Quirinal hill (or Collis Quirinalis) is the highest and northernmost of the seven Roman hills. Its height constitutes 61 meters, which makes it a perfect place to escape from hot Roman summers. Being one of the most popular tourist destinations, the Quirinal hill opens up splendid city views from its top.
As the ancient Roman legend has it, the hill was initially inhabited by the small village of Sabines (Italic people that inhabited territories of ancient Italy before founding of Rome). The first king of Rome – Romulus, organized a festivity and invited Sabines. In the midst of celebrations, Sabine women were kidnapped, and Sabine men were expelled. After couple of years, Sabine king Titus Tatius went to war against Romulus. The conflict was stopped by Sabine women who ran to the streets holding children they all already had with Romans. The women bowed two rulers to reconciliation.
Since then, Sabines have erected the altars dedicated to their god – Quirinus (analogy of Roman god Mars – god of war), hence the name of the hill came from.
During the Republican period Quirinal hill became a beloved place of Roman nobility. In addition to cool breaths of wind during the summertime, the Quirinal hill was foremost famous for its greenery. The history mentions such famous people as Narcissus (freedman), Flavius Sabinus (brother of the emperor Vespasian) and emperor Vespasian himself having their villas built on the hill. Constantine the Great erected thermae complex, which is considered to be the last bath complex built in imperial Rome.
Today, Quirinal hill still retained its status of luxurious and expensive districts of Rome. The territory of the hill includes some world-renown brand shops, hotels and embassy buildings. Despite this, tourists are still able to see monument of the glorious Roman past on their way.
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Following is the list of must visit places and the instruction on how to get to the Quirinal hill.
One of the most prominent monuments of the hill, the Quirinal palace (Palazzo del Quirinale), today is considered to be an official residence of the President of the Italian Republic.
The construction of the palace was ordered by Pope Gregory XIII in 1583 and was aimed to become a summer papal residency. Moreover, in 1823, 1829, 1831 and 1846 the palace was used to host papal conclaves. It served as papal residence up until 1870, when the Papal State was overthrown, and Rome became a capital of newly created Kingdom of Italy. The Quirinal palace served as a royal residence until 1946 when the monarchy was abolished and from that time on it remained a residence of the President of the Italian Republic.
The palace is open for visits on all week, except for Mondays and Thursdays from 9:30 am to 4 pm. The entrance fee is 10 euro, though has to be clarified at the ticket box or on the website of the palace.
Located right in front of the Quirinal palace, piazza Montecavallo (meaning horse hill) received its name from two statues of Castor and Pollux located at the feet of the obelisk. Each statue flanked with a horse depict two brothers, who in the Roman mythology were considered to be the patron gods of horses.
Interestingly, the author of the obelisk and fountain still remain unknown today. For example, some experts believe that the obelisk is a replica of the ancient Greek monument
It is also believed that the obelisk used to stand at the entrance of Constantine thermae complex in 351, while previously it embellished the mausoleum of Augustus. The obelisk was moved to piazza di Montecavallo in 1786 and has a height of about 15 meters.
Barberini palace (Palazzo Barberini) is beautiful seventeenth century building that today houses National Gallery of Ancient Arts (Gallerea Nazionale d’Arte Antica).
Although built in 1549 by the Sforza family, the palace then was acquired by Maffeo Barberini in 1625, who soon became pope Urban VIII. The modern appearance of the palace was reached through the hard work of famous architects such as Carlo Maderno and Bernini.
Today, the gallery hosts numerous artworks that overall constitute one of the most important painting collections of Italy. The gallery proudly exhibits works of Raphael and Caravaggio
Originally constructed as an addition to the palace, piazza Barberini stands out with its own uniqueness. First of all, the fountain of Triton (Fontana di Tritone) is located right at the center of the square, which became one of the Roman famous fountains. Designed by Bernini in 1642 the fountain depicts Triton, surrounded by dolphins, who drinks out of giant sea shell. Moreover, you can visit Barberini cinema that often showcases movies in English or just relax in one of the numerous bars that surround piazza Barberini.
The hill located in the area of historical center of Rome. Thus, you can easily reach it by foot while exploring the main sights of the Eternal City.
Author: Kate Zusmann
For the last 6 years I live in the Eternal City. Traveling, exploring new things, writing blogs, shooting vlogs are my main hobbies, but the thing that I like even more is to share my experience and thoughts with you! Explore Rome with Us :)
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