The Roman Civilization became what we all know as the largest empires in history, conquering most part of Western Europe and the Mediterranean region with a history that continues to have a major influence on the world today. Using the “grande” style and Greek architectural influences, the Romans built some of the most impressive buildings in the world.
Last week I told you I’ve been to Italy and wrote a little about Venice, well this time I’m going to make a must-see list with the most stunning landmarks in Rome.
Originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, the Roman Coliseum was started in 70-72 AD under Vespasian and finished in 80 AD under Titus. Designed for 50,000 spectators the elliptical amphitheater is one of the greatest works of Roman engineering and architecture, where for more than 500 years gladiatorial contests and public spectacles were held.
An iconic symbol in Rome, it has been estimated that some 500,000 people and over a million animals died inside the Colosseum.
Oldest standing domed structure in Rome, the Pantheon is the best preserved building from the Roman Empire, and probably the best (of its age) in the whole world. Meaning “Temple of all Gods” in Greek, and that’s exactly what it’s been used for till the 7th century when it became a Catholic Church.
The building is not only famous for its portico (the facade) or the large concrete structure, but mostly for the great round eye in the middle of the roof, also known as the Oculus. Used mainly as a cooling and ventilation method, there’s a tale that when it rains outside, no water drops come inside. That’s because of the draining system built in the floors.
One of the busiest places in Rome, the Trevi Fountain is among the most stunning fountains in the world with a beautiful Baroque architecture. Set in the middle, the statue of Oceanus – the god of all waters – and the tritons guiding his shell chariot, is capturing the whole attention in the little piazza.
It’s a very romantic place to visit and my recommendation is either early in the morning or really late at night when it’s all lit up, if you want to get the most off of it. Don’t forget to toss a coin over the shoulder because the legend says you’ll be guaranteed a return to Rome if you do.
Just a couple of minutes from Piazza del Popolo at the base of La Fontana della Barcaccia in Piazza di Spagna, this is where you’ll find the Spanish Steps. They are the longest and widest staircase in all Europe.
The steps are most beautiful in May when city officials cover most of them with azaleas, creating a very beautiful scenery.
A Baroque Roman masterpiece, a marvel of light and sculpture, Piazza Navona is a public space that has the plans of an ancient Roman city circus. The whole area is crowded by tourists, lots of open air cafes and restaurants, and the numerous artists who draw or paint your portrait or caricature.
Piazza Navona is one of the most beautiful in Rome, with stunning architectural creations like Fontana dei Fiumi, the delightful church of Sant’Angese in Agone, Fontana di Nettune (Neptune) or Fontana del Moro (Moor). One of the most beautiful times to visit Navona is during Christmas when it’s so nicely decorated.
Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II
Do you know who was the first king of unified Italy? It was Vittorio Emanuele II to whom this stunning pompous and large monument with majestic stairways – Il Vittoriano, was dedicated to. Made entirely out of chopped pure white marble, the 135m high structure lies from the Capitoline Hill to Piazza Venezia which is marble, and features a huge equestrian sculpture of Victor Emmanuel and two statues of the goddess Victoria riding on quadrigas. This is also the place where the Unknown Soldier Tomb is located.
First built as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian and his family but being close to the Vatican, Castle Sant’Angelo was later turned into a castle by the popes. Located on the right bank of the Tiber where the river gets larger the castle is the most impressive element of the beautiful panorama. It’s now a museum and if you’re lucky you can serve a cup of Italian coffee in an outdoor cafe and enjoy a sunny day.
I don’t think the Vatican needs any more presentation, but make sure you visit St Peter’s Basilica, climb up to the top to see the great panorama and visit the Vatican Museum (get up early in the morning).
Do you like Rome? Have you visited or plan to? Drop me a line in the comments below.