Below we list 8 of the most loved attractions that Rome has to offer. Colosseum, Vatican City, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Baths of Caracalla, Trajan's Forum, Villa Adriana and Lago Bracciano. Let us show you why Rome has to be on your travel bucket list!
Top of the list for many tourists has to be The Roman Colosseum, initially known as the “Flavian Amphitheatre” it was authorised in AD72 by the Emperor of the time “Vespasian”. It was left to his son, Titus to complete it with further improvements carried out by Domitian. It is sited nearby the impressive Roman Forum and was constructed to a no-nonsense design with 80 curved entrances allowing trouble-free access for the huge crowds of spectators who took seats according to their status. The Colosseum is vast it is an elliptical shape measuring 188 metres in length and 156
metres wide and initially had 240 masts attached to stone corbels on the upper levels to provide limited shade. Unimaginable suffering occurred here for the pleasure of the large blood thirsty audiences with combats between gladiators, Christians and wild animals. In the opening games in AD 80 in excess of 9,000 animals were put to death.
Constructed over the tomb of Saint Peter the Vatican City is the official papal residence. In 1929 the Vatican’s unique position of a small sovereign state contained within another was assured by the “Lateran Treaty” and it was commemorated by the construction of a new road. The road leads from Castel Sant Angelo (a memorial with a forbidding past) to the vast St Peters Basilica. Vatican City is the world’s smallest state, but contained within it a wealth of museums, 11 in total. The awe inspiring Sistine Chapel by the great Michelangelo with its touching scenes from Genesis is a wonder to behold, more so after recent restoration brought it back to its full former glory. On the end wall you have the powerful and striking image of The Last Judgment, a true masterpiece. Other side walls are equally as impressive with significant renaissance frescoes by other important artists, depicting colourful biblical scenes and more recent popes. Dating back to medieval times the Vatican Gardens are a magical place with a system of small and large planted gardens, beautiful fountain, fish pool and compound for rabbits.
This delightful monument dominates the small Trevi square (in the district of Quirinale) and is at the end of the Aqua Virgo aqueduct which was constructed in 19BC. This aqueduct brings water from the Salone Springs some 20km away and supplies the fountains in the centre of historic Rome. Arguably the most attractive and beautiful fountain in all of Rome is the “Trevi Fountain” known also as “The Fontana di Trevi” It is much more than a sculpture it’s an amazing work of Baroque art with the soft natural outlines and wonderfully carved fantasy creatures. The imposing central figure in front of a large alcove is Neptune the Roman god of the sea riding a chariot, cleverly designed in the shape of a shell pulled by two well sculptured sea horses. The water in the fountain represents the sea and folklore has it that you will return to Rome if facing backwards you toss a coin into the water over your shoulder. An incredible 3,000 euros in coins are tossed into the fountain each and every day.
The resplendent Pantheon construction stands as a reminder of the glorious Roman Empire. It was built more than 1800 years ago with massive walls made of brick and hefty marble columns that make an instant impression on all who see this wonder of ancient Rome. The 43 metre high dome is nothing short of the zenith of Roman engineering it is one of the buildings most remarkable features. The engineering problem the Romans had to overcome during the construction was the sheer weight of the large dome. The solution they adopted was to decrease the thickness of the walls as the height of the building increased. At the base the walls were 20 feet thick and at the opening on top of the dome the “Oculus” this had reduced to 7.5 feet thick. The Roman engineers used two sorts of concrete one for the walls and a lighter version for the dome. It remained the largest dome in the world until 1436 when Florence cathedral was built. On entering the Pantheon on a sunny day one of the most breath taking sights awaits you as a golden shaft of sunlight shines through the opening in the dome the “oculus “. Today the Pantheon contains the tombs of several Italian Kings and the famous artist Raphael.
Baths of Caracalla
When completed in 217AD the “Baths of Caracalla” were the largest thermal baths in the world. They were operational for more than 300 years. The baths were huge buildings built out of red brick with large frescoed vaults and many mosaics, it must have been incredible when first constructed! The baths are sited south east of Rome’s Ancient centre. It was a huge complex covering 27 acres with bathing and seating capacity for more than 1600 people at a time, another marvel of the ingenuity of the Romans.
This huge complex was actually a leisure centre with multiple functions, libraries, art galleries, restaurants, gymnasiums and even brothels. The Aqua Marcia Aqueduct ensured a constant flow of water to the baths through a complicated distribution system. The baths were operational until the Goths destroyed the aqueduct in 537AD cutting off the source of water. During the summer the Caracalla Baths is the setting for many cultural events such as extravagant opera performances.
The Forum of Trajan was the largest and final Roman Imperial Forums that shaped the political and governmental heart of the Empire. The remains now lies 15 feet below the current street level and consists of a huge temple, two libraries, markets and an enormous Basilica. The complex was designed and created in 106 AD by the most famous architect of the time “Apollodorus of Damascus”. In it's time it was seen as one of the Architectural wonders of the ancient world. The main access to the Forum led to a beautiful large courtyard fringed by two “colonnaded porticos”. On the northern side of the courtyard you find the imposing Basilica Ulpia, a huge structure with five naves each divided by a series of colonnades. The hall would have been extravagantly decorated with colourful marbles and precious metals. Beyond the Basilica was a smaller courtyard bordered by Latin and Greek Libraries. To commemorate the great victory of Trajan over Dacians a stupendous Column was erected at the centre of the courtyard made from 29 huge blocks of the finest Luna marble each weighing between 25 to 77 tons and raised to an incredible 38.4 metres above ground level. The markets of Trajan was a six stories high shopping complex containing upwards of 150 shops and offices and is equivalent to the large scale shopping malls of today. If you are considering a day trip from Rome, then there are certainly lots of very appealing attractions to choose between. Many towns with historic ruins enjoy large visitor numbers and are connected by a good public transport system.
Villa Adriana (Hadrian's Villa)
Situated at Tivoli, 18miles north–east of Rome is the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hadrians Villa an exclusive retreat for Rome’s emperors. The wonders of the classical world were replicated for the pleasure of Hadrian the successor to Trajan in 117AD. This huge complex of over 30 buildings covers an area of 100 hectares, perhaps even as much as 300 hectares and took a total of 12 years to build. At the entrance of the visitors centre there's a large scale model showing the locations of all the known buildings. The location for this sumptuous Villa complex was carefully chosen. The baths of the Villa required huge amounts of water and this site had abundant water supplies with two small streams running close by. The region is also well known for its travertine quarries and plentiful supplies of pozzolana and lime for cement production. The majority of the buildings would have been a few storeys high but unfortunately the ravages of time have taken their toll and it’s difficult to appreciate just how marvellous it must have been in it’s heyday.
Lake Bracciano (Lago Bracciano)
Lake Bracciano is situated 24 miles north of Rome and is ideal for a break from the hustle and bustle of city life. It is the second largest lake in the area and fills a volcanic crater in the popular Sabatini hills. There are a number of sailing clubs and stylish cafes along the water’s edge specialising in freshly caught fish. The shores are beautifully planted with olive and pine trees making it a beautiful spot for a picnic. On a steamy day many people take advantage of the fresh mountain waters to cool off. The town of Bracciano is close by and its magnificent Castle dominates the surrounding area. It is considered to be one of Italy’s finest castles with its architectural features and excellent state of preservation. There are two beautiful baroque churches to view, “St.Stephens” with its 16th century bell tower and “Santa Maria Novella” with an annexed Augustinian cloister. The town centre is full of medieval character with narrow streets and buildings dating back to the 15th and 16th century.
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Rome, an ancient and romantic city
Rome is one of the most ancient and romantic cities in not only Europe but the whole World. It’s history spans over many millennia and it was the capital city of the Roman Republic, Roman Kingdom and the Roman Empire which was the principal power in Western Europe from the 1st century BC up to the 7th century AD. It is regarded by many scholars as one of the main cradles of Western Civilization. Many modern European languages are based on Latin and many legal and political traditions follow countless features of the ancient Roman methods. Numerous buildings around the globe use techniques and styles accomplished by ancient Rome.
Rome has become the world’s most well-known open-air museum and a favourite destination for short stay city breaks and longer vacations. There is so much to see and do in this city of fashion and romance making it a firm favourite of honeymooners. There's many ways to spend your time from visiting the famous sights, relaxing in one of the many cafes and simply watch city life race on by or get some shopping in at one of cities fashionable boutiques. Whatever you choose you are never far away from Rome’s ancient sights and attractions.
So when should I visit Rome?
It is a fabulous place to visit no matter what time of year you decide to go. Travellers should consider a number of elements including on-going events, weather and of course very importantly budget, like most large cities it’s not cheap. June through August are classed as ”high season” and tourist numbers are at their highest levels. During this time the weather can often be hot but the chances of rain ruining your plans is unlikely. Summer time is ideal for sightseeing and dining outdoors in one the many restaurants and cafes that line the Roman streets. However if visiting during the high season be prepared for large crowds and time consuming queues at the popular attractions. If your budget is limited and you don’t yearn for blue skies and warm sunny days then visiting during the ”low season” between November and February definitely has its advantages. The accommodation prices are at their lowest levels and crowds at the museums are often non-existent, however though November is usually the wettest month and February can often be cold and miserable. There are so many things to see, if time is limited its best to plan in advance to avoid disappointment. You can decide to follow the usual tourist paths or you can be more adventurous and go off track and seek out the many hidden treasures that Rome has to offer.