Visit Ancient Rome

Ancient Rome is still studied today. People around the world are enamoured by this ancient civilisation. In fact, you can still see much of ancient Rome in modern Rome today.

Ancient Rome, Italy

Here’s our guide to seeing the best of ancient Rome in this modern society.

  • Colosseum

    One of ancient Rome’s best-known buildings is, of course, the Colosseum. This huge amphitheatre held up to 55,000 people and was build all the way back in 80AD. It is perhaps best known as the location of Rome’s infamous gladiatorial and animal fights.

    When it was built, the colosseum was the largest amphitheatre in the Roman world. It was particularly unique as it was freestanding. Previous amphitheatres were built into the sides of hills, which provided structural support for the large structures. Its distinctive exterior is easily recognisable, with almost 80 columns around the perimeter.

    Despite its large seating number, spectators were crammed in like sardines, standing for hours in the Roman heat. Large awnings pulled down from the upper levels to protect spectators from the harsh roman sun. Most of the fights watched here were fought by men, however, there was occasionally a female gladiator. Gladiators were generally slaves, criminals or prisoners of war, and often were required to fight to the death for others entertainment.

    Today there are no fights held inside the Colosseum, however, you can most certainly still visit this incredible venue. It looks a little different to what it did when it was first built thanks to weather, neglect and natural disaster. Regardless, it is still an amazing feat of engineering waiting for you to visit.

  • The Pantheon

    Built between 118 and 125, the Pantheon us the temple of all the gods. In the 7th century, the pantheon was converted to a church by early Christians, and today homes serval tombs.

    Today the Pantheon is the best-preserved building from ancient Rome. There are some debates around the purpose of the building. While there is a common belief it was the temple of all gods there was no Roman cult at the time that dedicated themselves to all gods. An alternative theory is that the Pantheon was built specifically as a place where the emperor could make public appearances. By making appearances in a temple-like place, it reminded onlookers of the emperor’s divine status, equal with all gods.

    You may not realise, by the Pantheon you know today is actually the third pantheon built on this site. The first two were both destroyed by fire in 80 CE and 110 CE respectively. This Pantheon is particularly interesting due to its architectural structure. The building is a perfect sphere resting in a cylinder. Be sure to look up into the perfect dome when you enter and discover the opulent tombs surrounding the perimeter.

  • Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and Capitoline Museums

    In ancient Rome, emperors and aristocrats lived on Palatine Hill. The Domus Flavia and Domus Augustana were built in the first century BC and were the official residence of the Roman emperors for over 300 years.

    The majestic hill towers over the Roman Forum and the Colosseum, providing some of the very best views in Rome. The hill also acts as a bit of a green haven in the city. With cobbled streets, sandstone buildings and ancient buildings, this field of grass and wildflowers provide some relief from the tourist-filled limestone of the city below.

    Today, access to the hill is via the Roman Forum. The Roman Forum is a sprawling park of ruins that was once the centre of ancient Rome. The ruins are the remains of vibrant public spaces that once were bustling with people and life.

    Wander down Via Sacra, the Forum’s main thoroughfare. It runs from Capitoline Hill to the Arco di Tito in the east of the Forum.

    In ancient Rome, many processions would make their way down Via Sacra. Triumphant generals would return to Rome after battles or war and be honoured with a dramatic procession. The procession would make its way up Via Sacra to the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus on the Capitoline Hill.

    Atop the Capitoline Hill is the Capitoline Museums, the world’s oldest public museums. They include collections of classical sculptures including the iconic Lupa Capitolina. The museums opened in 1471 when Pope Sixtus IV bequeathed a small collection of bronze statues to the citizens of Rome. Today, the museums are still owned and operated by the Municipality of Rome.

  • Trevi Fountain

    Moving out of the Roman Forum, head into the modern city to discover the Trevi Fountain. Now, while the current fountain itself is not quite ancient, the story and reasoning for its location is. The fountain sits at the junction of three roads and marks the terminal point of the “modern” Acqua Vergine.

    In 19 BC an Aqua Virgo was built to provide the city of Rome with fresh water. This aqueduct provided “pure” and “virginal” water to Rome’s baths and fountains. This pure water system well and truly predates the monumental fountain façade you see today. The aqueduct served the citizens of ancient Rome for more than 400 years.

    The name Trevi Fountain comes from the Italian words for three roads, tre vie. Ergo, Trevi Fountain.

The modern city of Rome has been truly built on, and around, the ruins of its ancient predecessor. Wandering through the city you can see and feel the thousands of years old civilization that built it.

Ancient Rome can be seen incredibly easily during a visit to this modern city.

Related article: What did the Romans invent?

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