Ancient Rome: Colosseum, Roman Forum, Piazza del Campidoglio, Pantheon.
Walk through the historical centre: Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain, Piazza di Spagna.
Architectural marvel of antiquity and symbol of the Eternal City throughout the world, the Flavian Amphitheatre is the largest structure for entertainment with gladiators and wild animals ever built by the Romans. Erected in 8 years (72-80 AD) by the Flavian dynasty on the place previously occupied by the artificial lake of Nero’s Golden House, using 100.000 square metres of travertine and 300 tons of iron, the Colosseum was inaugurated with 100 days of games.
Suggestion: in order to avoid the long lines, it is possible to purchase tickets at the entrance to Palatine in Via di San Gregorio and by the Arch of Titus.
The Roman Forum
The Roman Forum is the most important archaeological area in the city, the ideal place to understand that having a “historical sense” means, as the great writer T.S. Eliot says, feeling that the people of the past are our contemporaries. The Forum was the centre of the public life of the ancient city; it developed after the reclaiming of the marshy valley that extended from the Palatine and Capitoline hills in the 7th century BC and the last monument the commemorative column of the emperor Phocas was erected there in the 7th century AC, exactly 1200 years later.
Piazza del Campidoglio
Ancient seat of the most important temple of the state cult and symbol of Rome “caput mundi”, the Campidoglio has always maintained its importance in the life of the city as centre of the City Government since the 12th century and with the presence of the Capitoline Museums, the most ancient in the world. The square, considered one of the most elegant in Europe, was designed by Michelangelo who created the splendid access ramp, new facades for the preexisting buildings (Palazzo Senatorio at the centre and the Palazzo dei Conservatori on the right), and added the Palazzo Nuovo on the left, giving it the trapezoidal shape that never fails to communicate a sense of harmony and equilibrium to visitors.
One of the most impressive architectural masterpieces of all times, the Pantheon was built by the Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AC as a temple dedicated to the major gods of the pagan religion. In 608 AD the emperor of the East, Phocas, made a gift of it to Pope Boniface IV who transformed it into a church dedicated to Mary and all the martyrs and thus allowing to survive as the best preserved monument left over from antiquity. Ground level was lower at the time of its construction and the portico was preceded by a few steps. It is wonderful to notice how through the centuries the city has grown around the Pantheon, incorporating it and maintaining it at the heart of its existence.
Piazza Navona is one of the most spectacular squares of Baroque Rome and a splendid example of how the ancient appearance of the city can often be traced and identified in the most popular places of its contemporary life. The elongated shape of the square repeats the structure of the Stadium of Domitian, built in the 1st century AC for sports competitions, and the remains of which are still visible beneath the present street level in Piazza di Tor Sanguigna.
The spectacular effect of the Trevi Fountain is not revealed gradually; none of the streets leading to it is in axis with the fountain itself. It is rather the sound of the water that suggests its proximity, but we reach it all of a sudden, and it is as if a curtain was lifted in front of our eyes in a surprise effect that never fails. Designed in the 18th century by architect Nicola Salvi and built over thirty years, the Trevi Fountain is the celebration of water as a symbol of life, health and change. Its location indicates the end of the course of the ancient aqueduct of the Acqua Vergine (19 BC), the history of which is related on the reliefs in the upper section of the facade.
Piazza di Spagna
Heart of the most elegant and exclusive area of the historical centre, Piazza di Spagna has always been a meeting place for the Romans, but also for foreign visitors and artists who in the past used to stay in the numerous hotels and inns in the neighbouring streets. The famous staircase, designed in the 1700s by Francesco De Sanctis, proved to be an efficient and spectacular solution to the age-old problem of the connection between the square, controlled at length by the Spaniards whose embassy was located there, and the “French area” at the top of the hill that included the Renaissance church of the Trinità dei Monti.
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