Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Rome City Guide
Art, Archaeology & History

According to legend, Rome was founded in 753 BC. Several hundred years later it became the centre of the Roman Republic and later still the Roman Empire. During the 4th century AD Rome became the capital of the Christian world. And from the 15th century it was the Popes who influenced the image of Renaissance and Baroque Rome. Including creating some of the earliest public museums in Europe. With over 3,000 years of continuous history, Rome and the Vatican City are among the world’s most popular historical destinations with art, archaeology, art and history to suit a wide range of interests.

Reasons to Visit Rome & Vatican City

The circular funerary monument of Emperor Augustus on a sunny day.

Ancient Ruins,

Baroque Fountains,

Historic Palaces,

… with Gelato.

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Interesting Things to Know About Rome & the Vatican City

The Founding mythology for Rome suggests the Eternal City was founded on 21 April 753 BC. A date still celebrated in the Italian capital today. Although the city is known for its Roman era, there is archaeological evidence that Palaeolithic and Neolithic communities inhabited the area we now call the Palatine Hill at least 14,000 years ago. SPQR is an abbreviation that has been used emblematically for Rome since around 80 BC. The letters stand for Senātus Populusque Rōmānus, which translates freely as ‘The Senate and People of Rome’.
There are over 280 fountains in Rome. According to local tradition the only fountain at which you should make a wish is the Trevi Fountain. Each year some €700,000 worth of coins are thrown into the ornate Baroque fountain. This money is given to Cavitas, a Catholic charity supporting families in need in Rome. Although known for its Baroque features, the Trevi Fountain has Roman origins.
St Peter’s Basilica, formally the Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican, is the largest church ever built. Built in Renaissance style, the church is traditionally the burial place of Saint Peter, head of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ. With over 900 churches, there are more Christian churches in Rome than in any other city in the world.
Vatican City, or more simply ‘the Vatican’, is the world’s smallest independent state and is located within the city of Rome. It has been independent from Italy since 11 February 1929 as set out by the Lateran Treaty. Ruled by the Pope as head of the Holy See, the Vatican covers an area of 44 km² for which there is no physical border. The Pope is not only the head of the Roman Catholic Church, he is also Bishop of Rome.
The historic centre of Rome, including the Vatican, was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1980, and extended in 1990. It covers the area within the city walls, which were at their widest extent in the 17th century. Also included is the ‘Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls’. For more information, see the UNESCO listing.

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Find Places to Visit in Rome & the Vatican City

Five Popular Attractions in Rome

Rome Colosseum Interior

Colosseum

Vatican city,Vatican Museum main door decoration

Vatican Museums

St Peter's Basilica at night.

St Peter’s Basilica

Trevi Fountain Dawn

Trevi Fountain

Castel Sant’Angelo

Inspiration & Itineraries

Sunrise over the Tiber River and the Dome of St Peter's.

See More of Rome’s Top Ten

Self Guided Itinerary of the Ancient Forum

Closeup bresaola with arugula salad and olive oil
#MyArchaeologyTravelRome - Thomas Dowson

Anyone who has visited any of the southern African countries will have surely encountered biltong. Meat that has been salted and spiced and left to dry for a period. Dried meat is my weakness. During my first visit to Rome in 2014 I discovered bresaola: salted beef that is air-dried and aged for two or three months, during which time it turns a very dark red. Although not a typical Roman dish (it originates from the Lombardy region), a plate of bresaola served with arugula and fresh parmesan cheese, with lemon juice and olive oil brings back wonderful and mouth-watering memories of my first visit to the Eternal City.

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What to See in Rome

A sunset over the Arch of Constantine and the Colosseum in Rome.

Roman Ruins, Sites & Landmarks

The city of Rome, widely recognised as the largest archaeological site in the world, is the showcase of the Roman World. The city’s Roman architecture has long been, and continues to be used in the present. Roman buildings have survived because their were turned into churches or monasteries, fortresses or palaces. Many other structures that were buried have been uncovered by archaeologists and leaders, and are visible today as ruins in the basements of buildings, in traffic roundabouts, on the sides of streets or left exposed in designated archaeological zones. 

Museums & Art Galleries

Rome is often referred to as one enormous open air museum. It would seem that around every corner there is something of archaeological or historical interest. Whether a Roman ruin or a Baroque church. Some of the elegant Renaissance palazzo’s house magnificent historical collections of objects, from ancient artefacts to modern sculpture. Start at the Capitoline museums, arguably the oldest public museum in Europe. Rome’s first electric power plant now exhibits ancient sculpture, and its 20th century machinery. Don’t miss the contemporary MAXXI, which houses Italy’s first national collection of contemporary art.

Rome & the Vatican A - Z

A list of all the art, archaeology and history sites, museums and landmarks in Rome and the Vatican City currently in our database, listed A to Z. We created this list for people to be able to scroll down one list of all attractions we recommend to visit in Rome when creating a personal itinerary. You can easily edit your itinerary when you see your choices mapped and add points of interest of your own choice..

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