A guide on what to see in the Eternal City of Rome
When in Rome… a guide on what to see in the Eternal City
Welcome to Rome, the city of ancient sites. What would the ancient temples and ruins not have seen in all those centuries? Just let your imagination run wild. Hear the echoes of weapons clatter in the Colosseum, the famous amphitheater. Emperor Vespasian understood that he could distract his disaffected people by offering "bread and games" for free. In the arena, gladiators had to fight each other to the death. Another legendary place in Rome is the Roman Forum, the ancient political and social center of the city. Now it looks like a collection of ruins, but every stone here tells a story.
But Rome is more than traces of the Roman Empire. Monumental churches on the edge of beautiful squares. Gracefully designed fountains where people cool off on hot days. Ornaments, sculptures, and art everywhere you look. The history of Rome reaches deep into antiquity. Here you really are walking in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. And what makes Rome even more attractive: the city is bustling! The liveliness and modernity surprise every time. Take a stroll at the Spanish Steps in the evening and see how charming and contemporary the Romans are.
Sights not to miss in Rome
Rome's number 1 landmark is the Colosseum or the huge amphitheater that held 65,000 spectators in Roman times. Gladiators fought each other and wild animals in the arena of the Colosseum. In the vast 'ruins' of the Colosseum, you can visit the grandstands, arena, and underground rooms of this largest amphitheater from Roman times. Due to the huge number of visitors, it is strongly recommended to book tickets for the Colosseum in advance.
The most famous fountain in Rome and perhaps in the world is the Fontana di Trevi. Located in Piazza di Trevi, this Baroque fountain was built in 1762 to a design by Niccolò Salvi, an Italian architect. Unfortunately, he passed away prematurely and was never able to admire the final result. It depicts the god of the sea, Neptune, on his chariot towards the sea. A visit to Rome isn't complete without dropping a coin in the Trevi Fountain, as the coin thrower will "someday return to Rome."
One of the best-preserved buildings from Roman times is the Pantheon. It is still not clear what function the building had at the time, but in 608 the Pantheon was given to the Pope by Emperor Hadrian. In addition to a number of special funerary monuments (including painter Raphael and some Italian kings), the current church has a strikingly large and open dome (oculus). During your city trip to Rome, you can visit the Pantheon for free.
Peter's Basilica, officially 'Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano', is the spiritual center of the Catholic Church and the residence of the Pope. The enormous basilica, located in the independent state of Vatican City and on St. Peter's Square of the same name, was built on the presumed tomb of Peter. In St. Peter's Basilica you will find masterpieces such as Bernini's baldachin and Michelangelo's 'La Pieta', but you can also visit the crypts with 148 tombs of the popes. Prepare your visit to St. Peter's Church well, otherwise, you will end up in the queue for a very long time.
Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel
Over the past centuries, the Popes have built up a huge art collection ranging from Roman artifacts, religious relics, and numerous paintings. In the Vatican Museums, 54 richly decorated rooms give you an impression of these art treasures of the Catholic Church. The highlight for many visitors will be the famous Sistine Chapel. The chapel with beautiful paintings by Michelangelo and best known for the conclaves to elect a new pope. Of all the sights in Rome, this is by far the attraction with the longest queues. Skip the line ticket reservation is necessary in order not to wait more than two hours in the full sun.
Roman Forum & Palatine Hill
The Roman Forum was the center of the ancient Roman Empire. During your visit to the Roman Forum, you will walk through the Roman excavations and the archaeological park of ancient temples, triumphal arches, market halls, and other important buildings built here by the emperors. Next to the forum is the Palatino, the Palatine Hill, where you will find the excavations of imperial residences.
Piazza Navona is one of the most striking squares in Rome. The square owes its enormously elongated shape to its original function as an athletic stadium in Roman times. Sights in the square are a number of fountains, including Bernini's 'La Fontana Dei Quattro Fiumi', a striking obelisk and you can visit excavations of the ancient stadium of Domitian. In addition, Piazza Navona is a lively square with street performers, cafes, and terraces.
Spanish Steps (Piazza di Spagna)
At the foot of the French church, "Trinita dei Monti" are the 135 steps of the Spanish Steps. Via the Spanish Steps, you descend to Piazza di Spagna, where you will see a striking fountain by Pietro Bernini in the square. The 18th century Spanish Steps have become a tourist hotspot and at the top of the stairs, you have a magnificent view over Rome.
Galleria & Villa Borghese
The name 'Villa Borghese' refers to the largest and most beautiful park in Rome. This was once the estate of the wealthy Cardinal Scipione Borghese, built around the villa of the same name. Since 1903 it has been owned by the Municipality of Rome and serves as a public park. The 'Galleria Borghese' is also located in the park, a museum that exhibits Borghese's large private art collection. In the gallery, you will find sculptures and paintings from Caravaggio, Rubens, Bernini to Leonardo da Vinci.
Castel Sant'Angelo (Cattle of Angels)
Originally the 2nd century Castel Sant'Angelo, or Castel Sant'Angelo, was a mausoleum of Emperor Hadrian. After Archangel Michael appeared here in 590 and ended the plague epidemic, Pope Pius II had a large bronze statue of Archangel Michael placed on top of the castle. Castel Sant'Angelo was part of the defense line of Rome and was the place where the popes could hide, as the Vatican was connected to the Castel Sant'Angelo by a tunnel.
Getting around in Rome
There are three metro lines in Rome (A to C). During your city break, you will probably only use Line A and B (Line C is still largely under construction), with the only transfer being the metro stop and Termini train station. At the ticket machines, you have several possible options to buy tickets. It is important to know that the same ticket is valid in the entire public transport system (ATAC) of the metro, tram, bus (excluding the tourist buses), and even some regional trains (Trenitalia 2nd class, Roma-Lido, Rome-Viterbo, and Rome - Giardinetti). The tickets do not apply to the airport.
Insider tips for Rome
If you want to relax in Rome, walk to Trastevere. During the day, especially in the morning, this district is an oasis of calm. As if you have spontaneously ended up in a picturesque Italian village. The colorful houses are overgrown with flowers and ivy, there are Vespas everywhere and nice old cars in pastel shades. And you will find quite a few good restaurants in Trastevere.