Known officially as the State of the Vatican City, the Vatican happens to be the capital of the Roman Catholic Church. Making for the smallest independent country of the world, Vatican City is known popularly for its architectural marvels. Packed with historical and religious buildings, this small nation has a charm of its own. Vatican City was founded during the 326 A.D. With the growth of housing and population, the very first palace came into existence during the rule of Pope Symmachus in the fifth century. The Papal States flourished under the Roman Empire and encompassed a huge part of Italy.
However, after the Italian unification in the nineteenth century, the only surviving Papal State was that of the Vatican. Vatican City started being considered as an independent state after the Lateran Treaty was signed in the year 1929. At present, the Vatican is one of the most popular tourist destinations of the world.
Attracting history fanatics and pilgrims, the country brims with a myriad of amazing attractions including the Vatican Museums, the Vatican Gardens, the Sistine Chapel, and the Basilica of St. Peter. Tourism happens to be the primary source of revenue of Vatican City with the Vatican Museums bringing in more than 4.3 million visitors alone every year.
Roman Forum is an archaeological site in Rome with staggering ruins of ancient monuments, temples, government buildings, and public spaces. It was once the center for all religious, political, public and commercial activities of the Roman Empire and has now turned into a major tourist attraction of present-day Rome. The Roman Forum, also known as Forum Romanum in Latin is located in the heart of the ancient city. It is the most influential representation of the iconic Roman architecture where you can witness the remnants of the powerful Roman Empire and experience its splendor.
The ruins narrate countless stories of valor, alliance, deceit, conspiracy, victory, and defeat of one of the world’s oldest civilizations.Walking through the ruins, you can imagine life as it was around 20 centuries ago and gain unprecedented insights into the lives of Ancient Romans. In those times this multi-purpose site had served several royal purposes and was the most celebrated meeting place in the world for centuries.
After the Fall of the Roman Empire, the precious monuments on the Forum were torn down and its glory was scrambled. The Forum had been buried for centuries before it recovered to become one of the most visited archaeological sites. Today these mysterious remains attract more than 4.5 million visitors annually. If you are holidaying in Rome, a visit to the Roman Forum along with the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill will let you understand the Eternal City through its history.
Considered to be the center of Christendom, St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the major pilgrimage sites of the Vatican City. A home to many Renaissance and Baroque art, this iconic basilica is a major attraction for history lovers as it takes them in for a ride through the impressive Roman history.
You can have a look at various monuments and sculptures created by many talented legendary artists. The most famous among them are the baldachin, Michelangelo’s Pietà by Bernini, a statue of St. Longinus, the tomb of Urban VIII, and the bronze cathedral of St. Peter.
St. Peter’s Basilica used to be the tallest building at the time it was built and presently, it is the church with the tallest dome in the world. The great height of the building provides a beautiful view of the entire city.The art in and around the church is unique and every part has a history of its own, conveying the visitors the story and richness of Christianity and Rome.
In the year 1984, St. Peter’s Basilica was enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The basilica is historically associated with the Early Christian Church, the Protestant Reformation, the Papacy, and the Catholic Counter-Reformation.
It has also been associated with a number of artists, especially Michelangelo. With so much to witness and so much to click, St. Peter’s Basilica indeed makes for a recommended visit in the Vatican.
St. Peter’s Square, also known as the “Piazza San Pietro” is the gateway to the Vatican and is located in the heart of the city. Right in front of the square is located the St. Peter’s Basilica, the world’s second-largest Catholic church.
The Basilica and the Square, are both named after “Saint Peter”, an apostle of Jesus, considered to be the first Pope. The Vatican City and the St. Peter’s square holds much importance to the pilgrims of the Catholic faith.
The Vatican became the primary papal (Pope’s) residence in 1378. It is one of the highlights of the square since visitors can see the papal apartments as well as the place from where the pontiff addresses the crowd. If you are in the city, you may also get a chance to see the Pope’s weekly blessing that takes place at the square.
The design of the square resembles that of a keyhole. The square measures around 320 by 240m and has double-collonaded wings; the design represent s the ‘motherly/maternal arms of the church’ embracing and protecting the brethren.
At the centre of the square is an ancient Egyptian obelisk (tapered monolithic pillar). The entire square is opulent with its splendid architecture, including the Basilica. It also has a rich history that goes back a thousand years, making it one of the most visited places.
Fontana di Trevi, better known as the Trevi Fountain holds the first position in the list if Rome’s most celebrated monuments. Making for a classic symbol of this spectacular city, this fountain happens to be a major free attraction, propelling approximately 1,200 visitors every hour. Situated in the historic center of Rome, this sculptural monument is perched on a square close to the meeting point of Via di S. Vincenzo, Via del Lavatore, and Via della Stamperia.
Built in the year 1762 and renovated in the year 2015 by Fendi, the iconic Trevi Fountain is famous all over the world as a conceptualized structure that shares a story with its spectators. Each relief and statue in the fountain is personified to manifest important characters. According to the custom, there is also a ritual associated with the fountain, which assures luck to the people throwing coins into its water.
The elegant and dreamy Trevi Fountain has not only attracted tourists, but it has also enticed a number of filmmakers to shoot at the location. According to most of the visitors, the fountain looks its best at night. The moon reflects its light in the basin of the fountain, the cobblestone shimmers, and the pure white marble sparkles due to the streetlights, making for an ideal romantic setting. That said, catching a glimpse of the fountain during sunrise makes for an exquisite sight as well. So, no matter when you pay a visit to this iconic piece of grandeur, just make sure to make the most out of the moment!
Known to be the most ancient church in the world, Basilica of St. John Lateran is one of the main tourist attractions in Rome. Built around the 4th century, this fascinating architecture is standing still even after going through various earthquakes, fires, and natural calamities. Rome, known for its beautiful architecture, has been blessed with this ancient holy place said to be the “Mother and head of all churches on earth”. Basilica of St. John Lateran is an essential spot for many pilgrims and is one of the most beautiful landmasses in Rome.
Location: Piazza di S. Giovanni in Laterano, 4, 00184 Roma RM, Italy
Timings: 9AM – 4:10PM
Entry fee: INR 800( € 10)
In the heart of the city where all the main attractions are located, stands a crossroad – Centro Storico, having a number of monuments telling their own stories. From popular Italian high street brands like Fendi, Gucci, and Versace, to on-the-spot brewed beers, this place offers an endless amount of things to see and activities to do. Centro Storico is also home to some famous art galleries like Spazio Rossana Orlandi and Galleria Deodato Arte.
All the main attractions of the city are located around this place, including a world-famous Hadrian’s Temple which was turned into a church. Centro Storico is also famous for its street food which can be enjoyed with a view of marvelous ancient architecture. In total, if you are looking for places to see in Rome, then you mustn’t miss Centro Storico.
Location: Centro Storico, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Timings: Open 24×7
Entry fee: Free
Located on the pretty Piazza di Spagna (literally ‘Spanish Square’), the Spanish Steps is a much-loved spot in Rome for snap-happy travelers. The 135-steps stairway fans out in an irregular butterfly-like design. If you are an art connoisseur in Rome, the typical Roman Baroque-style architecture of the stairs is sure to capture your interests. Tourists also visit here to clamber up to the top of the stairwell from where you can find a brilliant, sweeping view of the Piazza down below.
At the peak of springtime in April, you will find the stairs bedecked with pink and purple azaleas blooming in all glory. The springtime also coincides with the myth of the birth of Rome- the Eternal City bringing vibrant festivities and large gatherings at the Spanish Steps. The iconic stairway of Rome happens to draw a lot of artsy people–painters, literateurs, models, and photographers, to its magnificent steps.
Any time of the day that you visit, people can be found making sketches, writing, or photographing on the stairs. Among the large body of painting, photography, and literature that the steps have inspired over time, you may remember it most notably from the 50’s hit rom-com Roman Holiday- starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. However, contrary to what was shown in the movie, lounging on the steps of the Spanish Stairs have recently come under a ban from the municipal authorities of Rome. Keep that in mind when you visit and don’t get fined!
Sitting on the summit of Esquiline hill, this place displays varied architectural styles. Tourist places in Rome are often said to be just for art lovers, but Santa Maria Maggiore has much more to offer. Having different parts belonging to different centuries, Santa Maria Maggiore summarizes the most critical stages of Christianity in Rome. Known to be a spiritual place, Santa Maria Maggiore is more famous among the pilgrims as it evokes aura for prayers and meditation. With such a beautiful interior and great history, this place also provides a fantastic street view of primary markets in the city.
Location: Piazza di S. Maria Maggiore, 00100 Roma RM, Italy
Timings: 7 AM – 6:30 PM
Entry fee: INR 240( €3 )
Location: Rome to BrindisiTimings: Open anytimeEntry fee: Free
Piazza Navona is one of the largest and most beautiful piazza squares in Rome. This square is decorated with three lavish fountains, la Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, Fontana del Moro, and Fontana di Nettuno; churches, palaces of Roman architecture, and artworks, which make it one of the most attractive places for the tourists.
The street artists, painters, and musicians of the area add a lively atmosphere to the square that makes the place more attractive to visitors. The piazza is constructed on an ancient stadium of Rome, the Stadium of Domitian – where different athletic contests, sports, and festivals were performed and people used to gather there to enjoy those events.
In the last years of the 15th century, the place was declared as a public space and Novena Square was constructed. The square is oval-shaped and that’s because of the original shape of the stadium. Along with the luxurious architectural delights and history of the place, the square attracts people from different parts of the world to experience scenic beauty and artworks.
A huge number of visitors also come to experience a pleasant hang out in a decorated piazza with tasty drinks or meals from the many restaurants that line the piazza and also enjoy the shopping in the nearby city market.
The Palatine is something of a green heaven. Once home to aristocrats and emperors, this hill is one of the tallest among “the seven hills”. Overshadowed by the fame of Colosseum, Palatine hill provides the fresh perspective of Rome and its history. This place has been a commercial, religious and political centre for many years. Known as the “first nucleus of the Roman Empire”, this place has hundreds of ruins and secret pathways making it one of the best places to visit in Rome.
Location: Middle of “the seven hills”
Timings: Always open
Entry fee: INR 1200( €14 ) for the sites on hill
A perfect place for art lovers, this gallery in Rome is a gem worth seeing. Housed in the former Villa Borghese Pinciana which is a magnificent 17th-century villa, this gallery holds some of Bernini’s best masterpieces. Offering a compact course of Italian aesthetics, this is the most popular and crowded museum in the whole world. Due to the high level of visitings, the people are allowed in the batches of 350 for 2 hours. Time slots are strict here, and if wasted, reissuing of tickets needs to be done. There may be many places to visit in Rome, but this place having the world’s greatest art collection should be at the top of the list.
Location: Piazzale Scipione Borghese, 5, 00197 Roma RM, Italy
Timings: 9AM – 7PM
Entry fee: INR 500 – INR1100( €6 – €13)
What remains today are some of the brick walls and large vaults that have caved in, succumbing to the years. As you make your way towards the massive complex, you are met with immaculate gardens on both sides. Once landscaped to perfection, this vast stretch of gardens now see visitors sitting down and enjoying a picnic lunch.
The extensive ruins are farther inside, waiting to be explored. While most of it has withered beyond recognition, the sheer size of the remaining structure gives you a fair impression of its lost grandeur. Visitors can observe the large red-bricked walls and the intricate black and white mosaic used to line the floors, providing a brief glimpse into its past glory.
Though the ceiling has now caved in, parts of the grand pillars and the gigantic porticoes still remain and are accessible to visitors. An ode to Rome’s architectural excellence, the Baths of Caracalla once stretched across an area of 33,000 sq m.ft, adorned with giant granite columns and numerous frescoes.
Today, as we walk along with the perfectly maintained gardens and into the ruins, all we can do is imagine the Baths of Caracalla as it once were, in all its glory.
Built in the early 16th century as a summer house for a wealthy banker, this villa is fantastically frescoed from top to bottom. The owner hired some of the era’s best artists to design the interior,which resulted in making it a masterpiece. This Attraction in Rome is filled with some ancient ruins and architectural marvels, thus being a well-suited spot for art lovers.
Villa Farnesina is open to all visitors and you can even enter the Lavish rooms and main hall which has the famous Raphael Fresco known as “The Triumph of Galatea”. In this whole structure of the villa, you can sense how some architectural designs and pictorial decorations can be clubbed together to create such a huge landmark.
Location: Via della Lungara, 230, 00165 Roma RM, Italy
Timings: Monday to Saturday 9AM – 2PM
Entry fee: INR 400 – 1200(€5–15)