Enclosed by Bernini's magnificent colonnade, this square has the largest number of visitors in the world. Millions of tourists wait here either for the Pope's Sunday blessing or to enter the Basilica. More than a square, the colonnade gives it the atmosphere of a courtyard, inviting people to enter the church. The obelisk in the heart of the square has been standing there since 1586. When a new pope is being chosen, it is at St. Peter's Square that thousands gather keenly to see the black smoke turn white and find out who the next pope is going to be. During Christmas, a nativity scene and a Christmas tree are installed, and there is a remarkable atmosphere of celebration, with the majestic dome dominating the scene behind.
Designed by Nicola Salvi for Pope Clemente XII, the Trevi Fountain was completed in the second half of the 18th Century. A towering likeness of Oceanus forms the centerpiece of the Baroque fountain, with Abundance and Salubrity on either side, while the rococo-style Poli Palace provides the perfect backdrop. Tritons guide the chariot of Oceanus, and all around the water flows, its gushing sound rising to a crescendo befitting the all-consuming power it represents. Tradition has it that throwing a coin over your left shoulder into the fountain guarantees a swift return to Rome. Anita Ekberg's dip in the Trevi Fountain was immortalized in Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita, and Italian actor Toto even sold it to an American, passing himself off as its owner. Featured in numerous movies since Trevi Fountain has long inspired the passions of the human race and continues to be revered the world over as one of Italy's most triumphant sculptural works.
Originally commissioned by Marcus Agrippa, and subsequently rebuilt by Hadrian, the Pantheon is a monumental homage to the architectural finesse and ingenuity of the Romans. Massive bronze doors guard the entrance to the central space, sheltered by the graceful arch of the Pantheon's dome. The temple was transformed into a church in the early 7th Century by Pope Boniface IV and has remained well-preserved as a result. The building's primary source of light is the oculus, a circular opening at the dome's apex, rimmed with the original Roman bronze used at the time of its construction. Many famous Italians are buried in the Pantheon, including the Renaissance painter, Raphael, and King Vittorio Emanuele I.
One of the most beautiful and popular squares in the world, visiting Piazza Navona has to be in your itinerary while in Rome.The stunning buildings, fountain and the sculptures at this square have an magical appeal. The elegance and sheer beauty of Piazza Navona is bound to leave a long lasting impression on you. During the Christmas season, the square is packed with stalls selling toys, sweets and decorations for the nativity scene or Christmas tree, making it a favorite spot for children. Its unusual shape recalls the time of Domitian, who built a stadium for equestrian displays here. The Fountain of the Rivers, with the obelisk, and the Fountain of the Moor, with the God of the Sea, at the center of the square are both sculpted by Bernini.
The splendid fortress of Castel Sant'Angelo was originally built as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian in 139 CE. In the 10th Century CE, it was transformed into a castle, then, 500 years later, into the elegant residence of Pope Alexander VI Borgia. Michelangelo designed the marvelous main court for Pope Leo X and many of the rooms inside are decorated with frescoes of great beauty. It is also been used to house prisoners, including the sculptor Benvenuto Cellini. The terrace offers a fine view of the river Tiber and opera lovers will know that this was where the final act of Giacomo Puccini's opera Tosca (1900) took place. The building is now a museum with a fine collection of suits of armor which is open to the public.
Established in 1506, Vatican Museums is a collection of different museums that house masterpieces from the bygone era. The museum houses 54 galleries and is home to the Sistine Chapel as well. The museums were founded by Pope Julius II. The museum attracts millions of visitors throughout the year and is touted to be one of the top five most visited museums in the world. Visitors are offered guided tours to the museum and can see fine works by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Perugino, Ghirlandaio and Botticelli among a plethora of other artists. Major highlights of the museum includes the double spiral staircase dating back to 1932, The Gallery of Maps from the 16th Century, the Raphael Rooms and epitaph of Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus.
Centro Storico is where you will find many of Rome's historic sites, from the Campo de' Fiori to the Pantheon to Piazza Navona. Because the city attracts millions of tourists each year, this is also where you will find a lot of the upscale shops. The pedestrian-only via dei Condotti has all the favorites, the kind of shops that you wait in line for just to get in, even when there is no one inside: MaxMara, Modigliani, Louis Vuitton, Salvatore Ferragamo, Cartier, Gucci, Hermès. The whole district is a wonderful maze of cobblestone streets. You will find mostly tourists here, including a celebrity or two. Romans head to the outskirts of town for their less expensive shopping, but this is where the big names are, so do not be put off by this fact. It is an excellent area to come to if you have limited time as you can see the sites and get in your shopping in the same area. This is the area most people think of when they envision Rome; the old center of the city and one that attracts millions of visitors every year.
The Fontana della Pigna stands in the Piazza San Marco near Piazza Venezia. It represents the large ancient pinecone (now held in the Vatican) after which the district was named. The fountain was designed by Pietro Lombardi who was commissioned to create ten small fountains in 1927 with the aim of beautifying the city. The fountain is made entirely from travertine stone and is formed by a small basin from which two corollas of tulips stretch as they support the pine cone. The water spurts from side jets, falling primarily into the basin and then into a larger tank at ground level.
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.
This is an example of a "talking statue"; one that used to represent opinions that were counter to the dominant power. This one is unique because it is of a woman, Madama Lucrezia, who was well-known to Alfonso of Aragon, the king of Naples. She came to Rome after the death of the king as a guest of Cardinal Pietro Barbo. The people of Rome named the statue in honor of her beauty.
The Church of San Marco, together with the Palazzo Venezia with which it is joined, is one of the most interesting early Renaissance buildings in Rome. It dates back to 1336 and was built by Pope Mark in honor of St. Mark the Evangelist, who is celebrated on April 25. The church has a 15th-century portico attributed to Leon Battisti Albert. The upper open gallery is designed by Giuliano da Maiano, while the beautiful 16th-century portal is credited to Isaia da Pisa. The church contains numerous medieval remains including an ancient well, and the bell tower. This church belongs to the Venetian community in Rome.
The Roman skyline is marked by several beautiful domes, one of the prominent Forum ones being Santa Maria di Loreto. This 16th century church took over 60 years to built. The work began with Donato Bramante in 1507 and was taken forward by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger. The intricate dome and the bell tower were designed by Michelangelo prodigy Jacopo del Duca in 1573. The entrance portal carries the signature of Andrea Sansovino. The church is built on a central plan and is made up of semicircular chapels. It is decorated with mosaics, canvases, and six statues representing angels and saints.