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Best attractions in Rome: Top 30

Rome is one of the most interesting cities in the world, the eternal city, the source of Western civilization, the center of one of the most powerful empires in the history of the world. Rome will soon cross the 3 millennium mark! One can only vaguely imagine how many attractions of Rome - this intimate source of almost inexhaustible. The ancient ruins of historic structures, the treasures of open-air museums, numerous temples and baroque facades of luxury villas are just a small example of the treasures that every visitor to Rome should see in order to understand the colossal history of this city.

What to see in Rome first

Naturally, it is impossible to measure in days and weeks the time in which you can cover all the treasures of the Italian capital, but the time frame of travel is sometimes very limited. And then the traveler faces a specific task - what to see in Rome in one day or other period of time. With this purpose, was compiled a rating of the main memorable places - symbols, with which you should begin to get acquainted with the Eternal City.

1. Colosseum

View of the Colosseum from the Farnesian Gardens in Rome

This majestic symbol of ancient Rome has become one of the main attractions not only in the city, but all over the world. Millions of tourists from all over the world flock here every year. This monumental structure, which, by the way, was erected in the early years of our era, for 5 centuries witnessed famous and often bloody events. Fierce gladiatorial fights, brutal executions, torture of slaves, exhibitions of exotic animals and other impressive shows were held here. The ancient stones of the great arena still preserve the spirit of the strong emotions that were experienced by both the speakers and spectators of the annual Games.

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2. Pantheon

Light in the Pantheon's dome Richjheath

Another symbol of ancient Roman architecture, appearing at the height of the art’s heyday. “The temple of all the gods,” built as early as the first decades of our era, was originally a place of worship to pagan gods, and in the 7th century was consecrated as a Christian temple. Outwardly the pantheon is a gigantic rotunda covered with a hemispheric dome 45 meters in diameter. The entire height of the structure is 42 meters, and at the very top of the dome is a through hole 9 meters wide, called “Eye of the Pantheon. Especially impressive is this building when you find yourself inside it - here you simultaneously feel the grandeur of the structure and the elegance of its interior decoration.

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3. Vatican City

The Vatican Cityscape

In the heart of Rome is the world’s smallest state, the Vatican City, the center of Catholicism and the seat of the Pope. The mini-country has only about 800 citizens, most of whom are employees of the Catholic Church. Nowhere in Rome is there such an abundance of important cultural and historical treasures as here. The most impressive attraction is St. Peter’s Basilica, which is the most common place to start a tour of the Vatican. It is difficult to describe all the beauty and grandeur of this grandiose structure, everything is worth seeing with your own eyes. Gardens, the library, the papal palace and other great sights of Rome await visitors to the Vatican.

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4. St Peter’s Cathedral and St Peter’s Square

The Egyptian obelisk from Nero's Circus and St. Peter's Cathedral in Piazza San Pietro in the Vatican

Moving on to a detailed exploration of the Vatican’s treasures, we should start with the already mentioned St. Peter’s Cathedral, in front of which there is a wide square surrounded by the famous colonnade. Impressive size of the area - 340x240 meters, and if you look at the area from above, its shape follows the shape of a key. Baroque sculptor Lorenzo Bernini worked on this creation. St. Peter’s Basilica is not only the spiritual center of Catholicism, but also a real treasury of art, because the cathedral was painted by famous masters, such as Bernini, Michelangelo, Bramante, Raphael.

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5. Vittoriano

Vittoriano in Rome's Piazza Venezia, on the slope of Capitoline Hill

The massive architectural complex, which took 40 years to build, is dedicated to King Victor Emmanuel II, the first king to unite Italy into a single state. The complex is crowned by a bronze sculpture of the king on horseback, behind which is built a building with a colonnade. Above the columns is an architrave with 16 statues symbolizing all the regions of Italy. Inside the palace itself there are several museums and galleries with temporary exhibitions. There’s even an honor guard and an eternal flame burning in front of the palace.

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Be sure to watch this beautiful video about Rome!

6. Roman Forum

Panorama of the Roman Forum

This place was once the center of important social events, and the ancient Romans knew where to go in Rome to keep up with all the latest news in the city and country. Here laws were made, verdicts were passed, consuls were appointed, and the latest news was announced. Commercial squares joined administrative buildings and temples. New constructions and monuments were erected, and all this continued until, after the fall of the Roman Empire, the forum was devastated by the barbarians. Only fragments of the structures of the forum are extant, and its territory is included in the protected archaeological zone.

7. Castel Sant’Angelo

The Castel Sant'Angelo and the bridge over the Tiber River in Rome

As early as the 2nd century AD, this castle was built as a tomb for rulers and imperial families. Many monarchs were buried here and, under the emperor Aurelian, the mausoleum was surrounded by a fortress wall for protection against barbarian attacks. The name the castle acquired in the 6th century, when after the plague plague someone saw the image of an angel on the roof of the castle, and with this sign the terrible epidemic was ended. So, originally planned as a tomb, the castle throughout its history has played the role of a fortress, a papal residence, a warehouse and even a prison. Today there is a museum within its walls.

8. Trajan’s Forum

The ruins of Trajan's Forum and the Tower of the Militia (in the background) in Rome

The annals of the most important events in Rome preserve the forum, which was built by order of Emperor Trajan at the turn of the 1st-2nd centuries AD. Although only ruins remain of the forum today, from the remaining fragments we can imagine that Trajan’s forum used to be a square surrounded by two libraries, a marketplace and an imperial temple. In order to consolidate his popularity the emperor tried to build the biggest forum, and he succeeded in it to the full: the 220-meter square was decorated with numerous statues, a colonnade and crowned with a high marble column, in which the emperor was later buried.

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9. The Thermae of Caracalla

The Baths of Caracalla are ruins of ancient Roman baths by the Appian Way Patrick Denker

Those who want to be even more impressed by the monumentality of the structures of the ancient Roman civilization are given the following recommendations for what to visit in Rome. The Thermae of Caracalla are gigantic in size, more like fortresses. In fact, they were the usual public baths, where people went not only for the purpose of hygiene, but also simply to socialize and learn the latest news. These buildings could accommodate over fifteen hundred people at a time! Despite the fact that at that time, which was the 3rd century AD, several dozens of similar facilities were already operating in Rome, the Thermae of Caracalla are the only structures of their kind that have survived to this day.

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10. The Arch of Constantine

Triumphal Arch of Constantine on the Via Sacra in Rome

As we know, the ancient Romans always had a passion for erecting solemn symbols of their victories. The Arch of Triumph, built in the early 4th century by Emperor Constantine, symbolized his victory not over a foreign foe, but over the citizens of his own country, during the civil war. The building is located near the Colosseum and is a rectangular structure with three arched openings - one large in the center and two smaller ones on the sides. The Arch has impressive size - 26 meters in length and 21 in height. For many centuries the Arch of Constantine has become a model for the erection of similar structures.

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11. Piazza Navona

Fountain of the Moor on the south side of Piazza Navona Myrabella

Guides in Rome will not overlook Piazza Navona, a long oval square in the center of Rome whose central figure is the Four Rivers Fountain, which is a 16-meter obelisk with carved sculptures of Roman rulers surrounded by a bowl of water. At the edges of the square are two smaller bowls, the Moor Fountain and the Neptune Fountain. Today Navona is a popular venue for carnivals and Christmas fairs. And once it was the site of Domitian’s ancient circus, which held not entertaining shows, but the most real athletic competitions - running, javelin throwing, fights without rules, etc. Later in the Middle Ages there was an ordinary marketplace on the site of the circus.

12. Piazza del Popolo

The sculptures and obelisk in the center of the oval People's Square in Rome

The Piazza del Popolo, or People’s Square, as the Italians call it, is a spacious square, on either side of which are two Baroque churches, and from here the three great Roman streets, which in the Middle Ages were important thoroughfares, diverge in rays. The center of the square is decorated by a 24-meter stele, brought over from Egypt - it is believed that it is 3.5 thousand years old. At the foot of the stele are fountains sculpted in the form of lions, and around the square are two other fountains, the Goddess of Rome and Neptune.

13. Spanish Steps

Fountain in Spain Square in front of the Spanish Steps leading to the Pincio Hill

In the heart of Rome is the Spanish Square - it is from there that the Baroque Spanish Steps, adorned with flowerbeds, lead upward. In fact, this structure has a complicated history of its own. The church on the Pincio hill, where the staircase leads, was built by the king of France. The square itself was once the seat of the Spanish embassy. Thus, the two countries were in opposition, seeking to demonstrate their influence in Italy. The staircase was built by the Italians as a sign of smoothing out this confrontation. If you look at the staircase from above, you can see that its outline resembles the shape of a butterfly.

14. Trastevere

A small square in the district of Trastevere on the west bank of the Tiber in Rome

In ancient times Rome was built, like any other settlement, near a body of water. For Rome, that source was the river Tiber, the right bank of which was once inhabited by Etruscans from conquered Etruria, and they gave the name to the future Trastevere district. After the Etruscans, the area was inhabited by people from Syria, and then by the Romans themselves. Today you can see Rome in Trastevere in a different way, the way ordinary, poor Italians see Rome. Along the labyrinth of narrow streets are terracotta buildings, twined with ivy garlands. But there are also interesting places: temples, museums, cozy restaurants and even a tobacco factory, which produces snuff for the popes.

15. Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain against the majestic façade of the Palazzo Poli in Rome

The largest fountain in the city is in fact part of the facade of the Palazzo Poli, and these days it is a resting place for citizens and a source of invigorating coolness on a sweltering day. The fountain is a monumental architectural ensemble, towering above a huge bowl of fountain, which is almost 20 meters long. The oval shape of the bowl resembles the shape of an amphitheater, and every evening numerous spectators gather on the steps of the palace and right at the rim to contemplate the magnificent spectacle of flowing and illuminated water. The very name of the fountain comes from the Italian phrase meaning “3 streets” - it is at the intersection of 3 Roman streets that the fountain is located.

16. Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano

The Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist on Lateran Hill in Rome

In the ecclesiastical hierarchy of Rome, it is this most ancient church that stands in first place, even “exceeding” the title of St. Peter’s Cathedral. This is confirmed by the bas-relief carved on the facade of the building, which states that this basilica is the mother of all churches. The temple was built in the 4th century BC under Emperor Constantine and six popes were buried here. It is within the walls of San Giovanni that the most valuable Christian relics are kept, including the relics of the holy apostles Paul and Peter, as well as the “Holy Staircase” - it is believed that it was the stairway Jesus Christ climbed in the trial of Pontius Pilate.

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17. San Paolo-fuori le Mura

Statue of St. Paul in front of the facade of St. Paul's Basilica Berthold Werner

It is one of the 4 great papal basilicas and the best sights in Rome. From ancient times to this day, thousands of parishioners have flocked here in the hope of receiving the Almighty’s forgiveness in a rite called the “Holy Door.” The temple was built in honor of the Christian apostle Paul, who was tortured and executed in 67 AD. The tomb of the resting apostle is located here next to the basilica and is decorated with a memorial plaque. The façade of the basilica is decorated with a mosaic featuring the figure of Christ, surrounded by the two apostles, Paul and Peter, with images of the four prophets of the Old Testament between the windows below. The outer courtyard of the basilica is crowned by a sculpture of St. Paul with a sword and a book.

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18. Santa Maria Maggiore

The Roman Basilica of the Virgin Mary in Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome

Another of the 4 main basilicas in Rome, the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore. The history of its construction dates back to early Christianity, and over the years it has already become a legend. The Virgin Mary appeared to the bishop Liberius in a dream and told him to build a temple on the place where the snow would fall in the morning. So in A.D. 352, the first stone of the future basilica was laid on the Esquilino Hill, which was indeed covered with snow that morning. With the arrival of the new bishops the basilica was gradually transformed and today it has a facade performed in a mixture of Romanesque and Baroque style. The interior decoration of the basilica, although brought to a brilliant finish, has retained its authenticity and pristine beauty.

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19. The Church of Il Gesu

Facade of the main Jesuit church in Rome, the Church of Il Gesù Darren Copley

This is the main church of the Jesuits, where Ignatius Loyola, the founder and patron of their order, is buried. The history of the church began in 1551 when Loyola decided to build a cathedral church for the Order. The style of the church facade is a mix of Renaissance and Baroque styles - Michelangelo himself worked on the design of the facade and its modifications were later undertaken by his pupils and followers. The interior of the temple is decorated with stucco and gilded, and the dome is decorated with a fresco called “Triumph of Jesus”. The decoration of the temple is truly delightful with the abundance of decorative elements, paintings and shimmering gilding.

20. The Great Synagogue or Tempio Maggiore

The Great Synagogue or Tempio Maggiore with Square Dome in Rome Mister No

Excursions in Rome don’t overlook the largest Jewish house of prayer in Rome, the Tempio Maggiore Synagogue. Here the most important religious services of the Jewish community are performed. It should be noted that the number of Jews in Rome had been considerable since the days when Judea was an ally of the Roman Empire and a Jewish community had been founded in the city. With the unification of Italy and the abolition of the Jewish ghetto, all Jews received Italian citizenship, and a new synagogue had to be built. In addition to the tasks of worship, the Great Synagogue today serves as the cultural center of the Jewish community.

21. Villa Medici

Villa Medici with statues and Italian garden with alleys Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

In the Middle Ages the Italian aristocratic Medici family often stayed in their residence, which is a whole architectural and park complex, perfectly preserved to this day. It is a real museum of ancient art, which pleasantly surprises its visitors with its well-kept, skilful work of masters of architecture and landscape gardening. Today the French Academy of Arts is located in the walls of the villa, and numerous art exhibitions, concerts and other cultural events are constantly held here. In the palace you can see interesting exhibits - antique furniture, engravings, tapestries, as well as a large archive of documents conveying the history of art in the country.

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22. Villa Borghese

The Aesculapius Temple was built in the 19th century at Villa Borghese under the influence of the lake in Wiltshire's Stourhead Park

A trip through the landscape parks of Rome is not without a visit to Villa Borghese, the third largest park complex in the city. The history of the park began in the 17th century, when Cardinal Borghese ordered the park to be laid out in an area planted with vineyards. Those who have visited the park are especially delighted with the palace, the interior of which is a masterpiece of medieval architecture. The Borghese Gallery is particularly noteworthy, exhibiting various pieces of art that have become part of the rich Borghese heritage. In addition to the palace itself, there are many other buildings in the park, such as the zoological museum building, the botanical garden and the zoo.

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23. Wax museum

The main entrance to the Wax Museum building Geobia

Rome’s wax museum is considered the 3rd most important museum in Europe, second only to London’s Madame Tussauds and Paris’s Grevin. In Rome, it is the largest institution among the city’s museums. In its 11 rooms there are about 2.500 wax figures, amazingly accurately representing the appearance of prominent politicians, scientists, cultural figures and artists. Particular attention is paid to the key figures of the 20th century. Separately, one can see wax exhibitions that realistically convey entire events of the historical past.

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24. Viorazzo Zoo

The Vioragso Zoo Gate in the Villa Borghese Park Bgabel

Villa Borghese has already been mentioned in the review before, now it’s time to pay attention to one of its attractions. We will talk about the zoo, which is located on the territory of the pompous villa. At the beginning of the last century, a landscaped area was set up in the Borghese Park, imitating a corner of the wilderness. Unlike a classical zoo, the zoo has no cages and the inhabitants live in a space that is not restricted to their comforts - the area of the zoo occupies the whole 17 hectares. All in all, this area is inhabited by about a thousand different animals, including several species of reptiles, mammals and many birds. The combination of elements of majestic architecture and corners of “wild” nature of the zoo leaves an extraordinary impression.

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25. Pasta Museum in Rome

There is a huge variety of types and forms of pasta ChiemseeMan

Everyone probably knows that pasta is a favorite dish of Italians and has become a symbol of the national cuisine of Italy. Pasta, or simply pasta, Italians manage to cook in a variety of variations, with unusual sauces and other ingredients. Visitors of the museum are shown an amazing history of pasta creation and evolution of its production, demonstrated the techniques used in the production, from ancient, like a sieve and a rolling pin, to the most advanced equipment. There are also historical documents, postcards, stamps and other exhibits that shed light on some of the history of Italian pasta.

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Rome sights: what else to visit in Rome?

The list of sights of Italy and its Eternal City can be continued indefinitely, and even after getting acquainted with the Roman treasures from the top 25 above, you can always continue the journey, consolidating the impression by visiting other, no less interesting places. In the continuation of the rating are other attractions of Rome, photos with names and descriptions of which are worthy of your attention.

26. ViGaMus Museum of Video Games

Visiting the ViGaMus Museum of Video Games in Rome Barbiere1138

For those who are interested in the history of computers and everything connected with it, the ViGaMus Museum is the right place to go. Four hundred exhibits are on display in exhibition halls divided into thematic areas. These are examples of computing equipment, computers and individual components, software, game consoles and consoles. In addition, the museum has a vast collection of video games from all over the world. In addition to viewing the exhibits, you can dive into the virtual world of a modern game and go on an imaginary journey.

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27. Pyramid of Cestia

The Pyramid of Cestius is the tomb of Praetor Gaius Cestius Epulus Blackcat

On the east side of the port of San Paolo, a mysterious structure, the pyramid of Caestius, is built right into the fortress wall of the old city. Those who have seen this monument of antiquity wonder where in Rome the ancient Egyptian pyramid came from. This monument was built at the bequest of the Roman politician Caius Cestius in 12 BC. The fact is that after the conquest of Egypt by the Roman Empire, many Romans were fascinated by the architecture of Egypt, among them was Caius Testius. His high position in society gave him the right to fulfill his unusual dying wish - to be buried in a tomb similar to an ancient Egyptian pyramid.

28. Catacombs of Rome

The Catacombs of Rome are located under the surface of Rome and were created during the early Christian era Dnalor 01

The main attractions of Rome briefly continue a unique historical monument - the underground labyrinths in which the earliest Christians and pagans buried the dead. The history of the catacombs begins in the 5th century BC with the introduction of the prohibition on burying the dead within the city limits. This was the beginning of the creation of huge underground corridors where the deceased found their eternal rest. Niches were made in some rows in lateral walls of corridors, and the bodies were placed there. The remains of martyrs and saints were buried in special niches with a small elaborately decorated archway.

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29. Antique hippodrome

The great circus of ancient Rome between the Palatine and Aventine hills on the left bank of the Tiber River

This is the largest hippodrome of ancient Rome, located in its historic part, on the left bank of the Tiber. In ancient Rome this imposing field was surrounded by spectators’ stands and in the center there were performances, usually equestrian chariot races. The idea of creating a showplace belonged to the Fifth King of the Roman Empire; later under different rulers the square was expanded and refined, and the last competition took place about the 6th century AD. With the fall of the Roman Empire, the stadium began to decline, and today it has become a recreational park area.

30. The Appian Way

The first Roman paved road from legendary Rome to the south of the Apennine Peninsula

The “Queen of Roads” was once the great road that connected Rome with its most important neighbors - Egypt, Greece and the countries of Asia. It was built during the 4th century BC, the time when trade with neighboring countries began to establish. The creation of the road was associated with the name of Appius - one of the high officials of Rome. Today part of the Appian Way begins right in the city. Starting your excursion along the ancient stone paving, you can see and visit such ancient monuments as the ancient San Sebastian Gate, tombs, entrances to catacombs, the sanctuary and many other interesting sights along the way.

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The hospitable capital of Italy welcomes everyone, showing its cordiality and magnetism to everyone who sets foot on these lands. The eternal city is welcoming to any tourist and shows all the most interesting, capturing the attention of millions: numerous tours reveal the priceless treasures, concentrated here in every winding street and every stone, and hotels in Rome meet the refined aristocracy and high level of service. Read also about sights of Florence and be inspired to travel further in Italy.

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