Nothing surprises, fascinates and enthralls first time visitors to Rome more than seeing a pyramid in Rome! People always ask me, Is that a pyramid in Rome? Is that reallly in Rome?
The pyramid, known as the Pyramid of Cestius, is small when compared to its Gizan cousins in Egypt but it’s quite big when you get up to it. It is located at the Piramide metro stop near the Porta San Paolo. There’s a lot to see in this part of Rome: Testaccio, Protestant Cemetery, Baths of Caracalla, Parco della Resistenza dell’Otto Settembre among other things.
The inside of the pyramid housed a frescoed burial chamber. According to sources, the frescoes can no longer be made out but were recorded by the Italian engraver, Pietro Santi Bartoli, and whatever might have been in that chamber was plundered by grave robbers in antiquity and beyond. Visitors are no longer permitted to enter.
The tomb is that of Gaius Cestius Epulo, who might have possibly served in the Roman’s Egyptian campaigns. According to the inscriptions, it took just less than a year to build this pyramid. As you can probably deduce, it probably cost a lot of denarii to build this huge pyramid, and Gaius Cestius Epulo definitely had money.
The Wikipedia article on the Pyramid of Cestius is quite good and is worth a read.