The Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia

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The National Archaeological Museum of Palestrina is located in the Palazzo Colonna-Barberini, built in the 15th century on the surviving structures of the old Temple of Fortuna Primigenia, which dates from the end of the 2nd century B.C.

The monumental complex is structured in a series of terraces carving out the slope of Monte Ginestro. An access was certainly provided in the lower area on the current via del Borgo: starting from here, the worshippers climbing symmetrical ramps reached the so-called  “terrace of the Hemicycles” because of the presence of two exedras: the western one hosted an altar whereas the eastern was occupied by the so called “Pozzo delle Sortes” (sacred well of the lots).
According to the legend, this is the find-spot of the sortes (lots) used by the priest to predict the future and the marble cult statue featuring the goddess Fortuna sitting on throne while breastfeeding Jupiter and Juno.

Climbing the main staircase one can reach the terrace called  “dei Fornici a semicolonne”, where some rooms were used for commercial purpose connected to rituals, like the sale of ex-voto (cult offers) and the visitors’ rest. The big “Cortina terrace”, adorned by porticoes on the three sides, introduced to the theatre’s cavea crowned with porticoes. The small circular temple which topped off the sanctuary hosted the gilded bronze statue of goddess Fortuna represented as a young warrior.


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