As most of us are aware, travelling through any part of Europe there is so much to see and do that sometimes it can be hard what to see and what to leave out. These are a few of the places I visited in Rome (admittedly a few years ago now) that I think are well worth the time and effort to go and see;
The Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, is an iconic ancient Roman landmark located in the heart of Rome, Italy. It is considered one of the greatest architectural achievements of the ancient world and is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Italy.
Construction of the Colosseum began under the emperor Vespasian in 72 AD and was completed by his son, Titus, in 80 AD. It was built using concrete and stone and measures 189 metres long, 156 metres wide and 50 metres tall - you don't realise how big it actually is until you're there. The Colosseum was designed as an amphitheatre for public spectacles, such as gladiator battles, animal hunts, mock sea battles, and public executions and could seat up to 50,000 spectators. Originally it was covered in marble and decorated with statues and friezes depicting scenes from Roman history and mythology.
Over the centuries, the Colosseum has suffered damage due to earthquakes and natural disasters, as well as from looting and vandalism. However, it still remains a symbol of the power and grandeur of ancient Rome and is a testament to the architectural and engineering skill of the Ancient Romans.
Today, the Colosseum is a major tourist attraction and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visitors can tour the site and learn about the history of the amphitheatre, as well as see the various chambers and tunnels that were used to house gladiators and animals before their public performances.
You can find out more information and entrance tickets by clicking here
2. Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain is one of the most famous landmarks in Rome and is considered one of the most beautiful fountains in the world. It is located in the Trevi district of Rome and is situated at the end of the Aqua Virgo, one of the ancient aqueducts that supplied water to Rome.
The fountain was designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and was completed in 1762, after almost 30 years of construction. The fountain features a large, Baroque-style facade, which is made of travertine stone and decorated with statues and carvings, including several mythical sea creatures and depictions of Roman gods and heroes. At the centre of the facade is a large niche, which contains a statue of Oceanus, the ancient Roman god of the sea. Visitors to the fountain are invited to throw a coin into the pool, which is said to bring good luck and ensure a return visit to Rome.
Over the years, the Trevi Fountain has undergone several restorations to repair damage caused by pollution, weathering, and vandalism. Today, the fountain is a major tourist attraction in Rome and is visited by millions of people each year. The fountain has also been featured in several movies and is considered an iconic symbol of Rome and its rich history and culture.
3. Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps, or Scalinata di TrinitÓ dei Monti in Italian, is the most famous staircase in Rome. The staircase connects the Piazza di Spagna at the base with the TrinitÓ dei Monti church at the top and is a popular tourist destination in Rome.
The Spanish Steps were built in the early 18th century and were designed by Francesco de Sanctis. The staircase features 138 steps and is made of travertine stone. At the base of the staircase is the Fontana della Barcaccia, a fountain shaped like a boat that was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and his son, Pietro.
The Spanish Steps are a popular gathering place for tourists and locals alike and are especially crowded during the spring and summer months (see my picture). The staircase offers a beautiful view of the city, and the Piazza di Spagna at the base is surrounded by upscale shops and cafes.
In recent years, the Spanish Steps have undergone several restorations to repair damage caused by pollution and the extremely heavy foot traffic. In 2019, the staircase was reopened to the public after a year-long restoration project. Today, the Spanish Steps are a symbol of Rome's rich history and culture and are a must-visit destination for anyone travelling to the city.
4. St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica is one of the most famous and impressive churches in the world, located within Vatican City. It is considered one of the holiest sites in Christianity and is the largest church in the world.
The basilica was designed by several famous architects, including Michelangelo, Donato Bramante, and Carlo Maderno, and construction began in the early 16th century. The building of St. Peter's Basilica took over 100 years to complete, and the church was consecrated in 1626.
The basilica is known for its grandeur and beauty, with a vast interior decorated with ornate sculptures, paintings, and intricate mosaics. The centrepiece of the basilica is the Baldacchino, a towering bronze canopy over the altar that was designed by Bernini.
One of the most famous features of St. Peter's Basilica is the PietÓ, a sculpture by Michelangelo that depicts the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother, Mary. The basilica also houses numerous tombs and monuments, including the tombs of many popes throughout history.
The basilica is visited by millions of people every year and is an important pilgrimage site for Catholics. Visitors can tour the basilica, climb to the top of the dome for a panoramic view of Rome, and attend mass or other religious services.
St. Peter's Basilica is also the site of several important religious events, including the election of new popes and the Holy Year Jubilee, which is held every 25 years and attracts millions of pilgrims from around the world. Tickets to visit the Basilica can be booked online
5. Roman Forum
The Roman Forum, also known as the Forum Romanum in Latin, is a rectangular plaza located in the centre of Rome. It was once the centre of political, commercial, and social life in ancient Rome and is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in the world.
The Roman Forum was first developed in the 7th century BC, and over the centuries, it became the centre of Roman public life, with numerous temples, basilicas, and other important buildings constructed around it. The Forum was also the site of many public speeches, religious ceremonies, and political gatherings.
Some of the most famous structures in the Roman Forum include the Temple of Julius Caesar, the Arch of Titus, the Temple of Castor and Pollux, and the Curia Julia, and the Senate House of ancient Rome. The Forum also features numerous ancient ruins, including the remains of the Temple of Saturn, the Temple of Vesta, and the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina.
Today, the Roman Forum is a popular tourist attraction and is visited by millions of people each year. Visitors can explore the ruins and learn about the history of ancient Rome through guided tours or audio guides. The Forum is also included in many tours of ancient Rome, along with other important landmarks such as the Colosseum and the Pantheon.
6. Castel Sant'Angelo
Castel Sant'Angelo, also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian, is a historic building located in Rome. The building was originally commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family, but it was later used as a fortress, a papal residence, and a prison.
The structure was built in the 2nd century AD and features a circular base and a cylindrical structure with several levels, culminating in a terrace with a statue of Hadrian. Over time, the building was fortified and modified, with the addition of battlements, a drawbridge, and other defensive features.
In the Middle Ages, Castel Sant'Angelo became a fortress and a refuge for popes during times of danger. The castle was connected to St. Peter's Basilica by a fortified passageway known as the Passetto di Borgo. In the 16th century, the castle was used as a prison, and it housed some of the most famous prisoners in history, including the philosopher Giordano Bruno.
Today, Castel Sant'Angelo is a popular tourist attraction, and visitors can explore the castle's interior, which features a museum with exhibits on the building's history and the history of Rome. The top of the castle offers a panoramic view of the city, including St. Peter's Basilica and the Tiber River. The castle is also a popular venue for cultural events and concerts.
More information and tickets can be found here
7. Vatican City
Vatican City is an independent city-state located within Rome. It is the smallest country in the world, with an area of just 44 hectares (109 acres) and a population of around 800 people, most of whom are members of the Catholic Church.
The Vatican City is ruled by the Pope, who is the head of the Catholic Church and also serves as the head of state for the Vatican. The city-state was established in 1929, following the signing of the Lateran Treaty between the Holy See and Italy.
The Vatican City is home to some of the most famous landmarks and cultural institutions in the world, including St. Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, and the Vatican Museums. These sites attract millions of visitors each year and are renowned for their art, architecture, and historical significance.
In addition to its cultural significance, the Vatican City is also an important diplomatic and political centre. The Pope has significant influence in global affairs, and the Vatican maintains diplomatic relations with over 180 countries around the world.
Despite its small size, the Vatican City is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, with an economy based on tourism, the sale of stamps and coins, and donations from the Catholic Church. The city-state also has its own police force, the Swiss Guard, and its own radio and television stations.
Overall, the Vatican City is a unique and fascinating place, with a rich history and culture that draws millions of visitors from around the world each year.
Tickets for tours and the museums can be found here
8. Altar of the Fatherland
The Altar of the Fatherland, also known as the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II or the Vittoriano, is a large neoclassical monument located in Piazza Venezia in Rome. It was built between 1885 and 1911 to honour Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a unified Italy, and to celebrate Italian unification.
The monument is massive, standing over 70 meters tall, and it is made of white marble with extensive use of columns, statues, and other decorative elements. It features a large central staircase leading to a bronze statue of Victor Emmanuel II on horseback, surrounded by allegorical figures representing Italian unity and freedom.
The Altar of the Fatherland also houses the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a crypt containing the remains of an unidentified Italian soldier who died during World War I. The tomb is guarded by the Corazzieri, a special unit of the Italian army.
In addition to its historical and cultural significance, the Altar of the Fatherland is also a popular tourist attraction and a symbol of Italian pride and nationalism. Visitors can climb to the top of the monument for panoramic views of Rome and the surrounding area, and the monument also features a museum dedicated to Italian unification and the Risorgimento movement.
9. Mouth of Truth
The Mouth of Truth (Bocca della VeritÓ in Italian) is a marble mask located in the portico of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome. The mask is said to date back to ancient Rome and is believed to have been used as a lie detector during trials.
The mask is carved into a circular piece of marble and depicts a man's face with an open mouth. According to legend, those accused of lying would be required to put their hand in the mouth of the mask, and if they were lying, the mouth would snap shut, severing their hand.
The Mouth of Truth gained further fame in modern times after it was featured in the 1953 film "Roman Holiday" starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. In the film, Peck's character puts his hand in the mouth of the mask as a joke, and the mask snaps shut, leading to a humorous scene.
Today, the Mouth of Truth remains a popular tourist attraction in Rome, and visitors can still put their hand in the mouth of the mask for a photo opportunity. However, the mask is no longer used as a lie detector and is instead regarded as a symbol of honesty and truthfulness.
10. Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel is a world-renowned masterpiece of Renaissance art located in Vatican City, the smallest independent state in the world. The chapel was built in the 15th century by Pope Sixtus IV and is known for its stunning ceiling frescoes, which were painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512.
The Sistine Chapel is a long rectangular room with a high ceiling and walls decorated with frescoes by other artists of the time. The ceiling, however, is the centrepiece of the chapel and is famous for its intricate design and masterful execution. The ceiling depicts scenes from the Book of Genesis, including the Creation of Adam and the Fall of Man, and is considered one of the greatest works of art ever created.
In addition to the ceiling frescoes, the Sistine Chapel is also known for its altar wall, which features a large fresco of the Last Judgment, also painted by Michelangelo. This fresco, which took Michelangelo several years to complete, depicts the resurrection of the dead and the final judgment of souls.
The Sistine Chapel is also an important religious site, as it is the site of the election of each new pope by the College of Cardinals. The chapel can hold up to 200 people, and visitors are required to be respectful of the religious significance of the space.
Today, the Sistine Chapel is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Rome, drawing millions of visitors each year. The chapel is a testament to the incredible artistry and creativity of the Renaissance, and its beauty and significance continue to inspire awe and wonder in all who see it.