Rome is by far one of the most beautiful cities on Earth, a city filled with ancient history that you feel around every corner.
The historic center of the town is where the majority of the famous monuments are, including the Roman forum, aqueducts, and the Colosseum. A UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980, UNESCO also includes the Vatican in this selection.
This means if you’re hoping to visit the significant UNESCO sites, you can knock off two by visiting Rome and the Vatican. If you’re trying to find your next vacation and want to go somewhere you’ve only dreamed of, take a trip to Rome and walk in footsteps that have been there for thousands of years.
When you visit the city, you’ll be able to get a much more detailed and in-depth tour, so consider this article to be a brief history on Rome, the Vatican, and why it’s importance is still felt centuries later.
Spanish Steps in Rome
For 2800 years, Rome has been a shining example of the greatness and power of an empire. Stretching from Britain to modern day Turkey at its peak of 117 AD, the saying was true that all roads led to Rome. The capital city of the Roman empire was a truly magnificent and modern city for its time, with all of the technological innovations that helped Rome prosper. Filled with art and culture, these innovations can still be seen and experienced today. When you learn all of the histories of how Rome became such a world power, you’ll marvel at how a small Latin village made it possible.
Legends say that Rome was founded by the mythical twins of Romulus and Remus in 753 BC, but historians believe that Rome was established as a village on top of Palatine Hill (area of the Roman Forum) in the 8th century. It eventually became the Roman kingdom, ruled by Etruscan Kings, evolving to the Roman Republic, before finally being known as the center of the Roman Empire. Even after the fall of Rome in 476 AD, Rome maintained importance and wealth, as the city became the center of the rapidly evolving Catholic church.
Castel Sant Angelo or Mausoleum of Hadrian
While some cities have had a history in eras, Rome is one of the only ones who can say that it has played a significant part in every historical period since the beginning of AD. It had its share of invasions and different reigns throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance, as well as regimes into the modern age, but it still is known throughout the world as a city of power and prestige.
The best time to visit Rome, if you’re looking to visit the monuments, is typically for the ten days in the middle of May when there is no charge to visit publicly owned landmarks and historical sites. Known as “Settimana dei Beni Culturali,” it gives Rome a chance to show off pride in their monuments, and offers tourists and citizens the opportunity to relive history. The Colosseum, ancient forums, Quirinal Palace, and more are all free for these few days.
Regarding the monuments, you need to take time to see, the Colosseum, Pantheon, Aqueduct, and the Vatican are the four that should top your list. The Roman Colosseum truly needs no introductions, as it may be one of the most famous landmarks in the world. The Madison Square Garden of its day, it was home to gladiator fights, naval theater, and re-enactments of famous battles. Constructed from 72 to 80AD, it’s the largest amphitheater ever built. Despite its appearance as being run down, due to earthquakes and stone-robbers, sitting in the same seats that Romans sat in thousands of years ago is something that needs to be experienced.
Over 900 churches are found in Rome, but the Pantheon might be the most artistically stunning. Dedicated by the emperor Hadrian in 126AD, it was taken as the inspiration for many famous buildings, including the U.S. Supreme Court. With its massive dome diameter of 142 feet, it’s still the world’s most massive unreinforced concrete dome. The Parthenon is exceptionally well preserved, probably because of its continuous use throughout history. Since the beginning of the 7th century, it has been used as a church dedicated to “St. Mary and the Martyrs”. The inside of the building lets you see the extravagant dome, also used as inspiration for many famous domed structures, such as the US Capitol.
For those who love old engineering, the Roman aqueduct is the perfect landmark. These aqueducts can be found throughout Europe, bringing water into the different cities and towns of the Roman empire. Moving water with the power of gravity, some of them are still in use today. The most famous and well-preserved aqueducts are found in France and Spain, but 11 of them can be located in Rome. Aqueduct Park is dedicated to these, letting you see the ingenuity of Roman engineering and all of the lengths that it took to make the Roman empire as powerful as it could be.
Finally, the Vatican is one of the holiest sites in the world and the home of the Catholic Church and the Pope. Known as St. Peter’s Basilica, after the first Pope, it’s the best site to see Renaissance architecture and the grandest church in the world. Filled with amazing art and culture, the main exhibit is the breathtaking Sistine Chapel. Painted by Michelangelo in the 16th century, it may be the most famous series of paintings in the world and a massive tourist attraction. Expect to be in awe as you walk down the hallways and see art from hundreds of years ago, kept incredibly well-preserved.
San Pietro Basilica at San Pietro Square
There are so many things to see and do in Rome; it’s no wonder why so many people have it on their bucket list of places to travel. Being able to learn about centuries of history in one area can be an incredible experience, and the culture of Rome is all-encompassing. If you’re trying to figure out your next dream vacation, let Rome be the answer to your search!