What to Visit in Rome?
Among best things to do in Rome is of course visiting Colosseum. But beside Colosseum there are many other things to see in Rome.
Things to do in Rome – Visit Colosseum
Rome’s most iconic monument, the Colosseum is an electrifying sight. An architectural tour de force, it has been drawing the crowds since it first staged gladiatorial combat in the 1st century AD.
Originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, the 50,000-seat Colosseum (Colosseo) is the most thrilling of Rome’s ancient sights. It was here that gladiators met in mortal combat and where condemned prisoners fought wild beasts in front of baying, bloodthirsty crowds. Inaugurated in AD 80, it fell into disrepair after the fall of the Roman Empire, and was later used as a quarry for travertine and marble.
The outer walls, which were originally covered in travertine, have three levels of arches, framed by Ionic, Doric and Corinthian columns. The 80 entrance arches, known as vomitoria, allowed the spectators to enter and be seated in minutes, while up top, the upper level had supports for 240 masts that held up a canvas awning over the arena.
The arena had a wooden floor covered in sand to prevent the combatants from slipping and to soak up the blood. It could also be flooded for mock sea battles. Trapdoors led down to the hypogeum, an underground complex of corridors, cages and lifts that served as the stadium’s backstage area.
The cavea, for spectator seating, was divided into three tiers: magistrates and
senior officials sat in the lowest tier, wealthy citizens in the middle and the plebs in the highest tier. Women (except for vestal virgins) were relegated to the cheapest sections at the top. The podium, a broad terrace in front of the tiers of seats, was reserved for emperors, senators and VIPs.
Arco di Costantino
Although not part of the Colosseum, the Arco di Costantino (Arch of Constantine) is a handsome landmark. Built in 312, it commemorates Constantine’s victory over his rival Maxentius at the Battle of Ponte Milvio.
Things to do in Rome – Visit Vatican Museums
This colossal museum complex boasts some of the world’s most celebrated works of art, including Raphael’s La scuola di Atene (The School of Athens) and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes.
Visiting the Vatican Museums is a thrilling and unforgettable experience. With some 7km of exhibitions and more masterpieces than many small countries, this vast museum complex contains one of the world’s greatest art collections. Highlights include a spectacular collection of classical statuary, a suite of rooms painted by Raphael, and the Michelangelo-decorated Sistine Chapel. Housing it all is the 5.5-hectare Palazzo Apostolico Vaticano, which also serves as the pope’s official residence.
Often overlooked by visitors, the papal picture gallery contains Raphael’s last work, La Trasfigurazione (Transfiguration; 1517–20), and paintings by Giotto, Fra Angelico, Filippo Lippi, Perugino, Titian, Guido Reni, Guercino, Pietro da Cortona, Caravaggio and Leonardo da Vinci, whose haunting San Gerolamo (St Jerome; c 1480) was never finished.
Cortile della Pigna
One of three internal courtyards, the Cortile della Pigna takes its name from the huge Augustan-era bronze pine cone that sits in the courtyard’s great niche. In the center, the 4m-diameter ball, the Sfera, is by Italian sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro.
Museo Pio-Clementino – Cortile Ottagono
This octagonal courtyard contains some of the Vatican Museums’ finest classical statuary, including the peerless Apollo Belvedere, a Roman copy of a 4th-century-BC Greek bronze depicting the sun god Apollo, and the 1stcentury Laocoön, representing a muscular Trojan priest and his two sons in mortal struggle against two sea serpents.
Museo Pio-Clementino – Inside Rooms
Beyond the Cortile Ottagono, the Sala delle Muse is centered on the Torso Belvedere, a fragment of a muscular 1st-century BC Greek sculpture that was used by Michelangelo as a model for his ignudi in the Sistine Chapel. Next door, the Sala Rotonda features an enormous red basin found at Nero’s Domus Aurea.
Chiaramonti, Etruscan & Egyptian Museums
Other notable museums include the Museo Chiaramonti, where thousands of statues line the long corridor that runs down the lower east flank of the Belvedere Palace; the Museo Gregoriano Etrusco, home to the 4th-centuryBC Marte di Todi (Mars of Todi) and innumerable Etruscan artifacts; and the Museo Gregoriano Egizio, which displays pieces taken from Egypt in Roman times.
Galleria delle Carte Geografiche
One of the unsung heroes of the Vatican Museums, the 120m-long Map Gallery is hung with 40 huge topographical maps. These were all created between 1580 and 1583 for Pope Gregory XIII, and based on drafts by Ignazio Danti, one of the leading cartographers of the day.
Stanze di Raffaello (Raphael Rooms)
These four frescoed rooms comprised Pope Julius II’s private apartment. But while they carry Raphael’s name, he only actually painted two – the Stanza della Segnatura (Study; 1508–11) and the Stanza di Eliodoro (Waiting
Room; 1512–14). The Stanza dell’Incendio (Dining Room; 1514–17) and the Sala di Costantino (Reception Room; 1517–24) were decorated by students working to his designs.
Stanze di Raffaello – La Scuola di Atene
Of the frescoes in the Raphael Rooms, the greatest is The School of Athens in the Stanza della Segnatura. Depicting scholars gathered around Plato and Aristotle, it includes some notable portraits – the figure in front of the steps is believed to be Michelangelo; Plato’s face is supposedly that of Leonardo da Vinci; and the second figure from the right is Raphael himself.
Named after Pope Sixtus IV, the 15th-century Sistine Chapel (Cappella Sistina) is home to two of the world’s most famous works of art – Michelangelo’s ceiling frescoes and his Giudizio universale – as well as a series of superlative wall frescoes. It also serves an important religious function as the chapel where the conclave meets to elect a new pope.
Painted between 1508 and 1512, the 800-sq-metre ceiling design represents nine scenes from the book of Genesis. The most famous is the Creation of Adam, which shows God pointing his figure at Adam, thus bringing him to life. Framing the scenes are painted architectural features and 20 muscular ignudi (athletic male nudes).
Covering the 200-sq-metre west wall, Michelangelo’s highly charged Giudizio universale (Last Judgment; 1535–41) depicts the souls of the dead being torn from their graves to face God’s judgment. When it was unveiled, its swirling mass of naked bodies caused controversy – Pope Pius IV later had Daniele da Volterra add fig leaves and loincloths to 41 nudes.
Visit Roman Forum
The Roman Forum (Foro Romano) was ancient Rome’s showpiece center, a grandiose district of marble-clad temples, basilicas and vibrant public spaces. Its impressive, but badly labelled, ruins give some hint of this but you’ll still have to use your imagination to picture it as it once was. The site was first developed in the 7th century BC when it was used as an Etruscan burial ground, but it fell into disrepair after the fall of the Roman Empire.
Via Sacra, the Forum’s main thoroughfare, connected the Palatino with the Roman Forum and Campidoglio. Lined with basilicas and temples – the Basilica Fulvia Aemilia, the Tempio di Romolo, the Tempio di Antonino e Faustina – it was part of the route that military commanders followed during the Roman Triumph, a ceremonial procession staged to honor their victories.
Tempio di Giulio Cesare
Little now remains of the Temple of Julius Caesar, aka the Tempio del Divo Giulio, erected by Augustus in 29 BC on the site where Caesar’s body had been cremated 15 years earlier. Caesar was the first Roman to be posthumously deified, a custom that was central to the Roman imperial cult.
This big barn-like building was the official seat of the Roman Senate. Little remains of the 44 BC original and most of what you see today is a reconstruction of the Curia as it looked in the 3rd-century reign of Diocletian. In front, and hidden by scaffolding, is the Lapis Niger, a piece of black marble that’s said to cover the tomb of Romulus.
Arco di Settimio Severo
One of the Roman Forum’s signature monuments, and one of the finest examples of its type in Italy, the imposing 23m-high Arch of Septimius Severus was built in AD 203 to celebrate Roman victories over the Parthians. If you can make them out, reliefs in the central panel depict the defeated Parthians being led away in chains.
Rostrum & Colonna di Foca
Near the Arco are the remains of the Rostrum, an elaborate podium where Shakespeare had Mark Antony make his famous ‘Friends, Romans, countrymen…’ speech and local politicos would harangue the crowds. Facing this, the Colonna di Foca (Column of Phocus), a free-standing, 13.5m-high column dating to AD 608, rises above what was once the Forum’s main square, Piazza del Foro.