Rome blows out 2,776 candles this year.
The Eternal City celebrates its 2,776th birthday on 21 April 2023 with historical re-enactments including costumed parades past the Colosseum and gladiator fights in the Circus Maximus.
Known as Natale di Roma, the annual birthday celebration is based on the legendary founding of Rome by Romulus in 753 BC.
For more than two decades Rome has marked its birthday with pageantry and workshops provided by the Gruppo Storico Romano, an historical dramatic society which brings history to life by re-enacting battles, Roman rituals and displays of ancient theatre and dance.
The theme of this year's festival, programmed from 20-23 April, is devoted to the Water civilisation of Rome: Regina Aquarum, and is preceded by a conference on this topic at the Ara Pacis Museum on 19 April.
Celebrating #natalediroma in #Rome pic.twitter.com/awL6uRPODv
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On the evening of 20 April a ceremony to renew the sacred fire will be held at Piazza in Campo Marzio, in the historic centre, followed by the Bendictio Urbi re-enactment and concert outside the Pantheon.
The main events will be centred in the Circus Maximus, from 21-23 April, and include a gladiator school for children and live music.
There is also the trench-digging ritual, known as the tracciato del solco, which recalls the founding of ancient Roman towns when a trench or mundus was dug and offerings thrown into it to encourage the gods to watch over the inhabitants.
Other re-enactments include the agricultural Palilia ceremony. Dating back to before the founding of Rome, the ceremony was held in honour of the goddess Pales, protector of flocks and herds, and involved vestal virgins distributing straw and the ashes and blood of sacrificed animals before jumping over a bonfire three times.
On 22 April the Circus Maximus will host a match of Harpastum, an ancient ball game imported to Rome from Greece, described by organisers as the "ancestor of rugby".
The highlight of the Natale di Roma festivites, the grand parade, takes place at 10.00 on Sunday 23 April and which in the past has seen around 1,500 costumed participants marching to and from the Circus Maximus via the Colosseum.
For the full 2023 programme of events see the Gruppo Storico Romano website.
Cover photo credit: Stefano Carocci Ph / Shutterstock.com
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Rome celebrates 2,776th birthday on 21 April 2023
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