Eternal city. The City of Love. The City of the Seven Hills. Caput Mundi (latin for Capital of the World). All these names can be summarized into just one: Rome. Land of ancient legends, powerful rulers and flourishing art, Rome has been for thousands of years one of the most important, interesting and vibrant cities in the world. Also, there is an old saying: All roads lead to Rome. At least once in your life, you should follow one of those roads back to its origin. With such a rich past, the capital of Italy has so much to offer that it’s hard to decide what to do and what to see, especially if you’re visiting only for a few days. Therefore, I compiled a list of 10 best sights of Rome, that you just can’t miss!
1. The Colosseum (Coliseum)
The Colosseum is the most visited monument in Italy and the largest amphitheater in the world. Built between 70-80 A.D. by order of Vespasian emperor, the Colosseum first served the purpose of an arena for gladiator and wild animal fights, as well as for other forms of general public entertainment (even ship battles!), but for centuries it was left to degrade. To be honest, when I stepped inside the amphitheatre, I encountered a layout slightly different than the representation of Colosseum in Hollywood movies. The reason may reside in the fact that what we see today of the monument is mostly reconstructed, but nonetheless still impressive.
2. The Arch of Constantine
This monument was inaugurated in 315 A.D. to celebrate the victory of Constantine I over Maxentius in 312 A.D. It is located just outside the Colosseum and very near of the Roman Forum & Palatine Hill. The Arch of Constantine also hold a record for being the largest triumphal arch made by the romans.
3. The Roman Forum
The Roman Forum is an area that once was the heart of Rome, filled with markets, temples, administrative buildings, squares, and much more. Many cultural and historic events happened in the Roman Forum or are linked to this place. For example, Julius Caesar was cremated here, inside a temple that bears his name (Tempio del Divo Giulio) and the exact spot can be seen even to this day.
4. The Palatine Hill
Like I said in the beginning, one of Rome’s nicknames is the City of the Seven Hills and you can easily guess why: when the city was founded, it embodied… well, seven hills. The Palatine Hill not only the most central of them all (it is located next to all the three sight previously mentioned), but it is located in the most ancient part of the city. According the well-known legend, this is the place where Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were found and adopted by a she-wolf.
5. The Pantheon
The Pantheon is one of the most important buildings of ancient Rome. At its origins it was a place of worship for the Roman gods, but later on it was transformed into a Christian church, which it still is. Therefore, it has free entrance for all visitors. The Pantheon is also the burial place for important Italian personalities, like the artist Raphael and the first king who unified Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II. This architectural masterpiece holds the record for the largest unreinforced dome in the world. Pretty impressive, huh?
6. The Trevi Fountain
Another popular sight of Rome is the Trevi Fountain. It is actually one of the most well known fountains in the world and the largest Baroque fountain in the Eternal city. It is said that if you wish for something and then throw a coin in the water, that wish will come true. As expected, almost all of its visitors have a lot of wishes, because every night approximately 3000 euro are collected from the bottom of the fountain. Don’t worry though, all that money go to charity, so make sure you have some spare change when you arrive there.
7. The Trajan’s Column
Trajan’s Column is a triumphal monument with intricate carvings showing the two wars that took place in 101-102 A.D. and 105-106 A.D. between Romans and Dacians. The battlefield? The current territories of Romania. This is why, if you ever visit the National Museum of Romanian History in Bucharest, you will find there a piece-by-piece replica of the original Trajan’s Column.
8. Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore
Rome has over 900 churches, so why would you pick to visit Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore over the others? On one hand, it has the tallest bell tower of them all (approximately 75m). On the other, this is one of the oldest churches in Rome and it is often called the most important church in the world that is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The architecture and decorations suffered many changes over the years, which transformed it into an impressive kaleidoscope of art styles.
9. Sant’Angelo Castle
This very unique historic monument is located next to the river Tiber and was initially built as a mausoleum for Hadrian emperor. In the Middle Ages it was transformed into a fortress where the popes would escape the Vatican in their time of need. Nowadays it houses a museum with numerous paintings, sculptures, decorations, as well as weaponry from different eras. The ticket is a little bit expensive (14 euro), but the castle has a free app with English/Italian explanations, so you can be your own guide when walking around. Plus, the view from the top is worth every penny!
10. Vatican City
I left the Vatican for last, not because it not as important as the other sights (it was actually my favourite), but because technically, the Vatican is not really a part of Rome, it is a different state within a state, which is also known as an enclave. Still, over the centuries it was strongly connected with Rome from all points of view. It is the seat of the pope, who you can go to see in certain days of the week for a public surmon or for a private hearing. Also, you can visit the Saint Peter Basilica (the biggest church in the world and also free) and the Vatican Museums (very expensive, but worth visiting).
Other things you might be interested in:
If you’re already planning a city break to Rome, here are some good deals for accommodation:
I also have a playlist made specifically for Rome, with songs about Rome. Listen to it while planning the trip, or while roaming the streets of the Eternal City. Check it out here!
Have some fun reading my story about how I nearly attacked a priest, inside one of Rome’s churches.
Now go ahead, get ready for Rome ASAP! If you’re aiming for a city break in Rome, now you know where to go and what to see! What do you think about this destination? What would interest you the most?