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Monuments of Ancient Rome

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Leading Tourism Destinations in Rome

Ancient Rome


Castel Sant'Angelo and its defending angels at night


The core of ancient Rome occupies an area contained by the Colosseum on the south, the Palatine Hill on the west, the Capitoline Hill on the north and the Imperial Forums on the east. While this area contains sites of immense historical interest, still other buildings and monuments dating from the Roman Empire are scattered throughout  the city.  Most of the major monuments from the Roman Empire are located to the east of the Tiber, Rome's "mother river".

You can discover the details behind the Roman Empire and examine many of its artifacts close-up in Rome’s museums that are devoted to antiquities from this era.  Among the best for this purpose are the Capitoline Museum, the Museum of Roman Civilization, and the Imperial Forums Museum).

The Colosseum and the adjacent Forums area are the natural place to start your tour of the remnants of the Roman Empire and ancient Rome.


Ancient Rome

        The Colosseum is beautiful day or night

The Colosseum 

The world famous Colosseum remains a dramatic sight for all visitors to Rome and a quick tour inside this cavernous amphitheater provides a revealing look into its use and former grandeur. The Colosseum has a truly remarkable architecture and the stadium was designed to hold more than fifty-thousand spectators while the lions and gladiators did their work. The area beneath the floor of the Colosseum's arena was a complex of cells, holding areas and paths that were designed to allow animals, gladiators and human sacrifices access to the fighting surface, all without mixing together until the appointed time. See our  Guide to the Colosseum for more photographs and details of this amazing Wonder of the  World. 

The Roman and Imperial Forums Area

Two sets forums, which served as public squares and marketplaces, were at the heart ofThe columns in for background mark the Temple of the Vestae ancient Rome and both areas border the Via dei Fori Imperiali. The Imperial Forums, located mostly to the left of the road as one proceeds towards the Colosseum from Piazza Venezia, were constructed during Rome’s “Imperial” age, when the roman emperor's right to rule was unquestioned by his subjects.

The older Roman Forums (on the right side of Via dei Fori Imperiali) were the civic-core of ancient Rome and are  scattered along  the Via Sacra, which was ancient Rome’s main thoroughfare.

The Palatine Hill, which looms above the Roman Forums on the west,  was where the elite lived and it houses the ruins of many palaces and several  interesting excavations.

The ruins of the Forums mark the historical center of the Roman Empire and contain the remnants of the seats of power of ancient Rome. If you are expecting to see intact buildings, you will be disappointed.  For centuries this naturally swampy area was ignored or sometimes the temples and other monuments were used as sources of materials for constructing other buildings.

Eventually the area  filled-in with dirt and debris and the Forums were lost to  history.  What we can see today has been excavated  and in some cases,  partially restored.  However, the passing of time has had not impact on the importance and incredible sense of history that one experiences while exploring the Imperial and Roman Forums.

Expect to spend an afternoon at the Forums and Palatine Hill, or less if you simply want to take a quick walkthrough. Be warned, it is a fascinating area and you will soon find yourself trying to translate Latin dates and Latin scripts as you wander this breathtaking piece of history.  It is difficult to avoid thinking that you are treading in the footsteps of Caesar and other notorious personalities responsible for the amazing Empire ruled from Rome over two-thousand years ago.

See our guide to the Roman Forums (including Palatine Hill) and our guide to the Imperial  Forums for photographs of the monuments and details on visiting both locations.

Note: In order to visit this area you must purchase a combination ticket that covers entrance to the Roman Forum, the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill.  If you plan to visit these attractions and other museums in Rome, you might want to see if the Roma Pass, which once provided  discount admission for numerous attractions over a three-day period, has been reintroduced by the City of Rome.


Rome by Night Tour
From Viator Tours

Piazza Campidoglio/Capitoline Hill    

The Cordonatta leading to Piazza Campidoglio atop Capitoline HillThe Capitoline Hill was a seat of power in ancient Rome and remains a center of government even today.  The Capitoline's  Piazza Campidoglio, is a good place to start your tour of Ancient Rome. The Piazza and its main buildings (now museums) were constructed and in some cases modified based on plans created by Michelangelo. The top of the hill offers excellent views of the Forums,  the not-to-be-missed Capitoline Museum, as well as a very interesting church.  Read our  one-page guide to Capitoline Hill for photos and details.

The Pantheon 

The Temple of the Pantheon is one of the true glories of ancient RomeThe Pantheon is both majestic and awe-inspiring and one of the best preserved sites from the Roman Empire.  Located in Piazza della Rotonda, the Pantheon dates from the first quarter of the 2nd Century.  Constructed on the order of the Emperor Hadrian, the Pantheon has become one of the most enduring  treasures of the Roman Empire.  Read more about the Rotunda, its colossal dome and the unique turn of events that influenced its preservation, in our illustrated one-page guide to the Pantheon.


Castel Sant'Angelo  (Hadrian's Mausoleum)

The Castel Sant'Angelo as viewed from the Tiber RiverCastel Sant Angelo offers panoramic views along the Tiber and is one of Rome's outstanding architectural monuments. The building has served Roman emperors as a mausoleum, several popes as a fortress (it is still connected to the Vatican by a passageway) and as a bulwark of the defensive wall that once surrounded Rome.  Click here for our Guide to the Castel Sant'Angelo, including a number of stunning photographs of this remarkable building.  Did we mention its links to the popular novel and film Angels & Demons?

Baths of Caracalla 

Caracalla contains the most impressive and largest of the famous RomanThe famous Baths of Caracalla Baths, although it has been damaged by earthquakes and by its use for housing by squatters over a  long period of time.  Using the baths was a custom and courtesy among the early Romans, as most residences lacked running water. See our one-page guide to the baths of Caracalla for details.

Catacombs of Saint Callixtus

Although touring catacombs is not for everyone, the Catacombs of Saint Callixtus are considered the best examples of catacombs for those interested in the early history of Christians in Rome and their burial chambers. For information on visiting, see this site.

Column of Marcus Aurelius

The Colum of Marcus Aurelius is crowned with at statue of Saint Peter.In the Piazza Colonna, you will find the Column of Marcus Aurelius. The engraved scroll running up the column recounts the history of the Emperor's military campaigns in Europe.

The Column of Marcus Aurelius was built to commemorate the Emperor Marcus Aurelius's wars (2nd century A.D.) against various Germanic tribes. The column is similar to Trajan's column which predates it. The Aurelian column has a hollow core with stairs leading to the top. It is covered with raised reliefs (bas-relief) showing scenes from the wars. These scenes spiral to the top of the column. The statue of Marcus Aurelius that once topped the spire was replaced with that of St. Paul during renovations in the 16th century.

Ponte Fabricio

This bridge across the Tiber was constructed in 62 BC is still in use (It was originally called the Pons Fabricius). It has been rebuilt in part and refaced but much of the original structure remains (see the inscriptions on the arches).

Rome's Seven Hills

Rome's Seven Hills, all located to the east of the Tiber River, play heavily in the city's ancient history, but most are now hard to see or find due to erosion and the incessant building and rebuilding that has taken place on many of their slopes.  The Seven Hills are: Capitoline, Palatine, Aventine, Caelian, Esquiline, Viminal, and Quirinal.  Today, the most visible of the original Seven Hills of Rome is the Capitoline Hill (Campidoglio), which along with the Palatine are the hills most visited in tourist Rome.

Archeological digs have provided evidence that the Seven Hills were fortified with walled-forts (perhaps including small villages) well before the founding of Rome and pre-dating the Roman Empire by several centuries.

If you are interested in "seeing" the locations of the historic Seven Hills of Rome, we show them on our map of the Seven Hills or Rome .  The Hills are no longer prominent, so you may want to toggle the "terrain" button at the top of the map to get a better idea of the modern geometry of Rome's famous Seven Hills.

Next Explore  Rome's Glorious Piazzas and Fountains

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The Forums
Capitoline Hill
The Pantheon
Castel Sant'Angelo
Baths of Caracalla
Catacombs of St. Callixtus
Column of Marcus Aurelius
Ponte Fabricio
The Seven Hills of Rome





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