Rome, the cradle of civilization, Rome caput mundi, or simply Rome, the city of a thousand faces. Seat of the Papacy, its current countenance is the result of innumerable urbanistic and architectonic modifications that run through its layers and through the millennia.

Fori Imperiali

Imperial Rome is certainly that which is best-known. The splendors of Antiquity are living and visible in the Capital today: from the Colosseum to the Imperial Forums, the Domus Aurea, the Pantheon and Circus Maximus. At the end of the 1400s, the great Florentine Renaissance moved to Rome, where the Popes had become the important patrons of art, thus summoning the best artists to bedeck and embellish the city.

Circo Massimo

Rome appeared as if it were one great construction site: churches began to proliferate (e.g. San Pietro in Montorio and its Tempietto del Bramante, or Santa Maria della Pace and its frescoes by Raphael) and already-existing churches were restructured and newly-decorated - think Santa Maria in Aracoeli, where Pinturicchio and Donatello worked their magic. Princely palaces were built or at least adorned, among which Palazzo Farnese, Palazzo della Cancelleria, and Villa Farnesina stand out from some of the city’s most important piazzas, for example the Campidoglio, one of several of Michelangelo's masterpieces. 


Then, the Baroque in Rome thrived from the 1600s on, and was dominated by architects like Bernini and Borromini. This is the Rome of Palazzo del Quirinale, current residence of the President of the Republic; of Piazza Navona with its Four Rivers Fountain; and of Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza and Palazzo Spada. During this period, Caravaggio was the indisputable genius in town, and he bequeathed to it countless invaluable works.

Piazza del Popolo

In the transition from Baroque to Neoclassicism, Rome began to show off new sites such as Piazza del Popolo, and then the Vittorio Emanuele II monument (inaugurated in 1911 but finished only in 1925), known as Il Vittoriano). The first decades of the 1900s were characterized by the creation of two very particular zones of Rome: the Coppedè Quarter, containing the splendid Villino delle Fate, and EUR, with its famous “rationalist” structures. The Art Nouveau period can also be seen in places like Ostia, with its homes and buildings in the style that the Italians call “Liberty” (Ostia is especially appreciated for its ancient seaport ruins). 

Piazza Navona

Of course, Christian Rome comprises the Vatican City, the Patriarchal Basilicas – San Giovanni in Laterano, Santa Maria Maggiore and St. Paul Outside the Walls – and the Catacombs. On the southern bank of the Tiber River of northern Rome lies the area of Ponte Milvio and the newest bridge, Ponte della Musica, uniting the Flaminio Quarter - where Renzo Piano’s Auditorium Parco della Musica reigns - to the MAXXI Museum of Contemporary Art (designed by internationally-renowned Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid). Nearby are the Palazzetto dello Sport and the Flaminio Stadium (or Stadio di Nervi, work of the architect Pier Luigi Nervi), as well as the Vittorie neighborhood, the Italic Forum and the Olympic Stadium

St.Peters Basilica

The Capital is not only a city of monuments, but a city alive with cultural centers and events: permanent and temporary exhibits, and both ancient and contemporary artworks abound in its innumerable museums: the Borghese Gallery, the Doria Pamphilj Gallery, GNAM, the Macro, Scuderie del Quirinale, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Chiostro del Bramante, Villa Giulia, the Capitoline Museums, Palazzo Altemps, Palazzo Barberini, Palazzo Massimo, and Trajan’s Markets.

The Rape of Proserpina, Borghese Gallery. Photo by: wjarek

Rome’s ample cultural offering can also be found in its theatres: the Teatro dell'Opera’s summer season takes place at the Caracalla Baths; the National Academy of Santa Cecilia features a renowned orchestra; the Teatro Brancaccio and Teatro Sistina are Italy’s hubs for the musicals generated by Broadway and the West End (while many spectators flock to the Teatro Argentina and Teatro Eliseo for plays); and finally, the works of Shakespeare find their (summer) home in Villa Borghese’s Globe Theatre.

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