Roman towns were laid out as a grid with straight streets like modern North American cities. In the middle of the town was a forum where people met. The forum contained statues, monuments, temples and a basilica, which was used as a law court and a town hall. In the middle of the forum, there would be a raised platform from which officials could make speeches.

Most people lived in apartments (called insulae) which were sited above shops. The insulae were frequently constructed out of wood, which meant that cooking was a fire hazard. Because of this, many people used to buy their food from take away stalls in the street, called thermopolium. The apartments did not have toilets, so the people needed to use public toilets. Households often had a dog to guard the family, and a cat to chase rats.

Floor mosaic. Photo by amata_es on ccsearch is licensed under  CC BY 2.0.

Wealthy people lived in houses in the town (called domus). These houses had an entrance which led to an atrium (which is like a large tall hall); the floors had mosaics, where a picture was made up from tiny squares (tesserae) of clay. These houses employed slaves (people captured in foreign wars) to help in the house.

Under the floors, some houses had a type of central heating - called a hypocaust system, where a fire would heat air which circulated under the floor of the ground floor of the house.

Under floor heating. Photo by Arctic Wolf Pictures on ccsearch is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Some houses even had under floor heating.