Let’s talk about Rome, Italy’s capital. This city is one of the oldest in the world, with its establishment dating back almost 2800 years. It ranks as the second most visited city in Europe, boasting more than 10 million visitors each year.
Interestingly, this number is more than double the city’s population! And when you look at these figures, it’s quite astonishing to see how many tourists Rome attracts.
One can’t help but wonder — what is it about Rome that captivates so many? Is it the historical significance? The ancient architectural marvels? Or perhaps it is simply the city’s delicious dishes, romantic villas, and quaint streets?
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The truth is, Rome’s beauty has many aspects, and it’s this undeniable charm that draws millions of tourists to Rome annually.
However, Rome’s beauty is best reflected in its awe-inspiring sacred landmarks, famous artworks, and impressive architectural landmarks. They beautifully manifest the greatness and influence of the Roman Empire to the rest of the world. A simple look around the city is enough to understand why it’s a must-visit city.
Amazingly, as you journey through Rome and witness its stunning attractions, you also discover a fascinating history that can and will forever amaze you.
To highlight the splendor of Rome, I’ll introduce you to the ten most stunning sights in the city that every visitor should experience. We’ll begin our journey with Italy’s most iconic landmark, the Colosseum.
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The Colosseum is a testament to Rome’s beauty, captivating us with its rich historical events. It’s not just an architectural and engineering marvel that has stood the test of time, but it’s also a symbol of Rome’s enduring legacy. Can you believe that this Roman Colosseum, which has remained intact for over 2000 years, is constructed solely of stone and concrete?
The Colosseum’s interiors might not strike you as visually appealing, but they serve as a time machine to an era 2000 years ago. Picture more than 50,000 Romans witnessing a range of events from public executions to more engaging ones.
There were fights involving wild animals, games featuring gladiators, and even naval battles!
Naval battles inside the Colosseum? Indeed! The Romans managed to inundate the Colosseum with water and introduce ships into it. It’s incredibly impressive and thought-provoking; pondering over where they obtained all that water.
On the other hand, the Colosseum’s exterior is an architectural wonder that also makes for an excellent photo backdrop. From afar, the floors may seem quite similar. But as you approach, you’ll discover that each level features a unique style. In particular, starting from the highest point, the architectural styles represented in the Roman Colosseum are Corinthian, Ionic, and Doric.
2. Roman Forum
Just a stone’s throw away from the Colosseum is the Roman Forum. This was the heart of Roman social, political, and religious life back in the day. Today, it’s an archaeological site, but it still retains much of its historical charm.
You’ll find fascinating structures like Via Sacra, Curia, the temple of Divus Romulus, the temple of Antoninus and Faustina, the arch of Septimius Severus, the house of the Vestals, and many more.
To get more insights into the happenings in the Roman Forum, watch this video from Ted-Ed:
If you want a panoramic view of the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill is the place to be. It offers a bird’s eye view of the entire area, allowing you to see all the historic structures. You can look east towards the Colosseum and then let your eyes wander to the far end of the Forum on the west.
3. Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain is another attraction that contributes to Rome’s beauty.
This magnificent fountain sits at the crossroads of three streets in Rome: Poli Street, Delle Muratte Street, and De’ Crocicchi Street. Here’s an interesting fact. The Trevi Fountain derives its name from ‘Trivium’, a Latin term meaning ‘the intersection of three streets’.
The Trevi Fountain enhances Rome’s beauty with its stunning artistry and charming tradition that visitors can partake in. Standing tall at 26 meters (85.3 feet) and wide at 49 meters (160.7 feet), the Trevi Fountain is a sight to behold. It has been a source of water for the residents of Rome since around 19 B.C.
Atop the fountain, you’ll find a statue of God Oceanus, born to the Titans Uranus (Sky) and Gaia (Earth), standing on a chariot drawn by seahorses. The fountain is mainly made from Travertine, the same stone used in the construction of the Roman Colosseum. Set against the backdrop of Palazzo Poli, the Trevi Fountain presents an iconic view that’s not to be missed when in Rome.
If you’re single and ready to mingle, the Trevi Fountain might just be your lucky charm! Tradition has it that tossing a coin into the fountain can make your dreams come true.
If you throw a coin over your shoulder into the fountain while facing away, legend says you’re sure to return to Rome. Do it twice, and you’re destined to fall in love. And if you’re brave enough to try it three times, not only will you fall in love, but you’ll get hitched too!
4. Saint Peter’s Basilica
While Saint Peter’s Basilica isn’t technically in Rome, it’s surrounded by the city and was once part of it, so it feels very much like it’s in Rome.
The Basilica adds to Rome’s beauty with its grand size and the sacred religious artifacts it houses. These artifacts hold great importance not just for Catholicism, but for the entire world, as they represent some of the most remarkable creations of mankind.
The entire basilica is a renowned piece of Renaissance architecture, crafted by the hands of Carlo Maderno, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Donato Bramante, and most notably, Michelangelo. From the paintings adorning the ceiling to the ornate walls and the impressive bronze doors, every aspect of the basilica is sure to leave you in wonder.
Within the walls of this basilica, you’ll find the renowned sculpture La Pieta, the sacred bronze statue of Saint Peter, and the magnificent Baldacchino, among other treasures.
Even if you’re not a believer, Saint Peter’s Basilica is a must-see when in Rome. Visiting this place is like stepping into one of the pillars of human civilization. For those who believe, like myself, it’s more than just a privilege – it’s a deeply fulfilling experience.
5. Sistine Chapel
For an experience of beauty that’s hard to put into words, look no further than the Sistine Chapel. Situated in the Vatican, this papal chapel might seem plain and simple on the outside. But step inside, and you’ll be greeted with sights that are nothing short of breathtaking.
Built by Giovanni dei Dolci in the late 15th century for Pope Sixtus IV, the Sistine Chapel is a testament to the brilliance of Renaissance artistry.
Soon after its completion, master artists from Florence embellished its interiors with their work. These artworks are now seen as some of the greatest accomplishments in western painting.
Of all the paintings on the walls and ceilings of the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo’s fresco, the ‘Creation of Adam’, is perhaps the most well-known. But there’s more to see, including a host of other paintings that bring to life stories from the Old Testament and depict the Last Judgement.
When you visit the Sistine Chapel, you’re not just there to admire the stunning frescoes and murals. You’re also entering a place where pivotal decisions about the Roman Catholic Church are made. This is where the Sacred College of Cardinals convenes to choose the next pope whenever a pope dies or steps down.
These unique experiences that the Sistine Chapel offers are part of what makes Rome an irresistible destination and add to its charm.
6. Castel Sant’Angelo
Castel Sant’Angelo, also known as the ‘Castle of the Holy Angel’, is another feature that contributes to Rome’s beauty. This uniquely cylindrical fort gets its name from a marble statue of Archangel Saint Michael, which Pope Gregory the Great installed on top of the castle following a vision of Saint Michael ending a plague in Rome.
Although it has provided shelter for popes during wars and conflicts, Castel Sant’Angelo was primarily built to be a mausoleum. From 134 to 139 AD, Emperor Hadrian had this castle built to serve as a burial place for him and his family, earning it the alternate name of the Mausoleum of Hadrian.
Castel Sant’Angelo, located just west of Vatican City and next to the River Tiber.
Its strategic location led to its transformation into a fort by the popes, five centuries after its construction. In the 14th century, Pope Nicholas III even built a fortified corridor, known as the Passetto di Borgo, connecting Saint Peter’s Basilica to Sant’Angelo. This proved useful when Rome was invaded by Emperor Charles V, the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire based in Germany, in the early 16th century.
Today, a visit to Castel Sant’Angelo is like stepping back in time. You can explore the mausoleum, rooms used by the popes, the fortified corridor, and view various artifacts on display.
The impressive size of Castel Sant’Angelo, along with its distinctive battlements and ramparts, best viewed from Ponte Sant’Angelo, transports you to the medieval era even before you enter the castle. The things you’ll see and experience here are just a few of the elements that contribute to Rome’s beauty, and there’s plenty more to explore.
Apart from the Colosseum, Rome’s beauty is also enhanced by the Pantheon, an ancient architectural wonder.
The original Pantheon was constructed in 25 B.C. by the Roman statesman Marcus Agrippa. After being destroyed in several fires, it was completely rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in 128 AD. Originally a pagan temple, the Pantheon, which derives its name from the Greek words for ‘all’ and ‘gods’, was converted into a Christian church as the Roman Empire embraced Christianity. In 609, Pope Boniface IV renamed it the Basilica of St. Mary and the Martyrs.
The most incredible part of Panthéon is its dome, which is the world’s largest unsupported dome.
The dome of the Pantheon is so large that it could accommodate a giant ball with a diameter of 43 meters. When the sun is at its peak on a clear day, sunlight streams in through the oculus, also known as the ‘eye’ of the Pantheon, at the top of the dome. The dome’s proportions, its vast size, and the elegance of its design, coupled with the play of light created by the oculus, are sure to leave you in awe. The engineering that went into creating the Pantheon makes this structure a true wonder.
Among all the ancient Roman structures, the Pantheon stands out as the best-preserved, largely because it has been in continuous use. Not only is it a church where the Holy Eucharist is celebrated, but it also serves as the final resting place for many of Italy’s great poets, kings, and artists, including Raphael.
8. Villa Borghese
Rome’s charm extends beyond its beauty to encompass romance as well, and Villa Borghese is a testament to this. This park, which is the third-largest in Rome, covers a vast area of 80 hectares (or 197.7 acres). Filled with museums and a host of romantic activities, it’s a place that truly captures the heart.
Villa Borghese’s main attraction is the Borghese Gallery, which showcases the works of some of the most influential artists. Here, you can explore a wide range of artworks, from ancient Roman pieces to Renaissance masterpieces.
Among the most notable are the creations of renowned artists like Bernini, Titian, Raphael, and Caravaggio. Bernini’s sculpture ‘Apollo and Daphne’ and Titian’s painting ‘Sacred and Profane Love’ are particularly striking. The level of detail in these artworks, especially Bernini’s marble sculpture, is truly impressive.
But the romance doesn’t stop at the gallery’s doors. Outside, the villa boasts gardens, ponds, and cinemas where you can live out your romantic dreams.
Looking for a romantic experience on the pond? Rent a boat and soak up the lovely scenery as you float along. The sight is made even more picturesque by an old-style temple near the shore. Need a special place to pop the question? Try the Pincio Terrace. It’s the most picturesque part of the villa, featuring a large plaza with a balcony that overlooks the city. The spot becomes truly romantic from golden hour until dusk, when city lights start to sparkle.
Want more romance? During summer, Casa del Cinema, an arthouse cinema theater in Villa Borghese, offers free outdoor movie screenings. Cuddle up and watch movies under a glittering sky!
9. Giardino degli Aranci
Another lovely place in Rome is ‘Giardino Degli Aranci’, also known as the Orange Trees Garden. It’s especially beautiful during sunsets and the golden hour. While it shares a city view with Villa Borghese, I personally find it more picture-perfect. Its distinct location and layout make all the difference.
Perched on Aventine Hill, with a direct line of sight to Vatican City, Giardino Degli Aranci offers a unique perspective of Rome and its skyline. The garden’s designer, Rafaelle de Vico, intentionally positioned it so that the dome of Saint Peter’s basilica would be the main attraction.
But the breathtaking city view isn’t the only thing that makes Giardino Degli Aranci a must-visit spot in Rome. The garden itself is beautifully laid out, split evenly by a central path that aligns perfectly with the city’s viewpoint.
The middle path is flanked by orange trees, their lofty canopies creating a stunning sight, especially during sunset when they cast shadows against the colorful sky. If Rome is on your travel itinerary, Giardino Degli Aranci serves as a perfect retreat after a day filled with city adventures. Plus, there’s no cost to enter Giardino Degli Aranci.
Finally, we have Trastevere, the 13th district of Rome, situated west of the city’s historic center. This area is well-known for its abundance of restaurants and pubs, making it a popular spot for both tourists and locals to enjoy a lively night out.
While Trastevere is a popular spot for social activities, it also boasts some of the most scenic locations in Rome, adding to the city’s charm. Its narrow, cobblestone streets are lined with quaint, ancient houses – a sight that’s sure to satisfy your travel cravings.
Some buildings are draped in ivy, giving the area an old-world charm. Trastevere is less crowded compared to the city center, making it a more appealing place to explore. Plus, Trastevere is home to several attractions that could be worth your while.
Did you know that Trastevere houses a Japanese garden complete with bamboo groves and waterfalls?
Other notable sites in Trastevere include the Basilica of Santa Maria, a 3rd-century church located in Piazza Santa Maria, known for its stunning interiors; Villa Farnesina, a mansion adorned with exquisite frescoes by Raphael; and Palazzo Corsini, a magnificent baroque palace that showcases collections of Renaissance and Baroque art.
Tours in the beautiful city of Rome
So, that’s it! Those are my top recommendations for landmarks and places in Rome that contribute to the city’s beauty. What’s your take? Do you agree that these attractions make Rome truly beautiful? Share your thoughts in the comment section of this post!
If you’re planning a short trip to Rome, I suggest visiting at least the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and the sacred sites in Vatican. Here are some tours and tickets that can help you save time when visiting these places. Trust me, the skip-the-line tickets are a lifesaver, especially during peak season.
- Priority Access to Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill – Avoid wasting time in queues for the Colosseum and more. Enjoy instant entry to these attractions, just like a VIP!
- Vatican and Sistine Chapel – This gives you the advantage of skipping the line and accessing the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museum without any trouble. The Sistine Chapel, similar to the Colosseum, is a favorite spot in Rome, and you could find yourself in a lengthy line.
- Saint Peter’s Basilica – Take a comprehensive tour of Saint Peter’s Basilica. This way, you can gain a complete understanding of the history and details of each important artifact inside the church.
See all the passes/tours and more attractions and things to do in Rome from this link.
Beautiful Destinations Like Rome
Rome isn’t the only beautiful place in Italy. If you’re like me, who loves historical sites and scenic mountainous destinations, I suggest you travel to northern Italy. Here are my 10 reasons why you should visit northern Italy.
Do you like visiting beautiful and historical cities like Rome, where you can also see awe-inspiring artworks and architecture?
- Florence: Florence is a city that’s synonymous with the Renaissance. It’s home to world-class museums, art galleries, and historic landmarks. Plus, the city’s fashion boutiques, Florentine cuisine, and stunning views over the Ponte Vecchio are sure to captivate any visitor.
- Milan: Milan is a city that’s always looking forward. It’s a place where creativity thrives, and fashion is a way of life. The city is also home to some of the world’s most famous art galleries, housing many Renaissance masterpieces and objects from Leonardo da Vinci.
- Bergamo: Bergamo is a city of two halves. The Città Bassa is filled with Neoclassical and modern buildings, while the Città Alta on the hill boasts 16th-century buildings. It’s a city that beautifully blends the old with the new.
- Verona: Verona is a city for lovers. Known as the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, this beautiful Italian city has something to offer everyone.
- Venice: Venice is like no other place on earth. With its canals, bridges, and historical landmarks, this city of islands offers a unique experience whether you’re exploring by boat or on foot.
Northern Italy also has beautiful lakes and coastal towns. They’re the most relaxing and scenic places you could ever be!
- Lake Garda: A tourist favorite with charming resort towns, lakeside beaches, and a variety of activities.
- Lake Como: Known for its breathtaking beauty and stunning Italian country villas that offer spectacular views.
- Cinque Terre: A UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its stunning coastal scenery, pastel-colored houses, and terraced vineyards.
Do not miss the spectacular and breathtaking destinations in northern Italy!
- Trento: A city known for its Alpine elegance, historical buildings with Renaissance frescoes, and a variety of outdoor activities.
- Bolzano: A delightful city known as the ‘Gateway to the Dolomites,’ offering a unique cultural mix and a high quality of life.
- Cortina d’Ampezzo: A picturesque destination in the Dolomite Mountains, famous for its ski slopes and historic sites.
If you are interested in visiting beautiful European cities like Rome, you must check out these cities:
- Paris: Known as the “City of Love”, Paris is famous for its beautiful monuments, world-class cuisine, and rich history.
- Reims: Home to the Notre Dame Cathedral and located in the famous Champagne region, Reims offers a blend of history and gastronomy.
- Nuremberg: A city with picturesque streets, beautiful churches, and a vibrant nightlife scene.
- Strasbourg: Strasbourg is known for its unique culture and stunning architecture, including fairytale-like half-timbered houses.
- Colmar: Colmar is known for its architectural heritage, beautiful canals, and fascinating museums.
- Bern: Bern’s well-preserved old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offering a glimpse into the city’s rich history.
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