It was built during the first century.
The façade is surprisingly well preserved, still in original condition; the six columns are topped by fine and complete Corinthian capitals and rest on plinths that, for lack of space, are placed on the staircase that leads into the vestibule.
In the Middle Ages the ancient Temple of Minerva was turned into a Christian church. The cella became the residence of the Chief Magistrate, except for a part which was used as a prison. In 1228 the municipality bought some houses in front of the Temple to expand the square. On the same occasion, the vestibule between the columns was released and became the headquarters of public assembly. Only in 1456 the building returned to its earlier religious destination.
Then in 1539 the original plan of the cella with its rectangular plan was destroyed and the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva was built and further modified in the Baroque style in the seventeenth century.
For Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, during his trip to Italy, this was the first intact monument of antiquity he had seen and was suitably impressed (1786).
Today it commemorates the Roman period and symbolizes the values of UNESCO.