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The Pyramid of Cestius, or Piramide di Caio Cestio, is located on a busy road interchange in the Testaccio district of Rome. It is one of the best preserved ancient sites in the city, and easely reached via the Pyramide metro station which is located close by. When originally constructed, the pyramid stood outside the city. It was built to be the tomb of Caius Cestius Epulonius a magistrate of Rome, and at that time large tombs were not permitted within the city itself. As Rome expanded, eventually it reached as far as the Pyramid of Cestius, and in the 3rd century when the Aurelian Walls were being built, the pyramid was included as part of the construction of the walls, and it is thought that it was this inclusion that helped preserve the structure. Standing next to the Pyramid of Cestius is one of the Aurelian Walls southern gates, the Porta San Paolo.

Pyramid of Cestius 1

In 1660 the tomb underwent a degree of restoration, and it was during this time a small chamber was found with the remnants of wall paintings, unfortunately they were in quite a poor condition, otherwise the tomb was empty, most likely having been plundered many years before. Externally were found the remains of some statues and columns, these have since been removed and can now be found in the Capitoline Museum or Musei Capitolini. Inscriptions on the base of the statues seem to indicate that despite the size of the chamber, other members of the family of Cestius may have been interred here.

Pyramid of Cestius 2

Believed to have been built around 15 BC. It has been claimed that its design was based on the famous Egyptian pyramids at Giza. This is possible as Rome was going through an Egyptian phase around this time with a number of obelisks and other Egyptian items arriving in the city, but the dimensions of the Cestius pyramid are very different  from those of the Giza pyramids as the Cestius pyramid is very much steeper. It is possible that this pyramid is based on steeper pyramids found in Nubia.

Pyramid of Cestius