Rome travel guide
Best in Rome
Rome is a fabulous city for the arts, rich in history, monuments, public squares and permanent art exhibitions.
Within its vastly rich heritage, there are monuments and works of art which best capture the sense of Rome and which no tourist should miss.
It is the monument which has always best symbolized Rome. The emperors of the Flavia family were the ones who originally commissioned the construction of the huge amphitheatre, destined to host the brutal spectacles of gladiator battles and wild animal hunts, and which centuries later would come to symbolize the immortality of Rome.
It has been called The Coliseum only since medieval times, possibly due to the fact that it was quite close to a colossal statue of Nerone. The structure stands on an area that was first occupied by the Domus Aurea artificial lake.
Often described as the biggest church ever built, it is one of the most holy places for Catholics.
Prior to the current basilica, there stood another church, commissioned by Emperor Constantine in the IV century, on this spot traditionally believed to be where Saint Peter, one of Jesus Christ's apostles and the first Christian Pope, was crucified and buried.
Under the papacy of Niccolò V Parentucelli (1447-1455) an extremely long process was begun. In close to two hundred years and with the participation of myriad artists, the complete reconstruction of the structure's façade was completed, transforming it into the beautiful basilica known today.
Without a doubt this is one of Rome's most admired and appreciated marvels.
Cinema definitely has contributed to the monument's notoriety. Films like "La dolce Vita (The Sweet Life)" with Anita Ekberg or "Roman Holiday" with Audrey Hepburn, have brought international fame to this beautiful fountain.
Created under the papacy of Clemente XII around 1735 along the side of Palazzo Poli, it is Nicolò Salvi's masterpiece. To this day it is fed by the waters of the Vergine aqueduct which was constructed in 19 B.C. by the Agrippa Consul.
The castle originally served as a burial place in a peripheral area of Ancient Rome for Emperor Hadrian, and later served as a "castellum" beginning in 1367. Sant'Angelo Castle inseparably links its destiny to those of popes, who adapt it to papal residence, making it an ideal refuge in times of danger. It has also served as a tribunal and a prison.
The castle faces the Sant'Angelo Bridge, one of the most picturesque Baroque structures in Rome. As designed by Bernini, along the bridge stand ten angel statues bearing symbols of the Passion.
In Ancient Rome it stood at the convergence of two important roads and served as the commercial, political, judicial, religious and social heart of the Roman Republic.
At the end of the Republican period, when Rome had become the capitol of an enormous empire extending from Gaul to Asia Minor, the old Roman Forum could not sufficiently handle the city's administrative functions.
Situated on the same street, the Imperial Forums were representative of Imperial Rome, and were the principle center of public and private life.
It is one of the most impressive architectural masterpieces of all time.
Originally realized in 27 B.C. at the request of Marco Vipsanio Agrippa, Augustus Caesar's son-in-law, the monument was completely rebuilt between 118 and 125 A.D. by Emperor Hadrian as a temple dedicated to all the gods.
At the end of the square rises the Santa Maria in Cosmedin church constructed in the XI century. Inside its portico is a rock sculpture shaped like a mask with a hole for the mouth. This is the legendary "Mouth of Truth". It is said that any liar who places his hand in the sculpture's mouth, swearing that he's telling the truth, will suffer his hand to be brutally cut of by the blade of an executioner hidden on the other side of the rock.
It is the biggest entertainment venue of all time, 600 m long and 140 m wide.
There have been many changes to this area throughout the centuries, among the most important those ordered by Julius and Augustus Caesar. Thanks to Julius an actual brick building was constructed. Augustus completed it, restored the hippodrome, decorated it with the obelisk now standing in Piazza del Popolo, and built the cushioned seats.
The thermal complex capable of hosting more than 1,500 people was built by Caracalla between 212 and 217 A.D. For the most part they are well preserved still today.
The baths were restored by Aurelian, Diocletian and Theodoric, and stopped working in 537 only after Vitiges, King of the Ostrogoths, sieged Rome and destroyed the aqueducts in order to cut off the city's water supply.
Already in the XV century this square had acquired a commercially important role due to its high concentration of hotels and foreigners' homes. In fact the square's name refers to the French and Spanish governments' representatives who lived in the area.
Francesco De Santis was the designer of the Spanish Steps, the Trinità dei Monti staircase, referred to as a masterpiece of architecture. His intention was to create a staircase that would serve as a gathering spot for all Rome's citizens.
The staircase is in fact a popular meeting place even today; so much so that it's been nicknamed "Rome's living room."
At the foot of the famous staircase is Pietro Bernini's fountain, called the "Old Boat" due to the fact that in ancient times naval battle games were held where the fountain stands.
It is one of the most spectacular and characteristically Baroque urban complexes in Rome. The square is surrounded by buildings which stand on the remains of the Domitian Stadium. The size and shape of the stadium's track has been preserved by the square's layout. Popular festivals, races, and games still take place here as they have for centuries.