Ancient Sites and Ruins
There are a lot of Roman ancient sites and they are full of history. The Eternal City exists from 753 BC and its architecture along with works of art influenced the whole world. There are many dignities in ancient city and most of them you can find in the historic center. Moreover, some of them are free, while others you can visit by using Rome Passes or tickets.
Here’s the list of famous Roman sites:
- 1 The Colosseum
- 2 The Pantheon
- 3 The Mausoleum of Hadrian
- 4 The Circus Maximus
- 5 The Mouth of Truth
- 6 Roman Forum
- 7 The Capitoline Hill
- 8 The Catacombs of the Appia Antica
- 9 The domus of Romulus and Remus
- 10 Baths of Diocletian
- 11 Baths of Caracalla
- 12 Trajan’s Markets
- 13 Pyramid of Cestius
- 14 Domizian Stadium
The Colosseum or Coliseum is perhaps the grandest construction in the history and culture of ancient Rome. It was created around 70-72 A.D. by Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty as a gift to Roman people. Moreover, the site had been the most prestigious place for entertainment in the capital and empire for four centuries. Throughout the existence of the amphitheater, two-thirds of the original construction has been destroyed and renovated several times, but its still remains one of the most famous touristic destinations in the world and an iconic symbol of Rome.
The Pantheon is an ancient temple dedicated to the Roman gods. Moreover, it is an embodiment of greatness of the Roman Empire. It is assumed that the temple was built in 2 A.D. on the place of another temple, built in 27 BC by Marcus Agrippa. Moreover, the Pantheon is one of the few buildings of ancient Rome, which have survived unchanged to this day. Nowadays, this ancient crowning glory can be found at Piazza della Rotonda.
Interesting fact: Raphael wanted to be buried in the temple because according to him, it was a place where people and gods are united. The great artist was buried in the Pantheon. This event turned the temple into a burial place of great and famous people.
The Mausoleum of Hadrian
The Mausoleum of Hadrian, also known as Castel Sant’Angelo (The Castle of the Holy Angel) has a great view and impressive history. It was built at the dawn of Christianity on the banks of the Tiber River and served as the refuge for the Roman emperor, residence of pontiffs, fortress, then prison, and later – the museum and treasury. There is a legend that the Archangel Michael appeared above the mausoleum putting his sword back into the sheath. Thus, the end of the plague in 590 A.D. was marked. To celebrate this, the tomb received its present name.
Interesting fact: in Italy and in many other European countries, you have to say “God bless you!” to any person who had just sneezed. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that the plague began with sneezing attacks and only God could heal the plague of a sick person
The Circus Maximus
The Circus Maximus is the biggest racetrack of ancient Rome, situated on the left bank of the Tiber River, between the Palatine and Aventine hills, near the center of the modern city. Moreover, the name of Circo Massimo comes from the Latin Circus Maximus, where one of the meanings of the word “circus” is a hippodrome, a place for horse contests. Horse racing has been taking place for centuries in the valley between the hills. However, the initial function of the racetrack was to host the Roman Games (Ludi Romani). The last race in the Circus Maximus was held in 549 AD, during the reign of Emperor Totila. However, after it, the era of destruction began.
Interesting fact: In summer 2014, a concert of the legendary music band Rolling Stones during their world tour took place on the Circus Maximus, which brought together 65,000 rock fans
The Mouth of Truth
The Mouth of Truth (Bocca della Verita) is a Pavonazzo marble mask with gloomy face of unknown god set in the portico of the Santa Maria church in Cosmedin. According to Medieval myth, the marble mask was used as an exceptional way of finding whether a person is telling the truth or not. People, who had committed crime or were accused of committing crime unfairly, were brought in front of the mask. They were asked to take oath and had to place their hand inside the open mouth of the sculpture, while they were answering questions of the executioner. Ancient Romans believed that if a person is telling the truth, the mask would never move a muscle. However, if the person was telling a lie, the mouth would close and then cut off the hand of that person.
Interesting fact: The legend about the Mouth of Truth became famous when it was featured in “Roman Holiday” (1953) . The mask was used as a storytelling device in the movie and exposed the truth about the myth
The ancient Roman Forum is a huge complex of triumphal arches, marble fragments, basilicas, ruined temples and other architectural elements from different time periods. Moreover, it was the ceremonial, political, religious, and business center of ancient Rome. The forum provides insight into the splendor that previously was the Roman Empire.
The Capitoline Hill
Located above the Roman Forum, the Capitoline Hill was the symbolic center of ancient Roma and held the Temple of Jupiter. Moreover, today you can find there two oldest public museums in the world. The fisrt one is Palazzo Nuovo with Greek and Roman sculptures, while the second one is Palazzo dei Conservatori, where you will find art galleries, sculptures, and frescoes. Undoubtedly, the Capitoline Hills has the best view of the Eternal City’s historic center.
One ticket gives you admission to both museums
The Catacombs of the Appia Antica
There are three of the largest and most important catacombs in Rome: San Callisto, San Sebastiano and Santa Domitilla.
Catacombs of San Callisto
Built between 250 and 300 A.D., the Catacombs of San Callisto (St. Callixtus) hold the graves of 500,000 Christians, including dozens of martyrs and 16 pontiffs.
Catacombs of San Sebastiano
Actually, the Catacombs of San Sebastiano are similar to the catacombs of San Calisto. There are four floors with different paintings from the rise of Christianity, graffiti, and mosaics.
Catacombs of Santa Domitilla
These are one of the biggest and most ancient catacombs. Catacombs of Santa Domitilla have four levels of graves and comprise 15 km (9.3 mi). Moreover, rich people were buried in decorated tombs of bigger size, individually or with their family members
The domus of Romulus and Remus
The domus of Romulus and Remus was created in the second century BC. It consists of the entrance which leads to the atrium (open-roofed entrance hall) with impluvium (the square basin in the centre of the atrium, which received rainwater from an opening in the roof) surrounded by private rooms. The house was excavated in the years 1871-72.
Interesting fact: during the excavation of the house, the bodies of five people were discovered. One of them died during the attempt to escape. He held numerous gold, silver and bronze coins and rings in his hands
Baths of Diocletian
The Baths of Diocletian were commissioned by the Emperor Diocletian in 298 AD and had a capacity of more than 3000 people. Moreover, this baths complex was the largest of ancient Rome and its structure was similar to that of the Baths of Caracalla. Also, the Roman public baths were working until 537, when the Goths cut off the aqueducts trying to conquer Rome.
Interesting fact: During the construction of the Baths of Diocletian, thousands of Christian slaves died, while the Emeror Diocletian died in 305 because he was too tired and ill
Baths of Caracalla
The construction of Baths of Caracalla started in the year 212 by the Emperor Caracalla. It took about 5 years to finish them because a new aqueduct was built specially for the baths. The spa was not simply a place for bathing, sport, and health, but also for relaxing and studying.
The Trajan’s Markets is a large complex of ruins created in the 2nd century AD and it is part of the Trajan’s Forum. Moreover, Trajan’s Forum, along with the forums of Julius Caesar, Augustus, Nerva, and the Templum Pacis were constituted the center of the Roman Empire. Moreover, it is considered as the world’s first shopping mall. All the shops and apartments were built in a multi-level structure and even nowadays you can visit several of the levels.
Pyramid of Cestius
The Pyramid of Cestius is the tomb of praetor Caius Cestius Epulone. It was built in the year of his death, in 12 B.C. It has a height of 36.40 meters and 30 square meters at the base. It took 330 days to build the pyramid. Nowadays the Pyramid of Cestius located right near metro station “Piramide”.
Domizian Stadium (Stadio di Domoziano) was built in Rome as Tit Flaviy’s gift to Roman citizens and was used for conducting different sport events. Here, the second name of the stadium is Agons arena and Navona Square got its name thanks to this term. In the 1st century A.D. the stadium was called “Campus Agonis”, while closer to the Middle Ages this form transformed into “n’agone”. Lastly, the name of the place was simplified to “navona”. So that, nowadays this spot became one of the most famous Roman squares – Piazza Navona.
Rome is full of ancient sites with rich history and exceptional beauties. The city represents its story in every corner. Undoubtedly, it is worth to discover for yourself all these sites, but it will take several months or even years.
Mouth of Truth
The Aurelian Walls
The Theater of Marcellus
The Appian Way
The Pantheon in Rome