• 19 February 2021

Rome is a bucket-list destination like no other! Italy’s capital was once the centre of the Roman Empire and has a history stretching back 2,000 years. You could spend a lifetime exploring the many historic and cultural sites across the city! Today, Rome is a place overflowing with ancient antiquities and a modern heartbeat.   

Come along for an adventure through the “Eternal City” with Luke and Jamie. Discover ancient landmarks, magnificent architecture and enjoy an authentic taste of this epic (and often chaotic!) destination.

Get ready to live La Dolce Vita in Rome in this episode of Behind the Bucket List:

Rome has seen the rise and fall of empires, has inspired famous artists like Raphael, da Vinci and Bernini, and is home to the smallest country in the world. There are thousands of historic sites, monuments and cultural locations to explore in the ancient city. To help you discover the best of what Rome has to offer, we created a list of the top historical sites you must see on a trip to Rome.

Here are 10 historic sites to see on your next Roman holiday:
1. The Colosseum

The Colosseum is one of the most famous ancient monuments in Rome and the world! Built by Emperor Vespasian between 72 A.D and 80 A.D, the Colosseum stands in the heart of Rome and is the largest amphitheatre in the world. The ancient sporting arena played host to brutal gladiator games, wild animal hunts and even naval ship battles! The impressive landmark is a must-see on any trip to Rome. 

Did you know? The official name of the Colosseum is the Flavian Amphitheatre

2. The Pantheon

Marvel at the incredibly well-preserved Pantheon on your next adventure through Rome. The name Pantheon means “temple of all the gods” and this structure was originally built almost 2,000 years ago as a Roman temple. It has been used as a Catholic church since the 7th century. With the impressive brickwork and massive dome (that has no visible supports!), the Pantheon is an impressive feat of ancient Roman architecture. 

3. St Peter’s Basilica

The magnificent St Peter’s Basilica is found in the Vatican City (the smallest independent state in the world and official residence of the Pope). The beautiful Renaissance church is a popular Christian pilgrimage site that hosts many public worship ceremonies. Inside you’ll find incredible renaissance artworks such as Michelangelo’s Pieta and Bernini’s bronze Baldachin canopy.  

4. Vatican Museums

Art and history enthusiasts simply have to pay a visit to the Vatican Museums! Here, you’ll find one of the greatest collections of art in the world displayed across a number of galleries and museums. From the Egyptian and Etruscan Museums and the sculptures in the Pio Clementino Museum to the magnificent frescos in Raphael’s Rooms and, of course, the breathtaking Sistine Chapel (more on that below!)

Travel tip: It is a good idea to join a guided tour or purchase an audio guide when touring the Vatican Museums in order to enjoy the full experience of the history and artwork.

5. The Sistine Chapel

This one is for art lovers! Arguably the most well-known chapel in Rome, the Sistine Chapel was built in the late 1400s and is a papal chapel in the Apostolic Palace (the official residence of the pope). Most people will know it for the magnificent ceiling frescos, painted by Michelangelo. Admiring the beauty of the Sistine Chapel is a real highlight of visiting the Vatican Museums!

Did you know? Michelangelo didn’t want to work on the Sistine Chapel at first! He considered himself a sculptor more so than a painter and was busy working on the tomb of Pope Julius II. Despite his lack of experience with creating frescos and his initial reluctance, Michelangelo accepted the commission, giving us incredible artwork to admire nearly 500 years later!  

6. Roman Forum

Take a stroll through the ruins to discover the remnants of the place that was once the beating heart of ancient Rome. The Roman Forum was the centre of political, religious and civic life. Here you’ll find sites such as remaining columns of the Temple of Saturn, the Arch of Septimius Severus and the Lapis Niger which is a large slab of black marble that is said to mark the grave of Romulus – the legendary founder of Rome. 

7. Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain was completed in 1762 and is the biggest Baroque fountain in Rome. Today, the dramatic fountain is one of the city’s most popular tourist spots! You’ll find it nestled where three streets (tre vi) meet. It has been made famous by movies like Roman Holiday (1954), La Dolce Vita (1960) and, more recently, The Lizzie McGuire Movie (2003). The stunning sculptures depict the titan Oceanus on a chariot pulled by sea horses and to his right and left are statues of Abundance and Salubrity.

Did you know? Legend has it that if you throw a coin over your shoulder and into the Trevi Fountain, you will return to Rome someday. On average, €1.5 million is tossed into the Trevi Fountain each year! This money is fished out and donated to charity. 

8. Piazza Navona

Rome is well-known for its bustling piazzas. One of the most well known (and beautiful!) is Piazza Navona. The elegant square houses three beautiful fountains: Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, Fontana del Moro and Fontana di Nettuno. The centrepiece is Bernini’s flamboyant Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi which depicts an Egyptian obelisk surrounded by figures representing the Nile, Ganges, Danube and Plate rivers. Spend time exploring the square, watching the street performers, relaxing at a café and admiring the architecture. 

9. The Spanish Steps

This photogenic spot attracts many travellers during trips to Rome. The Spanish Steps were constructed in the early 1700s to connect Piazza di Spagna with the Trinità dei Monti church above. While the steps were designed by an Italian, the name comes from the Spanish Piazza at the base (named after the Spanish Embassy located on the square). The unique and elegant design, along with the views, have been attracting artists, photographers and travellers for many years! Make a stop here on your Rome tour to bask in the ambience and enjoy a scoop of gelato or two! 

10. Palatine Hill

Sitting at the centre of the seven hills of Rome, Palatine Hill is also believed to be the birthplace of Rome itself! Legend has it that Romulus and Remus were brothers whose story led to the creation of the great city of Rome (founded by Romulus on this particular hill). Today, Palatine Hill is an open-air museum where travellers can see remains of the Palace of Domitian, the House of Augustus and more!  

When it comes to bucket-list-worthy sites and adventures Rome definitely delivers! Discover the highlights and character of this vibrant destination on a trip to Rome, Italy. Stay tuned for the next episode on social media and subscribe to keep up with the bucket list journey!

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