The following is a list of the absolute best attractions Rome has to offer for first-time visitors out of an astonishing number of places to see and things to do. Most of the attractions listed here have major archeological, historical or religious significant. Scroll to the end for more recommendations of different nature
1. The Colosseum
An elliptical amphitheater in the center of the city of Rome, Italy. Built of concrete and stone, it was the largest amphitheater of the Roman Empire and is considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and engineering. It is the largest amphitheater in the world and could hold between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators. Built in AD 70-80, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most famous structures in Europe and the world.
2. St. Peter’s Basilica
Constructed during the years 1506 and 1615. The dome itself was designed in 1547 by Michelangelo that took into consideration a previous design that was made for the same dome. The dome of St. Peter’s rises to a total height of 136.57 meters (448.1 ft) from the floor of the basilica to the top of the external cross. It is the tallest dome in the world.
3. The Vatican Museums (and Sistine Chapel)
The Vatican Museums are the museums of the Vatican City and are located within the city’s boundaries. They display works from the immense collection built up by the Roman Catholic Church throughout the centuries including some of the most renowned classical sculptures and most important masterpieces of Renaissance art in the world. It was founded in the early 16th century. The Sistine Chapel with its ceiling decorated by Michelangelo and the Stanze della Segnatura decorated by Raphael are on the visitor route through the Vatican Museums. The Vatican Museums broke attendance records in 2011 with just over 5 million people.
4. Trevi Fountain
A fountain in the Trevi district in Rome. Standing 26.3 meters (86 ft) high and 49.15 meters (161.3 ft) wide, it is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world. A traditional legend holds that if visitors throw a coin into the fountain, they are ensured a return to Rome.
The Pantheon in Rome was built in 126 AD as a temple for all the Roman gods and served as a Roman Catholic Church since the 7th century. The temple is topped with a concrete dome with a central opening: the oculus. Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon’s famous dome is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world.
6. The Spanish Steps
The Spanish steps are a set of 135 steps in Rome, climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti at the top, where the Trinità dei Monti church is located. This is the widest staircase in Europe and it was built during the years 1723–1725. The Spanish steps are a big tourists attraction in Rome and a staircase well worth the climb!
7. Piazza Navona
This Piazza is one more beautiful square among so many others in Rome. But this piazza is the most charming and beautiful of them all. Piazza Navona was once the site of sporting events at Domitian’s stadium in first century A.D. The square contains 3 fountains, and the largest and most memorable is Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers with each of the 4 statues representing a river from different continents
8. Galleria Borghese
An art gallery housed in the former Villa Borghese Pinciana. The Galleria Borghese houses a substantial part of the Borghese collection of paintings, sculpture and antiquities. You can find Bernini sculptures including Apollo and Daphne and his take on young David preparing to take on Goliath. The impressive collection also includes works by master artists Correggio, Raphael, Rubens and Caravaggio
9. Capuchin Crypt
A small space comprising several tiny chapels located beneath a church near Piazza Barberini. It contains the skeletal remains of 3,700 bodies. Many of the bones are nailed to the walls, many are piled among countless others, and others hang from the ceiling. While this could be horrifying to some people, others will find it very interesting and memorable, which explains a large number of tourists visiting the crypt.
10. Castel Sant’Angelo (Mausoleum of Hadrian)
This fortress on the Tiber River was originally designed by the Emperor Hadrian to be used as a mausoleum for his own family. The building was later used by the popes as a fortress and castle, and is now a museum. The Castel was once the tallest building in Rome, and today it still rises above the city with beautiful views.
The places listed above are all extremely popular among tourists, and for a good reason. If you’ve been to Rome before and already seen these places, or if you’re looking to stand less in lines and enjoy the atmosphere of the city, you can walk the small streets between the piazzas, enjoy some Gelato (ice cream) and great Italian food. Visit the Porta Portese market (only on Sundays) – a huge authentic market, and Eataly, which is something between a giant supermarket and a small market, dedicated entirely to Italian food
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All these wonderful places should definitely be included on the list if planing a trip to Rome.