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Rome is packed with wonders, from some of the world’s finest architecture to the most exquisite art. The city’s historical and cultural significance is reflected in the countless monuments and restored ruins that dot the city. They offer a glimpse into life in the days of the Roman Empire. They also set the bar so high, that when it comes to historical tourism other cities have a tough time keeping up. Here are 10 of Rome’s must-see attractions.
The Colosseum – The most thrilling of Rome’s ancient sites, the Colosseum commands up to 20,000 visitors a day. This grand monument is what is left of the ancient tradition in which gladiators fought and condemned prisoners were made to compete with wild beasts. Take a walk around the arena with your Rome travel guide while he/she regales you with interesting trivia about this structure that had a capacity of upto 50,000 bloodthirsty spectators. The Colosseum has gone through a number of identity changes over the centuries – from amphitheatre to fortress to a quarry for marble and travertine for other buildings and finally Rome’s most popular tourist attraction. The top tier of this three-leveled structure has only recently been opened for viewing by the public, ; make sure you book your tickets well in advance!
Roman Forum – It is hard to imagine that this sprawl of ancient ruins was once the gleaming heart of a city. Marble-clad temples, basilicas and public spaces made up this 7th century complex which is still being excavated. In ancient Rome, such Forums were the centres of city life, playing host to ceremonies, rituals, funerals and celebrations. As such, a visit here gives the traveler a very comprehensive insight into the life in those times.
Pantheon – Along with the Colosseum, the Pantheon is one of Rome’s iconic sights. This 2,000-year-old temple, now a church, is the city’s best preserved ancient monument. Passing through those larger than life bronze doors and standing under the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world is an experience of a lifetime. This structure too, has adopted different identities – from pagan god temple to church and then to important burial ground. A visitor will come across the artist Raphael’s tomb along with a couple of Roman kings’ tombs.
Vatican City – Located in the vicinity, Vatican City has been an independent state since 1929. It actually has its own stamps, coins, flag and militia, the Swiss Guard, which protects the city! A trip to Vatican City will give you a chance to visit St. Peter’s Square, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican museums, which are home to some of the world’s greatest works of art.
St Peter’s Basilica – St. Peter’s outdazzles every other church in the city of churches, Vatican City. Huge, rich and spectacular, St. Peter’s sees around 20,000 visitors a day, and if you want to be one of them, remember to dress appropriately and cover your shoulders and knees.
Trevi Fountain – Any Rome travel guide will definitely show you the Trevi Fountain, the most famous fountain in all of Italy. It is ornate and opulent, baroque at its best. Tradition demands that you throw a coin into the fountain in the hope of returning to Rome someday. Eager tourists throw up to 3,000 Euros a day into the Trevi Fountain!
Piazza Navona – Extravagant fountains, pavements lines with outdoor cafes, hawkers and milling crowds make up one of Rome’s most charming squares. This large public space, once the site for sporting events, is now home to three fountains, including Bernini’s iconic Fountain of the Four Rivers.
Galleria Borghese – This museum is an art aficionado’s dream destination. Admitting only 360 visitors every two hours, tickets must be booked in advance for the treat that is to follow – works by Raphael, Caravaggio, Rubens and Correggio.
Spanish Steps – The Spanish Steps got their name from the Spanish Embassy located nearby. These steps might just be the longest and widest steps in all Europe, but that’s not what makes them a tourist favourite. Climb up to see the Trinita Dei Monti church and turn around to admire the Baracaccia Fountain at the foot of the steps.
Castel Sant’Angelo – Another of those Roman buildings that has seen multiple identities. Built as a royal mausoleum, it has served as a military fortress, a papal residence, a prison and is finally a museum.