The Colosseum is definitely one of Rome's main tourist attractions and is considered one of the 7 wonders of the world. It could hold 40,000 seated spectators (and another 10,000 standing), making it the largest theater in the entire Roman Empire. It was built between 72 and 80AD by the Flavian emperors, to whom it owes its original name: the Flavian Amphitheater. The name Colosseum comes from the gigantic Colossus of Nero statue nearby which, sadly, is not standing today. The Emperor Titus inaugurated the Colosseum during a celebration lasting 100 days.
The spectacles were meant to be a form of public entertainment. Admission was free and the cost of running the events was bore by the Empire. Seating was according to social class, with the aristocratic class seated near the front and lower classes in the higher seats. There were public executions, animal hunts, dramatic plays, and all kinds of gladiator battles.
The Colosseum is located in downtown Rome and is easily reached on the Via dei Fori Imperiali. You can also take the Metro line B and get off at the Colosseo station or by bus. I'd suggest getting tickets on Palatine Hill as these tickets include a visit to the Colosseum and the queues will definitely be shorter. Or, just simply get the Roma Pass.
The Trevi Fountain has its origins in the year 19BC when a freshwater spring was discovered, supposedly with the help of a Virgin. The discovery of this spring led Romans to build an aqueduct which, as was the tradition of the time, ended with a fountain. And so the Trevi Fountain was built.
The monumental fountain we admire today was built in the 18th century by an obscure character named Nicola Salvi. It took 30 years to built and ended up ruining Salvi's health. He died unable to undertake other projects and without seeing his beautiful fountain completed (the work was finished by Pietro Bracci). One of the Trevi Fountain's most outstanding features is the contrast between the fountain's overwhelming grandeur and its location amid narrow alleyways and tiny squares. It was intentionally designed to elicit a surprise from tourists, most of whom are no doubt deeply impressed when they come face to face with it.
What I want to talk about, though, are the statues: at the top, the papal shield stands between two winged figures playing trumpets. Below, there are sculptures representing the four seasons and the cyclical nature of time. On either side of the main figure, there are two reliefs that depict the story of Agrippa’s soldiers discovering the spring with a dowsing rod and Agrippa ordering the construction of the aqueduct.
Two other large statues tell of the benefits of this water: good health (the snake, still symbolic of pharmacies, was associated with Asclepius, the god of medicine), and the arrival of material goods (the cornucopia). Finally, Neptune is center-stage under a grand triumphal arch. The titan of the ocean brings to mind both Bernini and Michelangelo. On either side, winged sea horses dart furiously at onlookers.
It's truly impressive. You'll want to sit and stay for a while, transfixed by the fountain’s beauty.
For centuries, the Roman Forum was a marshy and unpleasant gully that the Romans used as a cemetery. The Etruscan kings finally drained it and the resulting space became used for public events. Walking through the forum is like being in a movie. You expect to see a victorious Caesar arriving through the triumphal arch to a cheering crowd. The Temple of Vesta, Trajan’s column, and the Mamertine Prison are also unforgettable.
On Sundays, they close the Via dei Fori Imperiali, the street which runs from the Forum to the Colosseum. Romans love to go for a walk in the area and it’s the perfect chance for tourists to explore and take photos of this amazing area without having to worry about the traffic. I’d recommend going on Sundays.
The Piazza Navona is one of the most famous squares in Rome. It's located east of the river not far from the Vatican. This is where the Stadium of Domitian was located in ancient times and if you view the area from above, you can still imagine the circular form of the arena. The square itself is like a work of art, not only because of the sculptures and fountains but also due to the surrounding buildings. The ruins of the ancient arena are nearby and you can get a good idea of what the zone was like a thousand years ago.
Bernini's Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi is located at the center of the square along with the obelisk. The fountain represents the four great rivers of the world: the Rio de la Plata (the Americas), the Danube (Europe), the Nile (Africa), and the Ganges (Asia). It's one of the busiest squares in the city and is usually crowded with locals as well as street artists who come during spring and summer afternoons to paint and entertain the crowds of tourists. The Church of Sant'Agnese in Agone is another major landmark in the square. A popular Christmas market is held during the holiday season, but there is also a street market on weekends.
The area surrounding the square seems pretty exclusive judging by the spectacular homes and not-so-affordable cafes and restaurants in the area. That being said, having lunch on a terrace is a true pleasure, especially when the weather is nice. After lunch, have a stroll and see if you can figure out which fountain represents which river. It's during those moments that you realize how truly majestic this city is.
"Angelic and non-human design," was how Michelangelo described the Pantheon 14 centuries after its construction. The highlights are the gigantic dome, the upper eye, the sheer size of the place, and the harmony of the whole building. We visited with a Roman guide which is exactly how you should (or shouldn't) visit the city, especially since they talk too much and have lots and lots of history of each building.
And so we learned things like how the interior dome was filled with sand during construction. Or not, because it really is impossible to be sure of anything when one doesn't know Italian and the guide has a very thick Roman accent. But we loved the place, especially the entrance portico with its stout columns.
The essence of Rome's charm lies in its historic ruins and architecture, two facets of the Eternal City which continue to seduce and enchant thousands of visitors.
Aside from the city's imperial highlights, a certain Etruscan flavor can also be found in the charming Trastevere neighborhood. It is said to have once been the most popular part of the city and that Julius Caesar himself lived in one of its majestic gardened homes.
Trastevere is a paradise for city-explorers. If you like the walk the streets and soak in the old-fashioned atmosphere of traditional trattorias, then this district on the banks of the Tiber is for you. There's nothing better than having a good slice of pizza al taglio on a sunny terrace before heading off to sample some refreshing gelato.
You can also peruse the art galleries and second-hand clothes stores, but the best way to experience it is to sit down at a Roman table to delight the palate while enjoying the views of the area's beautiful basilicas.
I don't know if it's a blemish on a city with so much beautiful art or if I should take it as another piece of history that's worth investigating. The emperor Hadrian decided that he wanted his remains buried in a garden that had long belonged to the imperial family and joined the garden to the land with a bridge known at the time as Elio. If you visit the interior, specifically the Treasure Room, you'll be in the heart of the mausoleum where the remains of the emperor were buried. Emperors continued to be buried there up until Caracalla, the last emperor to be buried there before the building was converted into a fortress. The building is shrouded in legends of treachery, political intrigues, and tunnels which connect with the Vatican, but the imposing exterior also hides an astonishingly delicate interior which breathes life into this place built to house death. All of this amazing history is found right there on the banks of the eternal Tiber.
Piazza di Spagna is one of the most famous squares in Rome. You can reach it by following the Via Due Maccelli. If you’re coming from the Trevi Fountain, go past the Column of the Immaculate Conception and you’ll find Bernini’s famous early-baroque fountain, the Fontana della Barcaccia. It is surrounded by the famous steps of the church of Santa Trinita dei Monte and the start of the Via dei Condotti. To the north, the Via del Babuino leads to the Piazza del Popolo. It is a magical place and always packed with crowds of people from all over the world.
Built of white marble between 1895 and 1911, this is a grand memorial to Vittorio Emmanuel II (1830-1878), the first king of unified Italy.
It's located on the Piazza Venezia at the end of the Via del Corse and close to the Roman Forum. As soon as you enter the complex, you're greeted by two huge tri-color flags. The colossal monument is about 135m. wide and 81m. tall (including the chariots that adorn the towers on both sides).
When you climb the steps, there’s a great equestrian statue of the King. To the right, there is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of WWI with an eternal flame and two soldiers standing permanent guard It also offers exception views of Rome, a fact which makes the tiring climb worthwhile. Although the monument was very controversial in its day and has received all kinds of humorous and derogatory nicknames over the years (the Allies famously called it the "typewriter" when they entered Rome in 1944), it is still one of the most-visited monuments in the city after the Vatican and the Roman Ruins.
The base houses a museum on the Unification of Italy.
The Bocca della Verita is the most famous lie detector in Rome. What it is is a marble mask with a hole in the mouth, which is supposed to bite the hand of liars. Those who pass the test are allowed to enter the 8th-century Chiesa di Santa Maria in Cosmedin. The entrance was added later while the three columns that hold the nave come from the arches of an old market. Between April and September it is open from 9.00 - 18.00 and from October to March it is open from 9:00 - 17:00. The closest bus stop is "Via dei Cerchi".
Moses is a white marble sculpture created in 1509 by Michelangelo (1475-1564) and depicts the biblical character Moses. It was originally designed for the tomb of Pope Julius II in St. Peter's Basilica, but was finally set in the minor church of San Pietro in Vincoli after the Pope's death.
The statue actually depicts Moses with horns on his head, a feature which is believed to come from a mistranslation of the Jerome chapter of Exodus 34:29-35. In the text, Moses is characterized by "karanohrpanav" ("a face emanating rays of light"), which St. Jerome translated as "esset facies sua cornuta" ("his face was horned").
The fascinating bodily detail of the bulging muscles, swelling veins, and heavy legs as well as the tension-inducing folds in the garments can be literally studied for hours. They say that Michelangelo, upon finishing this work, was struck by its perfection and shouted "rise!" Honestly, the perfection of the details is overwhelming.
Make sure to take some pocket change with you. They can't charge you for entering the church, but if you want to examine the statue in detail, there is a coin-operated light that you must switch on.
The Piazza del Popolo is one of the most famous squares in Rome and its name means "the People's Square." It’s located at the north gate of the Aurelian walls where the Porta Flaminia once marked the beginning of the Via Flaminia, the main northern road during Imperial times.
The square currently has a neoclassical look thanks to architect Giusseppe Valadier who redesigned it from 1811-1822. If you look at the square from the north, there are three main streets which sprout from the square in trident shape: Via del Corso in the center, Via del Babuino on the left, and the Via di Ripetta to the right. The twin churches of Santa María dei Miracoli (1681) and Santa Maria in Montesanto (1679), begun by Carlo Rainaldi and completed by Bernini and Carlo Fontana, mark the intersection of the streets.
But what really my caught my attention were the three fountains in the square, all designed by Giuseppe Valadier to represent the Goddess Rome with the Tiber and Aniene rivers and the God Neptune with two tridents. In the center, there's another group of four smaller fountains surrounding the Egyptian obelisk and its decorative lions.
For me, this is the most impressive arch in Rome. It's located on a road between Caelian Hill and Palatine Hill where they once celebrated victory marches. It's 21 meters high, 26 meters wide, and more than 7 meters thick. It was built in 315AD to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the reign of Constantine and his victory over Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312AD. A restoration took place in 1804 and it is now decorated with medallions.
Constantine I is considered to be the first Christian Emperor since he converted to Christianity on his deathbed. This arch, however, makes no reference to this. The bottom of the arch is built from blocks of marble and the upper part is brick with marble trim. As far as the decoration goes, it's in accordance with other monuments of the time: Flavian columns, sculptures of Trajan, and roundels of Adrian. There are also reliefs of Constantine and a very detailed depiction of the battle.
First off, if you can, try to be at the tabularium for sunset...the view is magical, especially during the low season when there aren't many visitors.
This is the main museum of the city of Rome. Paintings, bronzes, busts, coins, and archaeological artifacts are only some of what you’ll find here. The Capitoline Museums are found in the Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo in the highly-photogenic Piazza del Campidoglio.
In 1471, Pope Sixtus IV donated a large collection of bronzes from the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran including the famous Capitoline Wolf, now a symbol of the city, which was placed in the courtyard of the palace of the Conservatives, making it the world's oldest public museum. The collection grew thanks to the donations of several popes including Pius V and Paul III who wanted to purge the Vatican of its pagan sculptures. The Palazzo Nuovo was added to the museum in 1654.
Once in Rome you will pass by the Piazza Venezia a thousand times, situated in the Neuralgia center of the Eternal City. Many main roads start here, such as Via del Corso, Via dei Fori Imperiali, Via del Plebiscito, etc. Piazza Venezia is surrounded by three streets, the magnificent Vittorio Emanuele II monument, the Palace, images of Romulus and Remus and the world, and beautifully unique buildings. It is always crowded with pedestrians and thousands of cars, buses and motorbikes that pass through on their way to other places.
The Tiber is the third longest river in Italy and has a length of 405 kilometers. It begins in the Apennines and winds its way through other cities, and then crosses Rome from north to south. In Roman times it was an important means of communication and transportation. There is a boat line that has six stops starting from the Duca D'Aosta Bridge near the Olympic Stadium and Tiber Island, situated in the historic center of the capital. During the spring and summer the area is full of lively terraces where you can enjoy a drink in the evening.
The Villa Borghese is located in northern Rome and is one of the most famous parks the city. To get there, take the metro to the Flaminio stop at Piazza del Popolo and then you can walk from there. Alternately, there’s a bus that goes to the Porta Pinciana stop. A place like the Villa Borghese is perfect for art history fans and lovers who enjoy long walks. The park is huge park and houses some of the best galleries in Rome. The origins of the park date back to Pope Paul V who gave this part of the city to his nephew after making him Cardinal.
What I liked most of all was the stunning Galleria Borghese. We had to buy tickets online and make a reservation in advance, something essential if you want to view the artworks inside. It was the best part of my trip to Rome. The Galleria Borghese is based in a 17th-century neoclassical casino, but I can’t show you too much from the inside since photography isn't allowed. The things that most impressed were the Bernini sculptures. The best known of his works is Apollo and Daphne, though all are incredible. The painting part was pretty spectacular as well. The gallery has works by Caravaggio, Titian, Botticelli, Raphael, Rubens, and more. If all the fine art gets a little overwhelming, you can always step out into the gardens to relax!
The gardens are beautifully maintained and there are plenty of benches if you’d like to sit down and take a rest. You can even rent bikes for just 3 Euros. The Villa Borghese deserves at least an entire morning of your time; you’ll be in a really beautiful environment and be able to see some of the best works of art in Rome.
None of the great Roman basilicas represent a mixture of different styles so skillfully as Santa Maria Maggiore.
Her triple-hall format is lined with columns from the original 5th-century building. The floor is made of cosmatesque white marble and the charming and romantic bell tower is from the medieval era.
There is also a Renaissance ceiling, a gift of Pope Alexander VI, which is said to have been done with the first gold brought from the Americas. The mosaics in the apse are incredible and the entire temple seems to glow in gold, silver, bronze, and sterling white marble. Outside, you find the grand obelisk erected by Pope Sixtus V to guild pilgrims to the door, as if the massive and monumental church wasn't enough.
Now, let's give some credit to the legend of its foundation in 352. Apparently, the Pope had a dream in which the Virgin commanded him to build a church on the next spot where he found snow. After a hot August night, the Pope woke up and to his surprise found snow on the Esquiline. The Pope obeyed and built his church. The miracle of the snow is celebrated every year when hundred of white flower pedals are strewn from the roof of the church. The pedals were originally from roses but now they're from dahlias.