Top destinations in Rome

Saint Peter’s Square – Located in Vatican City, St. Peter’s Square is the most famous square in Rome. Hundreds of thousands of people gather here to hear messages from the pope. Created in the 17th century by Bernini, the square has an elliptic shape, surrounded on two sides by colonnades before St. Peter’s Basilica. Statues sit atop the colonnades. At the center of the ellipse stands an Egyptian obelisk that was transported from Egypt to Rome during the reign of Emperor Augustus.

As you might expect for the episcopal church of the Pope, St. John Lateran is one of Rome’s most impressive churches. After centuries of alterations, it still retains its original form from the age of Constantine, when it was built. Its fa?ade, by contrast, is a purely baroque embellishment and a fine example of that period. Along with the mosaics in the apse, be sure to notice the beautiful 16th-century wooden ceiling. If the octagonal baptistery, San Giovanni in Fonte, looks a bit familiar, it’s because it provided the model for later ones throughout Europe. Built by Constantine, it is the world’s oldest Christian baptistery. Across the piazza, in the church of the Scala Santa, is the Holy Staircase, 28 steps believed to have been brought to Rome in the fourth century by St. Helen, from Pilate’s palace in Jerusalem.

Pantheon – One of the best preserved Roman buildings, The Pantheon was built in 126 AD as a temple for all the Roman gods. The temple has served as a Roman Catholic Church since the 7th century. Eight graceful granite Corinthian columns extend across the front of this circular building, with lesser columns in back. Though it is 2,000 years old, the Pantheon’s famous dome remains the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. It is believed Marcus Agrippa built the Pantheon to be his private temple. The current building was reconstructed by Emperor Hadrian in the second century. More details on Rome Tours

Roman Forum

The Roman Forum today largely consists of ruins and fragments of the past, but originally it was the teeming focal point of the ancient city. The Forum was not only a busy marketplace, it was the center of religious and public life in the city and was filled temples, government buildings and commercial enterprises. Development of the Forum began in the 7th century BC and it was abandoned after the fall of Rome in 476 AD when Romulus was overthrown by Germanic tribes.

Free things to do in Rome : Stroll the Neighborhoods

Trastevere, the actual “Italian Quarter” of Rome is a recommended place to explore. The streets are narrow and sometimes winding, although more often than not they will eventually lead back to the Piazza Santa Maria, home to one of the oldest churches in Rome. This piazza is the undisputed heart of Trastevere, full of every kind of person imaginable-both stylish and unsavory (a firm “no” and a stern look will shake off any unwanted attention).

The church is famous for a Byzantine mosaic behind the altar, so drop a few coins in the lightbox (it will illuminate the mosaic for 60 seconds) and spend a few minutes there. It is well worth it.

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