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The Colosseum

The Colosseum is the most recognizable and iconic monument of

Rome, if you see no other site in Rome you should see this
structure. This grand stadium was constructed by the Flavian
emperors. In 508-544BC the valley where the colosseum now
stands had been drained. Houses and public buildings were
constructed at this point where four regions of ancient Rome
converged. The Great Fire of Rome in 64AD cleared the area and
Nero had a new palace complex, Domus Aurea, constructed on the
grounds. Under Vespasian much of Nero's private property was
returned to the people and the construction of a grand
amphitheatre began (71-72AD) on part of the property. The
amphitheatre was completed during the reign of Titus in 80AD and
by 81AD a third level had been added. At this time hypogeum, a
series of spaces beneath the arena used as a "backstage" area
were excavated. In the 2 century repairs were nd carried out and
in 222 after extensive fire damage the colosseum was completely
rebuilt over the course of 30 years.
The colosseum was used for bull fights, gladiator fights, chariot
races, official events and various public forms of entertainment. At
its peek the most popular event was the Ludi Circenses, the
chariot races, there were also naval battles reproduced with
complex stage effects. The colosseum also hosted staged hunts,
using live animals and often involved feeding convicts to the
beasts. Mythological dramas were staged in the arena among
scenic woods complete with forest animals. Rome had a strict
class system and there were 5 levels of seating within the
audience according to your social status. At capacity the arena
could hold 50,000 to 80,000 spectators on the marble benches.
In 404 the colosseum saw its last gladiator fight when the
Christian Orthodox Emperor Theodosius banned all forms of
paganism and customs. The colosseum fell into disrepair firstly
from the Visigoths sacking of Rome and then in the 400s pieces of
the architecture were stolen for reuse in new structures. More
repairs followed as did earthquakes, vandalism and the sacking of
Rome by the Vandals of Genseric. From the 6 to 13 century, as
the property of the Church of Santa Maria Nova the th th
colosseum became a thruway and residential area. Ownership of
the property changed over the years and looting continued as
stone by stone the colosseum was dismantled. Finally in 1750 true
restoration began under Pope Benedict XIV.
Today the amphitheatre is still the largest in the world and is the
model on which the amphitheatres are based. There is now a
museum in the upper floor of the outer wall and the arena is used
for Roman Catholic ceremonies several times a year. The
colosseum was recently chosen as one of the New Seven Wonders
of the World.
Address: Piazza del Colosseo, 1, 00184 Rome Phone Number: 0639967700 Admission: Adults 12, Free for under 18 and over 65.
Guided tours: 4. Note: to the Colosseum also includes a visit to
the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill Opening Hours: 8:30am to
one hour before sunset (4:30pm in winter, 7pm in summer,
5:30pm in between). Check website. Transportation: Metro:
The Pantheon
The Pantheon in Rome was built on the orders of Hadrian between
118AD and 125AD, it functioned as a temple to all the Roman
Gods. The temple was built to replace Marcus Agrippa's temple
which had burnt down in 80AD. The original inscription can still be
seen above the Pantheon entrance " Marcus Agrippa son of Lucius,
having been consul three times ." The building is in such good
condition thanks to renovationsmade it made by the Byzantine
Emperor Phocas in 608AD when it was converted into a church.
The church became the final resting place for several Italian kings
including King Vittorio Emanuele II, Umberto I and the artist
Raphael who was buried here together with his fiance. The
Pantheon architecture was unlike other Roman Temples and so
historians wonder at the buildings use.

The Pantheon faade features a triangular pediment which once

would have held sculptured battle scenes. The pediment is
supported by three rows of columns leading into the front portico.
From the rectangular front entrance hall (cella) bronze doors lead
in to the main part of the building which is circular. The marble
veneer covering the interior walls was a later addition but the
geometric patterned marble floor is the original Ancient Roman
Within the building intersecting arches rest on piers which support
8 round headed arches. On floor level there are 8 corresponding
bays which house statues. The star feature of the Pantheon is the
dome, supported by a series of arches brilliantly engineered to
hold the heavy dome. To further help support the weight of the
dome the walls beneath the dome gradually decrease in
thickness. Also the builders used lightweight materials on the
upper part of the structure and heavier, sturdy materials on the
lower section. One of the fascinating qualities of the Pantheon
architecture is the proportions of the dome which, if flipped upside
down would fit exactly into the Rotunda. At the highest central
point of the dome is an oculus, a circular opening, which floods
the space with natural light. The oculus is lined with bronze and
was never closed. This meant that rain entered the building and
drained off of the slightly convex floor into discrete drainpipes.
The interior height and the diameter of the dome are identical at
43.3 meters. Unfortunately we don't know the name of the
architect responsible for all of this precise and ingenious
architecture. The symmetry and mathematical skill used to create
the Pantheon has been admired by artists and architects for
centuries and remains an inspiration to artists and designers.
Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona is an elongated oval-shaped public square in Rome,
it was built on the former Stadium of Domitian (the remains of
which can still be seen on guided tours from Piazza Tor
Sanguigna13). The original name was Circus Agonalis or Circus
Agonalis. The Piazza was paved in the 15 th century and used as a
market place and a venue for special events including mock naval
battles. Today is a lively and popular social meeting point in the
numerous cafes, restaurants and places of entertainment which
line the square. The square is the venue for many annual fairs and
festivals. The Church of Sant'Agnese in Agone (1670)is also on
the square and is perhaps the sources of the square's present
The main attractions of the square are the three fountains, the
most famous being Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi. The Fountain of the
Four Rivers was completed in 1651 and although originally the
artist Borromini was commissioned, ultimately Bernini took over
the design. The fountain features an obelisk brought from the
Massenzio Circus and surrounding the fountain base are figures
representing four great rivers: The Nile, Ganges, Danube and Rio
de la Plata.
The Neptune Fountain (Fontana del Nettuno) or Calderari was
designed by Giacomo della Porta and constructed in 1576. Further
statues of Neptune and the sea nymphs were added in the 19
century. th
The Fontana del Moro was also created by della Porta. The central
statue was designed by Bernini in the 17 century and th features
a Moor and a dolphin. The Tritons (male mermaids) were added in
the 19 century. th
St. Peter's Square
The expansive St. Peter's Square is located within Vatican City in
front of St. Peter's Basilica. In the 1600s the plaza was designed
by Bernini who also had a hand in designing the adjacent basilica.
His design was limited by the constraints of surrounding structures
but he managed to create a trapezoid shaped plaza of grand
The elliptical shaped open area of the square is surrounded by 284
Tuscan-style Doric colonnades, in 4 rows; the columns are 13
meters high. The enormous scale of the square and its

surrounding columns was intended to create awe in the

worshipers who gather here to receive the Pope's blessing from
the church or Vatican Palace where he often appears to address
the crowds. The square is paved in cobbled stones divided up only
by radiating lines created from limestone and zodiac signs so that
the obelisks can be used as a giant sun dial. A red porphyry stone
on the paving marks where Pope John Paul II was shot in 1981.
An ancient Egyptian obelisk stands at the plaza center, Bernini's
granite fountain and a fountain designed by Carlo Maderno flank
the obelisk in the papal courtyard. Visitors enter the square
through the Ponte Sant'Angelo along the via della Conciliazione.
St. Peter's Square is a masterpiece in architecture and balance
which inspires a feeling of reverence and spiritual peace.
St. Peter's Basilica
St Peter's Basilica is perhaps the holiest and most important
church in Christendom, located within Vatican City on Vatican Hill;
it is the heart of the Catholic Church. The location has long been
considered holy as the apostle Saint Peter is believed to have
been buried here in 64AD. Peter is considered to have been the
first Pope and so its place in Vatican City is fitting. A place of
worship was first established on this site in c.320AD, in the 15
century, the structure was enlarged and improved with the help of
th Leon Battista Alberti and Bernardo Rossellino. A new structure
was created here under Bramante in 1506, and was continued by
Rafael who took over the task. Rafael was followed by Baldassarre
Peruzzi and later Michelangelo. Maderno was responsible for the
stunning faade and finally the Basilica was consecrated in 1626.
Bernini worked on the church for 20 years and was responsible for
much of the beautiful interior furnishing in the 1600s.
The basilica Latin Cross floor plan has a 186 meter long Nave with
4 aisles and the ceiling is 46 meters high. There is a 136 meter
high dome (thanks to Michelangelo) which is 42 meters in
diameter. Visitors can climb the 491 steps to get breathtaking
views from the top. The basilica's faade is 114 meters wide and
47 meters high with a triple arched portico leading into the atrium
which has a central fountain. In total the Basilica covers 22,000m
and can accommodate 20,000 worshipers. Visitors to the holy
Basilica approach the building through the enormous St. Peters
Square created by Bernini. St. Peter's is a major Catholic
pilgrimage site and Christians arriving here begin their visit by
kissing the big toe of Arnolfo da Cambio's brass statue of St. Peter
on the right side of the main altar.
Within the church there are the angelic faces of 40 types of
cherubs created in stone, mosaic and metal. The statues of 39
saints, the founders of religious congregations, appear along the
sides of the Nave and across the Transept. In all there are 45
altars, 11 chapels and 10,000m of mosaics as well as beautiful
marble floors. Among the valuable pieces of Renaissance and
Baroque art in the Basilica is Michelangelo's Pieta in the first
chapel on the right. Other stunning works of art in St. Peters are
the bronze baldachin above the papal altar and the confession
(burial crypt) of St. Peter. St. Peter's tomb is one of 100 tombs
within the church; they include 91 popes, kings and queens.
The Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel is part of the Vatican Museums and is named
after Pope Sixtus IV (pope from 1471 to 1484). He ordered the
restoration of the old Cappella Magna which was carried out by an
illustrious list of artists including Botticelli, Perugino and Domenico
Ghirlandaio. The chapel was inaugurated in 1483 as Our Lady of
the Assumption. Julius II della Rovere (pope from 1503-1513)
ordered the refinement and redecoration of the chapel decoration
and employed Michelangelo for the job. In 1512 the work was
complete and the space was inaugurated as the Sistine Chapel.
Later in 1533 Michelangelo was asked by Clement VII to paint the
Last Judgment on the altar wall replacing the 15 century frescoes.
In the 16 th th century the entrance wall frescoes were painted
again, this time by Hendrik van den Broeck and da Lecce. More
recently in 1979 and 1999 the chapel frescoes were restored.

Each surface of the chapel is covered with exquisite art, the Last
Judgment is painted on the wall opposite the entrance; the story
of Christ is featured on the North Wall and the stories of Moses on
the South Wall. However the main painting which visitors come to
see is the ceiling fresco by Michelangelo.
Michelangelo was originally commissioned to paint 12 apostles
and ornamental motifs however he was not too enamored with
this idea and eventually was given a free hand to plan the ceiling
painting as he pleased. He constructed a scaffold of his own
invention and painted the masterpiece while lying on his back. He
painted 9 important events from the Book of Genesis down the
center of the ceiling, the most famous being God giving Adam life
with the touching of their two finger tips. Around the outer edge of
the central scenes are paintings of the 12 prophets and Sibyls. In
the four corners of the ceiling are scenes from the miraculous
salvation of the people of Israel.
The chapel is used for mass and other services throughout the
year and there is a permanent choir, the Sistine Chapel Choir. But
the space's most important function is as the Papal Conclave. This
is where the Popes are elected in a conclave of the College of
Cardinals. A chimney is erected from the chapel leading up to the
roof and with the use of different colored smoke a signal is made
when a new Pope has been chosen. Although the cardinals no
longer camp out in the chapel while they come to a discussion,
the chapel is still used as the venue for the voting for the new

Piazza Venezia
Although this is not the most beautiful of Rome's squares it is the
most central with several major routes converging here including
Via Corso and Via dei Fori Imperiali. It is located at the foot of
Capitoline Hill next to Trajan's Forum. Piazza Venezia is not a
pedestrian square and the large square sees endless traffic,
including most buses. The square is close to many tourist sites
and most visitors will find themselves crossing this square at some
point in their trip to Rome.
Several important buildings line the square including the Palazzo
Venezia, commissioned by the Cardinal Venezia. The square takes
its name from the palace. The palace was completed in 1464 and
belonged to Pope Paul II, it continued to be the residence of
successive popes until Pope Pius IV. After that it became the
Venice Embassy (Serenissima) and later was acquired by
Mussolini's government. The dictator would give speeches from
the palace balcony. Today it houses the Museo del Palazzo
Other buildings on the square are the Assicurazioni Generali
building (1911); the Monument of victor Emanuel II (Il Vittoriano);
Palazzo Bonaparte, the former home of Napoleon Bonaparte's
mother; Palazzo delle Aste and San Marco Church (1336). During
digging to construct part of the Rome metro line in 2009 the
ancient remains of Hadrian's Athenaeum were discovered directly
beneath the middle of Piazza Venezia.

Trevi Fountain
The Fontana di Trevi is the largest baroque fountain in the world.
The fountain is well known from the Fellini film "La Dolce Vita" and
"Three Coins in The Fountain." Legend has it that if you throw a
coin into the fountain and make a wish to return to Rome, your
wish will be granted. It is situated in the Trevi District of Rome at a
junction of three roads (hence the name tre-three+vie-roads). The
fountain is 26,30 meters high, 49,15 meters wide, 80,000 cubic
meters of water flow through the fountain every day and it is
mostly carved from travertine stone.
The fountain also marks the terminal point of one of Ancient
Rome's 11 aqueducts, Aqua Virgo, which was constructed by
Marcus Agrippa c.19BC during the reign of Emperor Augustus. The

aqueduct covered 21km to bring fresh spring water into the city
supplying clean drinking water for about 400 years. Agrippa had
the aqueduct built to bring water to the Campus Martius thermal
baths. The name of the aqueduct comes from a legend that tells
of a virgin leading tired and thirsty soldiers to the source of water.
Fountains were, and still are, a regular feature in Rome, by the 4
century there were 1352 Roman fountains. The aqueduct th
suffered damage in 537 when the Ostrogoths attacked Rome but
in the early renaissance period the popes began restoring the
aqueduct fountain.

Palatine Hill

Various popes had a hand in restoring the fountain and even

relocating and reorienting it. It was Urbanus VIII who
commissioned Bernini to work on the fountain. In 1730 a contest
was held to design a new fountain and Nicola Salvi won. In 1743
the new fountain began flowing with water. Giuseppe Pannini (son
of Giampaolo) took over the completion of the fountain
decoration. Bracci also had a hand in the creation by carving the
marble Ocean's Triumph according to Salvi's design. Work was
completed in 1762.

During the Roman Republican Era the hill was a fashionable

residential area due to the hill's height and spectacular views it
afforded. The great leaders of the Roman Empire chose this hill as
their home and the site was wall-to-wall palaces at one point. And
so the word "palace" is derived from "Palatine." First Emperor
Augustus made the hill his headquarters, constructing Imperial
palaces there, then they were expanded under Julio-Claudian
Emperors and by Nero. Finally Domitian had Rabirius design his
Flavian Palace which was built on top of the existing dwellings.

The statue of Ocean stands at the highest and central point of the
fountain, he stands in a chariot pulled by two horses ridden by two
Tritons. One Triton is old and one is young while one horse is
restless and the other calm. To the left of Ocean is a statue of
Abundance and to the right a statue of Health. Above the statues
are reliefs of Agrippa overseeing the construction of the aqueduct
and another of the Virgin leading the soldiers to the water. There
are also allegorical figures and carvings of about 30 types of

Visitors can see the archaeological findings from the Palatine Hill
on display in the Palace of the Caesars which houses the Palatine
Museum. Other sites on the Palatine Hill include the excavated
ruins of the House of Augustus, House of Livia, Domus Augustana
and the Palace of Septimius Severus.

The Trivi Fountain is perhaps Rome's most romantic fountain and

visitors can drink from the cast iron pipes situated on the steps.
Money thrown into the fountain is used to finance maintenance of
the fountain.

The Museo Palatino is located on Palatine Hill within the Palace of

the Caesars and houses archaeological findings from Palatine Hill.
The artifacts in the museum date back to Iron Age tombs proving
that Palatine Hill was probably the first settlement in Rome. There
are the remains of huts dating back to the 8 century BC, the
traditional date of Rome's establishment by th Romulus. Thanks to
the ongoing excavations items have been uncover which allow us
to trace the progress of Rome from its beginnings, through the
Republic Era and into the Roman Empire and late ancient periods.
Findings on the hill show fortified walls, drainage systems, temples
and palatial villas.

Roman Forum
The Roman Forum is located in a valley between Piazza Venezia
and the Colosseum, between the Palatine Hill, Capitoline Hill and
Esquiline Hill. The area was originally marshlands which were
cleared with an ingenious system during the reign of the last
Etruscan kings (until 509BC). The Cloaca Maxima canal was
constructed to drain off the land into the Tiber River. Once the
area was inhabitable it began to develop into an urban center and
for more than 1000 years this was the most important part of the
city. The area's central square, called Foro, was where the Romans
would gather for meetings, trials and trade, the Forum was the
center of life in Ancient Rome. Also in the Forum there were
markets, temples, government buildings, stores and inns.
Several structures remain in the Forum from different periods in
history. The 70 foot high Arch of Septimius Severus, (203AD) to
commemorate the victory over the Parthians. It is adorned with
intricate bas-reliefs. Statues remain from the House of the Vestal
Virgins (Atrium Vestae), which was a 3 story, 50 room residence
which accommodated the virgin priestesses. Several of the
original 20 Corinthian columns from the Temple of Vesta remain,
built on a podium 15 meters in diameter. The Curia Julia was
where the Senate would gather and although there were several
locations over the course of Roman history, the Curia which
remains was constructed under Diocletian in 283AD.
The Rostra was a platform where speeches were made. The
present platform was commissioned by Caesar and made out of
marble, it measured 24 meters wide and 12 meters deep. The
Column of Phocas is the most recent addition to the Forum,
constructed in 608AD to commemorate a visit by the Byzantine
Emperor Phocas to Rome. Other outstanding structures in the
Forum include the Temple of Saturn; Temple of Vespasian and
Titus; Temple of Castor and Pollux; Temple of Antoninus and
Faustina and several churches like the Basilica Julia (54BC);
Basilica of Maxentius (308AD) and Basilica Aemilia (179BC).
Palatine Hill and Palatine Museum

This is one of the famous seven hills on which Rome was founded
and is the most centrally located. From its height of 40 meters it is
surrounded by the Circus Maximus, Forum Romanum and the
Colosseum. Archaeological findings show that the site was
inhabited as far back as the 10 century th BC. Traditionally it was
the site of the Lupercal Cave where Romulus and Remus were
nursed by a she-wolf and so it would have been where Romulus
began building the city (754BC).

Palatine Museum

Palatine Hill was the site of many palaces in Ancient Rome and the
museum holds statues, mosaics and frescoes collection from
excavations of the Palatine villas. In particular the artifacts on
show come from the 1 4 century when the Palatine Hill st th
was at its peak. You can see both art work found in the Palatine
palaces and pieces of the architecture which were rescued, like
parts of columns and even walls. Together with the actual statues
and archaeological findings there are photos of other pieces
displayed as well. On one of the floors of the museum you can see
an exhibit about the prehistoric growth of Rome. One of the most
significant items in the museum is painted decorations from Aula
Isiaca, as well as works from other Palatine buildings like the
House of Augustus, House of Livia and the House of Gryphons.
Castel Sant'Angelo
The Castel Sant'Angelo, also known as The Hadrian Mausoleum,
was constructed 130AD-139AD on the edge of the River Tiber by
Emperor Hadrian for himself, his family and his successors
interment. The mausoleum has a cylindrical colonnaded drum, 64
meters in diameter, on top of an 89 meter wide square base which
was covered with lush planted gardens and trees. Situated on the
right bank of the river, the Ponte Sant'Angelo connects it with the
rest of the city.
Over the years the function and appearance of the Castel
Sant'Angelo changed. In the middle Ages additional towers and
fortified walls were constructed. It became an impenetrable
defensive bastion during the barbaric invasions, and was
incorporated into the city walls (270-275AD), protecting the
northern entrance of Rome. Most of the tombs and precious
decoration were destroyed when the structure became a fortress
in 401 and the royal ashes are thought to have been lost during
the Alaric sacking of Rome.

For the protection of the papal community a secret, fortified

passage way, Passetto di Borgo, was constructed (14 century), th
connecting the Vatican to the Castel Sant'Angelo. During the
Renaissance a treasury room was located in the center of the
structure to keep the pope's valuables safe. The structure became
a storage space for food, water and supplies to be used in the
event of an emergency. There was even a granary and mill
incorporated into the fortified structure.
The mausoleum was used as a brutal prison where prisoners were
tortured and starved. At one time executions were carried out in
the inner courtyard. Famous inmates included Benvenuto Cellini,
Cagliostro and Giordana Bruno.
Originally a statue of the Emperor riding a chariot like the sun god,
would have stood on the central tower this was replaced later by a
statue of an angel, hence the name of the castle. Today an 18
century bronze statue of the Archangel St. Michael has th replaced
the original marble angel and adorns the mausoleum in memory
of a plague which raged through Rome in 590AD only to end when
an apparition of an angel appeared above the mausoleum.
When the Italian State was established the fortress was used to
house soldiers and today the much loved iconic structure has
been restored and recreated. It is visited by tourists who come to
see the National Museum of Castel Sant'Angelo. Visitors approach
the structure by following a 400 foot long spiral ramp. Visitors can
see the beautiful rooms used by the pontiffs with delicate frescoes
and on lower floors they can see the prisons and torture chamber.
Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums are within Vatican City and comprise several
exhibitions housed within several museum galleries. The collection
began with the purchase by Pope Julius II of the statue of Laocoon
and his Sons in 1506. Although the collections could have been
kept within the Vatican walls as the Pope's private collections,
lucky for mankind, the popes chose from the very beginning to
make the art available to the general public. This was done to
promote knowledge of art, history and culture. In addition to
having access to some of the world's finest art work the public
also get to see inside the palaces of the Vatican which house the
Following the first statue the collection rapidly grew with each
pope in succession adding to the collection. Pope Julius II's first
statues are housed in the Cortile Ottagono. Pope Clement XIV
(1769-1774) and Pope Pius VI (1775-1799) added works kept in
the Pio-Clementine Museum. Pius VII (1800-1823) added Classic
Antiquities and expanded the museum to include the Chiaromonti
Museum and the Braccio Nuovo Gallery. The Epigraphic Collection
was also added at this point and is on show in the Lapidary
Gallery. George XVI added the Etruscan (1837) and Egyptian
(1839) Museums. In 1854 the Lateran Profane Museum was
expanded and in 1854 the Pio-Christian Museum joined the
immense museum complex. Saint Pius X added the Hebrew
Lapidary in 1910 which displays ancient Hebrew inscriptions from
Roman cemeteries. Also within the museum complex is the
Gallery of Tapestries; Gallery of Mapsthe Sobieski Room; the
Borgia Apartment; the Vatican Pinacoteca; the MissionaryEthnological Museum; Room of the Immaculate Conception;
Raphael Stanze and the Loggia; Chapel of Nicholas V and the
Sistine Chapel featuring Michelangelo's iconic ceiling painting of
God giving life to Adam as they touch fingers.
Some recent additions to the museums include the Collection of
Modern and Contemporary Religious Art in 1973 which is on show
in the Borgia Apartment; the Vatican Historical Museum (1973)
and the Carriage and Automobile Museum. The above list is only
part of the endless Vatican Museums collections and so visitors
need to plan their visit very carefully so that they can see all the
pieces which interest them. The Vatican Museums have various
routes designed to take in the museum highlights in a certain
amount of time. You could take a 2 hour guided tour of the
highlights or spend about 6 hours taking in as much as you
possible. Take into consideration that the museums cover over

The must-see highlights not to miss are the Laocoon; Caravaggio's

Deposition; Raphael's Transfiguration; Aldobrandini Marriage; The
Good Shepherd; Belvedere Torso; work by Raphael; Apollo
Belvedere; da Vinci's St. Jerome and of course the breathtaking
Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling.
Vatican Gardens
Vatican City is a walled sovereign city-state within Rome it covers
110 acres it is the headquarters of the Catholic Church and the
home of the Pope. The Vatican Gardens, as the name suggests,
are gardens within this walled enclave. The gardens are located in
the south and northeastern areas of the city and cover about 50
acres, almost half of the Vatican grounds. Although the gardens
are closed to the general public it is possible to take a guided tour.
Those who want to see areas of the Vatican which most visitors
don't get to see or people who are interested in the foliage itself
will find this a fascinating tour.
Nicholas II planted the beginnings of the Vatican Gardens when he
introduced an orchard, a garden and a lawn. This event was
recorded in several places including a plaque which can be seen in
the Palazzo dei Conservatori on Capitoline Hill. The gardens were
originally planted around 1279 and since then have offered a
place for contemplation and meditation for the popes.
The gardens contain vegetation from around the world including
Australia, Japan and China. Together with the exotic plants are
those native to Rome and Italy. In the gardens are neatly mowed
lawns, paths, seating areas, pieces of art work, grottoes and water
features. Among the trees in Vatican Gardens are pine, cypress,
chestnut and palms. From the gardens there are amazing views of
St. Peter's Basilica and Vatican City.
Spanish Steps
In the 17 century the French had initially proposed a plan to build
the th Spanish Steps and top it off with a statue of King Louis XIV.
However there was opposition from the pope and the plan was
only carried out in 1723-1726, but without the addition of the
statue. The designer Francisco de Sanctis was chosen for the job
and the 137 step flight of stairs was built drawing on the
technique of terraced garden stairs. The stairs signified the peace
between the Spanish (below) and the French in the square above.
The steps are one of the most romantic places in Rome (and the
widest staircase in Europe) and attract a lot of attention from
tourists. In May the steps are decorated with azaleas and once a
year there is a fashion show here when the steps become the
At the bottom of the steps is Piazza di Spagna, the Spanish Square
got its name from the Spanish Embassy which stood close by in
the 17 century. th
The Piazza della Trinita dei Monti is the square at the top of the
steps, named after the church which stands on the square. An
obelisk stands in front of the church, it was brought to its present
location in 1788 from the Gardens of Sallust. Also on the Piazza
della Trinita dei Monti is the Colonna dell'Immacolata or the
Column of the Immaculate Conception. The column was recovered
from beneath a monastery in 1777 and brought to this piazza in
1857. The statue of Mary which sits atop the column was a later
addition. One of the prominent buildings on the square is the Villa
However the most prominent feature of the Piazza della Trinita dei
Monti is the Trinita dei Monti Church. Originally a small chapel
stood here but following a commission by Louis XII a new, bigger
and better church was completed in 1585. The church has a
renaissance faade although most of the architecture is in the
Gothic-style. There are two bell towers each with a clock, one
shows French time (international time) and the other once showed
Italian time but now has a sun dial. Within the church are several
frescoes including work by Daniele da Volterra, Michelangelo pupil.
Piazza di Spagna

The Piazza di Spagna is the Spanish Square from which the

Spanish Steps (Scalinata della Trinita dei Monti) dramatically
sweep up towards a higher level where the French Church or
Trinita dei Monti is located.
The 18 century square has an irregular shape and extends to the
foot of th Pincio Hill. The square features the Fontana della
Barcaccia created by Bernini created in 1598. The center of the
fountain is a statue of a small boat and inspiration came from the
1598 flooding of the Tiber River when a boat really did get
stranded on the square. Some of the buildings surrounding the
square include the former home of English poet John Keats, which
is now a museum and the 15 century palace of Lorenzo th Cybo
de Mari. The Piazza di Spagna is the meeting point of some of
Rome's most elegant and glamorous streets like Via Condotti and
Via del Babuino. The surrounding streets feature top haut couture
stores like Gucci, Prada and Valentino. Note that it is illegal to sit
and eat your lunch on the steps.
Villa Borghese
Although English speakers may expect this to be a villa house, it
is actually a garden, the largest public landscape park in Rome.
The park is situated where a vineyard grew until 1605 when
Cardinal Scipione Borghese decided to have it made into a park.
He employed Domenico Savino da Montepulciano, a well known
landscaper. The garden originally had a very geometric design but
later natural elements were introduced. The artificial lake was
added in the 18 century, it marks the center of the th park. An
Ionic Temple dedicated to the God of Healing stands on a small
island in the lake. The park remained the property of the Borghese
family until 1903 when the municipality acquired the land and the
park was opened to the public. The 1911 the World Exposition was
held in the Villa Borghese, each country was represented by a
semi-permanent pavilion building constructed especially for the
exposition. The British School building which was designed by
Edwin Lutyens remains together with several other pavilions.
Today the park covers 148 acres and within the park grounds are
several buildings, a lake, temple, fountains, statues and museums.
The best known of the park museums is the Museo e Galleria
Borghese housed within the former Borghese family home. There
is also the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna and the Museo
Nazionale Etruscan housed within the Villa Giulia (1553). The park
has an amphitheatre, the Piazza di Siena and an 18 century arch,
the arco di Settimo Severo. th

Galleria Borghese
This art museum is housed within the Villa Borghese Pinciana,
designed by architect Flaminio Ponzio as the suburban home of
Cardinal Scipione Borghese. The home was given extensive
renovations in the 17 century th but dates back to when it was
Scipione Borghese' home (1579-1633). The beautiful home was
used for parties and the adjacent landscaped gardens are as
famous as the house. The house has two floors with 20 rooms, the
architectural and interior design features of the building are an
attraction in themselves. One of the rooms has a trompe l'oeil
ceiling fresco and another has Roman floor mosaics. In the
entrance hall there is a mosaic featuring gladiators which dates
back to 320AD and was found on the Borghese Estate at
The works of art on show in the Galleria Borghese came from the
private collection of Cardinal Scipione, son of Ortensia Borghese
(Pope Paul V's sister) and Francesco Caffarelli. The Cardinal was a
patron of artist Bernini and an avid fan of Caravaggio. The
collection includes pieces of ancient art as well as Renaissance
and baroque art which re-evoke the Golden Age. The collection
includes sculptures and paintings.
Canova's statue of Pauline Bonaparte (1805-1808) is one of the
highlights of the collection. Among the paintings are 107 works
received by the Cardinal as a gift from the Pope, the paintings had
been confiscated from painter Giuseppe Cesari. Raphael's

Deposition was another personal gift from the Pope and in 1682
Correggios' Danae joined the collection. Visitors can see Bernini's
Apollo and Daphne, Titian's Sacred and Profane Love and works by
Lorenzo, Botticelli, Lotto, Rubens, Savoldo, Bassano and

National Gallery of Ancient Art

This outstanding museum is housed within the equally stunning
Barberini Palace which boasts The Triumph of Divine Providence, a
ceiling fresco by Pietro da Cortona. The central Gran Salone,
where the ceiling fresco is located, was designed by Bernini who
also designed the building's faade. Other talented architects also
had a hand in the building design, like Cortona who designed the
theatre wing (now demolished) and Borromini who designed the
spiral staircase.
The main part of the art collection consists of work by Italian
artists dating from the 13 century to the 18 century and
including works by Raphael, th th Caravaggio, Fra Angelico, Filiop,
Lippi, Lotto, Raffaello's Fornarina, Michelangelo and Canaletto.
There are a number of works by international artists like Ruben
and El Greco. The collection includes paintings, sculptures and
works in other medium.
Visitors to the museum can also see the rococo apartments, the
Gallery of Decorate Art, furnished with precious objects by
Cornelia Cosstanza Barberini who lived here with her husband
Prince Giulio Cesare Colonna di Sciarra. The apartments are
furnished and decorated as they would have been when the
couple lived here and the walls and ceilings are adorned with
beautiful frescoes.
Circus Maximus
Circus Maximus or Circo Massimo was the first and biggest
arena/stadium in ancient Rome where the citizens would gather to
watch chariot races, gladiator fights, processions and major
events. The stadium was constructed in the valley between the
Palatine Hills and the Aventine Hills. The venue continued to
operate for nearly a thousand years and at its height could
accommodate an audience of a quarter of a million people. The
Circus Maximus became the model used to build other arenas
throughout the Roman Empire.
The Circus Maximus grew and changed over the years starting in
the 6 th century BC when the Emperor Tarquinius Priscus had a
race track created. Later significant developments came with the
construction of permanent gates in 329BC and new gates in
174BC. To keep track of the number of laps the chariots had made
7 wooden ovals were placed on the spina (central wall of the
arena) and for each lap an oval was removed. Later in 33BC the
egg shapes were replaced with 7 bronze dolphins. Following a fire
in 31BC Emperor Augustus had renovations made and included an
imperial box. The wooden structure was burned down again during
Emperor Nero's reign in 64AD and finally, after a third fire the
arena was rebuilt in 103AD, this time in marble.
The new 3 story marble Circus Maximus was of grand proportions,
the elongated oval shaped complex was 600 meters long and 150
meters high. The venue operated with great success until 549AD
when the last race was held.
Today visitors to the site of the Circus Maximus can only see the
remains and outline of the structure within a public park. Over the
years the structure decayed and was covered with soil and
waterlogged. Some elements of the structure were used as
building materials for Middle Ages and Renaissance structures.
One of the elements rescued from the remains was an obelisk
which now stands in Piazza del Popolo. This grand historic venue is
still used occasionally for performances, events and concerts like
the Genesis concert of 2007 which was attended by 500,000

Capitoline Hill
This is one of the famed seven hills upon which Rome was built
and it was considered the most sacred. The English word "capital"
is derived from Capitoline. It is located between the Forum and the
Campus Martius and was the site of Rome's first temples, the
Temple of Jupiter and the Capitoline Triad and of the Tabularium,
the city hall of records. Capitoline Hill was the site of many major
events in Roman history, for example after the murder of Caesar,
Brutus and his cohorts hid in the Temple of Jupiter situated on
Capitoline Hill. The hill provided a high refuge from the city below
and was even used to throw political criminals to their death on
the Tarpeian Rocks below. The hill and the structures built on it fell
into ruin and only in the 16 century was it restored to its former
glory. The new th renaissance structures were built on top of the
ancient ones leaving little of the former Empire structures.
Michelangelo was commissioned to create long ramp-like steps
(Cordonata stairs) which lead up to Piazza del Campidoglio as well
as a pedestal for an equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius.
Today visitors can see Roman artifacts on display in the Capitoline
Museum. The square is surrounded by the Senatorium, Palace of
the Conservatori and the Capitoline Museum housed in two
buildings (Palazza Nuovo and Palazzo dei Conservatori.
Michelangelo designed the facades of the three palaces on the
Victor Emmanuel Monument
This monument is also called Altare della Patria, Monumento
Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele, Altar of the fatherland or just Il
Vittoriano. However the locals have nicknamed the monument
"the typewriter", "the wedding cake" and a few other names. The
monument on Piazza Venezia houses the Tomb of the Unknown
Soldier and an eternal flame. The monument was erected
following WWI in honor of those who lost their lives in battle. It is
noteworthy, not for its beauty but for its grand scale.
In 1911 Giuseppe Sacconi designed the monument but completed
by several sculptures and architects including Leonardo Bistolfi,
Angelo Zanelli, Manfredo and Pio Piacentini. It was only
inaugurated in 1935. The monument is named after the first king
of unified Italy. The structure is made of marble, there are
sweeping stairways on either side of an intricately carved pedestal
which holds an equestrian statue of Victor Emmanuel. The stairs
lead up to a semi-circle of Corinthian columns which resembles a
Roman temple. On either side of the roof of the semi-circular
structure are quadrigas statues of the Goddess Victoria. Visitors
can take an elevator to the Terrace of the Quadrigas to get
brilliant views of the city. The Museum of Italian Unification, the
Shrine of the Flags and a caf are housed within the monument.
Baths of Caracalla
Roman's largest public baths (thermae) were constructed from
212AD to 216AD during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius
Antoninus, also called Caracalla after the tunic he wore. The baths
remained operational for more than 300 years during a period
when the city had over 50 public baths that were used in lieu of
private bathrooms. The baths served a social function as well as
allowing citizens to wash away the dust. Bathing was a ritual
process beginning with a hot bath in the caldarium, then a lukewarm bath in the tepidarium, a cold bath in the frigidarium and
finally a relaxing swim in the natatio or open air swimming pool
followed by a massage or rubdown with scented cloths.
The water was provided by the Aqua Marcia aqueduct which
brought water to the complex reservoirs, it was only when the
water supply was destroyed by the Goths that the baths ceased to
operate. On the lower level a radiant heating system was used to
heat the water by furnaces and tubes. Slaves would spend their
time confined to the lower level, heaving the wood into the
furnaces. The complex covered 27 acres and could accommodate
1600 people who came to use the many facilities it provided like
the gymnasiums, library, stores, landscaped gardens, restaurant
and even brothel.

The baths had marble seating, mosaics on the walls and floors,
fountains, marble and bronze statues and the walls were covered
with polychrome marble and tiled mosaics. Today only the ruins
remain as the baths suffered from marauding Goths, earthquakes
and pieces of the structure were taken to be used in other Roman
buildings. However visitors can still get an idea of the scale and
opulence of the baths from the towering red brick walls, grand
arches, remaining mosaic floors and granite columns.

Pyramid of Caius Cestius

The ancient pyramid of Cestius stands near the Porta San Paolo on
the Via Ostiensis it was the final resting place of Caius Cestius
Epulonius, a rich magistrate and priest who died in 12BC. The
pyramid was constructed at a time when all-things-Egyptian were
in fashion and it was also inspired by the pyramids of Nubia which
had recently (23BC) been attacked by Romans and the pyramids
of Egypt which Rome conquered in 30BC. The pyramid is more
pointed than Egyptian pyramids and stands 36 meters high and
29.5 meters wide. It was constructed using concrete and brick and
covered with white Carrara marble. Thanks to the concrete the
Romans managed to make their pyramids taller and more pointed
than the Egyptians. The pyramid is decorated with intricate
frescoes and panels and originally two bronze figures stood at the
entrance. The figures are now on display else ware.
The pyramid originally stood outside the city walls, like all burial
sites but with the expansion of the city it is now within city limits.
When the Aurelian Walls were being constructed (271-275) the
pyramid was incorporated into the walls as a bastion. Much later
in the 17 century Pope Alexander VII ordered the site to be
excavated and restored. An inscription found on the pyramid th
confirmed that it belonged to Cestius and stating that it took 330
days to build. A second inscription was added by Alexander VII
commemorating the restoration. The excavation also opened up
the tomb to reveal Third Style Roman paintings.
Imperial Forums
The Imperial Forums or Fori Imperial constituted the center of
Ancient Rome's political and religious activities, they were a series
of public squares surrounded by buildings and each one created
by a different emperor to show off his wealth, power and
superiority. The buildings which fill this area were constructed
between 46BC and 113AD and included temples, libraries, courts
and places of education. Julius Caesar was responsible for
initiating the construction of the new Imperial Forums in an effort
to relieve over crowding in the older Roman Forum (which is a
different site).
Much of the ancient architecture was lost when Mussolini decided
to connect the Colosseum and the Piazza Venezia by constructing
Via dei Imperiali through the forums. What remains of the site can
be seen on either side of this boulevard. The Forum of Julius
Caesar was once the site of the Temple of Venus. All that remains
of the Forum of Nerva is a wall from the Temple of Minerva and
two Corinthian columns. The Forum of Augustus commemorated
the emperor's victories in battle and was once home to a court of
law. The Trajan's Market was a large semi-circle or stores. The
Forum of Peace celebrated the conquest of Jerusalem and
valuable artifacts from the Temple in Jerusalem were stored here.
Forum of Trajan is considered the most beautiful of the forums and
you can see the remains of grand statues, pedestals and the
Basilica Ulpia with its tall grey columns. Trajan's Column is one of
the best preserved parts of the Imperial Forums and has delicate
bas-relief details and soars 42 meters above ground.

Giardino degli Aranci

The Giardino degli Aranci, Parco Savello or Garden of Oranges is
located on Aventino Hill, it is one of the city's most romantic
locations and often used as the backdrop for wedding photos. The

park is believed to have been created when Saint Dominic brought

an orange tree from his native Spain and planted it in the
vegetable garden of the adjacent Savelli Castle which housed a
monastery. The sapling flourished and additional orange trees
were planted. Saint Catherine of Siena is thought to have used the
tree's oranges to make candied fruit for Pope Urban VI. The
monastery's garden became the park we known today when it
was redesigned by Raffaele de Vico in 1932.
From the Garden of Oranges you can see the Basilica of Santa
Sabina and the drawbridge and towers which once formed part of
the Savelli Castle. The garden has a symmetrical design and a
wide, paved, tree-lined, central walkway called Viale Nino
Manfredi after a famous actor who passed away in 2004. The
central promenade leads to a terrace at the highest point of the
park. From the garden terrace there are sweeping views across
some of Rome's most famous structures. In the summer the park
comes alive with theatrical performances and scores of romantic
Italian couples.
Santa Sabina
The Basilica Sanctae Sabinae is located on the Aventine Hill; it is
one of the city's oldest churches and dates back to 422-432. It is
built on the site of the home of Sabina, a convert to Christianity
and Roman martyr who was later declared a saint. The founder of
the church was Peter of Illyria a monk who gives his name to the
square and adjacent convent. The structure of the church is a
classic rectangular-style with light colored dcor and simple
design which gives the space an airy feel. The church underwent
several changes over the years. It was at one point incorporated
into the Crescenzi family fort; in the 16 -17 century th th restored
in the baroque-style and later in the 1800s became a steam
laundry. It was under Mussolini that Antonio Munoz restored the
church for the last time. Many layers of history and architectural
styles are evident in the structure.
Highlights of the church building include the 5 century cypress
wood portal with scenes from the Bible; 24 church columns th
which came from the Temple of Juno Regina; 9 century chancel
furniture; a fresco by Taddeo Zuccari and large selenite th
windows which shed light on the church mosaics. On the floor of
the nave is the city's only surviving mosaic tomb dating back to

Museo Capitolino
The Museo Capitolino buildings consist of Palazzo dei
Conservatori, Palazzo Senatorio and Palazzo Nuovo which face
onto the Piazza del Campidoglio located on one of Rome's
Capitoline Hill. The piazza building plan dates back to 1536 when
the design was conceived by Michelangelo but construction
continued over the course of 400 years.
The building was later enlarged to increase the exhibition space.
The Galleria Congiunzione was built beneath the square to link the
three museum buildings. Within the Galleria are Roman
archeological remains from the 2 century which are still in their
original positions. Sala Marco nd Aurelio, a glass covered hall,
encloses the Giardino Romano or Roman Garden.

Remus; Dying Gaul; Cupid and Psyche and the Capitoline Venus. In
the Palazzo dei Conservatori you can visit the Conservator's
Apartment where art is exhibited in rooms with elaborate frescoes,
tapestries and carved ceilings.
San Luigi dei Francesi
The church of San Luigi dei Francesi is the seat of the Cardinal of
Paris, Rome's French National Church, and the heart Rome's
French community. The church is named after Louis IX King of
France. Construction began on the church in 1518 on the orders of
Cardinal Giulio di Giuliano de Medici whose great niece was
married to King Henry II of France. The church is built on the site
of Santa Maria Church, a smaller structure already used by the
French community. The site is also the location of the ruins of the
Baths of Nero and the Baths of Agrippa. The plans for the church
were made by Giacomo della Porta and architect Jean de
Cheneviere began work on the structure, later Domenico Fontana
took over the project and saw it through to the church's
completion in 1580, and consecration in 1589.
Giacomo della Porta is responsible for the church's two level
faade which bears white travertine marble carvings. Thanks to
the immense wealth of the Medici family and the French kings the
church interior is lavishly decorated. The ceiling fresco was
painted by Joseph Natoire; Domenichino painted the cycle of
frescoes in the Polet Chapel; a painting by Francesco Bassano
hangs above the altar and three paintings by Caravaggio
(Michelangelo di Merisi) are the church's main attractions.
Piazza del Popolo
Literally translated this is the People's Square, located inside the
Aurelian Walls between the Pincio and the Tevere, this is a large
ellipse-shaped square surrounded by beautiful buildings, and
home to monuments, fountains and grand memorials. The square
leads on to one of the ancient gates in the Aurelian Walls, Porta
del Popolo which was once called Flaminia as the gate leads
through to Via Flaminia. Many pilgrims and traders would arrive in
Rome via Via Flaminia, which was built in 220BC to connect Rome
with the Adriatic Sea. Their first step into the city would have been
onto Piazza del Popolo. In 1562 the gate was built to welcome and
impress the arriving travelers and later Bernini was employed to
decorate the gate.
The most prominent feature of the square is a 23.2 meter high
obelisk placed here is 1589. The obelisk dates back to 1300BC and
was originally from Heliopolis, Egypt. Giuseppe Valadier
redesigned the square in 1815 adding the surrounding walls,
central fountain, sculptures of sphinxes by Giovanni Ceccarini and
placing lions around the obelisk. The square has the Neptune
Fountain at the western end and the Fountain of the Goddess of
Rome at the eastern end. At the southern end stand the
symmetrical churches of Santa Maria in Montesanto and Santa
Maria dei Miracoli separated by Via del Corso which leads to
Piazza Venezia. The Santa Maria del Popolo is a church built in
1477 and standing next to the Porta del Popolo.

Via del Corso

Pope Sixtus IV began the collection when he donated a number of

bronze statues with strong ties to the city, like the bronze of
Romulus and Remus being nursed by a she-wolf (Lupa Capitolina);
the colossal head of Constantine and the Camillus. In the 16
century Pope Pius V ridded the Vatican of all art depicting pagan
images and so the collection grew. It was in 1734 that theth
museum was opened to the public. In the 19 century coins,
medals, sculptures and ancient pottery were added to the th

Via del Corso was called Via Lata during the Ancient Roman Era
and it was the urban stretch of the Via Flaminia which brought
travelers from the Adriatic Sea. In Ancient Rome the road was
used for horse racing, which was done without riders, this
accounts for the road being ramrod straight. Located in the
historic center the straight road is 10 meter wide, 1.5km long and
stretches from Porta del Popolo to Piazza Venezia. Being centrally
located has contributed to it being one of the best known
shopping spots in the city, in fact as far back as the 17 century
the road th was popular with shoppers.

One of the museum's prized pieces is the statue of Marcus

Aurelius on horseback; this is the only surviving bronze equestrian
statue from Ancient Rome. The highlights of the museum include
Lo Spinario; Caravaggio's Fortune Teller; Rubens' Romulus and

Although you will probably be visiting Via del Corso for shopping
there are a few sites to watch out for. Palazzo Doria Pamphilj is
now used as an art gallery; the San Marcello al Corso church has a
beautiful baroque faade; Museo del Corso hosts temporary

exhibitions; Piazza Colonna and the Palazzo Chigi is the Italian

Prime Minister's official residence.
The northern part of the street is pedestrians only from Via del
Parlamento to Piazza del Popolo. Along the Via del Corso are stores
like Swarovski Crystal, jewelry stores, hi-end and high street
fashion boutiques, antique stores, sportswear stores, and even a
Ferrari outlet. Some of the stores you may wish to visit include
Sisley, Luisa Spagnoli, Zara, Diesel, Energie, Fellini, Nuvolari,
Footlocker, Disney and Frette luxury P.J.s

Museum of Palazzo Venezia

This museum of the applied arts is housed within a former
residence of Pope Paul II Barbo (1464-1471). Apart from being a
papal palace the Palazzo Venezia was also used as the Austrian
Embassy and as a home for the ambassadors of La Serenissima.
During Mussolini's reign the palace served as his government's
seat and in 2010 a secret bunker was discovered beneath the
building. Above ground you can still see the 15 th century balcony
where the leader made his speeches. The building is a classic
example of medieval architecture and a great background for the
art it holds.
The initial pieces of the collection came from Castel Sant'Angelo,
the National Gallery of Antique Art and the Museum of Collegio
Romano and consisted mainly of art from the Medieval and
Renaissance periods. The collection included decorative art such
as ceramics, jewelry and enamel. Later acquisitions embellished
the collection and helped to formulate its character as a collection
of applied arts pieces. "Applied arts" is a term used to describe
the application of artistic design and aesthetics to everyday
functional objects. Today the collection includes tapestries,
statues, items made of ivory, porcelain, paintings and other items.
Most of the pieces come from the period between the early
Christian era and the early Renaissance era.

Piazza del Campidoglio

This is a grand public square on Capitoline Hill, it was designed by
Michelangelo Buonarroti and constructed between 1538 and 1650,
although the artist died in 1564 and work continued according to
his plans. When Michelangelo took on the project the once elite
and sacred Ancient Roman sites of Capitoline Hill had all but
disappeared beneath newer medieval structures. It was Pope Paul
III (Farnese) who took on the project to make the plaza
presentable for the upcoming visit of Emperor Charles V.
The plaza is elliptic is shape and typical of the Italian renaissance
style, there is an unusual pattern on the square paving.
Michelangelo created a long sloping staircase, the Cordonata
steps leading from Piazza Venezia up to the Piazza del
Campidoglio. At the foot of the stairs are two Egyptian statues of
lions and at the top there are statues of Dioscuri Castor and
Pollux. There are also statues on the stair balustrade. In the center
of the square is an equestrian statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius,
this is a replica of the original bronze gilded statue which is on
show in the Palazzo Nuovo.
Michelangelo also redesigned the buildings around the square
which we can still see today. The Palazzo Senatorio which was the
seat of the senate until 1870; Palazzo dei Conservatori (1563) now
houses part of the Capitoline Museums and the Palazzo Nuovo was
a later addition to the square and mirrored the Palazzo ei
Conservatori in appearance. It too holds part of the Capitoline
Museums collection and was the first public museum in the world,
opening its doors in 1734.

Spada which displays mainly 16th and 17 century art from

Spada's personal collection. The building th was constructed in
1540 for Cardinal Girolamo Capodiferro and in 1632 purchased by
Cardinal Spada. It was originally designed by Bartolomeo Baronino
and within the palace is stucco work by Giulio Mazzoni as well as
frescoes and polychrome marble. There is a colossal statue of
Pompey and statues within numerous niches. When Spada took
over the property he employed Francesco Borromini to make some
renovations, one being the arcade courtyard. The ingenious
arcaded creates forced perspective with diminishing rows of
columns and a rising floor, creating the illusion that the 8 meter
long arcade between the Spada garden and the Palazzo Massari is
37 meters long. The palace has Mannerist stucco decoration on
the faade with many intricate details and it is considered the
finest example of cinquecento facades in the city.
Palazzo Altemps
Palazzo Altemps houses one of the three branches of the National
Roman Museum (the other two being in the Baths of Diocletian
and the Palazzo Massimo). The luxurious palace was designed by
Melozzo da Forli for Girolamo Riario. The palace became the
home of the Altemps family in 1568. The Altemps had the building
enlarged and had Martino Longhi the Elder create a stunning inner
courtyard which is a highlight of the building's architecture.
The museum holds a rich collection of Roman and Greek
antiquities as well as an Egyptian Collection and an entire gallery
of portraits of Caesar. The statues in the palace have been
arranged as they would have been displayed in a renaissance
home. In the palace dining room are frescoes and mosaics
brought from the Villa of Livia and the Villa of the Farnesina. The
frescoes and mosaics have been reconstructed in their original
The star feature of the museum is the Lodovisi Art Collection
consisting of 104 sculptures including the Gaul Killing Himself and
His Wife; Ares (restored by Bernini); Ludovisi Throne and the
Ludovisi Acrolith. The Mattei Collection features work brought
from the Ciriaco Mattei villa and includes the Dacian, a work in
antique yellow marble. As part of the Drago Collection there are
four reliefs and in the Mother Goddesses Room visitors can see
the head of Ephesian Artiemis, which was discovered in 2009
during excavations of Via Marmorata. In the palace vaults is a vast
collection of coins, jewels and goldsmith creations.
Catacombs of St. Domitilla
The Catacombs of St. Domitilla are the oldest catacombs in Rome,
the best preserved and the largest stretching for 17km and laid
out on 4 levels which reach a depth of 30 meters. They are also
the only Roman catacombs which still contain bones. The
catacombs illustrate each stage in the development of early
Christian burials. At the heart of the catacomb is a sunken 4
century basilica, which became a pilgrimage sanctuary and th
final resting place of the martyrs Nereus and Achilleus. The land
under which the catacombs were constructed belonged to a
noblewoman, Flavia Domitilla, hence the name.
The catacombs contain religious art work and painted tombs as
well as a 2 century fresco of the Last Supper. The catacomb
artwork in the St. Domitilla Catacombs is the most extensive
inventory ofnd catacomb paintings. A network of corridors link the
various galleries underground and hypogeum continued to be
carved out of the earth up until the 5 century. Stairways and
corridors link the different levels and burial chambers. th
Christians chose to bury their dead in catacombs because of
persecution and lack of rights for Christians at the time, but
another reason was that they wanted to be buried close to the
martyrs. This continued after 313AD when Christians were free to
bury their dead above ground.

Palazzo Spada

Catacombs of St. Callixtus

This palace is centrally located in Rome and the back garden looks
on to the Tiber River, it is considered one of the most stunning
Roman baroque residences. Today it is the site of the Galleria

In the 1st century Christians in Rome practiced their faith in secret

and did not even have an official area to bury their loved ones. In

the 2 century nd Christians began burying their departed in

underground family tombs which became the catacombs. As the
practice became more prevalent the church took over
responsibility for these graves which took on a communal
character and they became the official cemetery of the Church of
Rome. The catacombs get their name from the Deacon Callixtus,
who was administrator of the cemetery.

nd cave-in and following that three mausoleums were built

decorated with frescoes both inside and out. One of the tombs has
a stucco ceiling. Later the entrance was again blocked by a cavein and a portico was enclosed by a protective wall. Ancient graffiti
can be seen on this wall.

By 313AD the Christians were no longer persecuted and were

allowed to bury their dead in grave yards above ground but the
catacomb system continued. It was only in the 5 century that the
church began to exclusively bury their dead above ground. When
the Goths th and barbarians attacked Rome the catacombs were
destroyed and in the 8 century the church ordered the relics of
the th martyrs and saints to be removed and placed in churches
for safety. The catacombs fell into disuse and the entrances were
eventually hidden by earth and vegetation until being
rediscovered and explored in the 1800s.

Altar of Peace

The underground cemetery is divided into several areas, the most

important being the Crypts of Lucina, the area of St. Cecilia and
the area of the popes. The catacombs of St. Callixtus were the
final resting place of many martyrs and 16 popes. Imagine a
labyrinth of narrow passages with high walls of earth on either
side lined with the bones of Christians.
Palazzo del Quirinale
Today the Palazzo del Quirinale functions as the President of the
Republic's official residence. Tt is located on Quirinal Hill, the
highest of Rome's seven hills. In front of the palace is a piazza
where visitors can see the Monte Cavallo Fountain (1818) and an
obelisk which came from the Augustus' Mausoleum. Across the
piazza is the Scuderie del Quirinale, the Quirinal Stables which are
now used as exhibition space.
The Palazzo del Quirinale was constructed in the 1500s as a
summer home (and escape from Malaria ridden Rome) for Pope
Gregory XIII and the architect was Ottavio Mascarino. Over time
the palace came to be occupied by 30 popes. The building was
expanded and improved by Domenico Fontana and later Flaminio
Ponzio and Carlo Maderno. Maderno was responsible for creating
the Sala Regia, the Papal Apartments and the Paolina Chapel.
Under Pope Urban VIII more land was bought to expand the
gardens and property. Bernini had a hand in the project during the
1600s and the palace was completed under the guidance of
Ferdinando Fuga in 1700. On completion the building covered
110,500m and is the largest residence of a Head of State in the
world. The palace passed from the popes to the Savoys and later
became the President of the Republic's residence in 1947 and
subsequently the home of 11 presidents.

In 13BC the Roman Senate had the Ara Pacis Augustae erected on
the Field of Mars in honor of the Emperor Augustus who had
returned victorious from battles in Gallic and Spain insuring peace
in the Roman Empire. Augustus fulfilled the prediction made in the
Roman epic: The Aeneid to " ." Anchises bring back the golden
years to the field of Latium predicted that Augustus would " " and
govern the peoples of the world Virgil wrote "it is a god who
gave us this peace for a god he shall ever ." Over the years the
altar was buried by floods and silt from thebe to me River Tiber
and it was Mussolini who instructed Giuseppe Moretti to
reconstruct and restore the masterpiece. Today a protective
building houses the restored altar.
The square, four sided altar is decorated with mythological figures
and historical scenes of peace and prosperity which were intended
to remind people of the ruler's achievements, competence and the
importance of piety and peace. There are no doors on the
structure which has two entrances; this represents the constant
peace and the piety of the Gods. The stone reliefs on the structure
depict women and children symbolizing Augustus' pro-family
stance; processions show men in togas which represent Roman
citizenship and one of the processions is led by Augustus himself.
Romulus, Remus and the she-wolf are also depicted. An allegorical
scene shows the Goddess Roma sitting on a pile of foreign armor
representing the peace Augustus brought following war.

Via Cola di Rienzo

The area where Via Cola di Rienzo is today was once just open
fields and swamps until 1870 when the area was used for military
purposes. You can still see the remnants of certain palaces and
the remains of military barracks in the Prati neighborhood where
the street is located.

Catacombs of St. Sebastian

Today Via Cola di Rienzo is one of Rome's primary shopping areas,

the prices are above discount budget prices but below the hi-end
store prices you can find else ware in the city. It is located north of
the Vatican in the Prati neighborhood and being less central sees
fewer crowds than Via del Corso. The street is long and wide with
restaurants, cafes, boutique stores, brand name stores, hotels,
cinemas, book stores and more. For the true shopaholics there is a
shopping tour which starts at the Piazza Risorgimento, behind the
Vatican, and follows Via Cola di Rienzo to Piazza Cola di Rienzo
and on to Piazza Popolo which is across the River Tiber over the
Ponte Regina Margherita.

Like the other catacombs in Rome this underground Christian

burial site originated around the 2 century when Christians were
not recognized nd nor did they have a Christian graveyard to bury
their loved ones. Rather than being buried together with the
pagans in a communal burial ground Christians chose
subterranean catacombs. The catacombs of St. Sebastian are one
of the smallest in Rome although they once covered 4 levels.

Along the street there is an indoor farmers market with fresh local
produce. For delicious coffee from a caf that has been in business
for over 80 years visit Castroni at number 196. Some of the
popular stops along the way include Bertozzini for perfumes;
Portofino Caf and restaurant; Angelo Di Nepi women's clothing
boutique; Benetton; Geox for Italian made shoes; Coccinelle for
bags and Swarovski if you are in need of crystals!

Above ground stands a 13 century church which is one of the 13

pilgrim th churches of Rome. The catacombs are named after a
Christian martyr who was buried here; his relics are now kept
within the church and are marked by a table altar. There is also a
bust of St. Sebastian attributed to Bernini. The church also holds a
slab of marble baring the imprint of footprints believed to be
Jesus'. St. Sebastian was not the only martyr buried here.

Palazzo Barberini

Within the Palazzo the Scalone d'Onore staircase has a beautiful

fresco by Melozzo da Forli, who also created the garden design.
The palace is home to many great works of art including a
collection of Murano glass chandeliers.

Beneath the ground there are wall tombs (loculi) and niches
(colombari) used to store urns. During the 2 century there was a

This is a baroque-style palace on the Piazza Barberini, it is the site

of the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica. The site was originally a
vineyard until Pope Urban VIII (formerly Maffeo Barberini) ordered
the construction of the palace. The pope commissioned Carlo
Maderno to build a luxurious and lavish palace, the palace took 8
years to build and was completed in 1633 by Bernini. Due to the
sloping ground Maderno designed the building with a narrower
faade then originally intended and added two side wings. When
Maderno passed away Bernini was given the task of completing

the building. Borromini assisted Bernini and is attributed with the

design of the upper small windows and the coat of arms.
The faade has three levels, a lower portico and two upper levels
of loggia which were designed to create a false sense of
perspective. Within the building one of the highlights is the
Central Great Hall which is as height as the building itself. On the
hall ceiling is a fresco by Pietro da Cortona. There are two
staircases inside one designed by Bernini and the other, an elliptic
shaped flight of stairs, designed by Borromini. There is a bridge
designed by Bernini, Ponte Ruinante, which connects the palace
with the upper level of the palace gardens. The bridge is made to
look like a remnant from ancient Rome. The palace has beautiful
landscaped gardens.

Vatican City
Citta del Vaticano is an independent city within the city of Rome, it
is the Papal residence (Apostolic Palace) and the seat of the Holy
See, the headquarters of the Catholic Church. "Vatican City" is the
place with the Pope as its head of state and the "Holy See" is the
central governing organization of the Catholic Church which is
located within Vatican City. The 110 acre sovereign state is
surrounded by walls and approximately 1,000 people live here.
The city-state is financed by the sale of tourist mementos and
entrance fees to the Vatican Museums. The city is named after
Mount Vatican where the city is located. The city is guarded by the
Swiss Guard which was created in 1505, the guards wear bright
colored unique uniforms. You don't need a passport to visit Vatican
City and some areas like St. Peter's Square can be accessed by
just crossing a white line which separates it from Rome.
As early as the Roman Republic (509BC-27BC) the area where the
Vatican now stands was inhabited and on into the Roman Empire
the land was developed. Nero had his Circus of Chariots, Circus
Gaii et Neronis, built here. This became the site of Christian
martyrdom when Christians were put to death in the grand arena.
According to tradition it was in this vicinity that Saint Peter was
crucified c.64-67. The Constantinian Basilica was built in 326 to
commemorate St. Peter. The site gained significance for the new
Christian faith and a palace was constructed in the 5 century. In
592 Pope Gregory declared himself Bishop of th Rome. The popes
played more and more of a spiritual and secular role in governing
the surrounding neighborhoods. Under the Kingdom of Italy the
Papal property was seized and their status was in question from
1861 to 1929. There were ongoing disputes over the ownership of
the substantial Papal property until the issue was resolved in
1929. The Lateran Treaty was signed between the Holy See and
the Kingdom of Italy (led by Mussolini). The treaty gave special
status to Catholics in Italy and independence to the Stat of Vatican
Within the city are 11 Vatican Museums which hold some of the
best art in the world. The Sistine Chapel with Michelangelo's
ceiling fresco is also located within Vatican City. There are lush
and extensive Vatican Gardens which take up a large portion of
the city's grounds. The Papal Apostolic Palace, the pope's "home"
is within Vatican City. St. Peter's Basilica, a huge and beautiful
church holding priceless works of art is also here. St. Peter's
Square is a huge circular piazza where people gather to attend
see and hear the Pope.
Basilica di San Clemente
The present three tiered Basilica of San Clemente was constructed
in the Middle Ages (c.1100) on the site of a 4 century church
which itself was th built over a 2 century pagan (mithraeum)
temple. Sections of each layer nd of the site's history can be seen
in the church.
The church is best known for its 11 century frescos in the Chapel
of St. th Catherine, depicting the life of St. Clement and St.
Alexius. The frescoes were sponsored by Beno de Rapiza and
Maria Macellaria who are depicted on the faade and on a pillar in
the nave. 12 century mosaics th cover the apse and depict the

cross as the Tree of Life or Triumph of the Cross. The church holds
the tomb of St. Cyril and has a brightly painted coffered ceiling
and stucco detail dating back to 16 century renovations. th
St. Clement (92-101AD) was the 3 successor as Bishop of Rome
after St. Peter; he was the author of the Epistile to the rd
Corinthians (94AD) which attempted to subdue disturbances in the
Church of Corinth. He became a martyr, while in exile in the
Crimea where he was persecuted and thrown into the Black Sea
tied to an anchor. When the water receded a tomb built by angels
was revealed, and his body recovered. Today St. Clement's relics
are kept beneath the church altar and are brought out for
adoration during the Feast of St. Clement (November 23 ). rd
Address: Via di San Giovanni in Laterano, 00184 Rome Phone
Number: 06-7740021 Admission: Basilica free admission,
excavations 5 Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 9:00am-noon and 36:00pm, Sun 10:00am-noon and 3-6:30pm Transportation: Metro:
Colosseo. Bus: C3, 85, 87, 117, 186, or 571
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may be reproduced without our written permission.
St. Peter in Chains
The chains which bound St. Peter when he was imprisoned in
Rome and Jerusalem are kept in the gold reliquary in front of the
altar of the Church San Pietro in Vincoli. The story goes that the
chains which held the saint in Jerusalem were given to Pope Leo I
who placed them next to the chains which had held Peter in Rome
and the two sets of chains miraculously joined together. The
church was built for this purpose, to house the sacred chains. The
church underwent several renovations under the reign of different
popes as well as renovations made in 1875.
Apart from the chains themselves the church's other main asset is
Michelangelo's Moses, (1515) a sculpture which was intended to
be one of 40 statues in a grand monument commissioned by Julius
II. However other projects took precedent and the project was
shelved although Michelangelo regarded Moses as one of his best
works. The horns on Moses' head come from the incorrect
translation of the scriptures which they read as "horns" instead of
"radiated." On either side of Moses are statues of Leah and Rachel
also created by the master artist. The central nave of the church
has a curved ceiling created in 1706 and features a fresco by
Giovanni Battista Parodi. The nave is lined with two rows of Doric
columns which came from other ancient sites and the Tomb of
Nicholas of Kues (1440), one of the first to realize the Earth is not
the center of the universe, is also located within the church.
Address: : Piazza di San Pietro in Vincoli, 4/a, 00184 Roma Phone
Number: 06-4882865 Admission: Free admission Opening Hours:
Spring/summer daily 7:30am-12:30pm and 3:30-7:00pm,
fall/winter to 6:00pm Transportation: Metro: Colosseo or Cavour,
and then cross the boulevard and walk up the flight of stairs. Turn
right, and you'll head into the piazza, the church will be on your
2014-2015 visitacity.com All rights reserved. No part of this site
may be reproduced without our written permission.
Santa Maria in Trastevere
The basilica di Santa Maria in Rome's Trastevere District is one of
the city's oldest churches with parts of the structure dating back
to the 340s and it is thought to have been the location of the first
public mass in Rome. Legend has it that 38 years before Christ's
birth an oil-like substance unexplainably spurted out of the
ground. It was later thought to have been a sign of Christ's coming
and the site was chosen for the church to commemorate this
event. It was also used to house the bodies of Christians rescued
from the Catacombs before the invasion of the Saracens. In the 12
century Innocent II had the church rebuilt with th materials from
the Roman Baths of Caracalla. Later in the 17 century th further
changes were made including modifications to the faade by Carlo

The main historic elements we can see in the church today include
a strip of the original 3 century paving, the Romanic bell rd tower
and a 17 century mosaic of Madonna and child. Other mosaics
from the 12 and 13 century adorn the interior and th th th
exterior walls. Near the altar is the inscription "fons olei (oil well)
which marks the spot where the miracle of the spurting oil
occurred. The church has a gilded wooden ceiling which is painted
with incredible frescoes and an authentic Cosmatesque marble
Address: Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, 00153 Rome Phone
Number: 06-5814802 Admission: Free admission Opening Hours:
Daily 8:30am-9:00pm Transportation: Bus: 23, 280, or 780
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may be reproduced without our written permission.
National Gallery of Modern Art
The Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Modrena offers a break from the
constant ancient art of Rome and a look at modern and
contemporary art. The museum holds work from the 19 and 20
century and includes a th th collection of Dadaist paintings. The
museum dates back to 1883 and it has changed location several
times since being opened. Today it is housed within an impressive
historic building. The museum also has a caf on a terrace
overlooking beautiful gardens.
The museum has 75 rooms holding the world's largest collection
of 19 th and 20 century Italian artists as well as works by leading
international th modern and contemporary artists. Italian artists
represented in the collection include Burri, Colla, Capogrossi, De
Chirico, Guttuso, Fontana, Pirandello, Turcato, De Pisis and
Manzoni. The collection includes works by international artists
including Monet, Mondrian, Degas, Cezanne, Kandinsky, Duchamp,
Klein, Andy Warhol, Picasso, Monet, Pollock, Rodin and Van Gogh.
The styles and genres of the modern art range from symbolism
and Avant-guarde to neo-realism and everything in between.
There are paintings and sculptures in various medium. Rome has
several other modern art museums, the most recently opened
being the MAXXI, but this museum has the most expansive and
impressive collection including galleries for temporary exhibitions.
Address: Viale delle Belle Arti, Roma, Italy ? Phone Number: 0632298221 Admission: 10 Opening Hours: Tue-Sun 8:30am7:30pm Web: http://www.gnam.arti.beniculturali.it. Transportation:
Bus: 19, 95, or 910
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may be reproduced without our written permission.
Santa Maria del Popolo
This church located on Piazza del Popolo was constructed in 1099
to scare off the ghost of Emperor Nero (who was buried nearby) as
locals were complaining that the evil old emperor was haunting
them! So a chapel was erected on this site, later in the 1400's the
original Romanesque chapel was expanded by Pontelli; in 1505
Bramante expanded the church further and in 1513 the now
legendary artists began working on the interior dcor.
The church is a treasure trove of renaissance and baroque art by
many of the great Italian masters like Bernini, Raphael,
Pinturicchio and Carracci. In the apse are Rome's first stained
glass windows and two tombs carved by Sansovino. The Chigi
Chapel is one of the highlights of the church and was designed
and painted by Raphael. Sebastiano del Piombo was responsible
for the altar piece, the Nativity of the Virgin, and Lorenzetto
sculpted the bronze altar front and carved the statues of Jonah
and Elijah. Bernini created niche statues of Habakuk and the angel
and Daniel for the Chigi Chapel as well as the pietra dura skeleton
which you can see set in the floor. Bernini also had a hand in the
baroque parts of the building's faade. Two of the baroque
masters, Annibale Carracci and Caravaggio painted the
Assumption of the Virgin and the Crucifixion of St. Peter
respectively. This is only a fraction of the art work you can
discover in this hidden gem.

Address: Piazza del Popolo, 12, 00187 Rome, Italy Phone Number:
+39 06 361 0836 Web: http://www.smdpparish.org
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may be reproduced without our written permission.
National Etruscan Museum
The Museo Nazionale Etrusco is within the 16 century Villa Giulia
which th was built as a country home for Julius III. The stately
palace home had incredible gardens which were designed by
Vignola, Vasari and with a little help from Michelangelo.
The collection includes Etruscan art and artifacts from the
Etruscan culture which pre-dated the Roman Republic. The
collection includes Etruscan sculptures, bronze pieces, vases,
jewelry and sarcophagi. The Etruscan civilization came from the
area we now know as Tuscany and their unique culture flourished
from c.800BC until being assimilated in to the Roman Republic in
the 4 century. Other cultures which were present in the areas th
surrounding Ancient Rome are represented in the museum. There
are antiquities from the Latium area (the area where Rome was
first established); Umbria and from the Faliscan civilization which
came from the area now known as Lazio.
The collection includes a terracotta polychrome bust; handcrafts
which were uncovered in excavations carried out in Lazio and
Tuscany. Some of the highlights of the museum include the Dawn
Faliscan Crater, dating back to the 4 century; the Cista th Ficoroni
(a bronze urn with paw feet) and the Apollo from Veio. The 6
century Couple Sarcophagus (Sarcofago degli Sposi) th discovered
in Cervetreri is a terracotta funeral tomb/coffin with the touching
sculpture of a bride and groom arm in arm reclining as they would
have done at a Roman dinner.
Augustus's Mausoleum
This was the family tomb of Rome's first emperor, Augustus.
Originally the tomb resembled an artificial round, terraced hill with
trees on the upper terrace in imitation of the tombs of leaders
Augustus admired. The tomb broke convention by being built
within the city when at the time all burials took place outside of
the city.
The architect is unknown but the structure can be dated back to
25BC. In 14AD Augustus was interred here. Other members of the
imperial family were buried here including Augustus' nephew,
mother, sister Octavia and even Poppaea, Nero's wife and Nerva
in AD96.
The base of the cylindrical drum shape was 88 meters in diameter
and the circular shape had a concrete outer wall surrounding
similar walls and radiating walls forming interior concentric
compartments. These compartments would have been filled with
earth. The heart of the structure contained the sepulchral
chamber which could be reached via passageways. The structure
was topped by a dome and is thought to have had a second
terraced level reaching 44 meters high. The sepulcher would have
been the largest in the Roman Empire. The mausoleum was
surrounded by beautiful groves and parklands which were open to
the public.
Over the years the mausoleum was used as a fortress, garden and
as a venue for bullfights, circus performances and concerts until
restoration began under Mussolini who identified himself with
Augustus. Today visitors can see the overgrown ruins of the
mausoleum's brick inner core.
Galleria Doria Pamphilj
In 1763 the rivalry between the Borghese, Colonna and Doria
families over who would succeed the son-less Girolamo Pamphilj
ended when Clement XIII granted Prince Giovanni Andrea IV Doria
the name, property and all rights to the Pamphilj inheritance. With
this honor and all its riches the new heir was compelled to reside
in Rome and so he moved with his wife, to the palace on the
Corso. In this way the Doria, Pamphilj, Landi and Aldobrandini
families were united through marriage over the years. The

illustrious family history of Doria and Pamphilj included popes

(Pope Innocent X for example who started this incredible collection
in 1644) and great leaders, who were in a position to acquire fine
works of art. The family's enthusiasm for art led to this incredible
collection growing over the years and being passed on from
generation to generation.
The gallery holds 17 century masterpieces by great artists such
as Carracci, Caravaggio, Annibale, Guido, Bruegel, Ribera, th
Dughet and more. Renaissance paintings include those by Titian,
Lotto, Parmigianino, Correggio, Lorenzo, Raphael and Garofalo. In
addition to the paintings the gallery holds marble busts (for
example Bernini's bust of Pope Innocent X), furniture and antique
The Doria Pamphilj collection is housed in the Palazzo Doria
Pamphilj and the collection is still owned by the Doria Pamphilj
family. The stately home's rooms have been converted to galleries
where you can view art from the 15 to 18 century. th th Visitors
can also see the palace chapel and private rooms which retain
some of their original furnishings.

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

Located on Esquiline Hill the Basilica stands on the remains of
former structures and archeological findings have brought to like
items such as the 2nd/3rd century calendar and ancient Roman
The present church dates back to the 5th century. Upon entering
the church visitors are met with the stunning gold color on all
sides in a vast and highly decorated space topped by a high
coffered and gilded ceiling. Vitruvius' canon of rhythmic
architecture governed the construction. Two rows of ornate
columns line the nave and are topped by beautiful arches linked
by a wrought entablature. The cornice and the ceiling are united
by a wooden frieze. Highlights of the church include the statue of
King Phillip IV; the bronze floor (1949) depicting scenes from the
life of Mary; the Holy Door blessed by Pope John Paul II and
created by Luigi Mattei; the faade's rose window; Torriti's mosaic
decoration of the apse and the church's prized possession, the
Holy Crib. 5th century mosaics run the length of the nave
depicting the four cycles of Sacred History.
The present church's bell tower is the tallest in the city (75
meters) and the belfry is home to 5 bells, including "La Speduta"
which is rung nightly at 9pm to call Christians to prayer. This is
truly the jewel in the crown of Roman churches, the grand beauty
and opulence inspires awe in visitors to the Eternal City.
Bioparco di Roma
The Giardino Zoologico di Roma covers 42 acres and is located on
the Villa Borghese Estate. The gardens are home to 1114 animals
represents 222 species. The zoo was created in 1908 specifically
for exotic creatures to entertain and amuse the Roman people. It
opened to the public in 1911. The zoo layout and concept was
modeled on a zoo in Hamburg and designed by the same
designer, Carl Hagenback. Instead of having the animals behind
bars and in cages they were put into dug out pits or surrounded by
moats and allowed plenty of space to move around as if in their
natural environment. In 1935 Raffaele De Vico undertook to create
two new areas in the zoo, the aviary and the reptile house.
The move from zoo to Biopark came in the 1990s when the zoo
began to focus on conservation, education and environmental
issues. The change of name from zoo to biopark helps to distance
the site from the antiquated and often cruel concept of a zoo
when animals are caged, mistreated and required to "perform" for
visitors. Now the zoo focuses on scientific research, preservation
of endangered species through cooperation with other zoos and
their goal is to provide a good quality of life and loving care for the
animals. Today visitors to the Bioparc can enjoy an 80m
greenhouse full of butterflies; ride the mini-train through the park
and learn about the animals.

Orto Botanico
Rome's botanical gardens are located on the slopes of Rome's
Gianicolo Hill (Janiculum) west of the Tiber. The gardens began as
a medical herb garden planted by Pope Nicholas III in the 13
century. In 1833 the th gardens were officially created as part of
the Palazzo Corsini gardens.
The gardens are administered by Sapienza University of Rome;
they cover 12 hectares, have 2,000m of greenhouse space and
are home to 3,000 species of plants. The gardens are crisscrossed with clearly marked paths for visitors to wander among
the fragrant plants and vegetation. Each section of the gardens
has been cultivated to resemble the plant's original surroundings.
Among the exhibits and gardens is a Garden of Scents created
specifically for the blind, the garden has Braille signage as well.
The paths have been made accessible for those in wheelchairs
and the gardens provide battery-powered chairs for use by
disabled visitors. The various plants include tropical; carnivorous;
a Japanese Garden; bamboo grove; the Valley of ferns; Avenue of
Palms and a Mediterranean forest which overlooks the city. Within
the gardens is the Monumental Staircase with cascading gardens
down the middle, the stairs divide a series of fountains the
Scalinata delle Undici Fontane (Zampilli). There are also
architectural elements on the site like the Baroque Fountain of the
Note: The Botanical Gardens are closed for the entire month of
Porta Portese
Porte Portese is an ancient gate in Rome which was constructed in
1844 as part of the Janiculum Walls. The Janiculum Walls get their
name from the hill where they are located. The high hill is often
referred to as the "8th" hill of Rome and it is believed to have
been the site of ancient temples to the god Janus. Due to its
strategic position overlooking the city is has been valued as
strategic point for centuries. Ancus Marcius (642BC-617BC) joined
Janiculum Hill to the city center with the Pons Sublicius crossing
the Tiber River, he also added fortifications to Janiculum to
incorporate the hill into the city. These original walls were
incorporated into the Aurelian Walls in 271AD-275AD. Later in
1644 Pope Urban VIII (1641-1643) commissioned architect
Marcantonio de Rossi to build the Walls of Janiculum to reinforce
the city's defenses in preparation for the War of Castro. Janiculum
Hill was the site where Giuseppe Garibaldi fought the French in
1849 and the hill bears several monuments and historic ruins
related to this period in history.
The Porta Portese is the starting point of Via Portuense which once
connected Rome with its artificial port, Portus. The gate in the
Janiculum Walls replaced a previous gate, Porta Portuensis. The
gate has a tall central arch through which traffic still flows. Above
the arched entrance is the coat of arms of Pope Innocent X and on
either side of the arch are niches meant for displaying statues,
these are flanked by columns.
At noon everyday a single cannon is fired from the hill. Visitors can
follow the Passeggiata del Gianicolo Avenue across the entire hill
to Piazzale Garibaldi and take in the beautiful scenery, historic
sites and views across the city. Apart from the brilliant views
people come to Porta Portese to visit the historic Roman Flea
Market which is held here on Sunday mornings. Here you can pick
up some interesting and unusual items.
Santa Cecilia in Trastevere
This is a 5 century church constructed over the home of St.
Cecilia, a 3 th century martyr who's murdered body was found on
this spot. Apart fromrd being a Christian martyr who defied Roman
decrees against Christians, she is also the patron saint of
Her body is thought to have been interred in the Catacombs of
Callistus. The present day church was built c.820 on the orders of
Pope Paschal I who had Cecilia's relics brought to the church and

reburied. There is a statue under the altar of Cecilia in the state

she was found. Legend has it that several times the martyr's body
was exhumed and found to be incorrupt (not decade by death).
Stepano Maderno is responsible for the remarkable sculpture of
Saint Cecilia at the altar. In an inscription below the sculpture
Maderno swears that he was present when St. Cecilia's body was
exhumed and that he has created the statue to look exactly as
she did in her incorrupt state.
The original church was restored in 1599 and in 1725 Ferdinando
Fuga designed the faade. The enclosed courtyard walls are with
decorated columns, mosaics and a water feature. The art within
the church includes a 13 century fresco by Pietro th Cavallini;
black and white marble columns; a 9 century mosaic in the apse
and the ceiling was painted by Antonio del th Massaro. Luigi
Vanvitelli provided the altarpiece and the nave fresco was the
work of Sabastiano Conca. Today it is possible to tour the
excavation site of Cecilia's house beneath the church.
Basilica di San Giovanni
The Church of St. John Lateran is the basilica of the Bishop of
Rome, the Pope, who comes to prey here and to deliver the
benediction on Maundy Thursday. Constantine the Great had the
church built in the 4 century th and it appears to have been the
first church constructed in Rome. Archeological findings show a 1
century mansion belonging to the st Laterani family 5.55 meters
below the church nave. The church was consecrated in 318.
The oldest part of the building is the baptistery or San Giovanni in
Fonte. In the 13 century the beautiful cloisters with their twisted
columns were th constructed and in 1735 Alessandro Galilei
created the double story portico faade with its statues of Jesus
and the Apostles along the top. To the right of the entrance there
are the remains of frescos attributed to the painter Giotto. Other
stunning features include the bronze doors brought from the
Senate House in the ancient Imperial Forum; the statue of
Constantine the Great; two red granite columns from the original
nave colonnade; the bronze columns of the Altar of the Holy
Sacrament; the 14 century Cosmatesque paving of the nave and
the 17 century th th relief panels of scenes from the Old

Museum of Roman Civilization

This museum documents the various aspects of Ancient Roman
civilization and culture in both Italy and the rest of the Roman
Empire through genuine artifacts, reconstructed monuments,
replicas of significant buildings and art as well as scale models
which bring the ancient world to life. The museum covers the
history of the Roman Empire from its beginnings and on into the 4
century. Among the cultural aspects covered are schools, living th
spaces, libraries, the arts, medicine, industry, rural life and
In the 12,000m of exhibition space 59 sections display different
aspects of Ancient Rome. 14 rooms trace the history of Rome from
its origins up until the 6 century AD, then the development and
history of Christianity in th Rome is highlighted. There are casts of
the reliefs which appear on the Column of Trajan and one of the
most impressive displays is a model of Imperial Rome from the
reign on Constantine I Plastico di Roma Imperiale. The huge
model covers 20m X 20m, took 36 years to complete, is built on a
scale of 1:250 and is viewed from a raised platform. There are also
scale models of the Circus Maximus, Theatre of Marcellus and the
Trajan Forum.
The museum is housed within EUR "city" a huge contemporary
complex constructed during Mussolini's reign. The museum is
housed within two structures joined by an impressive and majestic
modern colonnade.

Planetario e Museo Astronomico

This was one of Europe's first planetariums established in 1928,

however it closed down in the 1980s. It reopened in its present
location in 2004 in the buildings of the Museum of Roman Culture
in EUR. The planetarium uses advanced projector technology. It is
spread over about 300m and is covered with a large dome of 14
meters in diameter. The planetarium can seat 100 spectators. The
two hemispheres of the planetarium show approximately 4500
stars from 5 projectors in addition to 12 slide projectors, a 6
channel stereo audio system and the planetarium can show 3D
animated images.
Adjacent to the planetarium a number of rooms house the
Astronomical Museum where there are models and dioramas as
well as multimedia stations to capture the imaginations of young
visitors. The multimedia displays are educational as well as
interesting and they complement the nearby planetarium. The
fact that this ultra-modern and science related site can exist sideby-side with the Museum of Roman Culture offers a contrast
between Ancient Rome and the new technology. It offers a
multidisciplinary perspective on the astronomical culture.
The Planetarium holds educational activities, hosts events and
entertains while still educating. There are animated programs for
kids, musical and theatrical demonstrations and visitors have an
opportunity to do some star gazing.

Santa Maria d'Aracoeli

This is a beautiful 13 century church which features a coffered
and th gilded Renaissance ceiling; a Byzantine-style mosaic above
the altar and a headstone created by Donatello. The best known
feature of the church is the Bufalini Chapel where there is a fresco
in the Renaissance Roman style by Pinturicchio.
The church is at the top of a long flight of 124 stairs, at Christmas
time the long staircase is lined with candles as bagpipe players
play traditional music during a traditional Christmas ceremony.
Another part of the Christmas ceremonies at this church includes
the Aracoeli wooden statue of Jesus. The statue is kept in its own
chapel year round and then brought out to be seen by the
congregation and placed in a nativity crib in the left side nave. He
remains in the crib until Epiphany. The wooden figure (Santo
Bambino) is believed to have been carved from a tree from the
Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem.
The precious bambino has a realistically painted face and is
dressed in gold bejeweled cloths. The statue is thought to perform
miracles. At the foot of his private altar you can see piles of letters
which have been sent to the baby Jesus from around the world.
The Santo Bambino is also taken to visit the sick in hospitals on
St. Paul Outside the Walls
This is one of the four papal basilicas of Rome. In the 4 century th
persecution of Christians came to an end with the reign of
Emperor Constantine who ordered the excavation of the site
known as cella . This site was where Saint Paul was beheaded
under Neromemoriae (65-67AD) and buried outside the city walls.
In 324 the church planned by Constantine was consecrated by
Pope Sylvester to commemorate the place of Paul's death. The
church was continually embellished and enlarged over the years.
Highlights of the church include the faade mosaic by Pietro
Cavallini; the Vassalletto family cloisters; the bronze Holy Door; 11
century Byzantine th doors and 13 century candelabrum by
Nicola d'Angelo and Pietro Vassaletto. Until the construction of St.
Peter in 1626 this th was the largest basilica in Rome. In 1823 the
church was destroyed by a fire but it was restored to its original
form, incorporating all elements which had survived the fire. In
1928 150 columns were added.
The beautiful church has a neoclassical quadriportico with
landscaped gardens in front of the porticoes which are lined with
columns and topped by magnificent colorful mosaics. In the

quadriportico stands a statue of St. Paul. The church has 5 naves

and an arch at the end of the central nave decorated with
Cavallini mosaics.
Diocletian Bath
The Octagonal Hall is also called the Aula Ottagona delle Terme di
Diocleziano and is part of the Diocletian Baths or Thermae
Diocletian. The complex was the largest public thermal baths at
the time and was constructed over the course of 6 years, finally
opening in 306AD. The hall is located in the southwestern part of
the complex and is home to the Lyceum Apollo, a copy of a 2nd
century statue. Of the many statues and bronzes in the baths the
most famous are the Boxer; a bronze work by Apollonius of
Athens; a 4th century replica of a marble statue of Aphrodite of
Cyrene from Athens and the Prince which dates back to the 2nd
century. The interior walls are decorated with frescoes from the
Roman Republican Age.
The thermal baths were provided with water from the Aqua Marcia
aqueduct. In all the complex covered 120,000m and was located
on Viminal, one of Rome's seven hills. Over the years the baths
were converted and renovated to serve different functions.
Michelangelo had a hand in turning the frigidarium into Santa
Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri church and another one of the
rooms was converted into the church of San Bernardo alle Terme.
The Octagonal Hall is one of the huge spaces within the baths and
is now part of the National Roman Museum and is used as an
exhibition space devoted to sculptures that were found in the
Ostia Antica's Ruins
Ostia Antica was once Ancient Rome's port at the mouth of the
River Tiber; today it is an expansive archaeological site 30km from
Rome near to the suburb of Ostia. Although the port was once on
the Tyrrhenian Sea, today it is 3km inland due to the gradual
silting over the last 2,000 years. The site holds invaluable remains
which are in excellent condition, the oldest findings date back to
the 3nd century BC.
In the 4 century BC a military colony was established here to
guard th Rome from seafaring invaders. The strategically located
port flourished as a trade port and by the 2 century was home to
100,000 people. nd
Among the highlights of Ostia Antica is a 630m mosaic. The 12
century BC amphitheatre which could seat 3,500 in the audience
is in such good condition that it is still used today for concerts and
special events. Wandering through the site visitors can see stores,
homes, public squares, temples, the forum, apartment buildings, a
military camp, public baths (some of which could accommodate
up to 300 bathers), markets and Christian churches which were
constructed at a later period. Outside the city walls stood a
synagogue which was used by Jews who worked on the barges
which traveled along the Tiber. The synagogue is the oldest
synagogue in Europe. In the adjacent modern city of Ostia Antica
is Giulio II's castle, a small medieval town and the church of St.
Villa d'Este
The Villa d'Este garden is part of Tivoli, a listed UNESCO site and
an example of mannerist and baroque design which is used as a
model for other well known gardens in Europe. The gardens
belong to the Governor's Palace which was inhabited by Cardinal
Ippolito d'Este in 1550. He commissioned the remodeling of both
the garden and the home. In order to create the gardens an entire
part of the town had to be cleared and intricate engineering was
required to move soil to compensate for the steep gradient and
irregular shape of the land.
The garden is a wonderland of surprising features and the
gardens fountains and waterworks are the primary attraction, in
all there are 500 fountains. The fountain water is supplied by the
Aniene River. Visitors entering the garden from the bottom gate
climb up through the garden as the story of the d'Este family

history is told. There are references in the garden to the family's

ancestors and to Ovid's Metamorphosis. Statues were brought
from excavations throughout Rome to adorn the garden. A central
alley, Avenue of Perspectives prolongs the loggia and intersects
with 5 paths which connect the various fountains. This creates an
optical illusion extending the garden. On the upper terrace of the
garden is a balcony and two symmetrically places flights of stairs
on either side of the central axes. Other highlights are the Grotto
of Diana, a water organ, the Fountain of the Great Cup (designed
by Bernini) and the Path of the Hundred Fountains.

Parco Regionale Dell'Appia Antica

The Via Appia Antica (Appian Way) was Ancient Rome's "Queen of
Roads", completed in 312BC and commissioned by Appius
Claudius Ciecus. At one time it was 330 miles long stretching
between Rome and the Port of Brindisi. The park surrounds the
road and includes the ruins of sites which stood along the
roadside. The route along the road can be followed by bike or on
Among the ruins in the park are those of the Church of Domine
Quo Vadis. This marks the spot where it is believed that Saint
Peter met Jesus. Other sites along the Appian Way include the
Church of San Sebastiano, the San Sebastiano Catacombs,
Catacombs of St. Callixtus; ancient aqueducts and the Tomb of
Cecilia Metella. There are plenty of trees and grass lawns.
There is a visitor center from which most visitors set out on their
exploration of the site, here you can get route maps, guides and
rent bicycles. The northern section of the park is the part closest
to Rome and the most popular site for tourists. From San
Sebastian Gate you can visit the Museum of the Walls and from
there walk down the famous road past sepulchers and burial
The Caffarella Park is within the Parco Regionale Dell'Appia Antica,
within the park is the Nympheum of Egeria; Tomb of Annia Regilla;
the Church of Sant'Urbano alla Caffarella; Valca Tower; Roman
cistern; Columbarium of Constantine and the Sacred Wood.
Hadrian's Villa
The ancient Roman complex of Villa Adriana is located in Tivoli,
29km out of Rome; the plush home was constructed between 118
and 134 AD as a rural summer retreat for the Roman Emperor
Hadrian. The villa grounds covered 300 acres and were decorated
with fine art, statues and life-size replicas of Hadrian's favorite
buildings from Greece and Egypt. As an enthusiast of all things
Greek and an architect himself Hadrian's reproductions exhibit the
architectural styles from throughout the Roman Empire. The large
complex had to accommodate, not only the leader but the minions
of his court. Below ground there was a network of tunnels linking
different parts of the villa. Following Hadrian other emperors used
the villa until the decline of the empire when the villa was left to
decay and finally in the 16 century Cardinal Ippolito Il d'Este had
many of the statues and marble removed for reuse in the
construction of th his Villa d'Este.
Today the expansive grounds are scattered with sections of
columns and broke pieces of the buildings but there is a scale
model of the whole villa complex for visitors to get an overall
picture of the villa's former grandeur. Some of the buildings have
been restored or reconstructed including the Maritime Theatre,
the Egyptian Canopus and the Vale of Tempe. The incredible
beauty of the villa has led it to be called the "Versailles of Ancient
Rome." Hadrian's Villa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the
insight it gives to ancient architectural styles.
Palazzo Massimo alle Terme
This is one of three branches of the National Roman Museum; the
works of art are housed within a 19 century neo-renaissance style
palace in the th center of the city. The palace stands where Pope
Siztus V's Villa Montalto-Peretti stood until 1883 and was

constructed in the 1880s. The palace was designed by Camillo

Pistrucci and originally intended as a Jesuit seminary.
The museum artifacts are spread over 4 floors and consist of
sculptures, coins, jewelry, frescoes and mosaics from the
Republican, Ancient Roman Empire and late Roman Empire
periods. There are also original Greek sculptures which were
discovered in Rome which include the Boxer at Rest, the Dying
Niobid and the statue of Augustus Pontifex Maximus. Perhaps the
best known piece in the museum is the Discus thrower (Lancelotti
Discobolus) this is one of several copies of the 2 century bronze
original by Myron. The nd Sarcophagus of Portonaccio bears
intricate carvings depicting scenes from Roman battles, the lid of
the sarcophagus is adorned with a frieze and the sides are
covered with bas-relief. In the basement of the museum there are
grave ornaments, jewels and the Grottarossa Mummy, one of only
two mummies ever discovered in Rome.
Museo Carlo Bilotti
The art work in this museum comes from the private collection of
Italian entrepreneur Carlo Bilotti and consists of 23 outstanding
pieces of contemporary and modern art including paintings,
drawings and sculptures. The highlight of the collection is a group
of 18 works by Giogio de Chirico (1888-1978), founder of the
Metaphysical art movement which greatly influenced the
surrealists. The art on display includes de Chirico's The Mysterious
Archaeologist; Back of a Naked Woman and the Furniture in the
Other great works in the collection are Andy Warhol's Tina and
Lisa Bilotti; Larry Rivers' Carlo with Dubuffet on the Background;
Gino Severini's The Summer as well as works by Dynys, GreenfiedSanders and Pucci. Outside the museum there is a large bronze
statue by Giacomo Manzu.
The museum is located within the Orangery (Aranciera) of the Villa
Borghese, a building with a long and interesting history originally
built as a summer house for Cardinal Scipioine (1576-1633) and
later used for parties and entertaining by the rich and powerful.
The building is surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens and
a lake which gave it its name "The House of the Water games".
The Orangery has been renovated and restored to highlight some
of the fine architectural features. The building stands in the lush
Vila Borghese Park along with several other museums.

Villa Farnesina
This renaissance villa in Rome's Trastevere neighborhood stands
opposite Corsini Palace on Via della Lungara. It was created in
1509 when Sienese banker, Agostino Chigi (Magnifico)
commissioned Baldassarre Peruzzi for the project. At the end of
the 16 century Cardinal Alessandro Farnese th purchased the villa
and in 1714 it became the property of the Bourbon family. The
Ambassador of Spain rented the property and in 1928 the villa
was bought by the Italian State and became the Reale Accademia
d'Italia. In 1944 the Lincei academy took over the villa. The villa is
best known for its stunning frescoes by Raphael Sanzio, Giulio
Romano, Sabastiano del Piombo, Giovan Francesco Penni,
Giovanni da Udine and Giovanni Bazzi. During the 16 century
lavish banquet were held here and the crme de th la crme of
Roman society visited the villa. The most famous of these formal
dinners was the celebration of St. Augustine's Day in 1519.
The entrance to the villa leads into the Loggia of Psyche decorated
with frescoes by Raffaello and his pupils. The Room of the Frieze is
painted with frescoes depicting mythological scenes by Peruzzi.
The Hall of Galathea is home to Raffaello's fresco of the Triumph of
the Nymph Galathea. On the upper level the Salone delle
Prospective was designed by Peruzzi. Agostino Chigi's Alcove is
painted with scenes from the life of Alexander of Macedonia
including the Marriage Between Alexander and the Persian
Princess Roxane.
Galleria Colonna

Galleria Colonna is in central Rome within the palatial Palazzo

Colonna and at present is the only part that the general public can
visit. The building dates back to the 13th century and was at one
time the home of Cardinal Oddone Colona who later became Pope
Martin V. The gallery, which was completed in 1703, holds the
Colonna family's private art collection which includes works by
Salvatore Rosa, Annibale Carracci (The Bean Eater) and Guido
Reni. The prestigious collection is mainly from the 17th century
and includes paintings on copper by Jan Bruegel, works by Gasper
van Wittel, Lorenzo Monaco, Albani, Bronzino (the painting of
Venus, Cupid and a Satyr) and more.
Apart for the art work the gallery's six rooms are themselves
exquisite with floor to ceiling frescoes glorifying the Christian
victory against the Turks in the Battle of Lepanto (1571). The
rooms have ceiling murals by Filippo Gherardi, Giuseppe
Bartolomeo Chiari and Ricci. In the Room of the Battle Column
Giuseppe Chiari painted the ceiling fresco, the room is named
after the red marble column in the middle of the room. There is
also Benedetto Luti's painting of Apotheosis of Martin V. In the
Princess Isabelle's apartments are frescoes by Tempesta (Pieter
Mulier), Giacinto Gimignani, Crescenzio Onofri, Gaspard Dughet
and Bernardino di Betto, also known as Pinturicchio (little painter).
On the gallery staircase visitors can see a cannonball lodged in
the marble stairs, a reminder of the 1849 siege of Rome.

Villa Gregoriana
Villa Gregoriana is a park located in a steep valley at the foot of
the acropolis of Tivoli. As a result of the flooding of the Aniene
River in 11826 the local houses were destroyed and on the orders
of Pope Gregory XVI the water was diverted creating a waterfall.
The river bed, banks, caves, ravines and calcareous formations
together with the natural surroundings and archaeological ruins
became the Villa Gregoriana Park. The force of the river was an
issue for many years and archaeological findings have discovered
evidence of 12 manmade hydraulic structures including ditches,
locks, canals and aqueducts. In addition there are the remains of
bridges, mills and walls which were used in attempts to control the
flow of the river.
In 1832 it was decided to build two Gregorian Tunnels, 300 meters
long and 10-7.2 meters wide. The tunnels were dug into Mount
Catillo to move the water and protect the residential areas from
floods. The project was completed in 1835 included the
construction of Piazza Rivarola, Piazza Massimo, Ponte Gregoriano
and the park itself. The waterfall flows down from the Vesta and
Sibyl Temples and lands in front of the Cave of Neptune and then
flows on to the Cave of the Sirens. The park is full of both natural
and manmade gardens including woodlands, oak, cypress and
pine trees. The Aniene Valley and Villa Gregoriana in Tivoli is a
UNESCO designated site.
Villa Lante
Villa Lante is the garden attached to two houses in Bagnaia, a
small town near Rome. The first home was commissioned by
Cardinals Gambara and the garden designed by Il Vignola
(Giacomo Barozzi) in collaboration with Pirro Ligorio and Thomaso
Chiruchi who was responsible for the hydraulics. 30 years after
Gambara's home had been built in 1587 his nephew Cardinal
Montalto had his home built on the grounds and continued the
construction of the gardens.
The garden is laid out in perfect proportion using Andrea Palladio's
concept of the squared circle. The garden designers took
inspiration from several famous gardens including the Belvedere
at the Vatican, the Villa d'Este, Hadrian's marine theatre and the
isolette at the Boboli. There are a series of terraces, each with
water features. Ingenious mechanical hydraulic engineering was
used to design spurting water, fountains, grottoes with flowing
water and ponds. Other water features include cascading water
flowing over terraced steps.

At the center of the garden is a sculpture by Landini of four boys

holding Gambara's coat of arms in the air. One of the fun elements
of the garden is a vast boxtree maze. The steep gardens feature
stone stairways lined with vases and urns. Throughout the park
are statues and sculptures as you climb from terrace to terrace
and on each level are surprising water features.
Park of the Monsters
In 1552 the Orsini family had the picturesque Villa of Marvels
constructed; the house is surrounded by a magical garden with
giant statues of monsters, fantastical animals and gods. Prince
Pier Francesco Orsini had had a run of bad luck having been
through a war, been held for random, seen friends killed and
finally returning home to see his wife pass away. The gardens
were designed by Pirro Ligorio as an expression of Orsini's intense
grief. Today visitors can follow a meandering path through the lush
gardens as they encounter the resident creatures along the way.
The concrete creatures include unicorns, dragons, a huge stone
elephant, a colossal human head with its mouth wide open,
mythological flying horses, ogres, nymphs, a mermaid and more.
A lopsided house, the Twisted House stands in a corner of the
garden. The quirky and playful statues merge with the foliage and
are often covered with a thin coat of green moss. The surrealistic
statues and fairytale-like garden inspired some of Europe's great
artists of the 20 century. Nearby in the medieval town of Bomarzo
visitors th can explore the quaint cobbled streets and visit the
castle which stands on a hill overlooking the town.
Case Romane del Celio
Below the 5th century Basilica of St. Giovanni e Paolo lie the
remains of a number of Roman houses with 20 rooms from
different periods of history spanning from the 3rd to 12th century.
Some of the rooms were brightly decorated with mosaics and
frescoes. The foundations of the Basilica above cut through the
rooms offering archaeologists an insight into daily life in ancient
One of the highlights of the site are the painted hypogean rooms,
the Sala dei Geni is a frieze of winged figures in a rural harvest
setting. In the nearby nymphaeum the walls are painted with
scene from marine mythology. The Sala dell'Orante frescoes
depict a figure in prayer, indicating the emergence of Christianity.
One of the frescoes in the porch of the insula depicts a crucified
According to tradition John and Paul lived here and following their
martyrdom under Julian the Apostate (361-363) they were buried
here on the site of their homes. A decorated confessio was
created above the martyr's tombs for worshipers to pay homage
to the tombs. In the Antiquarium visitors can see findings from the
houses including Islamic pottery once used to decorate the
Basilica's medieval bell tower. Visitors access the site through a
door on the Clivus Scauri and a route can be followed through the

Montemartini Museum
Musei Capitlini Centrale Montemartini is housed within the
Giovanni Montemartini Thermoelectric Center, an incredible piece
of modern industrial architecture which is juxtaposed to the
classical art the museum displays. The works are displayed with
the old machinery and electrical equipment of the former plant as
a backdrop. Monumental complexes and structures have been
recreated to showcase the progress from the Republican Era to
the Late Imperial age. Because of the unique display space the
museum is used for ongoing experiments in museum display
The museum has 4 areas: In the Atrium you can learn about the
museum's history and see several extremely large and heavy
pieces of sculpture. In the Hall of Columns there are pieces from
the Complex of San Lorenzo; the Esquiline Necropolis; funeral and
domestic items and busts and sculptural portraits from the LateRepublican Era. In the Hall of the Machines there are copies of
Greek busts; pieces found on the Celian Hill; a reconstruction of
pieces of the Temple of Apollo Sosiano; Campidoglio and pieces
from the sacred precinct of the Largo Argentina including
fragments of a colossal female acrolith 8 meters high. In the Boiler
Room are sculptures found in the Gardens of Sallust; Gardens of
Licinius; House of Fulvius Plauziano; the Esquiline Gardens and the
House of the Via Cavour.
Villa Torlonia
"Villa Torlonia" refers to the Torlonia Estate which consists of the
Casino Nobile (palace), Casino dei Principi (House of Princes),
Casina della Civetta (House of Owls) and the surrounding gardens.
Although the word "villa" actually refers just to gardens. The
gardens and now Villa Torlonia Park were designed by neoclassical
architect Giuselle Valadier in 1796 and completed by his son
Alessandro. Caretti took over the design and added several
structures like the False Ruins, Tribuna con Fontana and Temple of
Saturn. The Estate was rented to Mussolini from 1925 to 1943 and
having stood unused for several decades it is now a museum.
The museum housed in the palace includes pieces from the
Torlonia collection, sculptures by Bartlomeo Cavaceppi, pieces of
furniture from the Torlonia family homes, plaster reliefs by Antonio
Canova and a reconstruction of Giovanni Torlonia's bedchamber
which was used by Mussolini. The gardens feature a manmade
lake and symmetrical avenues which spread out around the
buildings. 3 and 4 century Jewish catacombs were discovered rd
th beneath the gardens in 1919.
The House of Owls was designed in 1840 by Jappelli, there are two
buildings connected by an underground passage and a wooden
gallery. There are 20 rooms, 54 pieces of stained glass and there
are owl motifs throughout. The building has been frequently
renovated since 1916 and little remains of the original