The seven hills on which Ancient Rome is based are located on the east bank of the Tiber River
The hills are attributed to the symbols of Rome. They are separated from each other by relatively deep but small valleys. Modern Rome occupies both banks of the Tiber and the city now has twelve hills.
However, the history of the development of Rome begins on the left bank of the Tiber. The first hill to be populated was Palatine, the central hill. Then Esquelin was settled, after – the north and north-west hills – Quirinal and Capitol, and even later – Aventin, Viminal and Celius. After the inclusion of all seven hills in the city limits, the Romans began the feast of the seven hills, which was celebrated every year on December 11.
The valley where Rome was founded is of volcanic origin, the height of the hills on average leaves 40-50 meters above the Tiber. In the 3rd century, Emperor Aurelian erected a wall in four years that surrounded all 7 hills. The total length of the wall is 19 km, the thickness is 3.4 m, and the height is 8 m. The wall had 18 gates and 383 towers. During the capture of Rome by the Goths, the wall was partially demolished, but in the Renaissance it was restored and is well preserved to this day.
Here’s the list of all hills of Rome:
From the Palatine Hill began the history of ancient Rome. It is to the foot of the Palatine, according to legend, that the Tiber waves beat a basket with two babies – Remus and Romulus, who later became the founders of the Eternal City. Following the legend, there was a cave of a she-wolf (Lupercalia), which nurtured the brothers.
The hill was named after Pallas, the patron goddess of the shepherds. Since the founding of the city, only representatives of elite and power in ancient Rome used to live on the hill: kings, emperors and patricians
Representatives of the aristocracy erected magnificent palaces – Domuses, the remains of which tourists can see today. Tourists can visit the Palatine hill on a single ticket together with the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Among the sights of the Palatine itself, one can distinguish the ruins of the imperial palaces, the temples of Apollo, Cybele and Victoria, the palace of Septimius Severus. A monastery was built between the palaces of Flavius and Nero, which now houses the Palatine Museum – Antiquarium del Palatino, which presents a collection from primitive tools to the creations of ancient Roman sculptors (most of the sculptures are devoid of any body parts).
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The name of the Capitoline Hill comes from the word caput – head. This hill in ancient Roman times was densely built up with temples. Here in the temple of Juno Moneta lived the legendary geese, who with their cry warned the Romans about the attack of the Gauls. At the same temple, the first monets (coins) were created and named in honor of the goddess.
During the time of Servius Tullius, a wall was erected around the Capitol, and it was a well-fortified citadel. The highest point on the south side of the hill was occupied by the temple of Jupiter. The temple was divided into three cellas (departments) dedicated to Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. Senate meetings were sometimes held in central Celle. In its history, the temple of Jupiter has repeatedly burned, collapsed, and was restored again by emperors. The collapse of the quarries under the temple accelerated its complete (up to the foundation) destruction. In the 16th century, the Cafarelli Palace was built on the site of the temple, which now houses the city museum.
During the Middle Ages, there was only one monumental building on the Capitol – the Basilica of St. Mary of the Altar of Heaven (Santa Maria in Aracoeli), to the entrance of which the 122 steps staircase (Scala Santa) leads, built in honor of getting rid of the plague. In the 12th century, the Roman Senate was restored, and the Capitol again became the administrative center of the city. Today’s Capitol owes its appearance to Michelangelo Buanarotti, who made a drawing of the alteration of the hill.
The highest of the seven Roman hillsis the Quirinal Hill. It is named after Quirinus, the god of war of the ancient Sabines. According to legend, Rome was inhabited only by men. Once Romulus invited the Sabines to a holiday at which the Romans abducted the Sabine women. Then there was an armed conflict, where the Romans lost to the Sabines. The war was stopped by women who became attached to new families.
As a result, an agreement was concluded on eternal peace, according to which the Sabine king Titus Tatius became co-ruler of Rome on a par with Romulus
In 1573, the Quirinale Palace was built. The huge building was the summer residence of the Popes. Here was a trial of Galileo Galilei. Later, the palace was chosen by Italian monarchs. From 1948 to the present day, the official residence of the President of Italy has been located in the Quirinale Palace. A visit to the Quirinal Palace will cost adult tourists 5 euro. In front of the palace in Piazza del Quirinale is the Fountain of Dioscuri by architect Raffael Stern. On the right side of the square is the Consulate Palace, which is occupied by the Constitutional Court.
The legend recounts that Romulus had the plan to build a city on the Palatine Hill and his brother Remus thought the Aventine Hill was the better place to construct a city. According to the myth, the disagreement of brothers led Romulus to kill Remus. Then, he started to build Rome on the Palatine Hill. Moreover, the Aventine Hill wasn’t included in the wall of the Ancient City.
The southernmost of the seven hills was the slope where plebeians used to live. At that point, within the Imperial Period, an alter happened. The hill got to be the home of patricians and aristocrats and it gets to be the new center of the city due to the small harbour on the Tiber side.
The hill was named after Aventin Silvius (Aventinus Silvius) – the king who ruled after Romulus. At first, the hill was not populated, but as the city grew, it quickly became overgrown with structures. In the days of the Republic, it was a very densely populated area. Mostly plebeians and slaves lived there.
“Green Willow Hill” owes its name to the willow rods (Viminalis) covering the hillsides. The hill was originally inhabited by the Sabines. The Viminal was attached to the territory of Rome together with the Quirinal after the abduction of the Sabine women. During the time of the Empire, on the hill there were mainly residential buildings of the lower class. From public buildings there were built the Baths of Diocletian – the ancient Roman baths with an area of 13 hectares. The baths accommodated up to 3200 people, on their territory there were gardens, fountains and a library. Also, at the Viminal was the camp of the Praetorians – the personal guard of the emperor.
Today at the Viminal you can find the Viminal Palace – a fairly young building, erected in 1923. It houses the Roman Opera and the Ministry of the Interior
The name of Esquiline comes from ex + colere, which means suburb. Esquiline is a plateau with two languages in the western part – Cispius and Opium. It was settled by the Romans immediately after the Palatine. For a long time, Esquiline was a rather dirty place, since there were city dumps. Also in this area executions were carried out and there were common cemeteries for slaves and beggars, representing deep wells where corpses were dumped. At the behest of Emperor Augustus, the cemetery was bombarded and built up, and the magnificent patronage gardens were bred on the liberated territory. Due to the higher location of eastern Rome, the aqueduct system was concentrated on Esquiline.
One of the four papal basilicas, Santa Maria Maggiore, is located on Esquiline. According to legend, the foundation of the basilica is due to the fact that in August 352, Virgin Mary appeared in a dream to Pope Liberius and asked to build a church on the place where there would be snow. Snow fell, so the basilica was built. There are also other churches on Esquiline: Santa Pudenziana, San Pietro in Vincoli, Santa Prassede.
The Caelian Hill is named after Celio Vibenna, the Etruscan, the ancestor of the Roman plebeian family. For a long time the Caelian hill was inhabited exclusively by plebs. Only in the 1st century did the nobility begin to settle on the hill.
The main of the religious buildings was the Temple of the Divine Claudius. A picturesque place in Celian can be called Villa Celimontana, which is a heritage park of the Roman city garden. This is a great place for a picnic, with wonderful views from the hillsides. Jazz groups regularly perform in the park. Ancient Roman fragments of sarcophagi, tombstones, capitals are laid out along the paths of the park. In the depths of the park is a unique monument – the Celimontana obelisk, the upper part of which is covered with hieroglyphs from the era of Ramses II. Also located in Celian hill: Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo (Saints John and Paul), Basilica of Santa Maria in Domnica, Church of Santo Stefano Rotondo – one of the oldest Roman churches, Library of Pope Agapit I, Chapel of Sant Andrea and Arch of Dolabella.
Monte Mario is the highest hill in Rome. Its height is 139 meters and it lies around the northwest side of the city. The hill was known as Mons Vaticanus or Clivus Cinnae during the ancient Roman period.
The hill owes its name from Mario Mellini, a cardinal, who owned a villa and several hamlets around the hill in the 15th century. At the same time, the hill was known as Monte Malo (Bad Mountain) because of the murder of patrician Giovanni Crescenzio (998), which took place there.
Atop the hill is the church and convent of Santa Maria Rosario. The area is full of greenery. On the site of the 15th century Villa Mellini now is the Monte Mario Observatory, which is part of Rome Observatory, and the Museo Astronomico Copernicano. Moreover, the side of the hill was the former site of the Villa Pigneto built by Pietro da Cortona.
The Oppian Hill (Oppius Mons; Colle Oppio) is the southern spur of the Esquiline Hill. The area is separated from the Cispius on the north by the valley of the Suburra, and from the Caelian Hill on the south by the valley of the Colosseum.
In the divisions of the Septimontium (seven hills) Fagutal comes as an independent zone, which shows that originally “Oppius” was applied to this spur except the western end.
There is an amazing Oppian Hill Park (Parco del Colle Oppio), which covers about 11 hectares. It was created in 1871, as part of the urban reorganization that led the establishment of Rome as the capital of Italy. Since then the area was used as a public garden.
The Velia or Velian Hill or Velian Ridge is a spur stretching out from the middle of the north side of the Palatine Hill towards the Oppian Hill.
In later times, the hill was called Summa Sacra Via, which means the Summit of the Sacra Via. Since the road began there at its highest point and was marked by the Arch of Titus and Temple of Venus and Roma. Another theory is that the Velia was originally the eastern half of the Palatine.
The Janiculum (Gianicolo) hill is located in western part of Rome. It is the second-tallest hill in the contemporary city of Rome, but is not one of the Seven Hills of Rome, since it is west of the Tiber and outside the boundaries of the ancient city.
The Janiculum hill has one of the best panoramic views on the Piazzale Garibaldi. Also, there is the church of San Pietro in Montorio, on what was formely thought to be the site of St Peter’s crucifixion. Another important point of interest is the Fountain of Acqua Paola, built in 1612, and several foreign research institutions, including the American Academy in Rome and the Spanish Academy in Rome.
The Hill is also the location of the American University of Rome, Pontifical Urban University, and Pontifical North American College, as well as Orto Botanico dell’Universita di Roma “La Sapienza” and the Palazzo Montorio, residence of the Ambassadors of Spain.
The Janiculum is the area of a battle in 1849 between the forces of Garibaldi, defending the revolutionary Roman Republic against French forces, who were fighting to restore the temporal power of the Pope over Rome
Daily at noon, a cannon fires once from the Janiculum in the direction of the Tiber as a time signal. This tradition goes back to December 1847, when the cannon of the Castel Sant’Angelo gave the sign to the surrounding belltowers to start ringing at midday. Don’t miss an opportunity to see it during your trip to Rome!
Monte Testaccio (Monte dei cocci) is an artificial mound in Rome composed mainly of testae (cocci). Moreover, it is one of the largest spoil heaps found anywhere in the ancient world, covering an area of 20.000 square metres.
Monte Testaccio stands nearby the east bank of the Tiber River, near the Horrea Galbae where the state-controlled reserve of olive oil was stores in the late 2nd century AD
The Pincian Hill (Pincio) located in the northeast quadrant of the historical center of the Eternal City. It lies to the north of the Quirinal, overlooking the Campus Martius. However, the hill was outside the original boundaries of the ancient city of Rome, but lies within the wall built by Emperor Aurelian.
Several important families in ancient Rome had villas and gardens on the area of the hill, including the Horti Lucullani (created by Lucullus), the Horti Sallustiani (created by the historian Sallust), the Horti Pompeiani, and the Horti Aciliorum.
The current name of the hill comes from the Pincii, one of the families that occupied it in the 4th century AD
Several villas and their gardens still occupy the hill, including the Borghese gardens, linked to the Pincio by a pedestrian bridge.