Rome is a city that has always fascinated me. Starting as a meagre village, it grew to become the most important city in the world around 2000 years ago, sitting at the heart of one of the biggest empires to ever exist. From Rome, its rulers ruled an empire that covered much of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and it was Roman society that gave us so much of what we have today. The city of Rome was built to be as magnificent as its empire,and its architects are still praised for it today. Even with the fall of the Roman Empire and centuries of change, the city still thrives. Rome is a city of history, romance and culture; a must see for every traveller.
When you travel to Rome, it’s a great idea to start at the beginning, when Rome was the center of the world. Although Rome is now a modern city, many of the ruins of Ancient Rome still exist. Here are some of the most important places to visit.
The Ancient Roman Forum was where everything happened. First as a Kingdom, then as a Republic and finally an Empire, all of Rome and its Empire was ruled from the Forum (Forum Romanum). Home to many important governmental buildings and temples, the Forum was the centre of society.
Today, the Roman Forum is certainly a great ruin and much of it is indistinguishable, however there are a few ruins that have been restored and you are able to walk along the ancient streets of the Forum. It is quite an experience. Some of the best ruins to check out are the Temple of Saturn, the Arches of Septimius Severus and Titus and the Basilica of Maxentius.
While in the Roman Forum, head up to Palatine Hill which has great views across the Forum. It was here that the most important people of Rome chose to live, including its emperors. When you see the view from the top of the hill, you will see why they wanted to live here.
Situated just east of the Forum is one of the most famous buildings in the world, the Colosseum. Also known as the Flavian Theatre, the Colosseum is the largest theatre that has ever been built and stands as one of the greatest examples of Roman architecture and engineering. Despite nearly 2000 years of weathering, earthquake damage and looting, much of the Colosseum still stands today, and you can step inside this grand structure and imagine yourself as a citizen of Rome heading in to watch a gladiator fight. This one can’t be missed!
Arch of Constantine
Located next to the Colosseum, the Arch of Constantine was built in 315 AD to commemorate Emperor Constantine’s victory over Maxentius, and Emperors would always march underneath it after a victory on their way to the Forum.
Sitting across the road from the Roman Forum, Trajan’s Forum (or the Imperial Forum) was built during Imperial times by Emperor Trajan in 112AD, and was one of the most important market places in Rome. Although much of it has disappeared, a section of the Forum as well as Trajan’s Column still remains and is worth checking out.
One of the best preserved Ancient Roman buildings, the Pantheon was built as a temple to all of the Roman Gods, and even to this day is still used as a Catholic Church. Because of its continuous use throughout the centuries, this building is certainly not a ruin and its preservation is quite exquisite. The Pantheon’s concrete dome is still the largest in the world.
Baths of Caracalla
Bathing was a social gathering in Ancient Rome and the Baths of Caracalla were built to accommodate this. Built at the start of the 3rd century, the Baths of Caracalla was a grand structure that could hold up to 1600 bathers, and also had a gym, libraries and shops.
All of these sites should give you a good insight into what life might have been like in Ancient Rome. While walking around these historical sites, try to imagine yourself as a citizen of Rome nearly 2000 years ago.