ROME — Ancient Rome

The ancient heart of Rome lies in the southern end of the city near the Stazione Termini. This is probably the first place that most visitors to Rome want to visit because of its famous and historic landmarks.

The sights found here are:
Arco di Costantino
Circo Massimo
Colosseum
Palatine Hill
Imperial Forums
Roman Forum
Capitoline Hill
Capitoline Museums
Il Vittoriano
Palazzo Venezia

Arco di Costantino (Arch of Constantine)
This beautifully preserved arch found to the east of the Colosseum is one of the last great Roman monuments. It was built to commemorate the victory of Constantine over his rival Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312. It has religious significance because the battle’s victory caused the Emperor Constantine to convert to Christianity.

Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus)
Although there is nothing left of Ancient Rome’s largest stadium except for a few stones on the grass it is easy to imagine the racetrack and stands for the chariot races that were held here as far back as 4th century BC.

Colosseum

Colosseum
This is arguably one of Rome’s most famous sites. Here gladiators and prisoners met their fate either as victors or as the dinner of a hungry lion. The building was built with blocks of stone and brickwork. The outside of the building consists of four levels with the first three made up of 80 arches and the fourth divided into sections with windows. On the fourth level was an enormous canopy which was used as a roof to protect the spectators from the weather. The brickwork on the inner building was finished with a marble veneer. The arena itself was a huge wooden floor covered with sand while the subterranean passages consisted of a series of tunnels where the wild beasts and various equipment used during spectacles were held. The Colosseum held up to 73,000 spectators and you could only enter with a ticket which showed where the holder should go through the internal passages and corridors to find his or her seat.
For information about ticketing and hours visit the website at http://www.pierreci.it/en/museums-and-monuments/colosseo.aspx

Palatine Hill

Palatine Hill
The Palatine Hill overlooks the Roman Forum. According to ancient texts it was on this hill that the first settlement of Rome was made by Romulus in the middle of the 8th century BC. It is an area of magnificent views and ruins with the Roman Forum on one side and the Circus Maximus on the other. The site is now a large open-air museum which tourists can visit during the daytime. The entrance can be found near the Arch of Titus in the Roman Forum. The Palatine, because of its position, became the place where the powerful and wealthy chose to build their homes and relax. Among the ruins on the hill can be found, the Domus Flavia; the Domus Augustana; the Baths of Septimus Severus and the House of Livia. At the top of the hill, overlooking the Roman Forum are the Farnese Gardens. These gardens were designed by the Renaissance architect Vignola and were created for a member of one of the great papal families, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese.

Traveller's Tip

The Farnese Gardens are beautiful with many varieties of plants. It is a great place to take in the magnificent views over the Roman Forum.

Imperial Forums
You will find these collection of forums near the Colosseum. Trajan; Augustus; Caesar; Nerva and Vespasian built the Forums between 42 BC and 112 AD and excavations are continually going on. The excavation of the Forum of Nerva was the first and the results of this can be visited by guided tour. The newest and most beautiful of the Imperial Forums is Trajan, which was once regarded as one of the architectural wonders of the world. There are many statue fragments and pedestals with legible inscriptions to be found here but the most interesting sight is the great Basilica Ulpia, with its grey marble columns. Beyond the Basilica Ulpia is Trajan’s Column which is in magnificent condition with intricate bas-relief sculpture depicting Trajan’s victorious campaign. You will also find the Forum of Julius Caesar which was the first of the Imperial Forums to be built. This was the site of the Roman stock exchange as well as the Temple of Venus. Dominating this area are the Trajan Markets, which are the huge semicircular buildings you can see from the road. This is the ancient equivalent of a shopping mall where markets were spread over three floors but only the lower half can be accessed.
For information on the excavations visit the website at http://www.capitolium.org or for information on ticket prices and opening times visit: http://en.mercatiditraiano.it

Forum

Roman Forum
The Forum is located between the Palatine and the Capitoline Hills and it starts near the Colosseum and continues all the way to Piazza Venezia. It is the central area around which the ancient Roman civilization developed. The Forum served as a city square and central hub where the people of Rome gathered for justice and faith. It was also the economic hub of the city and considered to be the centre of the Republic and Empire. This is a large and complicated site and is mostly ruins with little in the way of good signage. At the very least you should have a good map but you can also buy an audio guide or join a tour. Some of the major attractions to be explored are, the Arch of Septimius Severus, which is one of the best-preserved structures in the Forum. It contains the remains of an inscription to Septimius and his two sons, Caracalla and Geta. The Rostra, which was used for public speaking and was the place where Mark Anthony delivered his speech after the assassination of Julius Caesar. There are the brick remains of the senate building known as the Curia. You will also find the Basilica Aemilia, where taxes were collected. The Temple of Julius Caesar, which was erected to his memory by the Emperor Augustus. Then there are the three remaining columns from the Temple of Castor and Pollux which is the oldest temple in the Forum, dating from 484 BC. Other major ruins include, the Temple of Romulus; the Temple of Saturn; the Temple of Vesta; the Temple of Venus and Roma; the Basilica Julia; the Arch of Titus; the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine and the Tabularium, which was where all the official records were kept.
To find out about pricing and times visit the website at http://www.pierreci.it/en/museums-and-monuments/foro-romano.aspx

Capitoline Hill
This is one of Rome’s seven hills and it is where the city’s first and holiest temples stood. Here you will find the most sacred Temple to Jupiter and the Capitoline Triad — Jupiter, Juno and their daughter Minerva. Today Capitoline Hill is home to the Capitoline Museum, a world-class museum of Roman artefacts dating from the 17th century BC. You can climb up Michelangelo’s long, sloping steps and arrive at the top of his perfectly proportioned square, Piazza del Campidoglio where you will find a copy of Michelangelo’s bronze equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius in the centre. You can see the original in the museum but a copy was placed on the original pedestal in 1997. The other steps adjoining Michelangelo’s approach will take you to Santa Maria d’Aracoeli. One side of the piazza is open and the other sides are bounded by the Senatorium; Town Council; the statuary-filled Palace of the Conservatori (Curators) and the Capitoline Museum.

Capitoline Museums

Capitoline Museums
These museums occupy Palazzo Nuovo and Palazzo dei Conservatori. You will find the main entrance in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, which is rich in classical sculpture and paintings. One of the most notable bronzes, a Greek work of incomparable beauty dating from the 1st century BC, Lo Spinario (A Little Boy Picking a Thorn From His Foot). In addition you will find Lupa Capitolina (Capitoline Wolf), a rare Etruscan bronze that could date from the 5th century BC. Romulus and Remus, the legendary twins who were suckled by the wolf were added at a later date. The palace also contains an art gallery with works from the 16th and 17th centuries. Notable canvases are Caravaggio’s, Fortune-Teller and his curious John the Baptist; The Holy Family by Dosso Dossi; Romulus and Remus by Rubens and Titian’s Baptism of Christ. The entrance courtyard is lined with the remains — head; hands; a foot, and a kneecap of an ancient colossal statue of Constantine the Great. In the Palazzo Nuovo you will find many examples of classical Roman sculpture such as The Dying Gaul, a work of immense skill that is a copy of a Greek original dating from the 3rd century BC. In a special gallery by itself is the Capitoline Venus. This statue was considered to be the symbol of feminine beauty and charm down through the centuries.
For more information on the museum visit the website at http://www.museicapitolini.org

Il Vittoriano

Il Vittoriano
This is the huge white building that you can see from nearly all the vantage points in the city. Most Romans hate the sight of it claiming that it is too obstructive and it is often referred to as the ‘wedding cake’ or ‘typewriter’. It was built to commemorate Italian unification and to honour Victor Emanuelle11, the first king of united Italy. It now contains the tomb of the Unknown Soldier which means that you cannot sit anywhere on the monument. There is a museum underneath which documents the unification.
For more information on this building visit the website at http://www.ambienterm.arti.beniculturali.it/vittoriano/

Traveller's Tip

The view from the top is fantastic, spreading across the whole city, and the climb is well worth the effort.
Palazzo Venezia

Palazzo Venezia
Palazzo Venezia was the first great Renaissance palace in Rome. It was built as a papal residence and for centuries it was used as the embassy for the Republic of Venice. Its most famous resident in more recent times was Mussolini who made his speeches from the balcony overlooking the square. Today it houses the Museo dei Palazzo di Venezia which contains a wide variety of art including jewellery; ceramics; tapestries; statues and paintings.
For more information on this museum visit the website at http://www.galleriaborghese.it/nuove/evenezia.htm