quarrel in favor of the Fine Arts .
Other criteria dominated the thought of the archaeologists of the time: all the medieval and imperial structures were eliminated, considered “unimportant” and brought back to light four temples dating from the 4th to the 1st century BC.
The excavation work was carried out in record time and on April 21, 1929, 2682th birthday of Rome, the “Foro Argentina” was inaugurated.
The name Argentina does not refer to the nation or to the metal, but derives from the Latin name of a tower built in the fifteenth century by Giovanni Burcardo, master of Pope Alessandro VI Borgia, born in Strasbourg, or Argentoratum. From Argentoratum to Argentina the passage is short, for the Romans.
Now the tower is no longer distinguished, lowered and incorporated into other buildings that arose later.
It has not been clear for a long time who the temples were dedicated to, which were named A, B, C and D.
It was almost immediately recognized that the great podium of tufa blocks to the west of the area was what remained of the ancient Curia of Pompey, a meeting place for the Senate and fatal for Julius Caesar, who was killed here in the Ides of March 44 B.C
The refuge insists on the basement of the temple D, dedicated to the Lari Permarini and totally covered by via Florida.
Temple A and Temple C were dedicated to the ancient goddesses Giuturna and Feronia respectively.
But there is a goddess whose cats are particularly devoted: she was venerated in temple B and her hieratic face can be seen at the Montemartini Central Museum: Aedes Fortunae Huiusce Diei, the Fortune of every day.
And it is to be alive, healthy, cared for and free.
Together with Bastet, honored in the nearby Iseo Campense not far from the Pantheon, a Goddess not a little!
The cats of Torre Argentina
Being the archaeological site below street level, the feline friends have always found protection between the ruins, whether they are stray or abandoned cats. So much so that, immediately, began a real job by gop-loving people, better known by the Roman term “gattare” and “gattari”, or volunteers who bring them food on a regular basis.
Even Anna Magnani, who lived not far away, when it was not impossible to work commitments personally brought food to cats in the colony.
Here is how, with the passing of the years, the news of the reception of the cats of Torre Argentina spread, so much so that it started, always by volunteers, a process of modernization of the place, endowing it with water and light and, more importantly, it started not only specific medical treatments but also sterilizations that allow to control births.
In fact, since the mid-nineties, thanks to the collaboration with some foreign organizations and moral and material supports, the volunteers of Torre Argentina have started to raise the necessary funds to be able to offer an even safer place to the strays.
Thanks to the historical and scenic importance of the archaeological area in the heart of Rome, many visitors are attracted by cats that doze and run around in total freedom and tranquility among the Roman ruins, they stop to observe and photograph, contributing in a way massive to their livelihood.
Largo di Torre Argentina, with the Teatro Argentina, which seems almost a place to control the area, has therefore been relaunched internationally thanks to the friendly presence of four-legged friends as well as the undoubted historical value of the remains of four temples that represent the most important complex of sacral buildings of the middle and late Republican age.
Objective of the feline colony: reduce stray cats
The Colonia Felina Cultural Association of Torre Argentina was established in 1993, thanks to the efforts of Lia Dequel and Silvia Viviani, motivated by the need to provide food, medical care and sterilization to the hundreds of cats and kittens abandoned in the archaeological area.
Many are the volunteers who have decided to dedicate their time to the colony but, despite the constant effort to find a home to cats, in short their number has grown dramatically (the requests for reception were always higher than the real possibilities of ‘ organization itself), putting at risk the health of all 4-legged guests.
For this reason it was decided to run for cover, adopting the models applied in foreign countries, where the rate of stray dogs is always down: the volunteers, led by Dr. Stefano Baldi, have therefore decided to adopt the technique of early sterilization. This means that all the kittens of the colony are given up for adoption already sterilized, even at four months. This implies that none of the cats left by Torre Argentina will have descendants who eventually run the risk of returning.
The reduction of feline stray cats is the main purpose of the Torre Argentina colony, which wants to be known above all as a Center for the Promotion of Sterilization and not just as a reception center for stray cats in difficulty.
Adopting an animal is an act of love, but it must also be a responsible act: a cat is not a soft pile of fur, it is a living being, like us, like you, with its character, its needs, its language and can live even beyond 20 years. He enjoys, suffers, gets sick, loves like us, like you.
For this reason, before talking about the actual adoption, we ask you to think about it.
All Torre Argentina cats available for adoption are sterilized, vaccinated, treated against external and internal parasites and tested for FELV and FIV.
Adoption times: every day from 1 to 5 pm
The best way to support the Torre Argentina feline colony is to join one of the cats’ distance adoption program.
Adopting at a distance is obviously a symbolic gesture but at the same time allows you to express affection towards a cat to receive news and photographs to proudly show to friends!
For the support of the Torre Argentina feline colony you can contribute € 15.00 per month to be paid monthly, or every two, three or more months by bank transfer to the current account of the Association, specifying the name of the chosen cat in the causal:
Associazione Culturale Colonia Felina di Torre Argentina
IBAN:IT 09 W 03104 03202 000000820382
How to get there
Torre Argentina’s feline colony can easily be reached on foot from the center. It is very close to Campo de Fiori, Piazza Navona, Pantheon and the Roman Forum.
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