Visiting the Italian capital soon? Discover the most famous landmarks in Rome!
Rome is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It’s filled with history, art, culture and delicious food.
From the Roman times to the Renaissance, there are so many beautiful Roman landmarks to discover in the city.
If you love history and art, you will be in for a treat here! Rome truly has it all!
So, are you ready to discover the most iconic landmarks in Rome, Italy?
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Map of the famous landmarks in Rome
Most iconic landmarks in Rome
Let’s get started with the good stuff here and discover the most beautiful landmarks in Rome, Italy!
The Colosseum is the most famous landmark in Rome.
Located on Palatine Hill, you can easily get there with the metro (exit Colosseo, line B) or on foot from Termini Station or Piazza Venezia.
This Roman ampheteatre was built in 70 AD for Vespasian and officially inaugurated in 80 AD by Emperor Titus.
The opening was celebrated with 100 days of gladiatorial games.
With 4 stories, 8 entrances and 50,000 seats, the Colosseum became (and remained to this day!) the largest amphitheatre in the world!
There were many different entertainment shows organised at the Colosseum during Roman times including gladiator games, reenactments, dramas, theatre…
Unfortunately, the Colosseum was hit by a series of earthquakes in the 5th century which is why 2/3 are now missing.
HOW TO VISIT: The Colosseum is one of the most visited attractions in the world and should definitely be on your Rome bucket list!
You can buy tickets at the entrance directly however, it gets so busy that you may have to wait for hours (even if you show up hours before the opening).
To make sure you don’t spend your time in Rome queuing, make sure to book your tickets well in advance. You may also want to consider a skip-the-line ticket or a guided tour.
There is a lot to learn about the Colosseum and booking a guided tour is a great choice especially since guides get to skip the line!
Also, if you are planning on visiting several landmarks in Rome, you may want to consider getting the Rome All-Access card.
It includes a skip-the-line ticket for all the main attractions (Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hills and St Peter’s Basilica). It’s very good value for money and works out way cheaper than buying each ticket one by one. Click here to see the price.
The Spanish Steps are located on the Piazza Di Spagna which is the most central square in Rome.
The piazza itself is very pretty and boasts quite a few other landmarks such as the baroque-style Barcaccia Fountain.
But the most noticeable landmark here are the Spanish Steps.
The famous staircase goes all the way from Piazza di Spagna to the renowned church Trinità dei Monti.
They were built in 1723. Unlike what you may think, there is actually not much of Spanish about these steps.
They were designed by an italian architect, Francesco De Sanctis, and funded by a Frenchman, Stefano Gueffier.
If one thing, they should have been called French Steps! So why aren’t they?
Here is an interesting fact! The Spanish Embassy used to be located on Piazza di Spagna (which means Spain’s Square in Italian) and the steps built were connecting the embassy to the church. That’s why they are called Spanish Steps!
HOW TO VISIT: You can visit the Spanish Steps for free however, be aware of pickpockets in this area of the city.
To get to the Spanish Steps, you can take metro (Station Spagna, Line A) or walk there.
As you get to the Piazza, you’ll see the steps straight away. Make sure to walk all the way up so you can enjoy the views!
PRO TIP: This is one of the busiest places in Rome so if you want to avoid the crowds and get beautiful photos, make sure to get there early.
You may also want to go on a walking tour of Rome to learn more about the Spanish Steps and other landmarks in the city centre. Click here to see the latest prices.
The Trevi Fountain is one of the most beautiful fountains in the world.
Located in Rome city centre, you can easily get there on foot however, as you reach the Piazza de Trevi, you might be surprised by how small this square is.
It was designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and the construction started in 1732. It took 30 years to complete!
The fountain is 26.3 metres high and 49.15 metres wide. It is a wonderful tribute to Greek and Roman mythology as it features statues of Oceanus (with a chariot and seahorses), Abundance and Health.
It was featured it many movies including La Dolce Vita, where you can see Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg in the fountain (which is illegal by the way, don’t try that yourself!).
HOW TO VISIT: It is free to visit the fountain of Trevi. You can easily walk there and sit on the steps in front of the fountain to enjoy the views.
Please note that the piazza is very small and it gets over crowded. Make sure to get there early in the morning to enjoy the experience.
It’s also worth mentioning that according to the legend, if you toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain, you will come back to Rome!
To learn more about this landmark, consider going on a Fountains and Piazzas walking tour of Rome. Click here to see the prices.
St Peter’s Basilica
St Peter’s Basilica is located on St Peter’s Square in the Vatican city.
The Vatican City is one of the smallest countries in the world and is an enclave in Rome. That’s where the Pope live.
St Peter’s Basilica is the papal church and that’s where all the main Catholic celebrations and masses are held.
It’s an absolutely stunning Renaissance-style building that was started in 1506 (by Pope Julius II). It took 109 years to complete!
Inside, you will find famous masterpieces of the Renaissance from Michelangelo, Bernini and other Italian artists.
The cupola was designed by Michelangelo and is an absolute wonder!
HOW TO VISIT: You can visit the main part of the basilica for free however, the queue can be insanely long. If you don’t want to spend hours waiting in line, make sure to get there very early in the morning or get a skip-the-line ticket. See prices here.
You can also opt for a guided tour which includes a reserved entrance. See prices.
If you want to also visit the dome (the views from there are fantastic!) and the papal tombs, you can book a guided tour. See prices.
Finally, St Peter’s basilica is included in the Rome All-Access Pass so if you already bought this one, you will be all good to go!
The Pantheon is a former Roman temple that was initially constructed in 27 BC but was completely rebuilt in 118 AD by the emperor Hadrian.
The facade is stunning and features incredible roman columns.
As you step inside, you will discover the beautiful circular dome. As a matter of fact, the entire building is circular.
The Pantheon was an architectural achievement and the largest of the kind until modern times.
HOW TO VISIT: The Pantheon is easy to visit. You only need to get there and head towards the doors.
The entrance is free and it’s nowhere as busy as other places. Although it is always recommended to get there early, you should be able to visit it at any time of the day.
If you do want to learn more about it, you can do so on the Rome walking tour. See prices here.
The Castel Sant’Angelo was originally commissioned by Emperor Hadrian which is why it’s sometimes referred to as The Mausoleum of Hadrian.
It then became a papal castle and fortress. It was considered to be the safest place in Rome especially since it’s connected to St Peter’s via an underground passage.
This escape passage is called The Passetto di Borgo and is 800m long. It was used at least twice as an escape route for the Popes Alexander VI and Clement VII.
This passage was also made very famous in 2000 as it is featured in Dan Brown’s best selling novel, Angels and Demons.
Castel Sant’Angelo is now a museum and you can visit it!
Inside you will discover the papal rooms, paintings dating of the Renaissance as well as a collection of weapons.
HOW TO VISIT: Although it’s not as busy as the Colosseum, Castel Sant’Angelo is still one of the most visited attractions in Rome.
For this reason, it’s highly recommended to book well in advance. You can do so on the official website.
Alternatively, you can also opt for a skip-the-line ticket. This is an excellent option especially if the “normal” tickets sold out. See prices here.
Finally, if you want to learn more about this incredible building, you can also opt for a guided tour (this will also give you access to more areas). See prices here.
Victor Emmanuel II Monument
The Victor Emmanuel II Monument is a stunning building located on Piazza Venezia.
It was built in 1885 in honour of King Victor Emmanuel II who was the first king of a united Italy.
The unification of Italy (Risorgimento) was a political and social movement that led to the consolidation of the different states in the Italian peninsula into one single kingdom. It’s also at this time that Rome became the capital of Italy.
The building is incredibly beautiful. It’s entirely made of white marble!
HOW TO VISIT: You can easily get there on foot or with the metro. Once you stand in front of the building, you can either walk in and visit the museum of the unification of Italy.
You can also climb up to the panoramic terrace. This is well worth it because it boasts breath-taking views of Rome! And all of that, for free!
Finally, if you want to go all the way to the top, you can take the panoramic glass elevator. This will require buying a ticket though. Click here to see the prices.
Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers), Piazza Navona
The Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi is one of the most famous fountains in Rome.
This flamboyant masterpiece stands in the centre of the Piazza Navona.
It was designed in 1651 by Gian Lorenzo Bernini for Pope Innocent X. Bernini’s art can be found everywhere in Rome including in St Peter’s basilica, Ponte Sant’Angelo and galleria Borghese.
The fountain is split into 4 parts, each one representing one of the most famous rivers on each continent. You’ll find the Nile (Africa), the Ganges (Asia), the Danube (Europe) and the Río de la Plata (Americas).
Each river is represented by endemic plants and animals as well as an allegorical river god.
In the middle of the fountain stands a 16.53 m high obelisk (known as Obelisco Agonale).
HOW TO VISIT: This is one of the easiest landmarks to visit in Rome! You only need to head to Piazza Navona and walk to the fountain!
The piazza is pretty big so even when it’s busy there is enough space for everyone!
That said, if you can, try to visit it in the evening as well. It’s less busy and the lights are quite magical.
Fountain of Neptune, Piazza Navona
Located on the northern side of the Piazza Navona, the Fountain of Neptune is another noticeable fountain in Rome.
It was designed in 1574 by Giacomo della Porta. It used to be called Fontana dei Calderari and you may hear some locals still calling it as such.
This was the name of the street next to it. Interestingly enough, there were no statues on this fountain for the first 300 years. They were added by Antonio della Bitta and Gregorio Zappalà.
You can see there is a statue of Neptune with a triton, hence the name.
HOW TO VISIT: Again, there is no entrance fee to see the Neptune Fountain. As it is less popular than the Four River ones, it usually is easier to get nice photos with it as well!
The Roman Forum is located next to the Colosseum. It used to be one of the most important places in Rome during the Roman Empire.
The term forum refers to the main square. That was the place where everyone would gather. This also explains why it’s situated in such a central location, next to the other important roman buildings.
If you decide to visit Pompeii too, you’ll see how important the forum used to be. Amongst the important events that would happen here, there were the elections.
Although the site was known for centuries, the first offical excavations started in the 19th century.
HOW TO VISIT: The entrance ticket for the Roman Forum is included in your ticket for the Colisseum which makes it very easy.
Please note that a lot of people choose not to visit the forum and just do the Colosseum. This is a mistake you shouldn’t be making as the history of the forum is even more fascinating! If you’ve opted for a guided tour, your guide will explain it all! See prices here.
The Sistine Chapel is a papal chapel located in the Vatican Palace. It was built in the 15th century for Pope Sixtus IV which is why it’s named as such.
Although the chapel itself is nice, that’s not the building itself that made it so famous but its painting.
The Sistine chapel is home to 6 of the most beautiful frescoes in the world. They were all made by renowned Italian painters including Michelangelo and Botticelli!
The most famous frescoes are the one on the ceiling. They were done by Michelangelo and commissioned by Pope Julius II.
The Last Judgement is considered as Michelangelo’s masterpiece and one of the best example of Renaissance art in the world!
HOW TO VISIT: The only way to see the Sistine chapel is to visit the Vatican Museums.
The Vatican owns some of the most beautiful pieces of art in the world and no matter what you do, visiting the museums is a must-do!
The only issue with this is that the Vatican Museums are insanely busy. People start waiting in line hours before the opening!
For this reason, you need to make sure you buy your ticket in advance and should even consider a skip-the-line ticket as you may be waiting for hours.
You can opt for an early access. This is a great option for people who don’t want to wait and wish to stay away from the crowds. See prices here.
The other option is to book a guided tour. This is also a good thing to do. The Vatican Museums are massive and there is a lot to know about them. As you will be with a guide, you’ll get to skip the line too. See prices here.
As you may have gathered by now, Romans love entertainment and that’s exactly what Circus Maximus was all about.
This chariot-racing stadium was built in the early days of the Roman Empire and rebuilt under Julius Caesar to increase its capacity to up to 150,000 spectators.
Not only was it the largest hippodrome in the Roman Empire but it is also one of the largest sport arena that was ever built (yes, still to this day!).
To give you an idea of how big it was, let’s compare it. Camp Nou in Barcelona is the largest stadium in Europe and it can “only” seat 99,354 people.
HOW TO VISIT: Circus Maximus is located behind Palatine Hill. It’s one metro station away from the Colosseum which means you can easily walk there or take public transport.
Unlike the other sites, this one is free to visit. You can walk along the circus and enjoy the views.
Unfortunately, it’s not as well preserved as the Colosseum and it definitely lost a bit of its wow factor.
That having been said, if you’d like to discover what the Circus was like during the Roman Empire, you can try the Circus Maximus Virtual Reality Game. See prices here.
As you may know, Rome is often refered to as the City of Seven Hills. This is because it was, indeed, built on seven hills.
Palatine Hill is the most famous hill out the seven as well as the most central. It’s only 40 m from the Roman Forum which means you can easily hit two birds with one stone (even 3 if we count the Colosseum).
Palatine Hill is a very important landmark because it’s considered to be the birthplace of Rome.
According to the legend, that’s where Luperca used to live. She is the she-wolf who raised Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome.
Palatine Hills was also the most popular neighbourhood during Ancient Rome.
For this reason, you will find important landmarks such as: Domus Flavia, the House of Livia, the House of Augustus, Farnese Gardens, Hippodrome of Domitian and the Palatine Museum.
HOW TO VISIT: You can easily walk to Palatine Hill from the Colosseum. Entrance will be included in your Colosseum ticket so it’s very easy!
If you opted for a guided tour, your guide will also bring you there and explain all these interesting facts to you. Prices here.
The Villa Borghese is the most famous park in Rome.
The Italian capital is filled with parks and green areas. It’s very pleasant! Although La Villa Borghese is not the largest park (it’s the 3rd largest), it is jam-packed with things to see and visit.
You’ll find 80 hectares of gardens as well as the Galleria Borghese which hosts an impressive collection of paintings and sculptures.
You can also find a replica of the Shakespeare Globe Theatre. The original is in London but this replica was built in 2003 and is a nice place to visit as well.
HOW TO VISIT: The Villa Borghese is ideally located between the Spanish Steps and the Piazza del Popolo. You can easily walk up there and have a wonder.
The parc itself is of course free. You can spend as much time as you want there. And even though that’s one of the most popular parks in Rome, it never feels that busy. It’s so spacious!
For the Galleria Borghese, you will need to get an entrance ticket. Click here to see the prices.
If you’d like to learn more about the pieces of art there and the gardens, you can also opt for a guided tour of the Galleria. See prices here.
Piazza del Popolo
The Piazza del Popolo is located in the northern part of the old city, near the northern gate. It used to be one of the main entrances.
Today, it became a very popular square, linked to the rest of the city through some of the most important streets including Via del Corso.
Piazza del Popolo means the people’s square in Italian.
There are many reasons why you should visit the piazza del Popolo but the most common one is to see one the beautiful painting of Caravaggio in the Santa Maria del Popolo basilica.
You will also find in the middle the Flaminio Obelisk, an Egyptian obelisk dedicated to Ramesses II.
HOW TO VISIT: You can easily get to the Piazza on foot on with the metro (station Flaminio).
It is free to walk around the piazza and in the basilica.
PRO TIP: For fantastic views of the piazza, take the stairs up to Pincio Park.
Now that you know everything about the most famous landmarks in Rome, the only thing you have to do is to start exploring!
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