- Associated Press - Thursday, January 27, 2011

ROME (AP) - Tourists will finally be able to walk in the House of the Vestal Virgins in the ancient Roman Forum.

The House of Vestal Virgins was the residence of the vestal priestesses, whose lives were dedicated to the cult of the Roman goddess Vesta. The house, a large rectangular atrium around a spacious courtyard, is located just behind the Temple of Vesta, where the vestals guarded the sacred fire dedicated to the goddess.

Rome culture officials unveiled a new route Thursday that allows visitors to walk in the house; previously it could only be seen from a distance.

The house was rebuilt after the fire of Nero in 64, and was then restored under Emperor Septimius Severus, who ruled from 193 to 211.

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