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Top Rated Attractions in Rome

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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 Museums

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.

Sistine Chapel

Some of the world's foremost examples of Renaissance art grace the ceiling of the spectacular Sistine Chapel. Originally built in 1479 under the direction of Pope Sixtus IV, the chapel forms a part of the Vatican City's Apostolic Palace. It is here that the College of Cardinals gather to elect a new Pope and has been the host of such gatherings and other Papal functions since it was first conceived of. At the time of its construction, while the walls of the chapel were painted with frescoes by artists like Sandro Botticelli, Pinturicchio and Cosimo Roselli, the ceiling was rendered a simple, solid blue with stars. It was not until 1508 that Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Many considered this an odd choice as Michelangelo, at that time, was not known as a skilled painter. This led to speculations that Michelangelo's lofty commission was a ploy devised by rival artists Raphael and Bramante to ensure his fall from grace. Not to be deterred, Michelangelo envisioned and achieved a series of frescoes that depict scenes from the Old Testament, beginning with Creation and ending at Noah's voyage aboard his ark. Each a masterpiece in its own right, together they form a vision of unmatched artistry that draws millions of visitors to the Pope's residence each year.

Galleria Borghese

This collection is housed in a building constructed in 1613 for Cardinal Scipione Borghese, one of Bernini's greatest patrons. In fact, this great sculptor has exhibited some of his most famous sculptures here; amongst them is the renowned Apollo and Daphne. When one thinks of the Museo Borghese, the sculpture that immediately springs to mind is Canova's Pauline Borghese, in which she poses as Venus, wearing just a drape around her midriff. There are six major pieces by Caravaggio in the Galleria, including The Boy with a Basket of Fruit and the Madonna Della Serpe. Titian is also represented with Sacred and Profane Love, Raphael with The Deposition, and there are important works by Correggio. The gallery can only hold 300 visitors at a time, so it is advisable to book in advance.

Auditorium Parco della Musica - Cavea

The Parco della Musica-Cavea Auditorium hosts a series of concerts, festivals, events and other shows every year. It brings in some famous performers like Diana Ross, Joe Jackson and Jim Hall. 'Flamenco', 'Luglio Suona Bene' and 'PianoSolo' are three of the musical festivals held at the Auditorium each year. The Auditorium brings in a cross cultural mix of musical tastes from ballet to opera to jazz. For the best performances in Rome, visit the Auditorium while tickets are still available.

Palatine Hill

Legendary birthplace of Romulus and Remus, Palatine Hill rises high above the ruins of the ancient city, an oft neglected remnant of the once prosperous Roman Empire. Just south of the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill was the site of the imperial and patrician residences of Rome, nestled alongside grand temples and teeming gardens. The ruins evoke visions of the lavish homes that once housed Ancient Rome's most affluent citizens, featuring sprawling courtyards, elegant columns, and stately arches bedecked in marble and captivating sculptures. The ruins rise from a bed of wildflowers and verdant lawns, and they offer a panoramic view of the ancient city around every corner. Believed to be where Rome first took root, Palatine Hill is an open-air museum wrapped in an aura of mystery. Of special interest are Emperor Domitian's Domus Flavia, the Farnese Gardens, and the Palatine Museum.

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