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The essential art guide for Rome. We cover Rome Museums, Rome Galleries and Rome Architecture. Whether you are interested in Rome Sculptures, Classical Art or Modern Contemporary Art or you would like to visit the most note-worthy Rome squares and Rome churches...
» Rome Sculptures, Other Rome Museums
» Classical Rome Art Galleries, Modern Rome Art Galleries
» Rome Churches, Rome Buildings, Rome Squares, Rome Monuments, Other

Rome Churches

Rome Church Name:Name: Basilica di San Pietro

Type: the largest church of Rome
Address: Piazza San Pietro, Vatican City
Note: the Basilica is considered one of the sacrest places in the world. It was commissioned by Pope Julius II in the XVI century and finished under Pope Paulus V in the following century. Before this large church there was another one which Emperor Constantine had built in the IV century on the remains of Nero’s circus, where allegedly Saint Peter was crucifixed and buried.

Under Bramante an important construction factory developed and many documents, papers, contracts, notes and others are being studied and classified today and costitute a very interesting picture of the construction and artistic world of those times.

The structure of the church changed several times from that of a Greek to that of a Latin cross and viceversa. Inside the Basilica the particular “baldacchino” by Bernini made upon the Pantheon’s bronze is one of the main artistic works of the Church, being the outstanding Pietà by Michelangelo another one, among many others by Canova, Bernini, Arnolfo Di Cambio and Pollaiolo.

Another masterpiece and wonderful view of the magnificence of the glorious Baroque times of Rome is Bernini’s Piazza San Pietro.

Rome Church Name: Basilica di San Paolo Fuori le Mura

Type: the second largest church of Rome
Address: along Via Ostiense, on the left bank of the Tevere river, 2 kms. Outside POrta San Paolo.
Note: the Basilica is located on the alleged burial site of Saint Paul and it has always been an important pilgrimage site.

Rome Church Name: Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano

Type: Rome Bishop’s church…
Address: around the Colle Celio area.
Note: …is the oldest and most important of the four major “basiliche”, being the other three: Basilica di San Pietro, Basilica di San Paolo and Basilica Mariana, dedicated to Saint Mary. Its original name defines the magnificence and power of the Catholic church: the “Mother and head of all churches of the city and of the world”. The name “in Laterano”, means on the property of the Laterani, a noble family of ancient Roman times which under Nero fell in disgrace and consequently their property was taken by the Emperor.

In the church is the tomb of Saint Silvester II, who was said to be a magician; but there is a legend which tells of Constantine being cured from leprosy by the hermit Silvester and he himself started building the first fundaments of this church. The importance of this church is larger than that of San Pietro in the Vatican… Charlemagne was baptised here….

Rome Church Name: Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

Type: the first Roman church built in honour of the Virgin Mary, under Pope Sixtus III
Address: Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore
Note: there is a legend connected to this Basilica: that of a night in August around 300 a.D., when the Virgin Mary appeared in the Pope’s dreams and said that a church had to be built where it would snow… The Basilica itself was then built as it is one century later and its other two names Liberiana and Santa Maria ad Nives come from the Pope of the alleged miracle and the Virgin herself.

Rome Church Name: Basilica di San Lorenzo

Type: church where Saint Lawrence’s remains rest
Address: in the Tiburtino district, in the San Lorenzo area.
Note: this Basilica hosts the remains of Pope Pius IX, among other important figures. The original church was built by Emperor Constantine close to the martyr’s tomb and the remains have come to light revealing different spaces and crypts.

Rome Church Name: Chiesa di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme

Type: church built on the bases of the former Empress Helen’s palace
Address: outside Rome, East of Laterano, on the Mura Aureliane.
Note: the name of the church derives from the fragments of the allegedly original Cross and Christ’s Crucifixion pieces (Santa Croce), and Gerusalem’s soil which used to cover one of the chapels of the church. The church was considered so saint that women couldn’t enter it…

Rome Church Name: Chiesa di San Sebastiano

Type: church of the homonymous catacombs
Address: outside the walls of Rome, Via Appia Antica, 186.
Note: Saint Sebastian was a Roman knight and helped the ill; he was martyrized with arrows and is today the patron of the Police.

Rome Buildings

Some of the important historical “palazzi” (palaces, old buildings) of Rome cannot be visited or only upon request to the corresponding foundations and other private institutes to which they belong.

It is worth spotting them while walking around Rome, as they represent the life, history and art of the city.

They are, for example:

  • Palazzo Altieri – XVII century. It belongs to the Abi (Associazione Bancaria Italiana; www.abi.it)
  • Palazzo Baldassini – XVI century. Grotesque and allegory elements. It belongs to the Istituto Luigi Sturzo. Via delle Coppelle.
  • Palazzo Caetani – XVI century. The headquarters of the Fondazione Camillo Caetani. Via delle Botteghe Oscure 32.
  • Palazzo Costaguti – XVI century. It belongs to the Acri, Associazione Casse Rurali Italiane. Piazza Mattei 10.
  • Palazzo De Carolis – XVIII century. It is the headquarters of Banca di Roma. Via del Corso 307.
  • Palazzo della Cancelleria – XV century. It belongs to the Amministrazione del Patrimonio della Sede Apostolica. Piazza della Cancelleria.
  • Palazzo Giustiniani – XVI century. Here the President of the Senate lives. The visit permission can be given by the Ufficio Questura e Cerimoniale del Senato. Via della Dogana Vecchia, 29.
  • Palazzo Lancellotti – XVI-XVII century. It belongs to the Superintendency of Cultural Heritage. Via Lancellotti, 1.
  • Palazzo Lateranense – XVI century. It is accessibile from the San Giovanni Basilica. Closed in the afternoon and Sundays.
  • Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne – XVI century. Corso Vittorio Emanuele, 131.
  • Palazzo Mattei di Giove – XVI century. It belongs to the Superintendency of Cultural Heritage. Via Castani, 32.
  • Palazzo Pamphilj – XVII century. It is the headquarters of the Brasilian Embassy. Piazza Navona.
  • Palazzo Verospi – XVII century. It belongs to the Credito Italiano. Via del Corso 374.
  • Palazzetto di Sisto V° - XVI century. It belongs to Pio Sodalizio dei Piceni. Via di Parione, 7.

Rome Squares

Rome Square Name: Piazza del Campidoglio

it is located on the lowest “colle” (hill) of Rome, but it was very important in ancient Roman times because here was the Temple of Jupiter. At present there is the important church of Ara Coeli, where was in the past the temple dedicated to Juno and here the first Roman “zecca” (money) was produced. In the Medieval times the square lost its importance and it even acquired the name of Monte Caprino (mount of the goats) because it was pasture ground. During the Renaissance the Pope ordered Michelangelo to create a new structure for this location. From a restored and reopened path a magnificent view of the city can be admired.

Rome Square Name: Piazza Venezia

the name of the square derives from the Venetian origins of Pope Paolo II, who, in the XV century, had it built. It became the centre of the city when the Head of the Government moved his headquarters here. Michelangelo lived in this district the last years of his life.

Rome Square Name: Piazza Colonna

the square derives its name from the tall marble column ("colonna") built to celebrate Emperor Marco Aurelio’s victories. After being the centre of the Papal postal services it is at present the centre of the political scenario, being Palazzo Chigi the headquarters of the Ministers Council.

Rome Square Name: Piazza Navona (della Rotonda)

the square has the Church of Saint Agnes, who died as a martyr entirely covered by her own hair, which, according to the legend, suddenly grew when she was attacked by the people. It then became a spectacular scenario of playful water effects of the Fontana dei Fiumi, when the Pamphilj family ordered to create an architectural work of art. The fountain, which makes this square one of the most beautiful in the world, represents the four major rivers of the World: the Nile, the Gange, the Rio de la Plata and the Da nube. Other two fountains, Fontana del Moro and Fontana di Nettuno, complete the architectural master work of this square. It is at present the principal meeting centre of youngsters and famous people, intellectuals and artists, by day and by night.

Rome Square Name: Piazza di Spagna

the original structure of the square has made this square the most visited and lively of Rome, crowded with people from all over the world, artists and important and noble families. That is why many cafés, characteristic restaurants, galleries and beautiful shops have grown in and around the Piazza. It derives its name from the Embassy of Spain.

Rome Monuments

Rome Monument Name: Castel Sant’Angelo

Type: ancient Popes’ fortress
Address: Via della Conciliazione, along the river.
Note: it was built on the remains of the Emperor Adriano’s tomb as a defense fortress and, being close to the Vatican, it was connected to the Popes’ buildings by a famous corridor. It was notorious for the terrible prisons it hosted…

Rome Monument Name: Colosseum

Type: the largest “arena” of the Roman Empire
Address: Via dei Fori Imperiali
Note: … this wonderful construction was built for spectacles and competitions. Its name derives from the word “colossus”, which means “giant”, due to its big dimensions or perhaps to a Nero statue that was located close to the amphitheatre… The spectacles and competitions, however, weren’t all amusing as we intend the word today, but for the people of those times they were: animal hunting, public executions, gladiator fights…The interesting and amazing aspects of this monument, which is perhaps the symbol of ancient Rome’s grandeur, besides its dimensions and perfect design created to host a large amount of people, was the subterranean structure, with its corridors and spaces, which we can imagine full of fighters, technicians, animals and instruments, all organized here to always produce the best of the shows of the Roman Empire… These shows, indeed, required much time and efforts, and so specialized structures were built around the Colosseum area to train the fighters, to keep the animals, to make arms and other utensils and machines, and so on…

Rome Monument Name: Pantheon

Type: original pagan temple built in honour of all the gods…
Address: Via del Pantheon
Note: …with an impressive structure, which reminds us of a Greek temple on the outside but at the same time it has a Roman architectural structure on the inside; it has the largest dome ever until the modern times and one only opening at its the centre. After Emperor Adriano it became a church under Bonifacio IV, and it is nowadays a mausoleum, hosting the tombs of Raffaello and of the Savoias, the royals of Italy.

Rome Monument Name: Fontana di Trevi

Type: the famous fountain…
Address: Piazza Fontana di Trevi
Note: … built under Pope Clemente XII in the XVIII century; …a celebration of the Earth, of Abundance, Fertility, Nature, fury and harmony….an architectural masterpiece considering that the waters are still those of the aqueduct built in the 20’s b.C…. The fountain of the movies “La Dolce Vita” and “Roman Holidays”… the fountain of those who love Rome and wish to return…

Rome Monument Name: Bocca della Verità

Type: a walled marble mask…
Address: Piazza Bocca della Verità
Note: … which has the face of a faun with open eyes and mouth. The legend tells that the mouth ate the hand of the liars who introduced it in the hole The mouth)….

Rome Other Architecture


Type: underground burial sites…
Address: they are located in different areas of Rome, such as Via Appia, Via Ostiense and Via Tiburtina, among others.
Note: …also used for memorial services and said to be the hiding places for the persecuted Christians. However, the toxicity of the decaying corpses must have been so intense that it was quite unlikely for them to resist for a long time in these places. The real function of the catacombs must have then been for hygienic reasons. They were constructed as niches in the walls, where the dead were placed horizontally inside sarcophagi.

Foro Romano

Type: the ancient centre of Roman public life
Note: the structure of the forum includes the following principal buildings: the headquarters of the Roman Senate, the Basilica, which had a commercial function; the Arches, which celebrated the victories of the Emperor and the different Temples dedicated to the gods.

Fori Imperiali

Type: the grandest forum…
Address: Via dei Fori Imperiali
Note: …a real picture of the Empire times at their peak, including the magnificent Colosseum, the Ceasar Temple, the Piazza del Foro, the centre of the ancient city life; the Casa di Augusto, the Domus Flavia, the ancient residences of the Emperors; the Triumphal Arches, the grand Mercato Traiano with more than 100 shops, which host today the Musei dei Fori Imperiali; the Colonna Traiana, the important column depicting the Emperor’s victories (Foro Traiano); and other Forums such as Ceasar’s Forum. But it is difficult to describe the magnificence and complexity of the Fori, we suggest to visit them personally and while walking around the monuments to imagine them back to life, full of people in all the aspects of everyday life, including the feeling of the grandeur of a city which was the capital of an Empire

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