Designed by some of Italy's most infamous master artists, St. Peter's Basilica is not only the world's largest church but is also one of its most spectacular. Originally built at the site of St. Peter's grave around 349 CE by Emperor Constantine, the basilica, as it stands today, was consecrated in 1626 at the culmination of over 120 years of construction. The original designs were laid out by Bramante in 1506, however, over the following years, the ambitious designs were altered by several renown architects including Michelangelo, Giacomo Della Porta and Carlo Maderno, each adding their own personal touch to the magnanimous design. St. Peter's Basilica now enshrines some of the world's most famed artworks including Michelangelo's Pieta and Bernini's Baldachin. The splendid facade and riches that lie within are crowned by an intricately adorned dome that is revered as Michelangelo's most grand architectural legacy. The Pope delivers the Urbi et Orbi blessing each year on the occasion of Christmas and Easter from the basilica's central balcony, attracting millions of devout pilgrims to the threshold of St. Peter's each year. He remains the only one who can serve at the high altar of St. Peter's Basilica.
Santa Maria in Trastevere is the first Roman church to be consecrated to the Madonna. Its foundations were laid in approximately AD 400, when Christianity was only just beginning to take root in Europe. The present edifice is dated 1300 and contains beautiful mosaics by Pietro Cavallini, especially those dedicated to the life of the Virgin Mary. There is a magnificent life-size icon, La Madonna della Clemenza, from as early as the 7th Century. The nave is formed from granite columns taken from ancient Roman edifices. The 12th-century mosaics of the façade, depicting the Madonna and child and ten women holding lamps, are not to be missed. The portico was renovated in the 18th Century by Carlo Fontana and the balustrade is decorated with statues of Popes, baroque additions which do not detract from the church's original medieval aspect.
The magnanimous proportions of the Colosseum have long been a source of wonder. Originally envisioned in 70 CE, the construction of this grand structure was completed in 80 CE. At that time, it is believed that this vast amphitheater could seat upwards of 50,000 spectators at once. The Colosseum also features on the Italian version of the five-cent Euro. Deemed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Colosseum was designed to be a horse racing circuit and arena for animal fighting and gladiatorial battles, although it has also hosted significant religious ceremonies in its early days. It is a symmetrical wonder set in the historic landscape of Rome's heart. The enormous ruin is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered by many to be an iconic symbol of Italy.
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.
This military body was founded in the second half of the 1700s in order to exact customs duty on behalf of the State and to watch the borders for smugglers. This collection at Museo Storico Guardia di Finanza comprises of uniforms, documents and objects relating to wars up to the time of the Resistance and the surveillance of the alpine and maritime borders. The reconstructed models show boats and transporters of contraband goods. The sporting section illustrates the trophies and triumphs of the "Yellow Flames" sports team. Admission: Free.
Many statues have been used in Rome to represent opinions conflicting opinions, and one of the most famous is that of Pasquino in the wall of the Palazzo De Carolis and dates from the 16th Century. It shows a man holding a barrel from which a jet of water spurts out. Many hypotheses have been put forward as to who the man is supposed to be: Martin Luther, a member of the Università degli Acquaroli or a certain Abbondio Rizzio, a famous and garrulous drinker.
The main church in the Vittoria district stands on Viale Mazzini. It is the church of Cristo Re. The modern design by architect Marcello Piacentini was built in 1924; the first thing the observer notices is the dark brown color of the façade which is made entirely of terracotta. The church has two large bell towers on either side. The main façade has three large arches each with an entrance. The center portal is decorated with a sculpture of Cristo Re and inscribed with the phrase Ave Rex Noster (Greetings to Our King) by Arturo Martini. The other two portals are decorated with a heart and a coat of arms with a dove (originally there was an eagle). All the sculptures are in bronze.
The house of the humanist Lorenzo Manilio is now numbers one and two in the Via del Portico d'Ottavia. One inscription gives his name in Latin and Greek on the architrave, while another is in Roman letters on the frieze, noting the year of construction as 1497. The house is on two levels with shops on the ground floor. It was decorated with high reliefs of which some fragments remain. The scene of a lion attacking a deer and another of two dogs are particularly noteworthy.
The Mura Serviane take their name from the mythical sixth king of Rome, Servio Tullio, to whom legend attributes the building of these walls. In fact, it has been historically proven that these walls, which ran for eleven kilometers around the Quirinale, Esquilino and Viminale hills, were built around halfway through the 4th Century BCE, exactly when this Latin king reigned. The most imposing remains of the fortifications can be seen near Termini, but you can see other sections of them in the church of Santi Quattro Coronati, on Viale Aventino, near Teatro Marcello, and elsewhere. It also seems that the blocks of tufa found at Santa Sabina and near the Terme di Diocleziano belonged to the same fortifications.
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.