Immersing myself in Italy’s capital city, Rome has brought me into a dimension where the past is magnificently embedded in the present. Walking around the city’s pavements constantly reminded me of its great past where every stride is testament of it as the “caput mundi” of the ancient world. The richness of its history and culture is undeniable which is pronounced vividly by its classical ruins, historical sites, and grandiose basilicas.
The imprints of Roman’s artistic heritage marveled me by its beauty like no other. Rome never failed to entice me with its antique cathedrals, charming piazzas, embellished monuments, elegant fountains, and ornate sculptures. Wandering its streets afforded me a relaxing atmosphere and whiling away the time on pizzerias and trattorias while indulging myself with their signature pizza, pasta, and gelato have made my Roman holiday experience even more worthwhile.
The best way to experience Rome is to explore it on foot, where your admiration will energize you and push your feet forward to discover the city in all its glory. Here is the list of Rome’s top attractions arranged sequentially, where the track proceeds smoothly starting from Roma Termini Station.
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
Erected at the summit of Esquiline hill, it is one of the churches in Rome of great antiquity and the largest Marian Church all over Rome; hence it is known as, Basilica of St. Mary Major. Based from a legend, the basilica was constructed as a devotion to the Virgin Mary during the time of Pope Liberius where Mary appeared to him and instructed him to build a church on this site, which was miraculously covered with snow in a hot summer of August. A wealthy patrician, by the name of Giovanni Patrizio, had also seen the apparition of Mary and had financed the construction of the church.
Tip:Entry to the basilica is free, so popping in to have a look of its beautiful interior is worth your time.
A visit to Rome is incomplete without sighting its iconic landmark, the Colosseum. It is an enormous amphitheater, made of concrete and stone, built during the Flavian dynasty which could accommodate more than 50,000 spectators. It was a venue for gladiator battles, wild animal hunts, and other forms of public entertainment before it was damaged by earthquakes and consequently abandoned after more than four centuries of active operation. Today, this remarkable piece of monument is a popular tourist attraction in Rome which symbolizes the Roman Empire’s prestige and power. It is impossible to miss the Colosseum for it is located at the heart of the city and its immense size makes it recognizable from a distance – even at night where it is gloriously illuminated.
Tip: If you want to avoid the crowd and the heat of the sun, avail the night tours where it is comfortable and you could listen clearly to the guide. However, if you are interested to explore the Colosseum at night, you should book in advance as this sells out easily.
Towering above the Forum is the Palatine Hill which sits at the center of the traditional Seven Hills of Rome. It was known for its pleasant ambiance during the Roman Empire where the emperors and aristocrats build their palaces. The Palatine is now an archaeological site where the ruined royal residences and its mythical associations have drawn visitors to the place. It is believed that the hill was where Romulus (the mythical founder of Rome) and his twin brother Remus have once lived.
If you haven’t book tickets online in advance, it is better to buy your admission ticket near the entrance of the Palatine where the queues are shorter. The standard ticket covers the 3 attractions: Colosseum, Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, and is valid for two days.
Adjacent to the Colosseum resides the Roman Forum which embodies the remnants of the vast public square of the ancient city of Rome. It was once the center of Roman politics, business, and social life consisting of temples, basilicas, shrines, courts, and administrative offices. The Forum is a spectacle of the marvelous building fragments of the Roman Empire.
Tip: Book a tour guide or just rent an audio tour device for you to appreciate and understand the ruins. Bringing a bottle of water and an umbrella is also valuable for the area is huge with limited shade.
It is one of the big squares in Rome which is worth a stop because of the enormous white marbled monument of the first king of Italy, Vittorio Emmanuelle II. The name of the square was taken from a nearby Palazzo Venezia which was once a papal residence before it served as an Embassy of the Republic of Venice; and now a museum that holds a collection of historical arts.
This grand Baroque fountain is undeniably the most popular attraction in Rome for its breathtaking scene. The travertine façade impressively blended with the statues and the water flowing through make it seems to come alive. It is also fun to throw a coin over your left shoulder using your right hand, which according to tradition will ensure your return to Rome.
This Roman Baroque styled stairway is a remarkable spot in Rome linking Piazza di Spagna at the bottom and the piazza Trinita dei Monti at the top. It offers a relaxing atmosphere with the sight of the fountain below and the Trinita dei Monti Church looking down the steps.
This ancient Roman building is worth to be viewed for this demonstrates clearly how great the architecture and engineering of the Roman Empire. It was constructed as a temple for worshiping the Roman gods and converted into a church later on.
Tip: There is no entrance fee so you could come inside and marvel the magnificent dome.
Piazza Navona is one of the most beautiful squares in Rome where the whole scene is positioned in perfect harmony. The baroque mansions surround the three fountains of the plaza, where the Fountain of the Four Rivers is the main highlight.
Castel Sant’ Angelo
This circular building with thick walls overseeing the Tiber River was originally constructed as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian. However, the building had undergone several reconstructions to serve its changing purpose – from a fortress to papal residence and now a museum.
St. Peter’ Square
This square is enclosed inside the walls of the independent state within Rome – the Vatican City. This enormous plaza is widely visited by tourists especially the Christian worshippers to see the pope through papal audience or hear him recite the angelus from a window. In front of the square is the magnificent St. Peter’s basilica which is the holiest spot of Catholicism and probably the largest of all the churches.
Tip: Dress appropriately as shorts and sleeveless are not allowed. Better come early to avoid the long queues. Bags will be checked through scanners before entry.