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Best Historic Locations in Rome

By: Cityseeker
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Victor Emmanuel II National Monument

Il Vittoriano a fine white marble structure built under the auspices of newly installed King Victor Emmanuel and was inaugurated in 1911, a symbol of Italian unity. It has been the centerpiece for many important processions and moments of glory since Italy's reunification, including the parades of Mussolini that took place outside it. The statue of Emmanuel stands tall in front of this magnificent building along with the tomb of the unknown soldier nearby. The whole edifice has a massive and grandiose appearance covered in marble and atop sit two quadrigae of the goddess Victoria. Today, it houses an interesting museum which details the international and domestic intrigue which resulted in the Risorgimento, or the Reunification of the Country. Open hours vary by season. Call before visiting.

Rome, Italy
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Palazzo Venezia

Construction of this palace begun in 1455 for the Venetian cardinal, Pietro Barbi, who made it his residence. Construction of the first palace was completed shortly before his election to the Papacy in 1464 when he adopted the name Paul II. He then decided to amplify the palace and make it a dwelling worthy of a pope. The work continued until 20 years after the Pope's death and it underwent architectural transformations on several occasions over the centuries. In 1916 it was confiscated by the state of Italy which decided to make it the Palazzo Venezia museum, a role it still plays, as well as being the library of the National Institute of Archaeology and History of Art. During the Fascist regime, the palace was made famous by newsreels of the time, showing Mussolini speaking to the crowds below from a window in the palace.

Rome, Italy
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Santa Maria in Aracoeli

The beautiful church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli, built on the foundations of the temple of Juno, is located on top of the Capitoline hill, near the Campidoglio. It is reached by more than 100 steps, which, according to tradition, one must climb on one's knees in order to obtain pardon for one's sins. The interior of the church is magnificently decorated with paintings by Pinturicchio, and the ceiling bears frescoes recording the battle of Lepanto. It is said that the statue of the baby Jesus, carved from a tree trunk from the garden of Gethsemane, has miraculous powers. However, the original statue was stolen and never recovered.

Rome, Italy
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Complesso del Vittoriano

Popular among locals as Il Milite Ignoto 'The Unknown Soldier', Complesso del Vittoriano is a museum that houses the bodies of various soldiers who fought in the World War I. After efforts of more than 20 years put into constructing this monument, it was finally completed in 1911. The architecture and exterior of the museum is of equal importance. The front facade of the museum is embellished with statues representing the various regions of Italy. The fountains of the two seas, greets visitors who enter through the gates. Do pay close attention to the inscriptions on various artifacts.

Rome, Italy
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Church of the Gesù, Frascati

Near the Piazza del Popolo, the Church of the Gesù, Frascati, Rome's first Jesuit church, served as a model for later churches. Its appearance was changed in the 17th Century, when its original austerity ceded to Baroque decoration. Designed by Andrea Pozzo, the chapel of Sant' Ignazio, with its columns in lapis lazuli and its gilded friezes, is typical of Baroque taste. Bernini is represented by a statue dedicated to San Roberto Bellarmino, a great theologian of the counter-Reformation. Do not miss the allegorical frescoes of the nave, with stuccoes by Antonio Raggi, designed by Giovan Battista Gaulli, known as Baciccia, and responsible also for the paintings in the vault, the dome and the apse.

Rome, Italy
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Trajan's Column

Trajan's Column stands between two seemingly twin churches - Santa Maria di Loreto and Santissimo Nome di Maria. It is 40 meters high, overlooking the remaining columns of the ancient Ulpia Basilica in Trajan's Forum. It is thought that the column was originally erected between two large libraries that were, with the terrace of Trajan's Temple and the terrace of the Ulpia Basilica, places where Romans could admire the historical reliefs on the column. The column has resisted degradation superbly over the years, the spiral frieze illustrates the most important episodes in Trajan's successful expedition against the Dacians as well as showing the everyday lives of soldiers. On the top of the column (reached via a stairway inside) there is a bronze statue of St. Peter sculpted by Tommaso della Porta which, it is thought, must have replaced one of the emperor himself.

Rome, Italy
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Piazza del Campidoglio

Reorganization of Piazza del Campidoglio began in 1539 as part of a plan undertaken by Pope Paul III. It was the first square created as part of a plan conceived by Michelangelo in which a space was created between Palazzo Senatorio and Palazzo dei Conservatori bounded by a new symmetrical building. The square is in the shape of a trapezoid with the Palazzo Senatorio on the longer side (the seat of the city council's administrative offices) and the Capitoline Museums on either side. Michelangelo also designed the monumental flight of steps that leads to the square on either side of which were the Dioscuri designed by Giacomo della Porta. The pavement in the center designed by Michaelangelo on which stands the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, survived the Middle Ages as it was thought, that it represented the Emperor Constantine, the protector of the Christian religion.

Rome, Italy
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Trajan's Market

This is probably the oldest shopping center in the world. Built by the Emperor Trajan in the 2nd Century CE, it consisted of 150 offices and shops selling food, flowers, jewelry and wool. The finest shops were decorated with mosaics depicting the merchandise on sale. Today the shops are intact, but empty, even though, when the wine-shops were rediscovered, they were full of wine. The offices on the floor above organized the distribution of free rations of corn to the citizens of Rome.

Rome, Italy
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Capitoline Hill

Capitoline Hill is located near the Foro Romano and Campus Martius. The hill is one of the seven hills that were located in the ancient city, and was the center of all the activities of the empire. The Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, the most revered temple at that time stood here, and its ruins are still visible. Housed here are the Musei Capitolini and City Hall.

Rome, Italy
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Arch of Septimius Severus

On the far western end of the Roman Forum, the tall structure made of gleaming marble is the Arch of Septimius Severus or common among locals as Arco di Settimio Severo. Established in 203CE,, this arch was constructed as a tribute to Emperor Septimius Severus and his children's conquest over the Parthians. Standing at a height of 20.88 meters (68.6 feet), this is structure has beautiful carvings of the victorious battle etched onto its facade. The top of this memorial is embellished with sculpture of the emperor and his children.

Rome, Italy
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Temple of Saturn

Just like the Colosseum, the Temple of Saturn is a prominent icon of ancient Rome's prosperity and architectural grandiose. It is not hard to find this landmark, although only a few columns of the temple survive; the ruins of the temple jut out at the base of the touristy Capitoline Hill. The history of this temple dates back to 497 BCE, having been built under the seventh and last king of Rome - Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. It is known that the temple underwent facelifts several times during the Republic era, however remained consecrated to the Saturn God. A definite must-visit for Roman history enthusiasts.

Rome, Italy
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Roman Forum

A bygone beacon of the Roman Empire, the Foro Romano was the nucleus of social, political and economic life in this historic city. Located between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills, it was a revered meeting place that witnessed the alpha and omega of a thriving empire. Triumphal processions raked the regal roads of this plaza, while morbid silences hung in the air after trials and executions that were carried out. Among the priceless vestiges that remain today, the most salient ones include the Regia, the royal residence, the Temple of Vesta and the Temple of Saturn. Towards the northwest, the Umbilicus Urbis indicates the symbolic heart of Ancient Rome, and the northern aisle of the Basilica of Maxentius still stands in grandeur. While their transient glory is lost to the ravages of time, what is left behind is not less than awe-inspiring. Worn columns, near-crumbling facades of ancient marble and stoic triumphal arcs still dominate the ruins' antiquated skyline.

Rome, Italy
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