Things To See And Do In Rome

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Popular Tourist Destinations In Rome

Ok so you want to visit one of the most breathtaking cities in the world, aka Rome, the question is, what tourist attractions can you see and do in Rome and what is their history?

In this article we will cover the top attractions for you to see in Rome, and why you should take the time to visit these beautiful eye catching phenomenons.

Scroll down this page and check out our top places to visit. If you are in a hurry and have a particular favourite attraction in mind, you can skip to your favourite by simply clicking the hyperlinked title below, as soon as you click your choice you will take you straight to your favourite destination in Rome.

The Colosseum
Pantheon Rome
Roman Forum
Sistine Chapel
Trevi Fountain

The Colosseum

The Colosseum Rome

colosseum rome
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Now the colosseum may be your first choice of sites to visit in Rome but just for your information we have placed our things to see in Rome in alphabetical order and not on popularity, we would not like to say which is more popular as these destinations are some of the best on planet earth and all of equal value.

Described as a breathtaking piece of Roman architecture, the Colosseum is an impressive and large building dating as far back as 80 AD. Also referred to as the Flavian Amphitheater, it was built from concrete and sand and regarded a marvel of structural engineering. Whether planning a trip to or learning about Rome Italy Colosseum visits are a must to discover and broaden your knowledge of the important Roman construction.

The Colosseum is one of the largest amphitheaters that was ever built, having been completed across a 10 year span. Its impressive bold design and unique appearance contribute to the striking nature of this building that has become known as the greatest construction of the Roman empire.

The following interesting facts best describe the process behind the internationally recognized structure.

Why was the Flavian Amphitheater Built

The Colosseum or Coliseum was built as a large gladiator battle ground including mock fights and recreated hunts before a spectacular audience. It was meant to symbolize the strength, brutality and prowess of the Roman empire covering various styles of drama and persecution.

In 80 CE, the theater was used for various events including the slaughter of hundreds of wild animals released into the arena.

Historical records estimate that millions of animals were slaughtered in the theater either by other creatures or by men as part of sporting events and dramatic re-accounts of past battles. A multitude of wild and exotic animals were brought to the venue including elephants, lions, rhinoceros, and bears. These files indicate that the arena may have been filled with water at a point to perform historical battles that took place at sea.

The purpose of this enormous building was to draw large crowds of spectators who would pay a single ticket price and be seated according to their level. This structure was built with over 70 entrances for members of the public making it easier for people to gain access and leave the venue without streams of disruptive traffic.

The amphitheater was designed to house 50 000 people at any given point and was not limited to the wealthy, but provided viewing opportunities across financial status.

Construction consisted of tiers that served to symbolize the Roman hierarchy including the bottom levels closest to the actors reserved for wealthy and authoritative figures while higher stands were occupied by poorer persons.

Unfortunately the theater had reserved the right to manage who attended and would prohibit past gladiators from gaining access. The venue was built for spectators and the purpose of delivering the greatest impact in dramatic battles, entertainment and representation of an empire.

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The Construction of the Roman Historical Site

Building the Colosseum was determined by the Vespian or Emperor or Rome and his sons who wished to create the largest amphitheater that Rome would ever see within a period of 10 years.

The building was opened around 80 AD, but construction took place between 73 to 75 AD and was not completed before the emperor. One of the biggest architectural marvels of this era included a high standard of building and development without sparing quality material.

Construction included the use of concrete and sand contributing to a faster project completion without compromising the quality of engineering. Not only did the venue need to be large and impressive, but also artistic and creative producing a bold and unique statement for the city.

To build the amphitheater included over 100 000 slaves who were required to move exorbitant stones into position including reliance on painters and engineers.

The development of this building had to be completed within a specific time frame and therefore, the architects relied on innovative technology, new materials and design plans to encourage unique and fast construction.

It was during this time that professional engineering made the biggest impression, including the incorporation of stairways and large arched entrances that incorporated different materials from concrete, and stone to limestone and volcanic products. Most work was completed off-site making for more efficient procedure and more functional solutions.

This independent structure spans 189 meters in length and 156 meters in width covering an area of 24 000 square meters. The building reaches a height of 48 meters contributing to the monumental size and construction. Destruction resulted from earthquakes and storms causing the outer wall to collapse and sustain damages leaving the remaining structure for viewing today.

Creation of this massive Colosseum has gone down in history as one of the most awe inspiring and well engineered marvels of its time. Construction as completed efficiently without compromising on the quality of materials and design solutions.

The remaining structure is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy today leaving spectators to imagine what the former glory of the Flavian Amphitheater was like.

The Colosseum or Coliseum, was also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre. It’s an oval amphitheatre in the centre of Rome and was the biggest amphitheatre ever made in the world.

On occasion there could be up to 80,000 people inside the old building to watch gladiatorial battles and mock invasions involving multiple centurions.

Pantheon Rome

Pantheon Rome

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The Pantheon is a former “Roman temple” which is now a popular church in Rome, Italy.

Rome is home to some of the most stunning works of art and architectural feats in all the world. In fact, it is also home to some of the oldest, surviving architecture with buildings that were commissioned numerous centuries ago. One such structure is the Pantheon, which is named after the Greek term “Pantheion”, a term that literally means “the temple of all gods” or the “temple of every god”.

Other translations of this word include “honor every god” or “honor all gods”. The ultimate purpose of this building was and remains to pay homage to all deities irrespective of how great or small, known or lesser-known.

This structure is built upon the site of a temple that was commissioned during the reign of Augustus by Marcus Agrippa in approximately 20 AD. Sadly, however, this structure and the one that followed it were demolished by fire. As such, those touring this site today will see the third development.

The second building was completed around 126 AD under the direction of Hadrian, who was then Emperor of Rome. Given that the inscription originally written on this work by Marcus Agrippa was retained by Hadrian, there has been some confusion about the original and current construction dates throughout the years.

Nonetheless, as a concept, it is a building that is at least nineteen centuries old, making it an impressive spectacle to behold by both history buffs and architectural enthusiasts alike.

Tales of the Pantheion are even present within the Christian bible. This temple is referred to in the Apostles of Paul, making it a building of historical significance that gives credence to these writings and makes them easier for historians to date. In terms of the building itself, the time of construction can be pinpointed by the chosen architectural style which includes Corinthian columns and coffered, concrete domes.

Commonly referred to as one of the most impressively well-preserved Ancient Roman structures, this work has been used continuously all throughout history since its opening. It was once dedicated as a church to Saint Mary and the Martyrs.

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Now, however, be it a temple or a church, dedicated to one group or every god imaginable, it remains a property of the state. As such, it use, improvements and preservation are all managed, paid for and overseen by Rome.

This is by far and large one of the most popular tourist attractions in all the world. It is estimated that more than 6 million people visited this site in 2013 alone. The structure is valued for its historical significance, religious and spiritual significance and overall aesthetic value.

One of the most impressive things about this site is that it was highly praised by Michael Angelo. This famous artist was notoriously difficult to please. After having toured the site in person, however, he said that the building was not of human design. Instead, he believed it had been designed by angels or under divine inspiration. This is a fact that makes it appealing to lovers of the esoteric even today.

Modern architects gain inspiration from the building and have been doing so all throughout the century. Many people are surprised that the structure has managed to not only withstand the tests of time, but countless raids from barbarians.

One feature that might have attributed to this ability is the incredibly strong materials of which it’s comprised. It has still not been determined exactly what this material is, but it has been compared to modern concrete by numerous researchers.

Despite more aggressive efforts by other designers to improve upon the construct of this building, it remains the only unreinforced concrete dome throughout the entire recorded history of modern architecture. While present day people often feel that modern man is superior to his ancient contemporaries in terms of architectural design, this temple argues to the contrary.

Durability and awesome size have yet to be duplicated or improved upon. Surprisingly, however, there are many modern buildings such as the Jefferson Memorial and the US Capitol Building that have been modeled after it.

This durability gives it an obvious intrigue and an air of the supernatural, which is only increased by Michelangelo’s declaration and its continued use as a church and temple for so very many years. With an in-built drainage system that effectively routes water away from the walls and foundation.

it is likely to continue standing for many centuries to come. More importantly, given the massive amount of attention that the temple draws as a popular Rome tourist attraction, diligent efforts will likely be made throughout the years to ensure its continued preservation.

Behind the main front of the building it is circular with a portico of large granite Corinthian columns (eight in the first rank and two groups of four behind) under a pediment.

A rectangular vestibule links the porch to the rotunda, which is under a coffered concrete dome, with a central opening (oculus) to the sky which is a breathtaking design.

Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon’s dome is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome and certainly the most visited.

The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 43.3 metres (142 ft). It is said that when you visit Rome this historic phenomenon is a must see attraction.

Roman Forum

Roman Forum

roman forum
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A Brief Overview Of The Roman Forum

Today’s ruins in the city of Rome which are popularly known as the Roman Forum are similar in name only to the various edifices and monuments which have populated the area in the many centuries since there was a location and a named purpose.

Over the years, many purposes have been attached to the space and many types of peoples have found fame and infamy in the area. The Forum Romanum was a key political, ritual and civic center during major periods in the long-standing Roman Empire.


The site was picked as somewhat neutral ground between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills in ancient Rome. According to tradition, Romulus, named as the founder of the earliest city, fortified Palatine Hill, while the opposite hill became noted as a citadel and cult of Jupiter Optimus Maximus.

The marshy area between the two hilltops was originally used as a burial ground. The need of usable space in the Roman expansion moved the cemetery to another area and the valley became the subject of both a drainage canal and a landfill project.

Key Temple Buildings

Over several centuries, the space classified as the forum saw a number of temples constructed. The most prominent of these include:

*Temple of Saturn c. 498 BCE

*Temple of Castor and Pollux 484 BCE

*Regia or “King’s House”

*Temple of Vesta

Meeting Spaces for Political Events

Two key complexes were constructed on the northwest side of the Forum, although the dates of the construction is not known with absolute certainty. The Curia was the meeting location typically utilized by the Roman Senate.

The existing building was the result of a rebuilding project. The second major building was known as the Comitium, a series of tiers which were placed in front of the Curia. It was an open air meeting space for public assemblies. There is little of this structure which remains, but was important in its time for both sacred and political events.

Watch Rick Steves Video Which Will Help You Understand The Roman Forum

The development of the space continued during the fourth and third centuries BCE, but there is little which remains of the architecture from this period. One development which was enhanced was the Rostra, a platform designed to allow orators to speak to crowds assembled in the open space.

Late Republican Period Building

The victories of Rome during the 2nd and 1st centuries BCE encouraged much construction of monuments in recognition of the growing empire.

The building projects included the construction of the Forum Romanum itself. During this period, Romans established the tradition of commemorative monuments erected to recognize the great military and public leaders who came to the forefront.

*Columna Rostrata marked the naval victory of Caius Duilius – 260 BCE

*Fabian Arch commemorated Quintus Fabius Allogrogicus – 121 BCE

The Basilica Building Type

According to historical records, the introduction of a columnar ball with multiple purposes began in the 2nd century BCE. Roman designers liked this design and used it frequently to line long sides of open squares. The Basilica Porcia was the first to be erected in 184 BCE, but no part of it remains. Other basilicae include the Basilica Aemilia (179 BCE), called by Pliny one of the three most beautiful in Rome.

The Arch of Augustus, Porticus of Caius and Lucius are commemorative projects undertaken by Augustus. The Arch which bears his name was a triumphal structure which celebrated various diplomatic and military deeds by the emperor. The latter structure was built to honor his grandsons. Augustus also created a new forum space named the Forum of Augustus. This new space caused attention to move away from the original forum.

Imperial Period

The Forum Romanum itself saw little new construction and the effort of maintaining existing structures presented a major obligation. Just beyond the forum proper, the Temple of Antoninus Pius and Faustina, his wife was built in 141 CE.

The Severan family was responsible for the construction of a triumphal arch celebrating the victories of Septimius Severus who reigned from 193 to 211 CE. This period also saw the rebuilding of several structures which had been damaged or burned.

Decline of the Empire

Urban decay befell Rome along with declining fortunes. Constantine I eventually relocated the headquarters of the Roman world to Constantinople in 330 CE. Theodosius I ordered all temples to be shut permanently in 394 CE. Over time, the space was even used as a cow pasture.


Various artistic and archaeological efforts were helpful in identifying the forms and construction practices of the location throughout the intervening centuries. The works of men such as Canaletto, G. B. Piranesi, and G. Vasi, as well as Carlo Fea, Rodolfo Lanciani, Giacomo Boni, Einar Gjerstad and Andrea Carandini have added to the trove of information available.

For reference, many of the oldest and most important structures of the ancient Roman city were purposely located on or near the Forum. It does not mean that all attractions are here but it can help you if you have a busy itinerary or would like to visit as many attractions as you can in one day.

The Roman kingdom’s earliest shrines and temples were located on the southeastern edge of the forum. These included the ancient former royal residence, the Regia (8th century BC), and the Temple of Vesta (7th century BC), as well as the surrounding complex of the Vestal Virgins, all of which were rebuilt after the rise of imperial Rome. It’s safe to say that if you visit this area you will soon get a full understanding of ancient Rome.

Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel

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The Sistine Chapel Rome is one of the most finest scenes of artwork you will ever see and will sincerely take your breath away with pure joy and amazement.

Functions of the Chapel

The Sistine is both a building and a meeting. Even to the present day, important Papal Calendar services are conducted there. A permanent choir provides music, much of it written for the group.


The structure, rather plain and unadorned on the outside was constructed in the late 15th century under the commission of Pope Sixtus IV. An earlier chapel was demolished in order to complete the building project. With the completion of the Renaissance paintings in 1482, the Pope celebrated the initial mass in the structure. The occasion was the Feast of the Assumption. The space was consecrated and dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

There is some uncertainty about the absolute measurements of the building, since the available measurements are for the interior of the building. The measurements mimic those of the Temple of Solomon, at 134 feet long, 44 feet wide.

It is a three story structure with no external ceremonial entrances. The lowest, basement level is tall and is intended to support the chapel itself, which is on the second level. There are six tall windows on each side and two at each end. The third level is an area for guards with an external walkway.

Early history of the frescoes

The original wall frescoes depicted scenes from the Life of Moses and the Life of Christ. Above the series were portraits of popes and below were draperies with trompe l’oeil images.

It was not until the years between 1508 and 1512, that Michelangelo completed his ceiling painting which has been designated as a work of art that changed the course of Western artistic endeavors.

The painters who worked on the frescos prior to the work of Michelangelo included some of the best-known names of the Renaissance. They include Botticelli, Perugino, Pinturicchio, Ghirlandaio and Rosselli. The side walls were completed first, with the ceiling originally painted blue with gold stars.

Watch This Stunning Video Tour Of The Sistine Chapel

The Southern Wall

The frescos here depict scenes from the life of Moses, including:

* Moses Leaving to Egypt – Perugino

* Trials of Moses – Botticelli

* Crossing of the Red Sea – Rosselli, Ghirlandaio or Tucci

* Descent from Mount Sinai – Rosselli or di Cosimo

* Punishment of the Rebels – Botticelli

* Testament and Death of Moses – Signorelli or della Gatta

The Northern Wall

The fresco on this wall include:

* Baptism of Christ – Perugino

* Temptation of Christ – Botticelli

* Vocation of the Apostles – Ghirlandaio

* Sermon on the Mount – Rosselli

* The Delivery of the Keys – Perugino

* The Last Supper – Rosselli

Eastern Wall

* Resurrection of Christ – van den Broeck over Ghirlandaio’s original

* Disputation over Moses’ Body by da Lecce over Signorelli’s original

The Ceiling

Pope Julius II commissioned the ceiling which originally included images of the 12 apostles on the support features of the vault. The artist insisted on his own choices to paint the area. Michelangelo painted nine painting showing the Creation of the World, God’s Relationship With Man and Mankind’s Fall from Grace.

Rather than the Apostles, the artist painted a dozen Classical and Biblical men and women who prophesied the coming of Christ for man’s salvation. On the upper parts of the windows the Ancestors of Christ were portrayed.

The artist was originally unwilling to accept the project, deeming it to be of such a scope it would give his enemies fuel to discredit him. In all the surface he painted consisted of more than five thousand square feet. Contrary to common belief, the painting was not done while reclining on scaffolding, but rather in a standing position.

The arrangement of the frescos includes the Ancestors of Christ on the lowest level, alternating male and female prophets on the next level, with Jonah above the altar, and nine stories from the book of Genesis on the uppermost level.

The Last Judgment

Michelangelo painted the massive work known as “The Last Judgment” by commission of Clement VII and Paul III. The work appears on the wall above the altar. In order to complete the scene, Michelangelo insisted on the obliteration of two sets of Ancestors, several Popes, and the frescos representing the Finding of Moses and the Nativity of Jesus.


The ceiling restoration project began in 1984 and lasted just under a decade. There was a great deal of concern about the work on the Michelangelo ceiling. When the original bright colors used by the artist were revealed during the cleaning process, there was fear that the cleaning was too severe and destroyed the artist’s original intent.

The chapel itself is a high rectangular shape building, for which absolute measurements are hard to ascertain. The available measurements for the interior are: 40.9 metres (134 ft) long by 13.4 metres (44 ft) wide, this is the same dimensions as the Temple of Solomon, as given in the Old Testament.

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

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The Trevi Fountain is breathtaking and a must see site when you are visiting Rome.

The source for the aqueduct which ultimately brought water to the famous Trevi Fountain dates back to 19 BC. A group of thirsty Roman soldiers were directed to what is the supply for the Aqua Virgo. A lengthy aqueduct that supplied the City of Rome and its Baths with water for hundreds of years. The fountain is the largest and arguably the most famous of the many fountains in Rome over the centuries.

Statistics and Iconography

The construction of the fountain is largely Travertine stone, the same material which supplied the construction material for the Colosseum. The fountain is 85.28 feet high and 160 feet wide. Daily, 2.8 million cubic feet of water passes through the recirculating system.

Papal Influence

Several popes were involved in the original plans for construction of the fountain. In 1453, Pope Nicholas V commissioned the construction of a new fountain at the terminus of the aqueduct. The commission was offered to Alberti.

Over the years, additional restoration of the pipes and efforts to create a fountain were placed. The papal authority linked to these efforts included

* Sixtus IV

* Pius IV

* Pius V

* Urbanus VIII

* Clemens XII

In 1730, Pope Clemens XII initiated a contest to design a new fountain. The roster of architects who provided entries into the contest included the most famous of their day. The projects were displayed in the Papal Palace and the Pope selected Nicola Salvi as the winner.

Finances appeared to play a role in the selection, as the Salvi proposal was the least expensive. Clemens died before the project was completed, but he proceeded with the inauguration of the fountain in 1735.

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The new Pope Benedict XIV continued the project and the first water flow occurred in 1743. The project was financed by a Lotto game.


Although Salvi is credited with the design, he died before the construction was completed and Giuseppe Pannini was selected as director of the project. When Pope Clemens XIII was elected in 1758, he made some changes to stucco features of Agrippa and the Virgin, causing them to be carved in marble.

Over the years from 1759 to 1762 Pietro Bracci carved the marble “Ocean’s Tryumph”. In 1762 Clemens XIII officially inaugurated the fountain, in front of a Roman population of approximately 160,000 people.

Design Elements

There are three architectural elements which make up the design. The facade is constructed of travertine, Carerra marble statues and a reef also made of Travertine. The statue of Ocean dominates the center portion. The majestic figure is more than sixteen feet in height. He is carried on a chariot pulled by two horses and managed by two Tritons.

The figure is standing in a triumphal arch. The left portion of the arch features Abundance, the right holds a statue of Health. The relief above the statues feature the virgin associated with the discovery of the water source. The four allegorical figures on the attic from left to right are Abundance of Fruits, Fertility of Crops, Products of Autumn and Joy of Prairies and Gardens.

Some thirty species of plants and several animals are included in the design of the Trevi. These include a wild fig, a capper, mulleins, four ivy shoots, a prickly pear cactus and marsh marigold and lake reeds.

Below the status of Health is an oak stump, an artichoke, a grape vine complete with four bunches of grapes and a taro floating on water. Below a jar is a fig, with a cymbalaria and a group of evergreen plants below the travertine rocks. Animals include a snail, lizard, and a lion in the coat of arms.

Restoration Projects

In 1998, a refurbishment was initiated in which the stonework was scrubbed, cracks and other deterioration were repaired and a recirculating system was established. In 2013, the Italian fashion group Fendi sponsored a twenty month restoration of the entire site.

The cost was set at 2.2 million EUROs.In addition to the restoration work, one hundred LED lights were placed in order to improve the illumination of the site during nighttime hours.

Tradition of the Coins

Approximately three thousand Euros are thrown into the Trevi each day. The collected funds are used to supply a supermarket for the benefit of the poor of the city. The tradition requires the coin to be tossed by the right hand over the left shoulder. The rite is meant to ensure that the person will return to Rome.


In the immediate area of the Trevi are several notable structures and locations which the visitor to Rome will enjoy. These include

* Poli Palace

* Church of SS Vincent and Anastasius

* Via del Lavatore

* 18th century icon of the Virgin Mary overlooking a street lamp

We hope you enjoyed our article showing you the top things to do and see in Rome. Please leave us a comment with your thoughts, have you visited these wonderful places? Do you have any photographs or stories about your trip to Rome?.

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