Welcome to MetroGuide Networks' overview of Rome-area attractions. The Greater Rome area is full
of attractions for all ages. Piazzas, churches, ruins and architectural masterpieces are only
part of the Eternal City's magnetism. For art lovers, Rome is the world's richest city. Rome also
teems with sound, starting before dawn lasting into the night. Church bells meld with honking
horns to create a cacophony that somehow seems fitting for bustling streets lined with modern-day
boutiques, shops, produce stalls and other kiosks now standing alongside antiquities. For the
new millennium, Rome went all out to scrape away decades of grime and pollution, revealing more
of the city's original glory and making classic attractions -- from the Colosseum to Trevi
Fountain and Piaza Navona -- sparkle again. Whether filthy or clean, Rome's monuments stand
as an ever-present reminder of its status as one of the greatest centers of Western civilization
when all roads once led to Rome.
Below is a list of some suggested things to do in the Rome Metropolitan Area,
with links to more details when available.
- Circus Maximus
In its day, the elongated oval of Circus Maximus provided a 250,000-seat arena for Ben-Hur-style gladiator action and was second only to the Colosseum as an impressive structure of ancient Rome. Circus Maximus now in ruins was plundered by medieval and Renaissance builders looking for marble and stone.
Between Via dei Cerchi and Via del Circo Massimo
- The Colosseum
The Colosseum in its present shell-like state remains Rome's greatest architectural legacy. The elliptical bowl seating 50,000 debuted in A.D. 80 with bloody combat between gladiators and wild beasts. Many historians now doubt legends of Christians being fed to the lions at the Colosseum.
Piazzale del Colosseo, Via dei Fori Imperiali. (06) 700-4261
- Protestant Cemetery
Amid cypress trees, romantic poet John Keats is buried with his requested epitaph -- "Here lies one whose name was writ in water" -- engraved on the tomb. Other occupants of this old cemetery include ashes of Percy Bysshe Shelley, author of Prometheus Unbound, who before age 30 drowned off the Italian Riviera in 1822.
Via Caio Cestio 6. (06) 574-1900
- Golden House of Nero
After Rome burned in the deadly blaze of A.D. 64 -- historians have yet to prove Nero set it, much less fiddled -- the emperor seized some 200 acres of the central charred city to erect one of history's most opulent palaces, with a 150-foot statue of himself in the nude at the entrance. Successors destroyed much of the golden palace, but remains are again on view after a 15-year restoration re-opening in 1999. The Colosseum area was once a lake reflecting the Golden House. The word grotto comes from this palace, believed built underground.
Via della Dommus Aurea. (06) 3974-9907
- The Pantheon
Built in 27 B.C. and rebuilt in second century A.D, the Pantheon (All the Gods) is the lone ancient Roman building remaining intact. This perfect square resting in a cylinder measuring 142 feet wide and 142 feet high ranks among the world's architectural wonders thanks to spatial concept. Michelangelo studied its once-gilded dome before designing the cupola of St. Peter's. Walls are 25 feet thick, and bronze doors weigh 20 tons each. More than a century ago, Raphael's tomb was discovered here. Buried nearby are Vittorio Emanuele II, king of Italy, and his successor, Umberto I.
Piazza della Rotonda. (06) 6830-0230
- National Gallery
Palazzo Barberini ranks as one of Rome's most outstanding baroque palaces. Within and on view are the lavish rococo apartments and the Gallery of Decorative Art, which is part of the National Gallery of Ancient Art. The Collection of bronze urns with engraving is outstanding.
- Palatine Hill
South of the Forum and overlooking it, Palatine Hill is the oldest inhabited site in Rome, with remains unearthed from the 9th century BC. Hidden corners and shaded lanes make the Palatine a fine place to wander on foot.
- Trevi Fountain
Trevi Fountain, on a piazza of Via del Tritone, is a striking oasis of rest featuring mythical sea creatures and cascading waters. As if not sufficiently immortal on its own, films like Three Coins in a Fountain and Fellini's La Dolce Vita have made it one of the world's best known wishing wells. Legend dictates that you can ensure return to Rome by tossing a coin into the fountain, one of the most trafficked sites in the city.
- St. Peter's Basilica
The saga of St. Peter's dates to the year AD 319 when Emperor Constantine built a basilica over where the tomb of St. Peter. The Basilica is said to be near where the Circus of Nero was in ancient times. After near collapse in the 15th century, a long, labored reconstruction began. Five of Italy's greatest Renaissance artists died while toiling away on the new St. Peter's -- Bramante, Raphael, Peruzzi, Sangallo the Younger and Michelangelo. Inside the great church is Michelangelo's Pieta.
St. Peter's Square. (06) 698-5318
- Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums serve as a huge warehouse for treasures from antiquity and the Renaissance, held within lavish palaces, apartments and galleries leading to the renowned Sistine Chapel. The Vatican Museums occupy a part of the papal palaces built from the 1200s onward. Access to ticket windows is via a fabulous spiral ramp. Among highlights are the Borgia Apartments, Egyptian-Gregorian Museum, Ethnological Museum, Raphael Rooms, Pinacoteca, Raphael Salon and the Vatican Library.
Vatican City, Viale Vaticano. (06) 6988-4341