If you’re looking to discover historic sites in Rome and the surrounding area then you can explore our interactive Rome Historic Sites Map above or navigate further by using the Rome Historic Sites list below.
From the wonders of the Colosseum to the amazing Palatine Hill and the hidden secrets of San Clemente, Rome is brimming with amazing historic places. With a legacy that spans over 2,000 years of history - and such giants from the past as Julius Caesar, Augustus and Constantine once treading its streets - the eternal city has scintillating historic attractions around every corner.
There’s a fantastic selection of historic sites in Rome and you can plan some great things to see on your trips by browsing our selection. Once you’ve explored the historic sites of Rome you can use our itinerary planner tool to plan out your very own Rome tour and then print off a free pocket guidebook. This indispensible guide will ensure you make the most of your time exploring Rome's historical places.
Our database of Rome's historic sites is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. Remember, if you know of other historic sites in Rome, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by visiting our upload page.
The Arch of Constantine was a triumphal arch built by the Emperor Constantine the Great in 315AD.
The Arch of Constantine was a triumphal arch built by the Roman Emperor Constantine I, also known as Constantine the Great, in 315AD.
Erected to commemorate Constantine’s victory at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312AD, the Arch of Constantine contains an inscription dedicated to the emperor which can still be read today.
The Arch of Constantine is situated next to the Colosseum and near to the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum. It is free to visit and there are no opening hours. As well as the Arch of Constantine, there are two other triumphal arches in Rome, the Arch of Titus and the Arch of Severus.
The Arch of Janus is an Ancient Roman triumphal arch and historic site in Rome.
The Arch of Janus in Rome is an ancient Roman monument which is exceptional for being the only remaining triumphal arch in the city to have four faces, a design feature known as Quadrifrons.
Constructed in the early fourth century AD, the Arch of Janus was located at the periphery of the Forum Boarium, once Rome’s cattle market. Built of brick and marble, the arch has alcoves which would have originally contained statues and other decorative items, however these have not survived.
Little is known about this arch and, despite its name, the Arch of Janus was probably built in honour of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. As such, it is often known as Arcus Constantini.
As Constantine himself converted to Christianity after his victory in the civil wars, there is much debate as to whether such a triumphal arch would have been dedicated to a pagan deity by Constantine, further compelling the mystery surrounding this monument.
This ancient arch can be found in the centre of Rome, near other Roman sites such as the Roman Forum and Colosseum. As such, it's certainly worth a quick detour to view it as it's a pretty impressive site.
The Arch of Septimus Severus is a Roman triumphal arch built by the Emperor Septimus Severus to celebrate his military victories.
The Arch of Septimius Severus is a Roman triumphal arch built by the Emperor Septimius Severus to celebrate his military victories.
Located in the Roman Forum, the Arch of Septimius Severus commemorates the short war between Rome and the Parthian Empire, fought by the Emperor between 194-199AD. The brief conflict resulted in victory for Severus, who sacked the Parthian capital and reclaimed territory in the East.
The arch was completed in 203AD and remains in good condition despite the passage of time. It is free to view and there are no opening times. There are two similar triumphal arches in Rome, the Arch of Constantine and the Arch of Titus.
The Arch of Titus is a Roman triumphal arch built by the Emperor Domitian to commemorate the victories of his elder brother, Emperor Titus.
The Arch of Titus is a Roman triumphal arch built by the Emperor Domitian to commemorate the victories of his elder brother, Emperor Titus. The Arch was completed shortly after Titus’ death in 81AD.
Though only Emperor for two years, Titus had fought many campaigns under his father, Emperor Vespasian. The Arch of Titus commemorates his victory in the Jewish War, which lasted from 66AD until the fall of Masada in 73AD. Decorations adorn the arch, with some of the most interesting being the depictions of the spoils of the Temple of Jerusalem, including the Menorah, being carried away by Roman soldiers.
The Arch of Titus is free to view and is situated near the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. There are two similar triumphal arches in Rome, the Arch of Constantine and the Arch of Severus.
Area Sacra di Largo Argentina is the site of four Ancient Roman temples.
Area Sacra di Largo Argentina is a small, but fascinating archaeological site in Rome. In the course of building works carried out in the 1920’s, four Roman Republican-era temples were found in the square of Largo di Torre Argentina.
The remains of the four temples of Area Sacra di Largo Argentina, now called Temples A, B, C and D, include various columns, platforms and walls.
The oldest of the Area Sacra di Largo Argentina temples is temple C, which was built in the early half of the third century BC. It can be recognised as the rectangular structure perched on a platform with an altar in front of it. It is also next to the largest of the temples, Temple D, which sits at one end and has a prominent set of columns. It is thought to date back to the second century BC.
Temple B of Area Sacra di Largo Argentina, built in the second century BC, is the round temple, while temple A, next to it on the end has been dated back to the third century BC.
Also located at the Area Sacra, on the side of the Via di Torre Argentina, is a collection of stones which have now been attributed as having formed part of the Curia of Pompey. This once rectangular building formed part of the complex which included the Theatre of Pompey and it was in the Curia of Pompey – a senate meeting place - that Julius Caesar was assassinated on 15 March 44BC.
The current occupants of the Area Sacra di Largo Argentina are not Romans, but cats – stray cats to be precise. Today, the Area Sacra di Largo Argentina is home to a charming cat shelter (on the corner of Via di Torre Argentina).
The Atrium Vestae in the Roman Forum was home to Ancient Rome’s only holy priestesses.
The Atrium Vestae or 'House of the Vestal Virgins' in the Roman Forum was a fifty-room palace in Ancient Rome. Originally part of the Temple of Vesta, the Atrium Vestae served as the home of the priestesses of the g-dess of the hearth, Vesta. These holy women were known as the Vestal Virgins.
Little remains of Atrium Vestae, except for a series of statues displayed in a well-tended courtyard together with the walls of some of its rooms.
Part of the vast 4th century Baths of Diocletian, the Aula Ottagona is probably the best preserved original structure.
The Aula Ottagona, or Octagonal Hall, is probably the best surviving structure from the Baths of Diocletian. Built in 306AD, the baths were the largest of the ancient world and could hold up to 3,000 people at a time.
Today, the remains of the baths can be seen over a wide area, with parts of the structure having been incorporated into other buildings, such as the Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri.
However, to get the best idea of the scale and make-up of the original structure, the Aula Ottogona is the place to visit. A domed structure that would have been one of several large chambers making up the original bath complex, the Aula Ottogona remains intact and is now used for exhibitions as part of the National Roman Museum.
Basilica Aemelia was a commercial building of Ancient Rome located in the Forum.
Basilica Aemelia was a commercial building in the Roman Forum where the financial professionals of Ancient Rome would convene.
Considered to be one of the most impressive of the Forum’s structures, it is thought that Basilica Aemelia was built and rebuilt several times. Its first incarnation may have been erected in 179 BC and it was finally burnt to the ground in the fifth century AD.
Parts of the Basilica Aemelia have since been rebuilt, although little remains except remnants of columns and its pavement.
Basilica Julia was an Ancient Roman courthouse in Rome’s Forum.
Basilica Julia, also known as Basilica Iulia, was a civil courthouse in the Roman Forum which would also have housed a series of shops.
Initially founded by Julius Caesar in 54 BC, it soon burnt to the ground and was rebuilt and completed under Augustus in 12 BC. In fact, Basilica Julia suffered damage from several fires and would be rebuilt a number of times.
A well preserved historic sites in Rome, the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine was an Ancient Roman meeting house, the remains of which stand in the Roman Forum.
The Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine is the largest structure in the Roman Forum and still has part of its roof as well as three of its colossal arches and vaults.
Initial construction of the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine started under the Roman Emperor Maxentius in 308 AD and was completed by Constantine in approximately 312-3 AD. With its vast vaults standing unsupported, it is considered to be a triumph of Roman engineering.
Contrary to the religious connotations of its name, it is thought that the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine would have, like other Roman basilicas, served as a meeting house and judicial or administrative centre.
The Baths of Caracalla were an Ancient Roman public baths and leisure complex and remain well-preserved.
The Baths of Caracalla (Terme di Caracalla in Italian) are an ancient Roman public baths complex in Rome, the incredible remains of which are one of the very best ancient sites in Rome.
It was the Emperor Septimius Severus who began building the Baths of Caracalla in 206 AD, but they are named after his son, the emperor Caracalla, who completed the works in 216 AD.
Comprised of a vast compound of red-brick buildings, the Baths of Caracalla would, like all ancient Roman baths, have been used for a variety of social functions and could accommodate thousands of visitors at any one time. As well as being where people gathered and bathed, the Baths of Caracalla would have had shops, libraries and galleries as well as other leisure facilities.
Used until they were destroyed by the Goths in the sixth century AD, they Baths of Caracalla were later exploited for their marble. However, due to their position slightly outside the centre of the city, the baths were never built over and have therefore survived in good condition.
Today the hugely impressive remains of the Baths of Caracalla still offer a great insight into what would have been a social hub of the ancient Roman world. With the original walls still towering above and impressive black and white mosaics underfoot this amazing ancient ruin is one of the best preserved of its kind anywhere in the world. Audio guides are available to help explain the various rooms and chambers which can be explored.
However, the fun doesn’t stop there. For it is the recently opened underground sections which will really set your heart racing. An innocuous staircase will take you deep below ground to the tremendously well preserved tunnels and corridors which represent the unseen heart of this complex – where slaves and other workers would have scurried about to keep the waters heated and the customers happy.
Another hidden gem to be found in this underground wonder is one of the best examples of a Temple of Mithras to have survived today. Still containing the original mosaics and alter space this temple is a wonder in its own right.
The huge Baths of Diocletian complex was built in the early 4th century and covers a vast area. Today elements can be seen in a number of buildings, including the National Museum of Rome.
Once the largest ancient baths complex in the world, the Baths of Diocletian – or Terme di Diocleziano – was built between 298AD and 306AD in honour of the Roman Emperor Diocletian.
Set out along the traditional model of a Roman baths complex, the Baths of Diocletian contained a frigidarium (cold room), tepidarium (warm room) and caldarium (hot room or steam room) as well as additional large bathing chambers, gymnasiums and even a library. The baths themselves were a hugely impressive building project, particularly given how swiftly they were constructed. The majority of the water for the baths was supplied by the Acqua Marcia.
The key difference with other contemporary baths was simply a question of scale - it is believed that at their height the Baths of Diocletian could hold up to 3,000 people at a time.
Given the sheer size of the Baths of Diocletian, it is no surprise that the structure did not survive intact over the centuries. However, various elements of the baths survive - some standing as grand ruins, others having been incorporated into other buildings. It can therefore be difficult at times to distinguish between the original building, restored areas and more modern constructions built within the complex.
One of the key tourist attractions for those wishing to view the baths is the Museo Nazionale Romano - Terme di Diocleziano, which is part of the Rome National Museum (shown on map, above). This museum, opened in 1889, was built within the Baths of Diocletian and contains several collections from the ancient world. Although the museum contains many interesting exhibits, it gives little insight into the original baths themselves.
Probably the best place to view the actual structure, and get an idea as to the original scale of the Baths of Diocletian, is the well preserved Aula Ottagona. Also part of the Rome National Museum, it contains many artefacts found during the excavation. Though currently closed except when hosting an exhibition, it is the sheer scale and preservation of the structure that impresses most .
Other areas of the Baths of Diocletian can also be explored in the nearby Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri and Church of San Bernardo alle Terme.
The Capuchin Crypt in Rome is an eerie underground vault, located beneath a medieval church, which contains the macabre remains of 4,000 Capuchin monks.
The Capuchin Crypt (Cripta dei Cappuccini) in Rome is an underground burial vault situated beneath a medieval church which contains the remains of four thousand Capuchin monks.
The church itself, Santa Maria della Concezione, was built in the 1620s by Capuchin Cardinal Antonio Barberini. When the monks moved in they brought with them the bones of at least 300 deceased friars and over the centuries more burials were added to the crypt.
Today, visitors to the the Capuchin Crypt can explore several dark chambers containing these bones, set out in a number of displays. The macabre essence of is piled on by displays of skull-and-crossbones, an actual ‘coat of arms’ and other equally unnerving endeavours.
A prominent and oft-noted message within the crypt declares: "What you are, we once were. What we are, you someday will be."
Visitors to the Capuchin Crypt can also explore the Capuchin Museum, which contains a number of displays and exhibits exploring the lives of the Capuchin monks and the work they have undertaken through the centuries.
Castel Sant Angelo was the tomb of the Roman Emperor Hadrian later used as a fort.
Castel Sant Angelo in Rome was originally constructed as the magnificent Mausoleum of Hadrian, the fourteenth emperor of Rome from 117AD to 138AD. It is unclearly as to exactly when Castel Sant Angelo was built, but most sources date it to between 123 and 139 AD.
A fortress-like structure, successive Roman emperors and other leaders used Castel Sant Angelo for a variety of purposes. In 401, Emperor Flavius Augustus Honorius incorporated Castel Sant Angelo in Rome’s Aurelian Walls, destroying and losing many of the contents of Hadrian’s mausoleum in the process. It later turned into a medieval stronghold and a prison.
In the fourteenth century, popes began using Castel Sant Angelo as a place of safety, an emergency shelter in times of danger. In fact, there is a corridor linking Castel Sant Angelo with Vatican Palace. Various changes were made to Castel Sant Angelo in order to meet the requirements of the popes and to further fortify this already well-defended building.
Today, Castel Sant Angelo houses a museum which tells the story of its history, from the Roman remains of the Mausoleum of Hadrian to remnants of the fortified castle, the original prison cells and the papal apartments.
The Catacombs of San Callisto are the largest and most famous of Rome’s Christian catacombs.
The Catacombs of San Callisto are just one of the many catacombs of Rome, five of which are regularly open to the public. These Catacombs were used by Christians as subterranean burial places.
Built in around 150 AD, the Catacombs of San Callisto span five floors and hold over half a million bodies, making them the largest of their kind in Rome. Whilst some believe that the practice of underground burials derived from the persecution of the Christians and thus the need to keep the graves safe, others think that this was just the custom at the time and due to the fact that they owned little land.
The most famous residents of the Catacombs of San Callisto are a number of popes of the third century, but not Pope St. Callixtus after whom the catacombs are named. Instead, this pope was responsible for part of the construction and expansion of the Catacombs of San Callisto.
The Chiesa del Gesu is an historic church in Rome notable for its artistic decorations, particularly its ceiling frescoes, and its place as the centre of the Catholic Jesuit Order.
The Chiesa del Gesu is an historic church in Rome notable for both its artistic wonders and its place as the centre of the Catholic Jesuit Order.
The brainchild of the founder of the Jesuits, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Ignatius himself did not live to see his vision realised. However, the project was driven forward by Ignatius’ successors and, with funding from the powerful Farnese family the majority of the church was complete by 1589, at which point worked stopped after the death of the major benefactor, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese.
It took almost one hundred years for major work on the Chiesa del Gesu to resume, with the addition of the ceiling decorations for which the church is so well known today. However, with the suppression of the order in the late 18th century, many of the church’s original possessions were lost. It was not until the restoration and further investment in the church in the mid-19th century that the church regained its former glory.
Among the artwork to be found within the Chiesa del Gesu today are a number of stunning frescoes, the famous ceiling paintings – which are said to give the impression that angels are descending from the heavens through the roof – as well as the tomb of Ignatius Loyola.
One of the most famous historic sites in Rome, the Circus Maximus was the main sports stadium of Ancient Rome.
The Circus Maximus (Circo Massimo) in Rome was the main and largest sports stadium in Ancient Rome. Overlooked from the north by the emperors’ palaces on the Palatine, this grand arena was the site of exciting chariot races watched by an exhilarated crowd.
Built and rebuilt several times, at its largest the Circus Maximus held between 150,000 and 250,000 people. It is unclear as to when the first version of the Circus Maximus was constructed – it was certainly the oldest of Rome’s arenas - although it was in use by the fourth century BC and was enlarged under Julius Caesar in the first century AD and later by other emperors.
Today, the Circus Maximus is a shadow of its former magnificence. Without its Egyptian obelisks and Roman monuments, many see it as just a field, yet, with its shape and vast size still clearly visible, the Circus Maximus is definitely worth visiting.
The Circus of Maxentius is one of the best preserved Ancient Roman arenas in Rome.
The Circus of Maxentius (Circo di Massenzio), in southern Rome may have been much smaller than the Circus Maximus – only holding approximately 10,000 spectators – but today it has its revenge by being far better preserved that its grander counterpart.
Located on the famous Via Appia, the Circus of Maxentius was built sometime during the reign of the Emperor Maxentius (306-312 AD). Some say that the reason for its excellent preservation was the fact that it was barely used, if at all.
Today, some of the structures in the complex of which the Circus of Maxentius formed a part still stand, together with its central dividing line – spina - and its entrance towers. It would have been the site of the villa of Maxentius. The site is still under excavation, but is open to the public.
The Curia Julia was the senate house in Ancient Rome and part of the Roman Forum.
The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum was the senate house in Ancient Rome, built under Julius Caesar and later restored by Diocletian after being damaged by fire.
It stood at the very heart of the ancient city, both physically and politically and would have borne witness to some of the most famous of Rome's events and figures.
Unusually for an Ancient Roman building, the Curia Julia stands intact, this being due to its conversion into the church of Saint Adriano in 623 AD by Pope Honorius I.
Domus Augustana was the palace of Ancient Rome’s emperors on the Palatine Hill.
The Domus Augustana on the Palatine Hill was a magnificent palace used as the residence of Rome’s emperors.
Built by the Emperor Domitian, the incredible remains of the Domus Augustana include a remarkable courtyard with the remnants of a fountain and many of its walls.
The Domus Augustana should not be confused with the nearby House of Augustus, the latter of which was the much more humble home of the first Roman Emperor, Augustus. In fact, Roman emperors were called “Augustus” for over 300 years, which is reflected in the name of the Domus Augustana.
An important historical attraction in Rome, the Flavian Palace on the Palatine Hill was where Roman emperors held official functions.
The Flavian Palace (Domus Flavian) on Rome’s prestigious Palatine Hill was an Ancient Roman palace built by the Emperor Domitian in the first century AD.
A place where official functions were held, the Flavian Palace was the public counterpart to Domus Augustana, which served as the private home of Rome’s emperors.
The fountains in the courtyard of Flavian Palace are some of its most impressive remains.
The Forum of Augustus was built by the Roman emperor to celebrate avenging Caesar’s assassins.
The Forum of Augustus or “Foro di Augsto” in Rome was built by its namesake, the emperor Augustus (b. 63 BC – d. AD 14) following the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC.
In this battle, Augustus, together with Mark Anthony, emerged victorious over Cassius and Brutus, the assassins of Julius Caesar.
To celebrate this success, the emperor built the Forum of Augustus and dedicated it to Mars, the god of war. The Forum of Augustus thus had a grand temple in honour of this deity and the columns and steps of the Temple of Mars can still be seen today. The regal statue of Augustus also remains.
The Forum of Caesar was the first of the Imperial Forums built in Ancient Rome.
The Forum of Caesar or “Foro di Cesare” in Rome is one of a series of Imperial Forums built by successive Roman emperors. First commissioned by Julius Caesar in around 54 BC and completed in 46 BC, the Forum of Caesar was the first of these forums and was intended to relieve the already overcrowded Roman Forum.
At the time of the opening of the Forum of Caesar, the famous Roman leader had won a victory over his rival Pompey the Great. A celebration of this victory was constructed at the Forum of Caesar in the form of the Temple of Venus Genetrix. The godess to which the temple was dedicated was the defender of the Julian clan.
Today, the columns and platform of a Temple of Venus Genetrix can be seen at the Forum of Caesar, albeit that this was not the original, but a rebuilt version completed under the emperor Trajan – the original burnt down in 80 AD.
The Forum of Trajan was one of the Imperial Forums of Ancient Rome.
The Forum of Trajan or “Foro di Traiano” in Rome was built by the Emperor Trajan from 107 AD and it was inaugurated in 112 AD. Trajan, who reigned from 98 to 117 AD, built his magnificent Forum of Trajan after emerging victorious from several military campaigns, particularly the conquest of Dacia.
The crowning element of the Forum of Trajan is colonna Traiana or “Trajan's column”. Dedicated in 113 AD yet still incredibly well preserved, this impressive structure comprises a 98 foot column adorned with elaborate friezes chronicling the Dacian Wars down to the very last detail, including the final expulsion of the Dacians from their native soil.
It is worth noting that the statue at the peak of Trajan’s Column is not of the emperor, but of Saint Peter, an addition of Pope Sixtus V in 1587.
Originally, the Forum of Trajan would have contained several buildings, including the two libraries which would have flanked Trajan’s Column. The remains of one of these can still be discerned today near the Foro Imperiale as can some other buildings.
One of the more visible sets of remains belongs to the Basilica Ulpia, an administrative centre, the foundations and some granite columns of which are visible next to Trajan’s Column.
However, it is Trajan’s Markets, the Ancient Roman centre built in the Forum of Trajan, which forms the star attraction. The brick walls of the semi-circular structure of Trajan’s Markets stand in the centre of Rome and, whilst historians once thought that this was the Roman equivalent of a shopping centre, recent evidence suggests it may have played more of a financial or administrative role.
At the moment, only the lower section of the Trajan’s Markets is open to the public, but the whole site can always be viewed from the streets above.
Hadrian’s Villa, or Villa Adriana, is perhaps the best-preserved Roman villa complex in the world. The site covers almost 250 acres and consists of over 30 buildings and a number of other points of interest.
Hadrian’s Villa, or Villa Adriana, is perhaps the best-preserved Roman villa complex in the world. Built in the early 2nd century, the villa was the central hub of power in the Roman world for the latter years of Emperor Hadrian’s reign.
Hadrian’s Villa covers almost 250 acres and consists of over 30 buildings and a number of other points of interest. It includes a large colonnaded swimming pool, libraries, the Palestra and the famous Maritime Theatre. Most intriguing of all are the remains of the Emperor’s small island retreat – including his personal toilet – which served as Hadrian’s private escape from the stress of Imperial life.
Not the easiest site to access, and not among the most famous of Rome’s attractions, Hadrian’s Villa is nevertheless a startling tribute to the power of the Roman Empire and the magnificence that could be brought to bear by its leaders.
Be warned, to fully explore Hadrian’s Villa will take you at least three hours and can be quite physically strenuous in the summer heat, so make sure you take plenty to drink.
The preserved ruins of Ancient Rome’s largest and most prestigious gladiator training school, located next to the Colosseum in central Rome.
The Ludus Magnus was ancient Rome’s largest and most prestigious gladiator training school, located right alongside the famous Roman Colosseum.
Originally built between 81-96AD by Emperor Domitian, it was used as a training school for the gladiators who were to fight in the Colosseum. It was later rebuilt by Emperor Trajan between 98-117 AD, and it is from this period that the visible ruins we can see today are attributed.
Often forgotten and overshadowed, both literally and figuratively, by the impressive Colosseum, the Ludus Magnus has a rich history. Discovered in 1937, the complex was originally made up of a central training arena, a few stands for limited spectators and barracks & storage rooms for equipment. There was also a tunnel that would have run between the underground chambers of the amphitheatre and the training centre, making travel between the two speedy for the next round of gladiators.
Still visible today are the foundations of the spectator stands, gladiator barracks and one side of the arena itself. Visitors can view the cells gladiators would have been held in and the water fountains they would have drunk from before and after they trained, one of these four has been restored in the northwest corner.
The ruins of the Ludus Magnus are easily accessible from Via San Giovanni, which runs parallel to Via Labicana, the wide roman road that runs from the Colosseum down to Basilica di San Clemente, making this a perfect stop on a walking tour of Rome’s best sights.
Visitors can peer down into the ruins from the pavement of Via San Giovanni where informative signs will describe what they are viewing, or they can enjoy a drink at one of the many cafes that line the other side of the complex, giving fantastic views onto the remains of the school.
It is not possible to enter the complex, but it is possible to walk around all four sides and due to its sunken nature, meaning the entirety of the restored ruins is visible from any point. With the Colosseum rising behind, this is the perfect point to learn about the history of gladiator combat and the intense physical training they undertook; understandably it is a popular stop on many of the walking tours of Rome and given its proximity to the Colosseum it is not to be missed.
Contributed by Isabelle Moore
The Mamertine Prison was an Ancient Roman prison in which Saints Peter and Paul may have been held.
The Mamertine Prison in Rome, also known as Carcere Mamertino, is an ancient prison thought to date back to perhaps as early as the seventh century BC. The Romans continued using the Mamertine Prison throughout the Republican and Imperial eras as late as the fourth century AD, with executions also taking place there.
Christian legend says that the Mamertine Prison was the site where Saints Peter and Paul were incarcerated. According to these accounts, Peter managed to create a spring in his cell, allowing him to perform baptisms on his cellmates and guards.
Today, the remains of the Mamertine Prison are found under the church of San Giuseppe dei Falegnami near the Roman Forum. Dark and dank, the dungeons are accessed via a winding staircase and offer a glimpse into the horrors experienced by criminals of Ancient Rome.
It is also worth noting that, near the Mamertine Prison (some say right next to it) would have been the location of the Gemonian Stairs, also notorious as a site of executions in Ancient Rome.
One of the most interesting of Rome’s historic sites, the Mausoleum of Augustus was the tomb of Rome’s first emperor.
The Mausoleum of Augustus (Mausoleo di Augusto) was constructed in approximately 28 BC as the tomb of the first emperor of Rome.
When it was created, the Mausoleum of Augustus was a large circular building intended to be the final resting place of both Augustus and his family. Those buried at the Mausoleum of Augustus other than the emperor himself included his wife Livia, Germanicus, Marcus Claudius Marcellus, Britannicus, Nero Claudius Drusus, Agrippina the Elder and Tiberius.
Augustus (63BC – 14AD) was the great nephew of Julius Caesar and the named successor in his will. When Julius Caesar was assassinated in 43 BC, Augustus became the ruler of Rome, a position he solidified in the Battle of Actium in which he defeated Anthony and Cleopatra. Augustus transformed Rome from a republic into what became effectively a dictatorship as well as implementing many social, administrative and military reforms.
Today, the Mausoleum of Augustus is among the most famous surviving ancient mausoleums but sadly is just a shadow of its former grandeur and is no longer open to the public. However, some of its relics, notably two obelisks which once decorated it, now stand in Piazza del Quirinale and Piazza dell Esquillino.
The Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella is a 1st century BC tomb turned medieval fortress.
The Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella (Mausoleo di Caecillia Metella) is a large well-preserved tomb along Rome’s Via Appia.
The Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella is thought to have been built in the late first century BC and incorporated into a medieval fort in the fourteenth century.
Whilst little is known about its namesake, the inscription on the Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella indicates that she was from a prominent Roman family. Her father, Quintus Caecilius Metellus Creticus was a senior magistrate who played an important role in the capture of the island of Crete. Cecilia Metella’s husband Marcus Licinius Crassus the Younger was also an important political figure in the time of Caesar.
Vast, cylindrical and turret-like, the Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella is visible from around Via Appia. There is little to see inside the mausoleum, although there is a frieze depicting, amongst other things, the skulls of oxen.
The Monument to Victor Emmanuel II celebrates the first king to rule a unified Italy.
The Monument to Victor Emmanuel II (Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II) is a vast tribute to the Italian king known as the “Father of the Fatherland”.
Victor Emmanuel II reigned from 1861 to 1878. He was the leading force behind the unification of Italy and served as its first king following the establishment of the unified kingdom.
The Monument to Victor Emmanuel II is an ostentatious white marble structure inaugurated in 1911. A statue of the king himself sits in front of a stairway leading up to a large, ornate white marble building with Corinthian columns.
Inside the Monument to Victor Emmanuel II there is a small museum about Italian unification and visitors can also go to the top for great views. It is part of the UNESCO site of the Historic Centre of Rome.
The Musei Capitolini in Rome host a huge wealth of artifacts and exhibits from the ancient, medieval and renaissance periods.
Musei Capitolini (Capitoline Museums) stand on the ancient Capitoline Hill in the centre of Rome and host a huge wealth of artifacts and exhibits from the ancient, medieval and renaissance periods.
Among Musei Capitolini’s many wonders are collections of classical sculptures and statues, exhibits on ancient mythology, medieval and renaissance artworks as well as many bronzes and portraits.
At the centre of the courtyard surrounded by the buildings of the Musei Capitolini stands a replica statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the original can be found inside the museum.
Comprised of three main buildings, namely Palazzo Nuovo, Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Senatorio, the Musei Capitolini are located near the Roman Forum and a short walk from The Colosseum.
One of the lesser known historic sites of Rome, the site of Ostia Antica contains the ruins of the port of ancient Rome and visitors can view some amazingly well preserved remains of the settlement.
Ostia Antica is an extraordinary Roman site that contains the ruins of the ancient port town that served as the gateway to Rome.
Just half an hour from central Rome by train, Ostia Antica has all the inspiration of Pompeii without the throngs of tourists. In fact, if you want to examine well preserved Roman ruins in peace and quiet with time to contemplate the ancient world, you’ll be hard pressed to find better.
Tracing its roots back to at least the 4th century BC, Ostia Antica served as Rome’s principle port for hundreds of years, a witness and monument to the rise of the ancient superpower, its dominance and eventual decline.
Ostia Antica's place in history is most notable for an attack by pirates in 68BC which led to unprecedented powers being handed to Pompey the Great, setting yet another precedent which damaged the foundations of the Republican system.
As the landscape changed over the centuries, Ostia Antica was slowly abandoned, and the site is now a couple of miles from the sea.
Today, visitors can view a great many ruins from the ancient town, including a well preserved Roman theatre, the Baths of Neptune, remains of the military camp, temples to ancient deities, the forum and even Ostia Synagogue, which is the oldest known synagogue site in Europe.
Yet Ostia Antica is so much more than these notable elements, for it contains a huge range of well-preserved more typical Roman dwellings, shops, flats and warehouses and even has a Roman public toilet. This combines to give visitors a great picture of an ancient Roman town and allows you to get a real feel for day-to-day life in ancient Rome.
There is a small museum on site which has a number of artefacts and further information on the history of Ostia Antica. At certain times during the year Ostia Antica is also the venue for concerts and other events. This impressive site features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Italy.
The Palace of Septimius Severus was magnificent extension of the Domus Augustana on the Palatine.
The Palace of Septimius Severus on the Palatine Hill was an extension of the Domus Augustana and was built during the reign of the Roman Emperor Lucius Septimius Severus (193 - 211 AD).
The Palatine Hill was closely linked with the foundation of ancient Rome and housed some of its most lavish and important buildings, including the homes and palaces of the Imperial family.
Overlooking the Circus Maximus, the remains of the Palace of Septimius Severus are some of the most impressive found on the Palatine Hill.
The Palatine Hill is known as the birthplace of Rome. It houses some of the city’s most impressive ancient sites and is one of the most important historical places in Rome.
The Palatine Hill (Palatino) is considered to be the place where Rome was born. One of Rome’s seven hills, the Palatine Hill is closely linked with the city’s history and houses some of its most ancient and important sites.
Legend says that the twins Romulus and Remus were taken to Palatine Hill by a she-wolf who raised them. Here they founded a village which would become Rome.
In a dispute over who was the rightful leader of the new settlement, Romulus eventually killed his brother at the Palatine Hill. Romulus thus became the namesake of Rome. Indeed, the Palatine Hill is where the earliest huts of Rome were found, supposedly built under the remit of Romulus.
As it developed, the Palatine Hill became one of the most affluent areas in Ancient Rome and was already a coveted address by the first century BC during the Republic. This continued under the Roman Empire, when the Palatine Hill was home to Rome’s most prominent figures. It was also where the first Emperor of the Roman Empire, Augustus was born in 63 BC.
Today, the Palatine Hill offers some of Rome's best ancient sites and is a must-see, especially for history enthusiasts. Amongst the buildings excavated at the Palatine Hill are the House of Augustus, the House of Livia (Augustus’s wife), the home of several of Rome’s emperors - the Domus Augustana - and the Palace of Septimius Severus. There is also a large stadium.
Palazzo dei Conservatori displays numerous important classical pieces. Part of the Musei Capitolini.
The Palazzo dei Conservatori is one of the buildings of Rome’s Capitoline Museums or “Musei Capitolini”. Like its counterpart Palazzo Nuovo, Palazzo dei Conservatori displays classical pieces as well as paintings.
Highlights of Palazzo dei Conservatori include a first century AD bronze sculpture known as the Spinario, which depicts a boy trying to take a thorn out of his foot and the fifth century BC Capitoline Wolf, which shows the she-wolf from the legend of Romulus and Remus.
Palazzo dei Conservatori also houses an impressive array of paintings by some of the biggest names in the art world, such as Caravaggio and Titian.
The building of the Palazzo dei Conservatori has an impressive history too, its façade having been designed by Michelangelo and it having served as Rome’s medieval magistrates court.
The Palazzo Nuovo is an archaeological museum of Ancient Greek and Roman art. Part of the Musei Capitolini.
The Palazzo Nuovo is part of the Capitoline Museums, known in Italian as Musei Capitolini, which is a famous museum complex in Rome housing an incredible array of artwork and artefacts spanning much of Rome’s history.
Originally established in 1471, when Pope Sixtus I donated a series of bronze statues to the city, the Capitoline Museum is separated into two main buildings – Palazzo Nuovo, Palazzo dei Conservatori. Palazzo Senatorio is also considered part of the site.
Palazzo Nuovo displays the Capitoline Museum’s Ancient Greek and Roman art, mostly sculptures such as the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius (there is also a copy of this in the square outside).
The Pantheon in Rome is one of the most famous and well-preserved ancient buildings in the world.
The Pantheon in Rome is one of the most famous and well-preserved ancient buildings in the world.
Originally built by Marcus Agrippa in 25BC, the Pantheon served as a temple to the many gods of Rome. The original Pantheon was destroyed by the great fire of 80AD and the structure which stands today was completed around 125AD during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian.
In 609AD the Pantheon was converted to a Church and this helped preserve the building from the destruction of later times. In the middle ages the Pantheon was also used as a burial chamber for notable figures and even Italian kings.
Today, the Pantheon stands as a magnificent site in central Rome, and one of the most popular destinations for tourists. The Pantheon’s vast structure is topped by the spectacular original domed roof which contains a circular opening (oculus) at the peak. Made of cast concrete, it is a monumental engineering feat that is a testament to the technical expertise of the Roman Empire. Indeed, the roof of the Pantheon remained the largest dome in the world until the 15th century.
The Pantheon is free to visit and is a must-see for both the general tourist and the history enthusiast.
Ponte Rotto is the remaining arch of a second century BC Roman Republic bridge.
Ponte Rotto, originally known as Pons Aemilius is Rome’s oldest, albeit defunct, stone bridge.
Built in the second century BC to replace its wooden predecessor, Ponte Rotto, meaning the “broken bridge” is indeed missing most of its original structure.
Today, only an arch remains of Ponte Rotto, worth seeing if you are passing nearby.
An amazing ancient site in Rome, the The Pyramid of Cestius is a tomb dating back to Ancient Rome.
The Pyramid of Cestius is the tomb of affluent magistrate, Caius Cestius which was built between 18 and 12 BC.
Constructed of white marble and brick, this ostentatious 35-metre high tomb was likely built in this style due to the popularity of all things Egyptian which swept Rome after Egypt was incorporated into the Empire.
Inside the tomb contained a number of frescoes depicting scenes from Roman mythology while an inscription still visible on the exterior gives details about its construction and dedication. This pyramid-tomb was later set into the Aurelian Walls, helping to ensure its preservation through the ages.
The Roman Forum was the very centre of ancient Rome. Throughout the lifespan of Roman civilisation the Forum served as the focus of political, civic and religious life.
The Roman Forum, or Forum Romanum, was the very centre of ancient Rome. Throughout the lifespan of Roman civilisation the Forum served as the focus of political, civic and religious life.
From magnificent temples and triumphal arches to the very seat of power in the Senate house, the Roman Forum was the very centre of it all.
The Roman Forum was the active heart of the Republic and Empire for over a thousand years and its changing nature reflected the constant shifting in the fortunes of the religious, military and political nature of the Roman world.
First built in the 7th Century BC, the Roman Forum has seen any number of buildings large and small constructed, destroyed and demolished over the years. Today much of the grandeur of the Roman Forum has been lost to the ages, as the buildings were pillaged and the material used elsewhere. Some of the key structures have survived due to their conversion to Churches or other uses, like the Curia Julia and the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, but others have left just a shadow of their past glories, hinting at the magnificence of a by-gone age.
No visit to Rome is complete without a stroll around the Roman Forum and it is a must see for anyone visiting the city.
There are a large number of historic buildings or their remains in the Roman Forum, some of the notable ones are: The Temple of Saturn; the Arch of Septimius Severus; the Arch of Titus; the Atrium Vestae (once home to the Vestal virgins); the Gemonian stairs; the Curia Julia (once the site of the Roman Senate); the Temple of Caesar; the Regia (where the first kings of Rome lived and later the Pontifex Maximus); theTemple of Vesta; the Temple of Concord; the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina (perhaps the best preserved structure in the Roman Forum); the Temple of Venus and Roma; the Basilica of Maxentius. This site also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Italy.
There is a great website which has produced a 3D virtual reconstruction of the Roman Forum and is well worth a look before any visit so you can get your bearings before you go there in person – the Digital Roman Forum.
One of the more hidden of Rome’s historic sites, San Clemente is a church built atop a series of fourth and third century BC ruins.
San Clemente is a beautifully frescoed twelfth century historic basilica in Rome. However, whilst interesting in its own right, it is what lies underneath San Clemente which is a highlight to historians.
In the mid-nineteenth century, when San Clemente was excavated, it was discovered to have been built over both a fourth century church and a third century Temple of Mithras.
The former site is extremely well preserved and lined with faded frescos, whilst only one of the rooms of the Ancient Roman Temple of Mithras remains. There are also ruins of some Roman houses.
Visitors can descend under San Clemente to view these sites.
San Giovanni in Laterano is Rome’s cathedral, originally founded by Constantine the Great.
San Giovanni in Laterano, or Rome Cathedral, is a basilica known to many as the “cathedral of the world”, by virtue of the fact that it is the cathedral of Rome and thus the seat of the Pope.
Founded by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great in the early fourth century BC, San Giovanni in Laterano was dedicated to John the Evangelist and John the Baptist.
The current structure mostly dates to the late sixteenth century, the cloisters to the thirteenth century and its façade is an eighteenth century creation. In fact, San Giovanni in Laterano was rebuilt several times over the centuries including a controversial redecoration during the papacy of Innocent X which obscured many original frescos.
An impressive 16th century church in Rome, built by Michelangelo using the structural remains of the ancient Baths of Diocletian.
The Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri (St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs) is a large and impressive 16th century church constructed within the remains of the Baths of Diocletian and masterminded by renowned renaissance artist Michelangelo.
Though centuries had passed since the fall of the Roman Empire, the massive Baths of Diocletian were still standing in the 16th century. Taking advantage of the huge structural shell, the new Christian basilica was built inside the great hall and frigidarium. It was to be the last great work of Michelangelo, who began the project in 1563 but died in 1564, before its completion by Jacopo Lo Duca, a pupil of Michelangelo’s.
One notable feature of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri is the meridian line built into its floor and gaps in the ceiling used to measure the passage of the stars.
The sheer scale of the build is not only impressive in its own right, but also gives a good indication of the size of the original baths, of which this is only one part. Those looking to find a more unaltered view of the original baths should visit the nearby Aula Ottagona.
Santa Maria in Trastevere is thought to have been the first Christian church in Rome.
Santa Maria in Trastevere is thought to have been one of the first – if not actually the first – of the Christian churches in Rome.
Whilst most of the building and works contained in Santa Maria in Trastevere date back to the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the church itself may date back as far as the third century, when it is thought to have been founded by Pope Callixtus. Others believe it was established in mid-fourth century by Pope Julius I.
Legend has it that an oil fountain miraculously appeared on the site of Santa Maria in Trastevere on the date of the birth of Christ.
Today, Santa Maria in Trastevere houses a series of colourful medieval frescos.
St Peter’s Basilica is one of the holiest of Christian sites with a history dating back to Ancient Rome.
St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City is one of the most important Christian sites in the world and is a church (rather than a cathedral) with a long and illustrious history.
Also known as the 'Papal Basilica of Saint Peter' and in Italian as 'Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano', St Peter’s Basilica sits over the site of the tomb of its namesake.
St Peter was one of the twelve apostles in Christianity and is believed to have been crucified at the Circus of Nero, on which St Peter’s Basilica was constructed. At that time, the Circus of Nero also had a cemetery.
The first basilica to be built over the Circus of Nero was constructed in 324 AD by the Roman Emperor Constantine. Visitors to St Peter’s Basilica can still see the shrine in his honour. The saint himself is thought to be buried under the Papal altar.
The current form of St Peter’s Basilica began to form in the fifteenth century and was expanded and added to by various popes and architects over the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Whilst much of the building was designed by Bernini, the most celebrated architectural aspect of St Peter’s Basilica is probably its vast dome. Designed by Michelangelo in the mid-sixteenth century, but not finished until after his demise, the dome of St Peter’s rises a magnificent 448 feet in height.
Inside St Peter’s Basilica, visitors can view a wealth of historical art, mostly Renaissance, and the tombs of popes such as Pope Pius XI (d.1939), Pope John XXIII (d. 1963) and Pope John Paul II (d. 2005). Many of their tombs are located in the basilica’s Grottoes.
Some of the highlights in respect of the artistic masterpieces at St Peter’s Basilica include Michelangelo’s statue Pieta, Arnolfo di Cambio’s Statue of St. Peter Enthroned, the foot of which pilgrims traditionally touch and Bernini’s golden Monument to Pope Alexander VII.
St Peter’s Basilica is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Historic Centre of Rome. This site also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Italy.
The St. Sebastian Catacombs are some of the earliest of the Christian catacombs in Rome.
The St Sebastian Catacombs (Catacombe di San Sebastiano) are fourth century AD underground Christian burial tombs. They are some of the earliest of their kind in Rome.
The many catacombs of Rome are the remnants of early Christianity, a reminder of a time when persecuted Christians would bury their dead in underground chambers outside the city walls. Several examples of these subterranean cemeteries still exist, with the St Sebastian Catacombs listed among the best known.
Comprised of four levels of burial passages, the St. Sebastian Catacombs are believed to have once held the remains of their namesake, but he is now buried in the basilica above. Creepy but fun, it's certainly worth a look if you haven't seen any other catacombs on your trip to Rome.
Entry to the St. Sebastian Catacombs also includes a guided tour.
The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina is one of the best preserved of the historical structures in the Roman Forum.
Initially constructed in 141 AD, the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina was built by Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius in honour of his wife, Faustina. It is one of the best preserved structures in the Roman Forum.
Faustina was deified following her death and the temple – then just the Temple of Faustina – was the place of worship of the cult of Faustina.
When the emperor died in 161 AD, he too was deified and Faustina’s temple became the joint Temple of Antoninus and Faustina.
The primary reason that the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina has survived in such a good state of preservation is that it was incorporated in the church of San Lorenzo in Miranda sometime between 600 AD and 800 AD.
A flight of stairs leads up to the ten standing columns of the original temple, which is now part of the church.
The Temple of Caesar was built in honour of Julius Caesar. Its altar remains in the Roman Forum.
The Temple of Caesar (Tempio del Divo Giuli), the remains of which can be seen in the Roman Forum, was dedicated to the Roman Dictator Julius Caesar (100BC - 44BC).
Caesar, who was murdered by the senators Cassius, Brutus and their supporters on 15 March 44BC, was cremated. Following his death, he was deified and the Temple of Caesar was constructed on the site of his cremation to house his cult. It was completed in 29BC.
All that remains of the Temple of Caesar today is its altar.
The Temple of Castor and Pollux in the Roman Forum was built following a military victory.
The Temple of Castor and Pollux (Templum Castoris) was an ancient Roman temple in Rome’s Forum. First constructed in the fifth century BC, the Temple of Castor and Pollux was then rebuilt in the early first century AD.
The Temple of Castor and Pollux was dedicated to Helen of Troy’s twin brothers. Legend had it that Castor and Pollux helped the Romans in their victory at the Battle of Lake Regillus (499 BC) and had appeared to them nearby.
It is the remains of this second incarnation of the Temple of Castor and Pollux, rebuilt under the Roman Emperor Tiberius, that visitors to the Roman Forum can see today. These comprise of an ornate podium with several standing columns.
The Temple of Concord was an Ancient Roman temple in Rome’s Forum.
The Temple of Concord (Tempio della Concordia) was an ancient Roman temple dedicated to Concordia, the godess of harmony.
It is unclear when the Temple of Concord was first constructed. Roman statesman Marcus Furius Camillus vowed to build it in 367 BC, although there is little evidence as to whether he fulfilled this promise. However, the Temple of Concord was almost certainly in existence in 121 BC (this may have been when it was either built or rebuilt).
Used in part as a place for the senate to hold meetings, the Temple of Concord would have been a grand structure. Today, only meagre ruins of this temple survive and can be found in the northwest of the Roman Forum, next to the Tabularium.
The Temple of Saturn was the site of the national treasury of Ancient Rome, the ruins of which stand in the Roman Forum.
The Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum was a sacred ancient Roman temple dedicated to Saturn, the god of seed-sowing.
One of the oldest of the Roman Forum structures, the Temple of Saturn was originally built sometime between 501 BC and 497 BC and reconstructed in the fourth century BC. However, this second incarnation burned down and the Temple of Saturn was restored in 42 BC by Roman senator Lucius Munatius Plancus.
Used as the treasury and the seat of the financial overseers of the Roman Republic, the quaestors, the Temple of Saturn was also closely linked with the celebration of Saturnalia, during which slaves and masters would dine together.
Largely destroyed in the mid-fifteenth century, all that remains of the Temple of Saturn are six of its Ionic granite columns crowned with a frieze thought to date to approximately 30 BC.
The Temple of Venus and Rome was created under Hadrian and is located in the Roman Forum.
The Temple of Venus and Rome, known in Latin as Templum Veneris et Romae, in the Roman Forum was built in approximately 135 AD during the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian.
Hadrian himself is thought to have heavily influenced the design of this temple, although it was later renovated by the emperor Maxentius after it was damaged in a fire.
Dedicated to the godesses of love and of Rome, the Temple of Venus and Rome would have comprised two main chambers and would have been an impressive structure. Its remains are found at the far east end of the Forum, near the Colosseum.
The Temples of the Forum Boarium are two second century BC Roman republic temples.
The Temples of the Forum Boarium are two of the best preserved Roman temples to have survived from the Republican era.
Comprised of two temples, the Temple of Hercules Victor and the Temple of Portunus, the Temples of the Forum Boarium date back to approximately the second century BC.
The Temple of Hercules Victor (or Ercole Vincitore) is a round structure with twenty columns dedicated to Hercules, while the larger of the two, the Temple of Portunus, is a square building dedicated to the Roman deity of rivers, ports and harbours.
The Forum Boarium was itself originally part of the Roman cattle market before becoming a commercial centre.
In medieval times, both of the Temples of the Forum Boarium were incorporated into churches, probably accounting for their excellent state of preservation.
A really interesting place to visit, the Ara Pacis Museum displays the Emperor Augustus’s Altar of Peace.
The Ara Pacis Museum (Museo dell Ara Pacis) in Rome houses the Altar of Peace, which was built under instructions from the Emperor Augustus and sanctioned by the Senate.
Augustus decided to build the Ara Pacis to celebrate his military campaigns which resulted in the outbreak of peace in the Mediterranean.
Dedicated on 30 January 9 BC, the Ara Pacis was originally located on a site known as the Field of Mars. The altar itself is surrounded by marble walls adorned with elaborate friezes of various figures, including senate members and members of Augustus’s family. These carved figures take part in a procession celebrating the peace brought about by Augustus.
The Claudio Aqueduct is an Ancient Roman aqueduct which served Rome from 52 AD.
The Claudio Aqueduct (Acquedotto Claudio) was one of Rome’s ancient aqueducts.
Whilst it was the Emperor Claudius, after whom it is named, who completed the Claudio Aqueduct in 52 AD, it was his predecessor, the Emperor Caligula who began its construction in 38AD.
Today, parts of the Claudio Aqueduct are fairly well preserved and can be seen within the Appia Antica Regional Park.
Once the largest amphitheatre of Ancient Rome where gladiators, criminals and lions alike fought for their lives, the Colosseum remains a world renowned, iconic symbol of the Roman Empire. The most famous historic sites in Rome.
The Colosseum is a site like no other. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, nothing represents the sheer power and magnificence of the Roman Empire like this stunning piece of ancient architecture.
The Colosseum, or ‘Colosseo’ in Italian, was once the largest amphitheatre in the Roman Empire. It was built in the first century AD by the Emperor Vespasian as a place for the people of Rome to enjoy. Originally named the Flavian Amphitheatre, after Vespasian’s family name, the man who brought the Roman Empire back from the brink would not live to see its completion.
The construction of the Colosseum was very much a symbolic gesture to create a clear distinction between Vespasian and his predecessor, Nero. Nero had committed suicide after suffering military coups, partially a result of his extravagance, which included building the opulent Golden House and a vast statue of himself. By contrast, Vespasian was building the Colosseum for the citizens of Rome. As if to emphasise this point, the Colosseum was built in the former gardens of Nero’s palace over the site where Nero’s colossal statue had stood.
Completed in 80 AD, the Colosseum was opened with great fanfare by Titus, Vespasian’s son and successor. He marked the opening of the Colosseum with one hundred days of games, including stunning battle recreations on artificial lakes of water. The fact that the Colosseum was completed by this date was particularly impressive considering the building’s incredible complexity, vast size and the fact that Vespasian only came to power in 69 AD.
Even despite the short timescale of the build, the result was spectacular. Not only was the Colosseum able to take up to 50,000 spectators, it was also perfectly symmetrical, ornately decorated in marble and stone and an incredible feat of engineering.
The Colosseum remained the amphitheatre of Rome until the end of the Roman Empire. This was the place where gladiators, lions and those accused of crimes were put to the test, often fighting to the death.
Since the fall of the Roman Empire, the Colosseum has suffered from various destructive forces, including extensive pillaging of its stone and marble as well as natural disasters such as earthquakes. In fact, its materials contributed to many famous Roman buildings such as St Peter’s Cathedral and the Palazzo Venezia. Yet, even though a third of the Colosseum has been lost over time, this magnificent structure remains one of the most fascinating and beautiful historic sites in the world.
A visit to the Colosseum offers a great insight into the lives of Roman citizens and those who had the misfortune of fighting there. In particular, it is now possible to tour the underground hallways and corridors where the gladiators of ancient Rome would prepare to fight and ponder their mortality. Also recently opened are the higher areas of the structure, from where you can take in views of the Roman Forum.
There is a museum within the Colosseum with a wealth of interesting artifacts and information and audio guides are available in a number of languages. This site also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Italy.
The Felice Aqueduct in Rome dates back to the sixteenth century.
The Felice Aqueduct in Rome is a late sixteenth century aqueduct built by Pope Sixtus V in order to provide parts of Rome with water. Parts of this aqueduct can still be seen today.
The site is within the Via Appia Antica Regional Park, which offers bicycle hire to see all of the sites in the area.
The House of Augustus on the Palatine Hill was the home of Rome’s first emperor.
The House of Augustus, located on the eminent Palatine Hill, was the modest home of Ancient Rome’s first emperor, Augustus.
The grandnephew and heir of Julius Caesar, Augustus lived in this house for many years. The House of Augustus should not be confused with Domus Augustana, which was the later palace of the emperors of Rome.
Whilst considered to be relatively small, especially when compared to the Imperial Palace built at a later date, the House of Augustus does contain a vivid collection of frescos.
Open to the public since 2008, the House of Augustus has been carefully restored and offers a fascinating insight into the life of one of ancient Rome’s most prominent figures.
An interesting place to see, the House of Livia was the home of Augustus’s third wife
The House of Livia, also known as Livia’s House or Livia’s Villa, was the home of the third wife of Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire, and the mother of its second emperor, Tiberius.
Powerful and formidable, Livia was an important figure of Ancient Rome, a status she managed to maintain even after Augustus’s death. It even became treasonous to speak against Livia. Robert Graves memorably portrayed the figure of Livia in his I Claudius series.
Set on the Palatine Hill, Ancient Rome’s most desirable location, the House of Livia is currently being excavated by the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma and so is usually only accessible by prior appointment.
The Palatine Hill Stadium was part of the imperial palace of Ancient Rome’s emperors.
The partially-intact Palatine Hill Stadium once formed part of Domus Augustana, the imperial palace of Rome’s emperors.
Built by the Emperor Domitian, the Domus Augustana was a magnificent palace used as the primary residence of many of Rome’s emperors.
The exact purpose of the Palatine Hill Stadium itself is unknown, with some historians saying it was a private garden and other thinking it was a place for the emperors to exercise their horses.
The Palatine Museum exhibits ancient finds from the famous Palatine Hill in Rome.
The Palatine Museum (Museo Palatino) on Rome’s Palatine Hill houses a collection of finds from this incredible archaeological site.
With artefacts dating back as far as the Middle Palaeolithic era, the Palatine Museum offers a good overview of the area considered to be the birthplace of Rome.
The main exhibits at the Palatine Museum date back to ancient Rome, particular between the first and fourth centuries AD, when the Palatine Hill was the best address in the city and home to Rome’s emperors.
The Protestant Cemetery of Rome is the final resting place of famous non-Catholic poets, artists and philosophers.
The Protestant Cemetery of Rome, also known as the Non-Catholic Cemetery or “Cimitero Acattolico”, is the final burial place of many prominent figures, especially artists.
Whilst called the “Protestant” cemetery, it is a cemetery for non-Catholics and houses graves of several other religions such as Jewish graves.
Seen by some as Rome’s answer to the Pierre Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, the Protestant Cemetery of Rome was operating from the eighteenth century, probably circa 1738.
Amongst those interred at the Protestant Cemetery of Rome are well known poets John Keats (d 1821) and Percy Bysshe Shelley (d 1822). Former leader of Italy’s communist party, Antonio Gramsci (d 1937), is also buried here.
The Regia in Rome’s Forum was a royal residence turned office of the Pontifex Maximus.
The Regia, the remains of which are located in the Roman Forum, was initially the royal residence of the first kings of ancient Rome. It later became the seat of Rome’s most high ranking priest, the Pontifex Maximus.
Among many notable names to hold this position, Julius Caesar would have conducted his official business from this spot during his time as Pontifex Maximus.
The Regia would have been built and reconstructed several times and today little remains of this structure. In fact only its ground works, next to the much better preserved Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, are visible.
A famous tourist destination, the Spanish Steps are an eighteenth century staircase and a focal point for Rome’s visitors.
The Spanish Steps (Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti) are one of Rome’s most popular tourist attractions.
A grand staircase with 138 steps leading down to the Piazza di Spagna, the Spanish Steps were designed in the 1720s by Francesco de Sanctis, an Italian architect, and completed in 1726.
They were called the Spanish Steps after the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See, then located nearby. A popular spot since the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, today this beautiful staircase is always buzzing with tourists and leads to Rome’s most upmarket shopping area.
The Temple of Vesta was an Ancient Roman shrine now found on the Roman Forum.
The Temple of Vesta was an ancient Roman shrine dedicated to the goddess of the hearth, the remains of which are found in the southeast of the Roman Forum.
Serving as the temple of the Vestal Virgins, the priestesses dedicated to Vesta, the Temple of Vesta housed an eternal flame which represented the everlasting nature of the state. If the flame were extinguished, this would indicate doom for Rome.
As with other temples of this kind, the Temple of Vesta would have been a circular structure facing east. It burned down several times, including in the Great Fire of Rome.
Today, the remains of the Temple of Vesta hint at its former grandeur, made up of three main standing columns and part of a fourth with steps leading up to it.
One of the most famous historic sites of Rome, the Trevi Fountain is Rome’s largest and most iconic fountain.
The Trevi Fountain (Fountain di Trevi) is an iconic eighteenth century monument in Rome. It was designed by Nicola Salvi, but following his death in 1751 it was continued by Giuseppe Pannini and completed in 1762.
A stunning depiction of several ancient deities and resplendent with frescos of legends and myths, the Trevi Fountain attracts floods of tourists, keen to throw their coins into its waters to assure their return to Rome - or so goes the myth.
The partially-preserved remains of one of the most important theatres in ancient Rome, built by Julius Caesar and Augustus.
Though only partially preserved, the ruins of the Theatre of Marcellus in Rome are among the oldest remains of an ancient Roman theatre to have survived.
One of the most important ancient Roman public buildings, the Theatre of Marcellus was the brainchild of Julius Caesar himself, though the Roman dictator did not live to see its completion. In fact, after Caesar’s assassination work on the theatre was halted and it was not until his great-nephew Augustus was in power that the work was completed in 13 BC.
According to the ancient historian Livy, the Theatre of Marcellus was constructed on the site of an earlier theatre, built by Marcus Aemilius Lepidus. The theatre was dedicated to Augustus’s own nephew and heir, Marcus Claudius Marcellus, who died at a young age.
Built in a grand style, with three distinct columned levels, it is believed the Theatre of Marcellus could originally hold as many as 11,000 people. Throughout the Roman period the theatre survived in its original form, with occasional renovation, such as that provided by the Emperor Vespasian.
After the fall of the Empire however, the Theatre of Marcellus fell into decline and was slowly buried and robbed for its masonry. In the 13th century the theatre was converted into a fortress and its purpose was altered once again in the 16th century when it became the palace of the Savelli family.
In the 1920s the lower sections of the building were bought by Rome’s city council and restored. Today, while the interior is not open to the public, the lower levels and striking architecture can be observed from the street. The upper levels still function as private apartments.
The Tomb of Eurysaces the Baker is an impressive ancient tomb dating back to 30BC.
The Tomb of Eurysaces the Baker is an impressive and peculiar ancient tomb in Rome dating back to around 30BC.
The tomb was built by a former slave turned wealthy freeman named Marcus Vergilius Eurysaces – who made his fortune as a grand baker and contractor.
Unique in shape and design, it is believed that the Tomb of Eurysaces was constructed to fit this unique plot of land and also to highlight the tools of the baking trade – such as grain measures and dough-kneading machines.
It was built at the junction of the Via Labicana and the Via Praenestina – meaning a host of visitors and locals would have passed it every day.
The frieze at the top of the tomb depicts various elements of the bread-making process and is quite unique – certainly a world away from depictions of great conquests and brutal battles which can often be found on other Roman remains.
The tomb was later enclosed by the Aurelian Wall – and stands alongside the Porta Maggiore – but has now been excavated.
Trajan’s Markets was an Ancient Roman administrative centre located on Trajan’s Forum.
The site of Trajan’s Markets, located in the Forum of Trajan in Rome, is one of the best preserved elements of the ancient city to have survived, and is an oft-overlooked gem in the heart of the Eternal City.
The impressive semi-circular remains of this grand structure, built between 100 and 110 AD and designed by Apollodorus of Damascus, are very much still intact. Once thought by historians to have been an ancient Roman shopping centre, more recent evidence has pointed to Trajan’s Markets also having been a centre of administration and finance.
Today, not only is the site of Trajan’s Markets open to explore, but it also houses the Museo dei Fori Imperiali. Opened in 2007, this museum was the result of several years of careful restoration and is dedicated to showcasing and recreating the Imperial Forums, which were the beating heart of ancient Rome for hundreds of years.
The museum takes the visitor through an exhibit of each individual forum based on the most important finds discovered within it. This journey through ancient Rome includes areas devoted to the forums of Caesar and Augustus, Nerva and Trajan as well as the Templum Pacis or Forum of Vespasian. As well as exhibiting original artefacts found in the individual forums, there are also descriptive panels and multimedia displays in each section.
However, the true highlight of a visit to this site is the chance to explore the structure itself. Remaining extremely well preserved, the chance to wander through Trajan’s Markets and onto Trajan’s Forum is one not to miss. You can explore the Via Biberatica, which was the main high street, as well as strolling the ancient corridors, offices and hallways and entering the shops and chambers themselves.
The Vatican Museums house a comprehensive collection of artwork and historical pieces from throughout history.
The Vatican Museums (Musei Vaticani) house some of the most impressive and important historical artefacts and works of art in the world. Originally the site of the Vatican Museums was used for papal palaces, but they are now a series of galleries in Vatican City.
From the exemplary collection of classical statues in the Pio-Clementine Museum to the beautiful frescos by Raphael in the Raphael Rooms, the Vatican Museums have an extensive array of pieces from many historic periods.
Raphael’s Rooms or “Stanze di Raffaello” are divided into several periods, such as the room of Constantine, the room of Heliodorus, the room of Segnatura and the room of the Fire in the Borgo and depict events throughout history – both real and legendary.
The Gallery of Maps is particularly interesting, its walls adorned with topographical maps of Italy created by Ignazio Danti. The Vatican Museums also house a Gregorian Egyptian Museum containing funerary pieces, stelae and statues bearing hieroglyphics, a reconstruction of the Canopus of Hadrian’s Villa and mummies as well as reliefs and inscriptions from Assyrian palaces.
It would take many visits to see everything in the Vatican Museums. Some of the highlights include Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting of the Catholic Saint Jerome, the Roman Christian sarcophagus of the politician Junius Bassus (d 359 AD) and the Dogmatic Sarcophagus or “Trinity Sarcophagus”, dating back to the mid-fourth century AD.
However, the star attraction of the Vatican Museums is the Sistine Chapel. Probably the last of the exhibitions one sees at the Vatican Museums (it is quite a walk from the entrance), the Sistine Chapel is the magnificent creation of Michelangelo from 1508 to 1512. Its famous ceiling is frescoed in a multitude of colours with depictions from the Old and New Testaments showing, amongst other things, the creation of the world and original sin.
Guided tours of the Vatican Museums take place Mondays to Saturdays hourly from 9am to noon. The Vatican is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Historic Centre of Rome. This site also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Italy.
Via Appia Antica, built in 312 BC, is one of the most important roads leading to Rome.
Via Appia Antica, also known as the Appian Way, is one of the oldest and most important roads leading to Rome. Built in 312 BC, it was slowly extended and, by 191 BC, it reached the port of Brindisi, over 550km southeast of the city (along the “heel” of Italy). Thus, Via Appia Antica became a gateway to the east.
In 66 BC, Julius Caesar became the curator of the Appian Way and, to gain crucial electoral votes, borrowed significant sums to restore the ancient highway.
Over the centuries, several important events are said to have occurred along Via Appia Antica and, perhaps most notably, Christian legend has it that it was the road on which Christ appeared to a fleeing St. Peter, convincing him to return to Rome thereafter being executed and martyred.
In ancient Rome, the Via Appia Antica was a popular location for tombs and catacombs, many of which are scattered along the road today, including the Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella. Christian catacombs such as the Catacombs of San Callisto and the St. Sebastian Catacombs can also be found there.
Other impressive monuments on the Via Appia Antica, which became the route to the affluent suburbs of Rome, include the Villa and Circus of Maxentius, the Villa dei Quintili and the Baths of Caracalla.
With such a clear route to so many incredible monuments, the Via Appia Antica offers tourists a great way to explore the road’s history, which is so inextricably intertwined with that of Rome. Today, the Parco Regionale dell’Appia Antica oversees much of the site.
Probably the best way to travel along Via Appia Antica is by public transport. Indeed, it is closed to private traffic on Sundays and on holidays. For itineraries along Via Appia Antica, check the official website.
An amazing historical site, Villa dei Quintili is an extremely well-preserved second century AD villa in Rome’s suburbs.
Villa dei Quintili, translated as the Villa of the Quintili, was one of the most lavish homes along the famous road that leads to Rome, the Via Appia.
In 151 AD, the main part of the Villa dei Quintili was owned by the senior officials, the Quintili brothers. Consuls under the rule of Marcus Aurelius, the Quintili brothers built their luxurious villa, complete with thermal baths, in the countryside of Rome. However, when Emperor Commodus came to power the brothers fell from favour and Villa dei Quintili became his property. It is said that this infamous emperor actually executed the brothers specifically so he could get his hands on their villa.
Today, far from the intrigues and plots of ancient Rome, Villa dei Quintili stands as a slightly more serene place; indeed it has survived in an extremely good state of preservation. The original baths are still clearly discernible, as are several of its buildings.