15 outstanding monuments of Rome
Rome – Heart of Italy. It is undoubtedly the most popular Italian city in terms of tourism, compared to which may be only Milan. In this brief overview are the main attractions of Rome.
In a city overflowing with monuments of antiquity and Christianity, it is difficult to decide where to start your tour. You can make your own itinerary, but there are certain places that are on the list of the most outstanding landmarks of Italy and all of Europe, such as the Colosseum and the Pantheon. Try to explore Rome in such a way that you don’t visit too many ancient monuments or churches in a row. Alternate these attractions in Rome with some other places like the Spanish Steps, or the Trevi Fountain. Rome is so big it can easily drain you, so take your time and rest periodically in cafes or parks.
The Roman Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine
The most significant and most “visible” sight in Rome is, of course, the Colosseum – it’s hard not to notice such a ginormous thing. The Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine. The largest surviving Roman structure, the Colosseum is still a great model for sports arenas – modern designs for soccer stadiums clearly follow this oval Roman plan. Construction was begun by Vespasian in 72, and his son Titus added a fourth level to the Colosseum. It opened in 80 with a series of magnificent games. The Colosseum was large enough for theatrical performances, festivals, circus acts or games, which dignitaries watched from the lowest level, aristocratic Roman families from the second, and the population from the third and fourth. Near the Colosseum is the Arch of Constantine, a triumphal arch erected by the Senate to honor the emperor as “liberator of the city and messenger of peace” after his victory in the battle of 312.
Not far from the Colosseum are the ruins of the Roman Forum, carefully guarded by the state. The Roman Forum in the middle of a pulsating modern city allows you to plunge into the history of ancient Rome, a few thousand years back. The forum was once the center of Roman life and government, retaining only a fraction of its original splendor to this day. Nevertheless, its columns and arches still make an impression, especially if you imagine that for centuries the history of the Forum was the history of the Roman Empire and the Western world. Roman political and religious life was entirely concentrated here, along with courts, markets, and gathering places for local residents. After the seventh century, the buildings were reduced to ruins and the stones were used to build other buildings. It was only during excavations in the 18th and 19th centuries that ancient buildings were discovered under a 10-meter level of rubble and earth. The Temple of Antoninus Pius, the Temple of the Dioscours of Castor and Pollux, the Temple of Saturn, the Triumphal Arch of Septimius Severus, the Arch of Titus and the Temple of Vesta have all been partially restored.
One of Rome’s most memorable landmarks is the Pantheon, visited by millions of tourists each year. This building is easily recognized from space, because a huge hole gapes in the center of its dome. It is the best-preserved monument of Roman antiquity, remarkably intact for 2,000 years of its history. The Pantheon has maintained its grandeur even though Pope George III removed the gilded bronze mosaics from the roof and Pope Urban VIII dismantled the bronze roof and melted it down for tools for the Castel Sant’Angelo.
The Pantheon was rebuilt after the fire of ’80 with unique masonry that attests to the extremely high technical skill of the Roman builders. Its 43-meter dome, the highest achievement of Roman architecture, seems to float in the air without any visible support. The nine-meter central span is the only source of light in the building. The harmonious effect of the interior is the result of the Pantheon’s ideal proportions: its height coincides with its diameter. Although the first Christian emperors forbade the use of this pagan temple for worship, in 609 Pope Boniface IV dedicated it to all Christian martyrs, and since then the Pantheon has been the burial place of Italian kings and other famous Italians, including the painter Raphael.
Another amazing Roman building that is striking in its unusual forms is the Castel Sant’Angelo.
One cannot ignore the symbol of the unification of Italy – Vittoriano, nicknamed for its appearance “The Typewriter”. The imposing memorial in honor of the first king is a magnificent monument, a monumental structure and one of Rome’s most impressive landmarks. The National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II was created between 1885 and 1911 to commemorate the success of the national liberation movement of the Risorgimento and the achievement of Italian independence in 1870. This huge structure, 135 meters long and 130 meters wide, stands 70 meters high. Next to Vittoriano is the Altar of the Fatherland and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. At the eastern end of the monument is the Museum of the Renaissance, dedicated to the Italian independence movement.
Walking around Rome, it is impossible not to get to the two main squares of this city – the fountain-decorated Piazza Navona and the rounded Piazza del Popolo, from which you can get to the huge park called Villa Borghese. These are the places worth visiting in Rome. One of Rome’s most characteristic baroque squares, Piazza Navona still preserves the remains of the Roman stadium created here by Emperor Domitian. The site was used for festivals and races during the Middle Ages, and was restored in the Baroque style by Borromini. He designed a magnificent series of palaces and the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone on the west side of Navona, which became the prototype of many other churches in Italy.
In the crypt of Sant’Agnese, the remains of the Roman mosaic floor are preserved. Although Borromini designed the square itself and the surrounding facades, it was his main rival Bernini who created the central attraction of Navona, the beautiful baroque Fiumi Fountain. The powerful fountain represents four rivers of different continents – the Nile, the Ganges, the Danube and La Plata. The other two fountains in Piazza Navona are the 16th century Del Moro in front of the Pamphili Palace and the 19th century Neptune Fountain. Today the square is constantly filled with Romans, tourists, street artists, souvenir stalls, cafes, and during December it hosts one of Rome’s best Christmas markets. Between the Piazza and the Pantheon is the church of San Luigi di Franceschi with three major masterpieces by Caravaggio.
San Giovanni in Laterano
Also not to be overlooked is the famous Roman basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano, which is one of the oldest Christian churches in the world. As you would expect from the Pope’s Episcopal Church, San Giovanni in Laterano is one of Rome’s most impressive churches. After centuries of change, it still retains its original form from the time of Constantine the Great. The façade of the church is a fine example of the Baroque period, along with the mosaics in the apse and the beautiful 16th-century wooden ceiling. The octagonal baptistery of San Giovanni Fonte became a model for later structures throughout Europe. In Laterano is the oldest Christian baptistery in the world. The Scala Santa Church on the other side of the square has the Holy Stairs, with 28 steps, which were moved to Rome in the fourth century from Pilate’s palace in Jerusalem.
While I don’t argue that the undeniable symbol of Rome is the Colosseum, for me the most amazing and beautiful site of this ancient city is the Trevi Fountain. One of Rome’s most popular landmarks, this 17th century masterpiece has been immortalized in movies and novels. Tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain is a tradition that guarantees a repeat visit to the city. The original site was an aqueduct that delivered water to the baths of Marcus Agrippa, the great patron of the arts of the first century B.C. Rome’s largest fountain was built by Nicolo Salvi for Pope Clement XII between 1732 and 1751. Trevi is topped with a statue of the sea god Neptune on horseback. The water descends along numerous statues, figures and artificial rocks, and collects in a large pool, always filled with coins.
At the foot of the Spanish Steps there is also an interesting fountain, the Barcaccia Fountain. Oddly enough, the construction of the Spanish Steps was financed by the French ambassador and leads to the French church of Trinita di Monti. The Staircase, however, takes its name from the Piazza della España in a neighborhood in Rome. The oval Barcaccia fountain at the foot of the staircase was created by Pietro Bernini, son of the great Baroque architect Lorenzo Bernini. The Church of Trinità di Monti, built by Louis XII in 1502, still retains some of its original Gothic arches, and to the southwest of Piazza della Spagna is Rome’s most fashionable shopping street. Its famous Caffe Greco is famous for famous artists, writers and musicians who frequented it.
Sightseeing in Rome and the Vatican
The Vatican City is the smallest independent state in the world with an area of less than half a square kilometer. Behind the Vatican walls are the palace and gardens, the Cathedral and St. Peter’s Square. This area is ruled by the Pope, the supreme head of the Roman Catholic Church. The compact space of the Vatican is of great tourist interest, with numerous museums and the largest basilica. St. Peter’s Basilica houses masterpieces by Michelangelo, the Pietà, sculptures and altars by Bernini and many other treasures. The main attraction of the Vatican is the Sistine Chapel, whose magnificent ceiling is decorated with frescoes – the most famous work of Michelangelo. The Raphael Rooms, the Borgia Chambers, the Vatican Library and many museums, including the Picture Gallery, the Museum of Secular Art, the Etruscan Museum and others are worth checking out. Their collections cover everything from ancient times to 20th century art reflecting important religious themes.
Catacombs and the Appian Way
The Catacombs of San Callisto and San Sebastiano along the Appian Way are astounding in their size and complex multi-level networks of passageways and tunnels. Underground there are six sacred chapels created between 290 and 310 with pagan and early Christian murals. San Sebastiano is one of the seven pilgrim churches of Rome, created in the fourth century on the site of old cemeteries and catacombs. The catacombs of Domitilla are the largest in Rome, with 15 kilometers of underground passages and an underground basilica. More than 80 tombs and a second-century fresco of “The Last Supper” are preserved here. The Appian Way is one of the oldest and most important Roman highways. It was built around 300 B.C. and extended to the port of Brindisi in about 190 B.C. Parallel to the road are the ruins of the aqueducts that supplied the city with water. Among the cypress trees on both sides of the road are the remains of graves belonging to aristocratic Roman families. The most prominent of these is the tomb of Caecilia Metella and her husband.
The Baths of Diocletian
Diocletian’s Thermae was so enormous that to this day it houses two surviving churches, part of the Carthusian monastery and a major museum. Michelangelo used the vast tepidarium (hot baths) as the basis for his Church of Santa Maria del Angeli and the National Museum of Rome. It holds the most valuable treasures of antiquity: Greek and Roman sculptures, pre-Christian and later sarcophagi, and beautiful mosaics and frescoes. The 16th-century church of San Bernardo alle Terme was created in a rotunda at the corner of the Diocletian Baths. Its dome is similar to that of the Pantheon, but half the size.
Strategically located above the Tiber, Palatine Hill is evidence of Rome’s earliest settlement. Archaeological finds in front of the Temple of Cybele prove human activity as early as the ninth century B.C. Several centuries later the hill was chosen by emperors and great aristocratic families for their palaces. The Farnese Gardens were created in the 16th century for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese with many terraces, pavilions, lawns, flowerbeds, trees and fountains. A special decoration of Palatine Hill are the Chamber of Livia, the semi-subterranean Cryptoporticus, the Domus Flavius, the Domus Agustana, and the most imposing Baths of Septimius Severus. Palatine Hill is a great place to explore the sights of Rome, combining a park with magnificent ancient Roman ruins.
The largest and best preserved forum of the Roman Empire, the Forum of Emperor Trajan was created at the beginning of the second century and included an impressive complex of buildings and monuments: a temple, a basilica, a series of markets and three monuments in honor of the emperor. During the Middle Ages, new buildings were built in the forum area, including the Tower of the Militia, the churches of Santa Maria di Loreto and Santissimo Nome di Maria. Modern streets were also laid out. The ruins of the Basilica of Ulpia are at the far end of the Trajan’s Forum, with a Hall measuring 130 by 125 meters and two libraries. Between the libraries there is a splendid monument of Roman sculptors, the 38-meter-high Trajan’s Victory Pillar, made of marble from the Greek island of Paros. It is covered by a spiral border 200 meters long with more than 2,500 scenes of the Trajan Wars, pictures of fighting soldiers, galloping horses and Roman military equipment. At the base of the pillar was placed a golden urn containing the ashes of Emperor Trajan, under whom the Roman Empire reached its highest point of development. Impressive red brick walls and rows of semi-circular covered markets rise behind the forum on the slopes of the Quirinale.
The Thermae of Caracalla
The Thermae and Baths have always held a special place among the attractions of Rome. Built in 216, the Baths of Caracalla were much more than just public baths. They were a complete sports center, with hot and cold baths, a swimming pool, dry and steam saunas, a gymnasium, social rooms, gardens, a library, a barbershop, and stores. The large and imposing structure covered an area of 300 square meters, a complex of gigantic halls whose domes were supported by huge columns. The thermae could accommodate up to 1,500 people at a time. Their floors and walls were covered with marble, mosaics and frescoes.
Monuments of antiquity in Rome. What to see in the Capital of Italy for the lovers of antiquity
Every year, Rome is visited by millions of tourists. Among them, many lovers of antiquity and the history of ancient Rome . For them, the capital of Italy is a kind of Mecca. So many monuments and famous sights, as in Rome, there is nowhere else. It has preserved and individual buildings, and huge architectural ensembles. Some of them are iconic and world famous, some are not so popular and are of interest only to connoisseurs. So what should be the first thing to see for lovers of antiquity.
Colosseum is a symbol of Rome and is depicted on all postcards and souvenirs. It is located in a valley between the Janiculum, Palatine, and Caelius hills. Its construction was started by Emperor Vespasian and was finished 8 years later in 80 AD by his son, Emperor Titus. During the Roman Empire, it was called the Flavius amphitheater, after the dynasty that built it, and had a seventy thousand seat capacity. The Colosseum is a strict regular ellipse and is very similar to a modern stadium. At the center of the arena was located, where the bloody gladiatorial fights took place, the cruel hunt of wild animals, spectacular naval battles. The Roman citizens attended the performances free of charge and sat on the four tiers. The upper tier was reserved for women and the poor, the lower one for the emperor and his family, and the upper tier for the upper class.
The Palatine is very close to the Colosseum. You can get to it with the same ticket as the Colosseum. The Palatine is now a large park with ruins . If you don’t know much about the history of ancient Rome, it may seem boring. But Palatine is the heart of ancient Rome, here he emerged, there were the mansions of the nobility, built his palace of Octavian Augustus – the first emperor, Tiberius – his successor, Domitian – the second son of Vespasian. The ruins of these palaces can still be seen with your own eyes and you can imagine how grand and magnificent those buildings were. Nearby is the Caca staircase, the oldest entrance to the hill. Nearby are the remains of huts attributed to the house of Romulus. There are the ruins of walls believed to be the first walls of Rome.
Roman Forum is the main square of ancient Rome. At the Forum was all trading and social life. It is located in a valley between the Palatine, Esquiline and Capitoline hills. A ticket bought at the Colosseum and Palatine is also valid at the Roman Forum. Once there, you will see the Temple of Venus, the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, the Temple of Caesar on whose wall hangs a plaque signed by the famous historian Appianus, the Temple of Vesta with the abode of the Vestalians. You will pass by the ruins of the basilicas where the trials took place. Wondering three tall marble columns. They are called the “Three Sisters” and are all that remains of the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the oldest temple of the Forum. The sacred road crosses the Forum from west to east. It was used by the victorious legions who carried the rich spoils of innumerable wars. The Holy Road ends with the Temple of Saturn , which in the days of the Republic served as the treasury of the state.
The Pantheon is a grand temple, built by Emperor Hadrian and dedicated not to a particular deity but to all the gods. Of most ancient buildings have survived only ruins, and only the Pantheon has remained in its original form. It happened because Christians have turned the former pagan temple in the Church of St. Mary and the Martyrs. It is located on Piazza della Rotonda, the church is still active and the entrance is free. Inside, the building is striking in its appearance and monumentality, the domed ceiling is very high. And inside the church there is a mysterious atmosphere, created by the semi-darkness. There are no windows in the building, the light penetrates only through the doors and the only aperture in the dome.
The Baths of Caracalla
The Thermae of Caracalla
The Thermae of the Emperor Caracalla are located in the southern part of Rome. They are a huge complex of public baths and are astonishing in their gigantic size even now. Not without reason in ancient times were listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Thermae are not just baths in the usual sense of the word. In addition to showers, baths and swimming pools with hot and cold water, the building had a gym, sports fields and even a library. The complex could accommodate up to 2,000 people at a time, and entry for the citizens of the empire was free. The only charge was for the food, separate washing rooms, and guarding of clothing and personal belongings.
In addition to popular cultural monuments in Rome almost at every step can be found less well-known .
The Pyramid of Gaius Cestius
Pyramid of Gaius Cestius
The pyramid is the tomb of the tribune Gaius Cestius, who built it in the fashion of Ancient Egypt. It is near the metro station Piramide.
In imperial times, the castle was a mausoleum where Emperors Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, Septimius Severus and Caracalla were buried. The mausoleum was built for 12 years by Emperor Hadrian and is a huge round building, which does not resemble a mausoleum outwardly. It is located near the cathedral of St. Peter, behind the obelisk. Currently, the castle is a museum.
Trajan’s Column is located in the Trajan’s Forum , built in honor of the Roman victory over the Greeks. The column is 38 meters high and on its surface scenes from two wars between the Romans and the Danes are depicted in historical sequence. Photographs of these very battle scenes appear in almost every Ancient Roman textbook.
Aurelian’s Wall was a fortress wall built by Emperor Aurelian . For many years Rome did not know what it was like to be attacked by enemies. Usually the Romans themselves invaded neighboring states and waged wars on their territory. In imperial times, the borders were so far away from Italy that there was no need to guard Rome. But that all changed over time, and the Emperor Aurelian, realizing the barbarian threat, surrounded the capital with a strong wall. You can see those walls near the Flamino and San Giovanni subway stations.
After every major victory, the Romans built a triumphal arch. That’s why the city is literally filled with them. The most famous and significant of them :
– Arch of Constantine.
– The Arch of Constantine.
Built by Emperor Constantine after his victory in the battle near the Mulva Bridge over his rival Maxentius .
– Arch of Titus.
– Arch of Titus.
Built by Emperor Domitian in honor of his brother Titus and father Vespasian, who won the Judean War.
– The Arch of Septimius Severus.
– The Arch of Septimius Severus.
It commemorates the victory of the Emperor Septimius Severus over Parthia.
The listed monuments and sights of ancient Rome are not limited to. Nearly everywhere you can find a statue of a famous historical figure, a beautiful bas-relief, or the remains of a beautiful temple. The city is full of antiques and objects of antiquity . And, of course, all this is better to see once than read a hundred times.