The architecture of Rome has been celebrated for centuries. This beautiful city is home to some of the most famous buildings and landmarks in the world. Here are the Rome monuments not to be missed when you visit the eternal city – from the ancient to the more modern, from the famous to the less well known, from the picturesque to the impressive – here are the 25 monuments in Rome not to be missed.
25 Rome Monuments
Table of Contents
- 1 25 Rome Monuments
- 1.1 1. Trevi Fountain, Rome
- 1.2 2. The Colosseum, Rome
- 1.3 3. Spanish Steps
- 1.4 4. Altar of the Fatherland
- 1.5 5. The Roman Forum
- 1.6 6. Pantheon, Rome
- 1.7 7. Castel Sant’Angelo
- 1.8 8. St Peter’s Basilica
- 1.9 9. Bernini’s Elephant
- 1.10 10. The Arch of Titus
- 1.11 11. Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (Santa Maria Church)
- 1.12 12. Circus Maximus
- 1.13 13. Marcus Aurelius Column
- 1.14 14. Bocca Della Verita (Mouth of Truth)
- 1.15 15. Vittorio Emmanuel Monument
- 1.16 16. Piazza Navona Fountains
- 1.17 17. Baths of Caracalla
- 1.18 18. Monument to Giuseppe Mazzini
- 1.19 19. Ponte Fabricio
- 1.20 20. Ponte Settima Spizzichino
- 1.21 21. Ponte Umberto I
- 1.22 22. Fontana del Pantheon
- 1.23 23. Trajan’s Column
- 1.24 24. Column of Phocas
- 1.25 25. Palazzo Massimo Alle Colonne
1. Trevi Fountain, Rome
Rome, one of the world’s most beautiful cities, is home to this renowned Baroque-style fountain. It’s a true artwork, consisting of Carrara marble statues and sea reefs made from travertine. At the centre, you’ll see Neptune, flanked by two Tritons and sea horses, which is meant to represent the oceans’ alternate moods.
The Trevi Fountain is located at a junction of three roads and was one of the original sources of water in Ancient Rome. A competition was held in the 1700s by Pope Clement XII for a new design for the fountain. Nicola Salvi was awarded the prize.
The Trevi Fountain was finished in 1762, 11 years after Salvi died. Work on the fountain was completed by four other sculptors. More recently restorations have been conducted in 1988, 1998 and 2013.
Legend has it that if you throw one coin into the Trevi Fountain you will return to Rome. Two coins mean that you will return to Rome and you will fall in love. Three coins mean you will return to Rome, find love and marry.
The coin is supposed to be thrown by the right hand over the left shoulder for maximum results. In 2016 about USD$1.5 million was thrown into the Trevi Fountain. The money goes to the needy of Rome.
The Trevi Fountain is free to visit and gets very busy. The hours between midday and 7 pm tend to be the busiest so do try to avoid them. The fountain lights up once the sun goes down which can make for some lovely photos.
To reach Trevi Fountain, catch the metro to Piazza Barberini. From here, head west on Via del Tritone, then south on Via Stamperia until you reach the square where the fountain is situated.
2. The Colosseum, Rome
Located in Italy’s capital, this attraction should be at the very top of your bucket list. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was completed in 80 AD. Construction first began in 72 AD, by order of Emperor Vespasian. But Titus, his son, was responsible for its completion.
Could over 7 million people be wrong – and that’s just in the last 12 months! That is how many people visit Italy‘s most popular tourist attraction the Colosseum in Rome each year. This ancient amphitheater was the site of Rome’s famous public spectacles like those seen in the movie Gladiator.
The Colosseum was the biggest amphitheater in the world during its time, seating over 70,000 people. The structure was constructed in 70 AD – yes it’s that old. It is 157 feet tall and remarkably well preserved considering its age.
The amphitheatre has seen its fair share of gladiator games, animal hunts and more. Be sure to check out the Hypogeum, where the animals and gladiators were often kept. The Arch of Constantine and Bronze Cross are two other sights to see here.
Every ticket to the Colosseum also includes access to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. The Roman Forum is located next door to the Colosseum and Palatine Hill is also part of the area.
When you purchase this ticket online you will be given options for different times on the day you want to visit. Of course, the further ahead you book the more options will be available.
⇒ Read my Skip the Line Colosseum Complete Guide
3. Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps date back to 1723. This steep set of steps run between the Piazza di Spagna at the base to Piazza Trinita dei Monti at the top at the eastern end of the old city centre.
The staircase was designedy by Francesco De Sanctis and were originally built to link the Bourbon Spanish Embassy and the Trinita dei Monti church to the Holy See and Spanish square. There are 138 steps and they are a mix of curves, straight flights and terraces. Azaleas adorn the Spanish steps from April through to the end of May each year.
As of 2019, tourists were no longer able to sit on the Spanish steps and there are major fines. This new law was brought in to protect the marble of the stairs.
4. Altar of the Fatherland
This very large national monument was designed by architect Giuseppe Sacconi in 1885. The memorial was built to commemorate the unity of Italy in 1870. It is in honour of the first king of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele the 2nd.
Work on this Rome monument began in 1911 but wasn’t completed until 1925. The monument also features statues of the goddess Victoria, Corinthian columns, stairways and fountains. The monument stands at 230 feet high and is 443 feet wide.
Climb the stairs to the terraces of this momument in Rome to enjoy some panoramic views of Rome.
5. The Roman Forum
The Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill are lcoated in the same archaeological area and it is possible to walk freely between the two. When visiting these Rome monuments you may well feel tht you have returned to ancient Rome.
The Romans drained this area (it was marshland) to turn it into a city. The Forum was the marketplace of Rome and later a site for criminal trials, gladiator matches and processions.
Today the site is ruins but at the time it was home to the most important buildings in the ancient city. The oldest monuments within the Roman Forum date back to the first kings of Rome in the sixth century BC.
The Forum was abandoned in the Middle Ages. It was not until 1898 that excavations began and this archaeological site was discovered.
6. Pantheon, Rome
This famous landmark in Italy is another must-see sight to put on your list. The Pantheon was first constructed in 27 BC as a temple for the pagan Roman gods. It was later destroyed by a fire and rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in 120 AD.
This monument is open to the public, and free of charge every day of the week except during mass and on some national holidays. To get to the Pantheon, you’ll have to go on foot as there are no train stations nearby and the streets are far too narrow for buses to pass through. But you’re sure to enjoy meandering through the Italian streets, particularly if you stop for gelato.
7. Castel Sant’Angelo
Built in 123 AD by Emperor Hadrian as a tomb for himself and his family, Castel Sant’Angelo has towered over Rome for nearly 2,000 years. The land on which Castel Sant’Angelo was built had been used for burial purposes since ancient times and this was seen as an excellent position due to it being next to the Tiber River.
The building takes its name from the large statue of the archangel Michael on its terrace.
The castle was connected to the land by a bridge called “Helius”. Alas, Hadrian died before the tomb was finished so it was Emperor Antoninus Pius who completed the construction and used it as a sepulchre for the members of his family.
In the Middle Ages, the mausoleum was transformed into a fortress. Over the next ten centuries it was modified many times as part of the city walls and today it is one of the must-see tourist attractions of Rome.
8. St Peter’s Basilica
St Peter’s Basilica is one of the holiest and most important sites in Christendom. It is believed that the church was built over the tomb of St Peter, the first-ever Pope. Its famous dome is one of the most distinctive landmarks in Rome. The church and dome are actually the work of several artists and architects. Michelangelo was known to have taken the work done previously and unified the vision and design.
St Peter’s Basilica is the tallest dome in the world and it measures just over 136 metres tall. It is possible to visit the top of the dome and enjoy amazing views over Rome.
The interior of the church is filled with Baroque and Renaissance artworks. There are literally amazing works of art in every corner.
St Peter’s Basilica is located in Vatican city which is just to the north of the city centre of Rome.
⇒ I love ticking off seeing a landmark. See how many famous landmarks you’ve seen in my series of posts: 60 Most Famous Landmarks in the World, 27 Top Australian Landmarks, 25 Asia Landmarks, 61 Magnificent Landmarks of the UK, 13 China Landmarks, 35 Japan Famous Landmarks, 60 Most Famous Landmarks in Europe, 25 North America Landmarks, 25 Canada Landmarks and 15 Famous Landmarks in the US.
9. Bernini’s Elephant
Piazza della Minerva is a small squre in the Rome’s old city which is home to Bernini’s elephant. This marble sculptor was most likely done by Bernini’s assistant and is topped with an Egyptian obelisk.
Ancient Romans used elephants in the Punic Wars but they were not common in Rome during Bernini’s tie. However, an elephant did visit Rome for the first time in more than 100 years in 1630 and it was most likely seen by Bernini.
He was planning on creating an elephant statue elsewhere in Rome when an obelisk was uncovered by the friars of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. The pope commissions Bernini to create a monument for the obelisk and the marble elephant became part of this. Strange but true!
10. The Arch of Titus
The Arch of Titus was erected by Domitian around 81 AD at the foot of the Palatine Hill. It commemorates the victories of his father Vespasian and brother Titus in the Jewish War in Judea when Jerusalem was sacked and plundered.
The arch is also a political and religious statement expressing the divinity of the Emperor Titus.
Restoration of this Roman monument took place in the 19th century. The whole arch was dismantedl and reassembled piece by piece.
11. Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (Santa Maria Church)
The Basilica de Santa Maria Maggiore is considered to be the largest of the churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary in Rome and is one of the city’s four major basilicas. The church was commissioned in the mid fourth century by Pope Liberius.
Legend has it that the Virgin herself appeared in front of the Pope with instructions for building the church. The shape of the floor in the church was designed based on miraculous snowfall.
The entire building was restored and renovated in the 18th century. The church has a bell tower, mosaics and marble floors from the medieval period, fifth-century mosaics and some iconic columns.
12. Circus Maximus
Located between the Palatine HIll and the Aventino, the Circus Maximus was built for chariot races and was the largest stadium in ancient Rome. Circuses were the most important centres of entertainment in Roman cities.
Circus Maximums had space for 300,000 spectactors. The arena measured 600 meters in length and 225 metres in wdith. Alas, very little of Circus Maximus remains today. However, visitors can see the remains of what was its enormous terrace.
13. Marcus Aurelius Column
The Column of Marcus Aurelius stands in Rome’s Piazza Colonna. It is thought to have been created by Commodus in memory of his parents around 180 AD. The column was inspired by Trajan’s Column (later in this post).
Carved into the column are listings of the emperor’s successsful military campaigns between 172 and 175 AD. The column stands 39 metres tall. The lower portion of the stautes, which measures a further 7 metres, is underground as it has never been excavated.
The column is hollow and contains a spiral staircase which once gave access to its upper viewing platform.
14. Bocca Della Verita (Mouth of Truth)
Have you seen the classic Audrey Hepburn movie Roman Holiday? I adore it – and one of my favourite moments in the film is when Gregory Peck shows her character the Mouth of Truth. There many theories about when the Bocca Della Verita was created. The Mouth of Truth dates back to the first century AD.
This statue is a tall stone disc with a human face carved into it with hollow holes for eyes and a gaping mouth. The belief around the statues is that if you were to stick your hand into the gaping mouth of the Bocca Della Verita and tell a lie it would bite off your hand.
15. Vittorio Emmanuel Monument
This bronze statue of Italy’s first king is located in Piazza Venezia in front of the Altar of the Fatherland. As mentioned earlier in this article, the Altar of the Fatherland was built in memorial to Vittorio Emanuele. His statue is the focal point of the building.
The beautiful Piazza Navona is home to three stunning fountains. Fontana Dei Quattro Fiumini was constructed for the Pope in 1651. The fountain was designed by Bernini. The centrepiece of the fountain is a tall obelisk which is surrounded by four figures which represent the great rivers of the world: Nile, Ganges, Danube and Rio de la Plata. I was pleased to discover that Australia had been discovered at this time but not explored and thus was left out of the fountain.
A dove, olive branch and the Pope’s coat of arms can be found at the bottom of the fountain.
Fontana di Nettuno is the second of the three fountains in Piazza Navona. This fountain was built in 1576 by Giacomo della Porto. The Neptune statues were added in the 19th century. The main figure of the fountain is the God of the Water Neptune. Neptune is shown in battle with an octopus.
The third fountain is Fontana del Moro which is at the southern end of the Piazza.
17. Baths of Caracalla
The Baths of Caracalla or Termi Di Caracalla are some of best preserved buildings of the Ancient Roman times. In their time, these were the second largest public baths in Rome and could take up to 1600 bathers at a time.
There were three large bathing rooms – a cold pool, lukewarm pool and hot pool. Bathers roamed freely between all three pools and it was a place to catch up with friends and to network.
Today the baths are ruins. however, the gardens of Caracalla are still able to be enjoyed.
18. Monument to Giuseppe Mazzini
Located in Piazzale Ugo La Malfa, the Monument to Giuseppe Mazzini is just a five minute walk from the Roman Forum. Giuseppe Mazzini was a well known Italian politician, writer and philosopher. He was an important part of the movement for national liberation and liberal reforms in the nineteenth century.
Ettore Ferrari was the sculptor of this Roman statues. The first stone for the sculpture was laid in 1922 but work wasn’t finished until 1949.
19. Ponte Fabricio
This is Rome’s oldest intact bridge. Pont Fabricio was built in 62BC by Lucius Fabricius. This bridge in Rome has also been known to two other names. The first is Ponte Dei Quattro Capi or the Bridge of Four Heads. This is a reference to the two marble pillars of the two-faced Janus helms on the parapet.
The second name for this bridge in Rome was Pons Judaeorum or the Bridge of Jews due to its proximity to the Jewish quarter in Rome in medieval times.
Ponte Fabricio spans half of the Tiber river and connects Tiber island to the Campus Martius in the city. It is over 60 metres long and 5 1/2 metres wide. This Roman bridge has two arches, each of which span 24 1/2 metres. These rest on a central pillar. Above the pillar is a smaller 6 metre arch to ease water pressure when the Tiber floods.
The bridge is paved and not open to vehicles. Ponte Fabricio has been in constant use when it comes to foot traffic since 62BC which is quite extraordinary.
20. Ponte Settima Spizzichino
This white steel bridge was opened in June 2012. This Roman bridge is dedicated to Settima Spizzichino. She was one of the only survivors of the Roman holocaust and the raids of 1943. This memorial bridge links Via Ostiense to Garbatella, the neighborhood where Settima lived until her death in 2000.
The bridge was created by engineer Francesco del Tosto and is referred to by locals as “Cobra”. The bridge is 160 metres long and 126 metres at its widest point. The bridge has two carriageways with three lanes in each direction. Ponte Settima Spizzichino has road, pedestrian and public transport traffic.
21. Ponte Umberto I
This roman bridge links the Palace of Justice to the area around Piazza Navonna. Ponte Umberto was built between 1885 and 1895 and was designed by architect Angelo Vescovali. The bride was dedicated to and named for Umberto I, the King of Italy. It is composed of three arches, made from stone and covered with travertine. The bridge is 105 metres long.
22. Fontana del Pantheon
This Rome fountain sits in Piazza della Rotonda directly in front of the Pantheon. The fountain was designed by Giacomo della Porta in 1571. It comprises of four dolphins and was finished by Filippo Barigioni in 1576.
The fountain was restored in 1711 and topped with an Egyptian obelisk. The obelisk is from the reign of Ramses II and the obelisk was already more than 1000 years old when it was taken from Egypt by the emperor Domitian.
Fontana del Pantheon was the model to the Robba fountain which stands in the town square of Llublijana in Slovenia.
23. Trajan’s Column
Trajan’s Column was completed in 113 AC and has stood for more than 1,900 years. Yes, really. This 126 foot high column is inscribed with 155 different scenes of Romans and Dacians marching, fighting, sailing, negotiating and more.
The column was the focal point of the forum and marketplace that was built around it by Emperor Trajan to celebrate the spoils of the Dacian Wars. Trajan’s Column is one of the best-preserved monuments of Ancient Rome. Originally the top of the column held a bronze sculpture of Emperor Trajan. This was replaced with a statue of St Peter by Pope Sixtus V in 1588.
There are 185 internal steps in Trajan’s Column but understandably the entire column is closed off to the public these days.
24. Column of Phocas
This 13 metre high column stands in the Roman Forum. The column was dedicated to Phocas, a centurion who became emperor of Byzantium in 602 AD. A statue of Byzantium would have stood at the top of the column. This was the last column to be erected in the Roman Forum.
25. Palazzo Massimo Alle Colonne
This Renaissance palace in Rome only opens once a year, on March 16. This date was chosen as on the 16th of March in 1583 a 14 year old boy, Paolo Massimo, was brought back to life briefly by S. Filippo Neri in the chapel which was created in the boy’s bedroom.
The palace was built for the Roman Massimo Family between 1532 and 1536 by Baldassarre Peruzzi. The Palace is located on one of Rome’s busiest streets, Corso Vittorio Emanuele. The Massimo family still reside in the palace to this day.
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