Ancient Roman sites

Colosseum

The Colosseum is an oval amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy. Built of concrete and sand, it is the largest amphitheatre ever built and probably the most well-known landmark of Rome. Construction began under the emperor Vespasian in AD 72, and was completed in AD 80 under his successor and heir Titus. Further modifications were made during the reign of Domitian (81-96). The Colosseum could hold, it is e ...
Founded: 72-80 AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Pantheon

The Pantheon (meaning 'temple of every god') is a former Roman temple, now a church, on the site of an earlier temple commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus (27 BC-14 AD). The present building was completed by the emperor Hadrian and probably dedicated about 126 AD. He retained Agrippa's original inscription, which has confused its date of construction as the original Pantheon burnt down so it is not ...
Founded: 126 AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Palatine Hill

The Palatine Hill is the centremost of the Seven Hills of Rome and is one of the most ancient parts of the city. It stands 40 metres above the Roman Forum, looking down upon it on one side, and upon the Circus Maximus on the other. From the time of Augustus Imperial palaces were built here and hence it became the etymological origin of the word palace and its cognates in other languages (Italian palazzo, French palais, Ge ...
Founded: 10th century BC | Location: Rome, Italy

The Seven Halls

The Seven Halls, or Sette Sale, is the name of the complex of cisterns located on the Oppian Hill. Previously believed to be connected to Nero"s Domus Aurea, they were later found to be a large cistern supplying the Baths of Trajan. The cisterns were fed by a branch of the Trajanic Aqueduct. Found beneath the complex were the remains of a grotto lined with slabs of marble belonging to the Domus Aurea. In the fourth c ...
Founded: c. 100 AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Roman Forum

The Roman Forum (Forum Romanum) is a rectangular forum (plaza) surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. It was for centuries the center of Roman public life: the site of triumphal processions and elections; the venue for public speeches, criminal trials, and gladiatorial matches; and the nucleus of commercial affairs. Here statues and monuments commemorat ...
Founded: 8th century BC | Location: Rome, Italy

Fréjus Roman Amphitheatre

Fréjus Roman Amphitheatre was built at the end of the 1st century AD. This structure, made of small tiles of local green sandstone, could accommodate up to 10,000 spectators. It most likely hosted gladiator fights and wild beast hunts. Today, this building comes to life every summer: large concerts, dancefloors and various performances form a rich and diverse program.
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Fréjus, France

Castel Sant'Angelo

Castel Sant'Angelo is a towering cylindrical castle, initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. The building was later used by the popes as a fortress and castle, and is now a museum. The castle was once the tallest building in Rome. The tomb of the Roman emperor Hadrian was erected on the right bank of the Tiber, between 134 and 139 AD. Originally the mausoleum was a d ...
Founded: 134-139 | Location: Rome, Italy

Circus Maximus

The Circus Maximus was a chariot racetrack in Rome first constructed in the 6th century BCE. The Circus was also used for other public events such as the Roman Games and gladiator fights and was last used for chariot races in the 6th century CE. It was partially excavated in the 20th century and then remodelled but it continues today as one of the modern city's most important public spaces, hosting huge crowds at music co ...
Founded: 6th century BC | Location: Rome, Italy

Via Appia Antica

The Appian Way was a Roman Road built in the 4th century BC. It led from Rome to Brindisi, and the section leading away from Rome is lined with the mausolea of weathy Roman citizens.
Founded: Early Roman | Location: Rome, Italy

Pont-Saint-Martin Roman Bridge

The Pont-Saint-Martin is a Roman segmental arch bridge in the Aosta Valley in Italy dating to the 1st century BC.
Founded: c. 25 BC | Location: Pont-Saint-Martin, Italy

Roman Theatre

The Roman Theatre in Aosta was built in the late reign of Augustus, some decades after the foundation of the city (25 BC), as testified by the presence of pre-existing structures in the area. There was also an amphitheatre, built during the reign of Claudius, located nearby. The theatre occupies three blocks annexed to the ancient city walls, along the Roman main road (the decumanus maximus, next to the Porta Pra ...
Founded: around 0-10 AD | Location: Aosta, Italy

Aquileia Roman Ruins

Today, Aquileia is a town smaller than the colony first founded by Rome. Over the centuries, sieges, earthquakes, floods, and pillaging of the ancient buildings for materials means that no edifices of the Roman period remain above ground. The site of Aquileia, believed to be the largest Roman city yet to be excavated, is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Excavations, however, have revealed some of the layout ...
Founded: 181 BC | Location: Aquileia, Italy

Hadrian's Villa

The Villa Adriana (Hadrian"s Villa) is an exceptional complex of classical buildings created in the 2nd century A.D. by the Roman emperor Hadrian. It combines the best elements of the architectural heritage of Egypt, Greece and Rome in the form of an "ideal city". The villa was constructed at Tibur (modern-day Tivoli) as a retreat from Rome for Roman Emperor Hadrian during the second and third decades of th ...
Founded: c. 128 AD | Location: Tivoli, Italy

Arch of Septimius Severus

The white marble Arch of Septimius Severus at the northwest end of the Roman Forum is a triumphal arch dedicated in AD 203 to commemorate the Parthian victories of Emperor Septimius Severus.  and his two sons, Caracalla and Geta. After the death of Septimius Severus, his sons Caracalla and Geta were initially joint emperors. Caracalla had Geta assassinated in 212; Geta"s memorials were destroyed and all images or m ...
Founded: 203 AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Briga

Briga was a medium sized Roman town that was discovered during the digging of a local road shortly after the French Revolution. From the first century AD onwards, the Romans developed a substantial sanctuary complex on the site of what was a Celtic shrine, as well as the other features one finds at Roman towns, such a theatre, bathhouses and a forum.
Founded: 0 - 200 AD | Location: Eu, France

Le Mans Roman Walls

The Roman wall in the old town of Le Mans is one of the best of its type still extant in France. The 1300m long construction is laid out with 12 towers wraps around the immaculately preserved and restored Plantagenet Old City. There are only two longer ancient Roman walls left, in Rome and Istanbul (Constantinopole). These walls are highlighted every summer (July and August) evening in a light show that tells the history ...
Founded: 300 AD | Location: Le Mans, France

Roman Baths

Roman thermal baths in Como date back to the 1st century AD. They are situated in a large area (about 1500 square meters). Thanks to a recent renovation, they are now open to the public. Visitors can see finds and recent discoveries with specific explanations and information about the site. 
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Como, Italy

Roman Pyramid

The Roman Pyramid in Vienne is an emblematic building of the architectural heritage of the city together with the Roman Theatre. It is an unique remain of a Roman circus, where racing took place. The pyramid was the central building of the Roman 'circus maximus'. The 25 meters high obelisk stood in the center of the sand track. Its location on an axial platform (Spina) was confirmed by excavations in the nin ...
Founded: 100-200 AD | Location: Vienne, France

Forum of Caesar

The Forum of Caesar (Foro di Cesare) was built by Julius Caesar near the Forum Romanum in Rome in 46 BC. Caesar decided to construct a forum bearing his name in the northeast section of the Forum Romanum, of which he purchased a very expensive, select amount of parcels of land in that area. The Forum spanned from the Argiletum on the southeast side of the Forum Romanum to the Atrium Libertatis and spanned 160 meters by 75 ...
Founded: 46 BC | Location: Rome, Italy

Trajan's Forum

Trajan"s Forum was the last of the Imperial fora to be constructed in ancient Rome. It was built on the order of the emperor Trajan with the spoils of war from the conquest of Dacia, which ended in 106. The Forum was inaugurated in 112, while Trajan"s Column was erected and then inaugurated in 113. The Forum consisted of a vast portico-lined piazza measuring 300 metres long and 185 metres wide exedrae on two s ...
Founded: 112 AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora (Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls) is a 17th-century church and monastery in the city of Lisbon. It is one of the most important monasteries and mannerist buildings in the country. The monastery also contains the royal pantheon of the Braganza monarchs of Portugal.

The original Monastery of São Vicente de Fora was founded around 1147 by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, for the Augustinian Order. The Monastery, built in Romanesque style outside the city walls, was one of the most important monastic foundations in mediaeval Portugal. It is dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, patron saint of Lisbon, whose relics were brought from the Algarve to Lisbon in the 12th century.

The present buildings are the result of a reconstruction ordered by King Philip II of Spain, who had become King of Portugal (as Philip I) after a succession crisis in 1580. The church of the monastery was built between 1582 and 1629, while other monastery buildings were finished only in the 18th century. The author of the design of the church is thought to be the Italian Jesuit Filippo Terzi and/or the Spaniard Juan de Herrera. The plans were followed and modified by Leonardo Turriano, Baltazar Álvares, Pedro Nunes Tinoco and João Nunes Tinoco.

The church of the Monastery has a majestic, austere façade that follows the later Renaissance style known as Mannerism. The façade, attributed to Baltazar Álvares, has several niches with statues of saints and is flanked by two towers (a model that would become widespread in Portugal). The lower part of the façade has three arches that lead to the galilee (entrance hall). The floorplan of the church reveals a Latin cross building with a one-aisled nave with lateral chapels. The church is covered by barrel vaulting and has a huge dome over the crossing. The general design of the church interior follows that of the prototypic church of Il Gesù, in Rome.

The beautiful main altarpiece is a Baroque work of the 18th century by one of the best Portuguese sculptors, Joaquim Machado de Castro. The altarpiece has the shape of a baldachin and is decorated with a large number of statues. The church also boasts several fine altarpieces in the lateral chapels.

The Monastery buildings are reached through a magnificent baroque portal, located beside the church façade. Inside, the entrance is decorated with blue-white 18th century tiles that tell the history of the Monastery, including scenes of the Siege of Lisbon in 1147. The ceiling of the room has an illusionistic painting executed in 1710 by the Italian Vincenzo Baccarelli. The sacristy of the Monastery is exuberantly decorated with polychromed marble and painting. The cloisters are also notable for the 18th century tiles that recount fables of La Fontaine, among other themes.

In 1834, after the religious orders were dissolved in Portugal, the monastery was transformed into a palace for the archbishops of Lisbon. Some decades later, King Ferdinand II transformed the monks' old refectory into a pantheon for the kings of the House of Braganza. Their tombs were transferred from the main chapel to this room.