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.
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.
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.
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.
Vatican City is amongst the most important historical and religious sites in the world; it is the seat of the Roman Catholic Church and the home of the Pope. The smallest state in the world, it occupies only about 0.44 square kilometers (0.17 square miles) near the center of Rome and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Vatican has figured in key events throughout history and is further significant because of its superlative architectural, religious, and artistic attractions. It was Pope Julius II della Rovere in the 16th Century who commissioned Michelangelo to paint the history of creation on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel - just one of the Vatican's world-renown cultural and artistic jewels. Others include St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums. Among countless other notable events, the Vatican also hosts the convening of the College of Cardinals upon the death of a reigning Pontiff, to elect a new Pope. No visit to Rome is complete without an excursion to this magnificent location, a place steeped in history and tradition.
A visit to Basilica di San Clemente al Laterano is a fascinating journey through time. From the upper basilica, which dates from the beginning of the 12th Century and whose apse boasts the mosaic The Triumph of the Cross, one passes into the 4th-century lower basilica, and, via a stairway, down to the Roman constructions and the mitreo, a 3rd-century temple dedicated to the God Mithra. Of particular interest are the frescoes in the chapel of St Catherine, painted between 1428 and 1431 by Masolino da Panicale, possibly with the collaboration of Masaccio.
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.
This gallery is attached to Palazzo Colonna and is made up of six rooms, richly decorated with ceiling frescoes and a host of beautiful paintings like Annibale Carracci's il Mangiafagioli. There are also two writing desks, which are marvelous works of art and well worth seeing. The first desk is decorated in semi-precious stone with bronze statuettes and the second is decorated with inlaid ivory. Unfortunately, this splendid gallery is only open once a week, but it is definitely worth visiting in order to see these unique pieces.
Church of the Most Holy Name of Mary at the Trajan Forum was built over the site of a small church belonging to the order of the Compagnia di San Bernardo. The new church passed into the hands of the Company of the Most Holy Name of Mary, which is how it got its name. It is easy to find because of its location next to the Church of Santa Maria di Loreto. The church was built upon the occasion of the Christians' victory against the Turks, which took place on the September 12, 1683, and this is also the day that the festival of Santissimo Nome di Maria takes place. The church is built in an 18th-century Baroque style on an elliptic plan, and is made up of seven chapels. The interior is richly decorated with stucco-work, marble, and medallions showing scenes from the life of Mary. The main altar holds a very famous image on wood of the Virgin with Child.
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.
Waldensian Evangelical Church (Chiesa Evangelica Valdese) is a beautiful Waldensian church built in the 19th Century. The church has a striking, Renaissance exterior with intricate artwork on the entrance that is simply impossible to miss. The interior of the church is as artistic as its façade with well-laid out columns, coffered ceilings and stained-glass windows pouring in ample of sunlight illuminating every corner. The organ of the church is worth your appreciation, it dates back to the 18th Century; the dual-keyboard organ can hit up to 61 notes and choirs and concerts revolve impeccably around the organ.
Lucio Cornelio Balbi was a decorated soldier who worked for both Julius Caesar and Ottavius Augustus. The long wars that he fought in Africa and elsewhere bought him fame and wealth, with which he built a theater in 14 BCE that stretched across the Tiber river. Today the ancient theater houses a part of Museo Nazionale Romano, that tells the events witnessed by the place and the glory of Lucio Cornelio Balbi. The major theme however remains display of the urban landscape from the ancient period to the present day. A lot of excavations were done in the area nearby bring back those bygone days. The excavators have divided their findings by plexiglass, and it displays the artifacts with details on how and where they found them. Although the remains of the theater are few, the major artifacts found here are utensils, pottery, coins and cutlery. An interesting discovery is the work tools and materials from a 7th Century workshop.