Located on the Tiber river, Rome the capital city of Italy is home to almost four million residents. This is a city that is a brilliant blend of the modern and the ancient. The history of Rome can be traced back two millenium and is considered to be one of the founding cities of Western civilization.According to legend, the city of Rome was founded by two brothers, Romulus and Remus who were sons of the god Mars and his lover Rea Silvia. Romulus grew up to become the first king of Rome in 753 BC after slaying his brother Remus over a land dispute.
In 27 BC., Rome switched from a monarchy style government into a Republic that was ruled by its Senate. During this time Roman rule increased exponentially and its control became absolute over most of Europe, as well as a large part of the Mediterranean. Rome thus became the richest, most politically influential and largest city in the entire Western world. Around 476 AD, Rome collapsed, partly due in part to the constant barbarian invasions of the Goths and Gauls and partly because of the empire’s excesses. In the year 756, Pepin the Short gave the Catholic church temporary jurisdiction over Rome, thus creating the papal states.
Today, Rome is not only the official seat of the Catholic church but it is also the seat of the Italian government. It contains the official home of the Prime Minister of Italy, seats of both houses of the bicameral Italian Parliament and the Italian Constitutional Court is also located here.Rome is also home to some of the most important historical structures in Western civilization. One of the most awe inspiring is the Colosseum. The Colosseum is a structure that was originally known as the Flavian Amphitheater. This massive structure was built in the year 80 AD by the Emperor Vespasian. At its height it was a favorite gathering place for ancient Romans. That is until part of it was destroyed in the earthquake of 847. Today its one of the most popular tourist attractions in Rome.
A visitor really wishing to get a taste of what Rome was like in ancient times should pay a visit to the Forum Romanum. This was the site of Rome’s first political forum where celebrations were staged, elections were held and where Senate assembled. Today its mostly in ruins but you can see many of the features that made this a beautiful and important spot in Roman life. There are Triumphal Arches, the Curia Julia , the two hundred seat building where the Senate assembled, and a speaker’s platform that is called the Rostra. Also located here is the Temple Of Saturn, the Temple of Vespasian and Titus, the Basilica Julia and the Temple Of Vesta.
A part of Rome that attracts a steady influx of visitors is Vatican City. This is the world’s smallest country, having only about 800 residents, most of which are nuns and priest. The major points of interest in Vatican City is St. Peter’s Square, and of course, St. Peter’s Basilica. St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the largest churches in the world, with a 618 foot nave and the dome, designed by Michelangelo, measuring over 126 feet in diameter with a height of over 450 feet. The church itself contains some very important works including the Throne Of St. Peter, the Pieta by Michelangelo and the papal altar by Bernini.
Rome is also home to one of the most beautiful fountains in the world, Trevi Fountain. Trevi Fountain was erected in 1732 and is located in Trevi Square in the Quirinale district. The fountain is a work of art that features the god Neptune riding a sea shell chariot being pulled by two sea horses. Neptune guides each horse with a triton. Legend says that if a visitor tosses a coin into the fountain then they will one day return to Rome.
Another prominent and aesthetically pleasing monument is the Piazza di Spagna. This is a popular meeting place in Rome, both in ancient and modern times. Its central feature are the famous Spanish Steps, but it also contains a church and an obelisk.The Spanish Steps, also known as Scalinata della Trinitŕ dei Monti, is a set of stairs that contains twelve flights containing over one hundred and thirty seven steps. At the top is a beautiful Gothic style church called the Trinitŕ dei Monti, which was constructed in 1585. At the bottom of the Spanish Steps is the Fontana della Barcaccia.
The Arch of Constantine is another location that is usually on the docket of most visitors to Rome. Its located right next to the Collosseum and is a decorated sixty foot imperial arch that was built in 315 AD to commemorate the victory of Constantines army over the Maxentius. It consists of three archways that is about eighty five feet wide.
An important stop for any visitor touring Rome is the Pantheon. The Pantheon is a structure with some very magnificent architecture and is over eighteen hundred years old. The Pantheon is the final resting place to several Italian kings, and also contains the tomb of Raphael.
Rome is home to a large collection of historic hotels. These include the Westin Excelsior, the Hotel Eden and the St. George Roman Hotel. Of course, there are also dozens of smaller hotels used to accommodate tourist as well.