Rome is arguably the most iconic city in the world and is steeped in history and culture. As one might expect from a place known as the Eternal City, there are so many sites to see in Rome, ranging from structures associated with the Roman Empire to Christian churches and catacombs, from museums full of artifacts and art to fine cuisine. With such a variety of places to visit, you must pick and choose what you would like to see; our visit focused on some of the highlights of the city.
We began our visit by stopping at the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, the episcopal see of the Pope. The cathedral was built in the 4th century after the Emperor Constantine gave the property to the Bishop of Rome. Of the structure as it stands today, parts date to the 14th century, while other parts were added later. The interior of the cathedral is expansive, with larger-than-life statues of the Apostles lining the nave. The cathedral is decorated in a decadent style. The apse includes a beautiful mosaic of the ascended Christ, below which is the papal chair.
We walked down the street to a more inauspicious church, the Basilica of Saint Clement. The basilica stands in contrast to its larger counterpart down the street. The Basilica of Saint Clement is darker and rather small, but beautifully adorned with mosaics throughout. The church also is thought to contain the remains of St. Cyril, one of two brothers, the other brother named Methodius, to bring the Gospel to the Slavic people and form the Glagolitic alphabet.
We walked further down the street, where we were greeted by one of the most well-known buildings in the world, the Coliseum. We wandered around the Coliseum, past the Arch of Constantine, taking in the structure that is as large as many baseball stadiums. We decided to tour the Coliseum and purchased our tickets. The price was worth the admission as we got to view the interior halls and the inside of the stadium. The remnants of the stadium give a sense of the size and layout of the structure. While much of the Coliseum has deteriorated, with a little imagination you can imagine what it would have looked like during the height of the Roman Empire.
The next morning we returned to the Coliseum and walked through the Roman Forum, which is next to the Coliseum. The site contains mostly remnants of the buildings, but the Forum was the center of Roman life, containing the royal residences, government buildings, the Senate, and temples. Walking through the ruins gave a sense of the rich history of the city.
After finishing our tour of the Roman Forum, we walked to another of Rome’s famous sites, the Pantheon. The Pantheon was originally built as a temple for all gods but was later used as a church dedicated to Mary and the martyrs. It is one of the best preserved sites of Ancient Rome. Its most unique feature, and the one that captures the attention of visitors, is the hole, or oculus, at the height of the dome. We didn’t need a great deal of time to see the Pantheon, but, as with other visitors, we were transfixed by the dome and its oculus.
After our stop at the Pantheon, we ventured to the Trevi Fountain. It is a bit difficult to get a good view of the fountain with so many people trying to get a look, but we eventually were able to make our way to the front. The 18th century fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in Rome and is one of the most iconic and best examples of the Baroque style. Despite the crowds there, the fountain contains beautiful statues and cascading water and is worth the visit.
While in Rome, we also visited Vatican City, which we enjoyed, and you can read about here.
Because Rome is packed with so much history, we were only able to see a few of the more well-known sites, but you could spend weeks discovering new things every day. As with most European cities, the best way to explore is by walking, and doing so in Rome allows you to see ruins of ancient buildings, parts of aqueducts, and beautiful displays of architecture all over the city. For all those who love history, Rome is a must visit. We highly recommend all of the sites that we visited, and we recommend visiting Rome. During the summer, the city can be overrun with crowds, so be careful with your belongings. Because of that, we suggest going sometime other than the popular summer months. However, the history of the city makes a trip to Rome well worth it.