Rome’s Top Attractions

Rome is the center of Christendom, but also a modern city that offers so many things to do to those who decide to visit it: impressive historical sites to discover, good food, fun activities and much more. Although many people pick Rome as the destination for an over the weekend city break, there are so many things to do and see in Rome that a mere 48 or 72 hours would simply not be enough. Our first tip is to take a Rome city tour. It saves time and money, and it provides you with the chance to sample the best of the Eternal City in a very short time. However, if you are short on time and prefer to sightsee Rome on your own, here are the landmarks that you must definitely check out :

The Roman Colosseum

The Roman ColosseumThe Roman Colosseum is a magnificent sight, and a place charged with history. Once in Rome, you cannot miss the opportunity of visiting this 2000 years old landmark (it was completed in the year 80 AD).

The biggest amphitheatre in the whole Roman Empire, the Colloseum was formerly known as Teatro Flavio because it was built upon the Emperor Vespasian Flavien’s orders.  The current name was coined later, when Colosso di Nerone (a giant statue of Nero, rising to 35 meters above the ground) was erected.

Used for games and gladiator shows in its early times, the Roman Colosseum was ruined and devastated along the century, but it still gives a poise of its initial grandeur and magnificence.

One can see a never ending line of people who bear the scorching heat of the sun to get the tickets for entry. However, you can avoid this and save quite a bit of time and money by purchasing your tickets in advance over the internet.

Tours of the Colosseum

Ancient Rome and Colosseum Half-Day Tour Colosseum and Ancient Rome Tour by Night Colosseum Underground Small-Group Tour

Start your tour near Oppian Hill to enjoy panoramic views of the Colosseum, and then stroll down to it. As you walk around the Colosseum’s first and second tiers, you will hear tales of gladiators, mock sea-battles and executions.

See Ancient Rome and the Colosseum by night on this exciting evening tour! Hear little-known facts about Rome’s top sights and gain rare access to the Colosseum after dark, walking around its arena floor and underground chambers.

Follow a local guide and immerse yourself into the fascinating atmosphere of Ancient Rome, touring the mighty Colosseum, including the subterranean underground chambers usually restricted to visitors.
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The Roman Forum

Roman ForumOne of the best known sites of Rome, the Roman Forum was once the focal point of the powerful and widespread Roman Empire.  You may need a bit of imagination to picture in your mind the whole glory that this landmark once knew. A place for public gatherings, debates and trading exchanges, it consisted of temples dedicated to the deified emperors, basilicas and shops.

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The main sites within the Forum include:

– the 8 remaining columns of the Temple of Saturn – the oldest landmark in the area, whose history goes back to 500 BC.

–  the impressive Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine whose central nave exceeds 35 meters, and whose construction was started under the emperor Maxentius’ orders in 305 AD and completed by Emperor Constantine in 312. It housed the famous head of Constantine that you can now see in the courtyard of the Capitoline Museums.

– the Curia, former headquarter of Rome’s Senate, rebuilt by Emperor Diocletian in 283 AD after it had been destroyed by a fire;

–  the arc Seventh-Severus, located right in the center of the Forum. It was erected to celebrate the victory of the emperor over the Parthians.

– the column of Phocas raised by Pope Boniface IV, who wanted to thank the Emperor Phocas that had offered him an impressive gift: the Pantheon;

– the Temple of Venus and Roma

– the Temple of Julius Caesar with the altar on which the famous Roman ruler’s body was burned after his death;

– the House of the Vestal Virgins – the famous Roman goddesses and priestesses’ residence;

– Umbilicus Urbis – Ancient Rome’s focal point;

– the  circularly shaped Temple of Vesta, where the sacred fire used to be kept;

– the Arch of Titus  with its delicate mural sculptures commemorating the capture of Jerusalem by the Roman armies in 70 AD.

Trevi Fountain

Trevi FountainThe most famous fountain in Rome, La Fontana de Trevi owes its reputation to its Baroque architecture, but also to the old throwing coins tradition.

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It is said that if you turn your back and throw a coin in this fountain designed by Niccolo Salvi in 1732, you will definitely visit Rome again.

Even if superstitions are not your thing, it’s worth a try: Rome is such a charming city that you will want to visit again and again. Anyway, don’t miss the opportunity to take some pictures with the God of Oceans and its chariot led by sea horses and tritons in the background.

Piazza Navona

Piazza NavonaPiazza Navona is one of the most popular landmarks both for tourists and for residents. This square was once the site where an ancient circus used to give performances and entertain the Romans.

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The circus is obviously not there anymore, but you can clearly see that it has left its clearly-defined outline on the curved buildings which once surrounded its stage.

 

 

 

The Palatine Hill

StadioThe Palatine Hill is the central hill out of the seven, on which Rome was built. Many myths are related to this place, and the most famous of all tells the story of two twins (Remus and Romulus).

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The legend says that after escaping the churning waters of the Tiber, they were found and nurtured on the Palatine Hill by a she-wolf.

Romulus is said to be the founder of a human settlement on the place he and his brother were miraculously saved. Excavations seem to confirm, at least in part, the legend as they bring the evidence of people living on the site around 1000 BC. Later the Palatine Hill housed luxurious imperial palaces founded by important Roman emperors, who led lavish lives. Augustus was the first to take up residence on the hill. He was then imitated by Tiberius and Domitian.

On the current site, you will not see the residence of Tiberius (Domus Tiberiana) because it was covered in the 16th century by the Farnese Gardens (Orti Farnesiani). The latter offer a beautiful view of the Forum. From Domitian’s time, there are the remains of the Domus Augustana (his private residence)  and Domus Flavia (the place of ceremonies and a stadium). Another great attraction on Palatine Hill is a recently discovered cave  in which ancient Romans celebrated Lupercalia.

The Pantheon

PantheonBuilt by Marcus Aggripa in 27 BC, then destroyed by a fire and rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian around the year 125 A.D., the Pantheon is the best preserved Roman building. The temple of all gods, the Pantheon makes the subject of many legends and myths.

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This architectural gem with its majestic dome has fascinated many artists. Its facade is composed of an imposing portico of 16 granite columns. When you are inside the Pantheon, you’ll notice that the oculus, the hole in the centre of the dome – the only source of light for the entire building. It also keeps the building cool and airy.

The chapels have curved and triangular decorative elements. The original statues of ancient gods were housed in niches. Unfortunately none of them was preserved. Today, the Pantheon is also home to the tombs of Victor Emmanuel II (the first king of Italy), Umberto I and artists like Raphael and Peruzzi.

The Appian Way

Appian WayThe most famous of the ancient roads of Rome and one of the most sought after addresses in the city, the Appian Way is the ideal place to spend a sunny morning . Going through lush green fields dotted by archaeological ruins will help you get the image of Italian pastoral beauty.

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And yet, this bucolic landscape contrasts with its bloodstained past. It was on the Appian Way that Spartacus was crucified together with 6000 of his slave soldiers. This is also the place where catacombs where the early Christians buried their dead.

Saint Peter’s Basilica

Saint Peter BasilicaThe largest and most spectacular church in Rome, St. Peter’s Basilica astounds even nonbelievers. All of it is spectacular, from the majestic square that precedes the grandiose facade and opulent interior.

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It is crowned by Michelangelo’s extraordinary dome, a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture that broke all the molds and is one of the most emblematic of Rome profiles.

The building was designed to impose respect, and even in a city of churches as Rome, it stands far above all others.