There is no question that the city of Rome holds many historical treasures. There are many things to see in Rome that can’t fit in a top 10 list. And, some of those places aren’t all ancient relics. But, let’s face it. When we see buildings and structures that are thousands of years old we can’t help but wonder what time was like in those days. Here are 10 things you must see when you’re in Rome.
See anything you think should be added to the list? Let us know in the comment section below.
10.) The Spanish Steps
A popular spot in Rome is the Spanish Steps. They’re a great place to sit if you are looking for more than just a seat while in Italy. There isn’t much going on other than just sitting around, but it is a great place to watch the goings-on of the city you are visiting. Be aware because pickpockets also know about the great sitting spot of the Spanish Steps.
(Flickr | Benson Kua)
9.) Roman Forum
The Foro Romano is a plaza surrounded by ancient government buildings at the city center of Rome. Everything from trails, elections, speeches and gladiatorial matches were held here–the hot spot for ancient Roman life. The forum is open to foot traffic and awe-inspiring sounds. One look at this place and you can understand why artists have been using the Roman Forum as inspiration for centuries.
(Flickr | -JvL-)
8.) Capuchin Crypt
The crypt beneath the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini isn’t meant to be a morose place. The skeletal remains of 3,700 bodies may contradict that, but it is meant to be a silent reminder of our own mortality. The bodies are thought to be those of Capuchin friars who were buried by their order. If this is on your agenda then be sure to visit all six rooms of the crypt.
(Flickr | Evan Blaser)
7.) Trevi Fountain
The 86ft high and 161ft wide Trevi Fountain is one of the most popular fountains in the world. It was designed by Italian architect, Nicola Salvi, in 1730 and construction began in 1732. The travertine stone fountain features two main stories with the god of all water, Oceanus, in the center niche. Coins are traditionally thrown into the fountain with the right hand over the left shoulder. The euros from the fountain go to subsidize a supermarket for Rome’s needy.
(Flickr | Luigi Guarino)
6.) San Clemente
This three-tiered complex is dedicated to Pope Clemente I. The different tiers of the complex are different ages that go back to as early as the 2nd-century. The most recent addition was done just before the year 1100. The second basilica is where the artwork can be found in one of the most richly adorned churches in Rome.
(Flickr | Diego Cambiaso)
5.) Saint Peter’s Square/Vatican City
The square was designed under the direction of Pope Alexander VII so that the “greatest number of people could see the Pope give his blessing, either from the middle of the façade of the church or from a window in the Vatican Palace” (Norwich 1975 p 175). In the center sits an obelisk made of red granite which was originally
erected at Heliopolis, Egypt by an unknown, 5th-dynasty pharaoh.
(Flickr | cogito ergo imago)
This shouldn’t be confused with the Greek ‘Parthenon’. Of all the ancient buildings and structures in Rome, this one looks almost as it did two thousand years ago. Also, it is still the world’s largest un-reinforced concrete dome. The Pantheon is also used as a tomb. During the Renaissance two painters (Raphael Sanzio da Urbino & Annibale Carracci), a composer (Arcangelo Corelli) and an architect (Baldassare Peruzzi) were buried inside. Also, two kings of Italy are buried inside: Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I, as well as Umberto’s Queen, Margherita.
(Flickr | Navin75)
3.) Palatine Hill
Not only is Palatine Hill the centremost hill of the Seven Hills of Rome, but it is also one of the most ancient parts of the city. According to Roman mythology, Palatine Hill was where the she-wolf, Lupa, found brothers Romulus and Remus and kept them alive. The brothers decided to build their own city on the banks of the River Tiber when they got into an argument Romulus killed Remus and this is how Rome got its name – from Romulus. Bronze Age pots and tools were found during excavations which presented evidence that there was a settlement before Rome’s founding. Palatine Hill, like much of Rome, is a site of rich history.
(Flickr | Dennis Jarvis)
2.) Ostia Antica
Some of the most impressive mosaics can be found in what may be Rome’s first colonia. Ostia Antica has everything a small town would have: a theatre, apartment buildings, and warehouses. The area changed around the time of Constantine I from being an active port to becoming a popular retreat for rich aristocrats from Rome. At its highest point, the town had more than 100,000 people living in it during the 2nd and 3rd centuries.
(Flickr | photographerglen)
1.) The Colosseum
And, of course, The Colosseum. Although it looks nothing like it once did, the power of seeing a place like this is awesome. It would be interesting to be able to relive the days of mock sea battles and dramas based on Classical mythology. After its heyday of a place of entertainment, The Colosseum was reused for housing, a fortress, a quarry, and other non-gladiatorial things. This is one of the Roman Empire’s greatest feat of architecture and engineering.