Beginning with the legendary foundation by Romulus around 753 BC, Rome, the current capital of Italy, was a city of superlatives. The city was successively the capital of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, the largest city in the world in the first centuries AD and the most important city in Europe for thousands of years.
And if Italy has a substantial part of the tourist attractions of Europe, then surely Rome has a substantial part of the tourist attractions of Italy. Below, we will try to review the most important 10. And if you have a different opinion than us, be sure to tell us in a comment.
10. PIAZZA DI SPAGNA
To the east of the square, there are the Spanish Steps, a monumental staircase of 135 steps built between 1723 and 1725, which makes the connection with Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the Church of Trinità dei Monti. On the right corner of the staircase, there is the house of the English poet John Keats, who died there in 1821, and on the left corner is the Babington’s tea room, a traditional English tea shop founded in 1893.
To the south of the square stands the Palazzo di Propaganda Fide, and in the middle of the square is the famous Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Boat), which dates back to the early Baroque period, sculpted by Pietro Bernini and his son, the more famous Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
9. BASILICA OF ST. JOHN LATERAN
The Basilica of the Most Holy Savior and of the Saints John the Baptist and Evangelist in the Lateran, commonly called Basilica of St. John Lateran, is the mother church of all the Catholic churches in Rome and the entire world.
The basilica was consecrated in 324 by Pope Sylvester I, and dedicated to the Most Holy Savior. In the 9th century, Pope Sergio III dedicated it to St. John the Baptist, while in the 12th century Pope Lucio II dedicated it to St. John the Evangelist.
In 1735, the facade of the Basilica was completed after a design of the architect Alessandro Galilei.
8. PIAZZA NAVONA
Piazza Navona is a beautiful oval shaped square in Rome, built on the site of a Roman stadium.
A public space since the 16th century, Piazza Navona was transformed into a significant example of Baroque architecture during the pontificate of Pope Innocent X, member of the Pamphili family.
In the center of the square, we can find the famous Fountain of the Four Rivers (Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. In the square, we can also admire the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone, the Pamphili Palace, the Moor Fountain (Fontana del Moro), the Fountain of Neptune, the Church of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore), Palazzo de Cupis, Palazzo Torres Massimo Lancellotti and Palazzo Braschi.
7. CASTEL SANT’ANGELO
Originally built in 135 AD as a mausoleum for the Roman emperor Hadrian and his family, it has been partially destroyed in 401, after its conversion to a military fortress and due to the inclusion in the Aurelian Walls.
In the 14th century, the papacy converted the mausoleum into a castle and connected it to St. Peter’s Basilica by a fortified corridor. Later, the Papal state used Castel Sant’Angelo as a prison. Today, the castle houses the Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo.
6. TREVI FOUNTAIN
The construction of the fountain was started by Nicola Salvi in 1732 and completed long after his death, in 1751. Fontana di Trevi was inaugurated on May 22, 1762, by Pope Clement XIII.
The fountain has a height of 26.3 meters and a width of 49.15 metres, being the largest Baroque fountain in Rome. The fountain is made of Travertine stone, quarried near Rome, in Tivoli.
The Pantheon, with a history of nearly 2000 years, is the best preserved Roman structure in the world. Once a Roman temple, the Pantheon is now a catholic church, and one of the main attractions of Rome.
At 43 meters wide and 43 meters high, the Pantheon’s dome is a perfect sphere resting on a cylinder. The oculus, the only source of natural light in the Pantheon, is a round opening in the centre of the dome.
The portico presents a front colonnade of eight Corinthian columns. The interior of the porch has four pink columns creating three aisles.
4. ST. PETER’S SQUARE
St. Peter’s Square is a beautiful piazza located in Vatican City, overlooked by the St. Peter’s Basilica. The square is the main meeting point for the Catholic faithful from all over the world.
The most important redesign of the square was made by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in the 17th century, during the pontificate of Pope Alexander VII.
The square is composed of two different areas. The first one, close to St. Peter’s Basilica, is a trapezoid, delimited on the sides by two straight convergent buildings. The second area is elliptical and is surrounded by two hemicycles of a four-row colonnade. The square is 320 meters deep and has a diameter of 240 meters. It is surrounded by 284 columns, set out in rows of four, and 88 pilasters.
3. ROMAN FORUM
The Roman Forum is a rectangular plaza in the center of Rome, populated by the ruins of several important ancient structures. Located in the valley between the Palatine Hill and Capitoline Hill, the Forum is attracting at the moment over 4.5 million visitors every year.
Some of the structures we can mention inside the Forum are the ancient royal residence, the Regia, built in the 8th century BC, the Temple of Vesta, built in the 7th century BC, and the surrounding complex of the Vestal Virgins.
Also, here we can find the Shrine of Vulcan (Vulcanal), the Basilica Aemilia, built in 179 BC, the Basilica Julia, along with the Curia Julia, both built during the reign of Julius Caesar, the Trajan’s Forum and the Basilica Ulpia. The last major expansion of the Forum complex was the Basilica of Maxentius, built in 312 AD.
The Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, is the largest amphitheatre not only in Italy, but in the whole world, symbol of the power of the mighty Roman Empire.
The construction of the Colosseum began in the year 72 AD under the emperor Vespasian, was inaugurated by Titus, son of Vespasian, in 80 AD, and completed by his brother, Domitian, in 82 AD.
The Colosseum is made of blocks of travertine and has an elliptical shape with the long axis of 188 meters and the short one of 156 meters. The exterior of the Colosseum is divided into four levels and is about 50 meters high.
1. ST. PETER’S BASILICA
Yes, we know, St. Peter’s Basilica is part of the papal enclave of the Vatican City, and is not in Italy, but no one can contradict its location inside the city of Rome.
The largest church in the world and the most important church of Christianity, St. Peter’s Basilica has a facade designed by the architect Carlo Maderno and built between 1608 and 1614. The facade, built of travertine stone, is 115 meters wide and 45 meters high, with a giant order of Corinthian columns and a central pediment rising in front of a tall attic surmounted by thirteen statues.
In our opinion, even if it’s not technically located in Italy, the St. Peter’s Basilica is the most important tourist attraction in Rome, the capital city of Italy, and you shouldn’t miss it for the world when you visit the Eternal City.