The ancient Roman monument, Largo Di Torre Argentina, resides in the center of this beautiful city.
Even if you've never been to Rome, you most likely know that the city is rich with ancient art, culture, and architecture. Ancient monuments, such as the Colosseum and the Vatican, attract millions of people every single year. But there is one monument, in particular, that attracts a large number of people, but not necessarily because of its history. People are attracted to this stunning monument because of who, or more accurately, what is inhabiting the ancient monument now.The remains of the historical monument, which dates all the way back to the 4th century BC, include four temples and the Theatre of Pompey. Wanting to keep as much of their history intact, the Roman people have built their modern city right around the ancient monument.
People visit these stunning ruins every single day, admiring the architecture of a time long ago.
It's truly hard to believe that after 2000 years of wear and tear, the monument is still standing proud. But if people aren't attracted to the history of the monument alone, then what else are they drawn to?
acme401 / Flickr
The age of these ruins is quite impressive, but there are more significant reasons why people are drawn to this magnificent structure.
These ruins have played a major part in Roman history because of a story that we've all heard before. Due to certain acts of betrayal, the infamous dictator, Julius Caesar, met his tragic death on the steps of the Curia of Pompey.
Ian Dolphin / Flickr
In 1929, under the direction of Mussolini, the ruins were revealed during an excavation.
After the ruins were discovered, droves of people began to arrive so they could witness the place where their history changed so dramatically, and of course, to pay their respects.
But the history of this ancient relic isn't the only reason why tourists are drawn to this location.
Jeff, Jen and Travis Spring / Flickr
Once the excavation cleared the way for the ruins to be exposed once again, they began to draw the attention of something not quite human.
Rome just happens to have an overwhelming number of feral cats. And once the ruins were discovered, they decided that the ruins would make the perfect cat haven. But, you see, we're not just talking about a few cats.
Sarah / Flickr
Approximately 250 feral Italian cats have made the ruins their home!
That's an incredible amount of furry felines! Once word got around that there was a safe place for them to live, more and more cats began to show up. But it wasn't just because they liked the aesthetic of the ruins. These cats had a much better reason for staying put.
Typically, stray animals are discouraged from making their home in ancient monuments, but things were a bit different at the Largo Di Torre Argentina.
Due to the continuous efforts of the local gattare, also known as the cat ladies, these cats are taken care of and fed while they live at the ruins.
Free food and love? It's no surprise that hundreds of cats have moved in.
Rhiannon Boyle / Flickr
It's so wonderful that there's a safe place for all of these cats, but where exactly did they come from?
It's not unusual to see feral cats in every city you go to, but Rome is literally overflowing with them. You see, Italy has a no-kill law for homeless cats, which is great for the cats, but not so much for finding them all a place to live.
It wasn't long before the cats realized the ruins would make a great home for all of them.
So the cats got together and happily moved into one of the most infamously gruesome landmarks in Rome. But these cats were smarter than they seemed. After all, if they moved into the ruins more people would notice them, and hopefully, give them a helping hand.
Gatti di Roma
The cats were taken care of, spayed, and neutered by the gattare of Rome for well over 60 years.
But eventually, something else needed to be done for these frisky felines. So in 1993, two women, Lia and Silvia, realized that the cat population needed to get under control, so they created the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary!
The cats that ended up at the ruins were drawn there for many reasons.
Some were born into the life of being a stray cat. Some were abandoned by their families and they needed a new place to live. But unfortunately, some of them were sick, wounded, or disabled. The volunteers decided that the cats that were considered high-risk needed a safer place to live, so they were brought into the tunnel underneath the ruins to live in peace.
mirsasha / Flickr
Even though the volunteers' hearts were in the right place, it was still extremely expensive to care for hundreds of cats.
Trying to find the money to renovate the tunnel, as well as all of the other expenses that came with caring for all of these cats, started to put a lot of stress on the volunteers. Where could they possibly find the support that they needed? Could there be someone out there who loved cats and just so happened to have a bunch of spare money laying around?
G Clark / Flickr
As it turns out, people from all over were willing to help out these friendly felines.
The founders of the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary began to ask the tourists for help. Travelers that wanted to experience the history of Rome found themselves stumbling across the ancient ruins, but they ended up staying to give the cats a bit of their attention. Because of this, the shelter began to receive plenty of donations, but they also gained even more volunteers that cared about the wellbeing of the cats.
Bruno / Flickr
As time passed by, the sanctuary continued to grow, and so did its reputation.
More and more people donated their time or their money, which meant that the cats were happier and healthier! Thanks to the donations, the volunteers were able to give the cats better food and vaccinations. And luckily, the volunteers were able to organize fostering programs for the stray cats.
As well as things were going, there were some people that didn't like the cats living in the ruins.
Unfortunately, the Sanctuary was constantly being threatened with eviction.
For a while, the authorities were able to turn a blind eye to the cat sanctuary, but that changed in 2012. It was then that the National Archaeological Department decided that it was time for the cats to find a new home.
Gatti di Roma
The National Archaeological Department took it to the next level and lodged a formal complaint.
They claimed that the Cat Sanctuary was invading the ancient ruins, and essentially, taking away its dignity and respect. They immediately began a campaign to evict the cats in the national papers.
Gatti di Roma
Luckily, the National Archaeological Department underestimated the power of cat lovers.
These motivated supporters started a petition to keep the Cat Sanctuary up and running. The people spoke, and their cry for help received over 30,000 signatures on the petition. But would that be enough to keep the Cat Sanctuary open?
William Chevillon / Flickr
In a surprising turn of events, politicians spoke out on behalf of the cats.
They suggested a plan of cooperation and compromise for the cats, and they won! Ever since there hasn't been any kind of attempt to evict this colony of cats from their home!
Sonse / Flickr
Thanks to cat lovers and politicians, the cats of Torre Argentina are able to live in peace.
The fact that the cats live there only increases the appeal of this historic landmark. You never know, maybe Julius Caesar is looking down at the cats, glad to see that the place he was murdered became home to cats in need.
mirsasha / Flickr
But the best part of this sanctuary is the fact that you can actually bring one of the cats home with you!
Every single furry cat that lives in the ruins is up for adoption and the volunteers do their best to find the right homes for all of them. You can even adopt one of them from afar by becoming a sponsor!