When In Rome: Nine Sights of the Eternal City

For over two thousand years, Rome has been an ever-evolving metropolis offering art, history, religion, culture, shopping, and nightlife. So when you find yourself in Rome for the first time, what should you see?

1. The Colosseum

The Colosseum
The Colosseum, with its many arches, is one of the most iconic sights in Rome

When I think about Rome, the arches of the Colosseum come to mind. The Colosseum was the largest amphitheatre of the Roman Empire, and the site of sparring gladiators, executions, battle re-enactments, theatrical shows and pagaentry for the tens of thousands of Romans who flocked to it.

2. The Roman Forum

The Roman Forum
Just a section of the Roman Forum

Forums were the social centre of Roman life. Situated right next to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum was a public space where Romans could shop at the marketplace, worship their gods, and run their businesses, as well as a place for military marches and Senate sittings.

3. The Pantheon

The Pantheon
My favourite part of the Pantheon? Gazing up as the sunlight filters in.

Originally built as a temple for all Roman gods, the Pantheon is now a church. When you’re visiting, don’t forget to look up and watch as sunlight filters in from the opening in the top of the dome.

4. The Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain at night
The Trevi Fountain at night

One thing you’ll have to decide as you approach the Trevi fountain is the number of coins you want to throw in. Throw one coin in to return to Rome, two to find romance, and three to get married. The coins that end up in the water as part of this tourist tradition are collected and put towards charities.

5. The Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps
Looking over the Spanish Steps as the sun begins to set

Built to link the Spanish Embassy to the Trinit√† dei Monti church, these steps don’t look like anything special. So why are the Spanish Steps on so many people’s lists of things to see when in Rome? Could it be because of their appearances in movies such as Roman Holiday and The Talented Mr Ripley? Or could they just be a good place to sit and people-watch? You decide!

6. The Castel Sant’Angelo

The Castel Sant'Angelo
The Castel Sant’Angelo: originally a mauseoleum, it become a fortress for the popes and is now a national museum

The purpose of the Castel Sant’Angelo has changed over the years. Originally constructed as a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian, it has evolved to become a fortress for the popes (and even has a passage that connects it to the Vatican), and is now the Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo.

7. The Vatican

Chairs lined up in St Peter's Square
Chairs lined up in St Peter’s Square

I was surprised to find that the Vatican was more than the home of the Pope, St Peter’s Basilica, Michelangelo’s celebrated ceiling painting of the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Square. The city state also contains art galleries and beautiful courtyards, as well as one of the longest escalators I’ve ever set foot on.

8. The Altare della Patria

The Altare della Patria
The Altare della Patria in Rome

The¬†Altare della Patria is one of those buildings that makes you stop and stare at it. It’s actually a national monument to Vittorio Emmanuele II, the first king of unified Italy, and visitors can access the top of it for views over Rome.

9. The Piazza Navona

Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers in the middle of the Piazza Navona
Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers in the middle of the Piazza Navona

Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers), with the Obelisk of Domitian rising above it is the focal point of this piazza. People-watch at one of the restaurants bordering the piazza and admire the fountains, churches, galleries and palaces that are clustered around the square.

Where is your favourite place in Rome?