One of the most heavily visited cities in the world, Rome is a favorite of travelers who appreciate history, architecture and culture. Among the must-see attractions in the “Eternal City” are ancient ruins, fabulous basilicas and famous works of art. Here is a look at Rome’s top 10 tourist sites.
1. St. Peter’s Basilica
This Italian Renaissance cathedral, the largest Christian basilica on Earth, is instantly recognizable because of its huge dome and row of tall columns. Inside is a dazzling collection of art by Michelangelo and other masters. The mammoth structure anchors one side of St. Peter’s Square, which features beautiful fountains and columns.
Initially created for gladiator competitions, the triple-level Colosseum is the biggest in the world. It is the best-known example of Roman Empire architecture still standing. The oval arena, with 80 arched entrances, was erected in 80 AD.
A temple built between 118 and 125 AD, this ruin holds the graves of Raphael and other classic Renaissance figures. The best preserved of Rome’s ancient monuments, the basilica is characterized by its immense dome with a hole in the top. It is the largest unsupported dome on the planet.
4. Vatican Museums
This papal palace boasts several galleries showcasing Renaissance and classical art and artifacts from ancient Rome, Egypt and Greece. The site’s most celebrated feature, the Sistine Chapel, is where Michelangelo created his famous ceiling painting in the 1500s.
5. Roman Forum
The center of ancient Rome’s public and religious life, this ruin has temples, arches and columns from the second and third centuries. Little remains of the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine, but visitors can still appreciate its massive size.
6. Trevi Fountain
Rome offers many amazing waterworks, but none is more iconic that the 18th century Trevi Fountain. It is the biggest Baroque fountain in Rome, and widely considered one of the most elegant fountains anywhere. Local legend has it that by tossing a coin into the water, people can ensure they will return to Rome some day.
7. Spanish Steps
Another magnificent example of the Baroque style, the Spanish Steps are the best-known stairway in the world. The 138 steps, with their butterfly-shaped design, date to the 18th century. There are curved and straight flights, with terraces and lookout points.
8. Piazza Navona
One of the many lovely squares in Rome, the Piazza Navonba stands out because of its three classical fountains. The biggest one is the Fountain of the Four Rivers, created in the 1600s. The plaza, built in the first century on the site of an ancient stadium, is now a center for bars and street artists.
9. Castel Sant’Angelo
A cylindrical castle and museum erected in the second century, this spectacular building displays furnishings, frescoes and weapons from the Renaissance period. The fortress, on the banks of the Tiber River, is a former prison with a spiral ramp that leads to all five floors.
10. Palatine Hill
High above the Roman Forum, this is the former site of palaces and temples. It is central to the legend of Romulus and Remus. The hill, with its Farnese Gardens, is a scenic place for a picnic.