Top historic sites in Rome

Santa Susanna Church

The Church of Saint Susanna at the Baths of Diocletian is located on the Quirinal Hill in Rome. There has been a titular church associated to its site as far back as AD 280. The current church was rebuilt from 1585 to 1603 for a monastery of Cistercian nuns founded on the site in 1587 which still exists there. About 280, an early Christian house of worship was established on this site, which, like many of the earliest Ch ...
Founded: 280 AD / 1585 | Location: Rome, Italy

Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls

The Papal Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls (Basilica Papale di San Paolo fuori le Mura), is one of Rome"s four ancient major basilicas. The Basilica was founded by the Roman Emperor Constantine I over the burial place of St. Paul, where it was said that, after the Apostle"s execution, his followers erected a memorial, called a cella memoriae. In 386, Emperor Theodosius I began erecting a much larger and ...
Founded: 386 AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Forum of Augustus

The Forum of Augustus is one of the Imperial forums of Rome, Italy, built by Augustus. It was built in 42 BC to commemorate Augustus' victory at the Battle of Philippi over the assassins of Julius Caesar. The Temple of Mars Ultor stands in the forum. It was inaugurated in 2 BC and it came to function as the focal point of Roman military strategy. For example, Augustus decreed that it should be the meeting place for the ...
Founded: 42 BC | Location: Rome, Italy

Altare della Patria

The Altare della Patria, also known as the National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II, is a monument built in honor of Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy. The eclectic structure was designed by Giuseppe Sacconi in 1885; sculpture for it was parceled out to established sculptors all over Italy, such as Leonardo Bistolfi and Angelo Zanelli. It was inaugurated in 1911 and completed in 1925. The Vittoriano fea ...
Founded: 1885-1925 | Location: Rome, Italy

Galleria Borghese

The Galleria Borghese is an art gallery housed in the former Villa Borghese Pinciana. At the outset, the gallery building is integrated with its gardens. The Galleria Borghese houses a substantial part of the Borghese collection of paintings, sculpture and antiquities, begun by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the nephew of Pope Paul V (reign 1605-1621). The Villa was built by the architect Flaminio Ponzio, developing sketches ...
Founded: 1903 | Location: Rome, Italy

Villa Borghese Gardens

Villa Borghese is a landscape garden in the naturalistic English manner in Rome, containing a number of buildings, museums and attractions. The gardens were developed for the Villa Borghese Pinciana, built by the architect Flaminio Ponzio, developing sketches by Scipione Borghese, who used it as a party villa and to house his art collection. The gardens as they are now were remade in the early 19th century. In 1605, Card ...
Founded: 1605 | Location: Rome, Italy

Archbasilica of St. John Lateran

the basilica of Saint John Lateran was built under pope Melchiade (311-314). It is the oldest surviving church in the world. Due to the fact that the pope is also the bishop of Rome, Saint John in Lateran is also Rome's Cathedral. The present structure of the Basilica resembles the Saint Peter's basilica. The original plan had already five aisles. The ancient church was residence of the popes until the coming back from t ...
Founded: 311-314 AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Baths of Caracalla

The Baths of Caracalla were the second largest Roman public baths, or thermae, in Rome. It was built between AD 212 and 217, during the reigns of Septimius Severus and Caracalla. They would have had to install over 2,000t of material every day for six years in order to complete it in this time.  The baths remained in use until the 6th century when the complex was taken by the Ostrogoths during the Gothic War, at which t ...
Founded: 212-127 AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Capitoline Museums

The Capitoline Museums (Musei Capitolini) are a single museum containing a group of art and archeological museums in Piazza del Campidoglio, on top of the Capitoline Hill. The historic seats of the museums are Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo, facing on the central trapezoidal piazza in a plan conceived by Michelangelo Buonarroti in 1536 and executed over a period of more than 400 years. The history of the muse ...
Founded: 1734 | Location: Rome, Italy

Santa Sabina Church

The Basilica of Saint Sabina is a titular minor basilica and mother church of the Dominicans. Santa Sabina is the oldest extant Roman basilica in Rome that preserves its original colonnaded rectangular plan and architectural style. Its decorations have been restored to their original restrained design. Other basilicas, such as Santa Maria Maggiore, are often heavily and gaudily decorated. Because of its simplicity, the Sa ...
Founded: 422-432 | Location: Rome, Italy

Theatre of Marcellus

The Theatre of Marcellus is an ancient open-air theatre, built in 13 BC and formally inaugurated in 12 BC by Augustus. At the theatre, locals and visitors alike were able to watch performances of drama and song. Today its ancient edifice in the rione of Sant"Angelo, Rome, once again provides one of the city"s many popular spectacles or tourist sites. The theatre was 111 m in diameter and was the largest and mos ...
Founded: 13 BC | Location: Rome, Italy

Apostolic Palace

The Apostolic Palace is the official residence of the Pope. The building contains the Papal Apartments, various offices of the Catholic Church and the Holy See, private and public chapels, Vatican Museums, and the Vatican Library, including the Sistine Chapel, Raphael Rooms, and Borgia Apartment. The modern tourist can see these last and other parts of the palace, but other parts, such as the Sala Regia and Cappella Paoli ...
Founded: 1471-1605 | Location: Vatican, Vatican City State

Basilica of Saint Clement

The Basilica of Saint Clement, dedicated to Pope Clement I, is especially notable for its three historical layers. The 12th-century basilica is built on top of a well-preserved 4th-century church (with many frescoes), which was built next to a 3rd-century Mithraic Temple. For an admission fee, it is possible to explore the excavations of the lower two levels, which is a fascinating journey into the history of Rome. This ...
Founded: 300-400 AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Quirinal Palace

The Quirinal Palace is one of the three current official residences of the President of the Italian Republic. It is located on the Quirinal Hill, the highest of the seven hills of Rome. It has housed thirty Popes, four Kings of Italy and twelve presidents of the Italian Republic. The palace extends for an area of 110,500 square metres and is the ninth-largest palace in the world.  The current site of the palace has been ...
Founded: 1583 | Location: Rome, Italy

Santa Croce in Gerusalemme

The Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem or Basilica di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme is one of the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome. According to tradition, the basilica was consecrated circa 325 to house the relics of the Passion of Jesus Christ. The relics were brought to Rome from the Holy Land by Empress St. Helena, mother of Roman Emperor Constantine I. At that time, the Basilica's floor was covered with soil from Jer ...
Founded: c. 325 AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Catacomb of Priscilla

The Catacomb of Priscilla on the Via Salaria was used for Christian burials from the late 2nd century through the 4th century. This catacomb, according to tradition, is named after the wife of the Consul Manius Acilius Glabrio; he is said to have become a Christian and was killed on the orders of Domitian. Some of the walls and ceilings display fine decorations illustrating Biblical scenes. The modern entrance to the cat ...
Founded: 2nd century AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Catacomb of Callixtus

The Catacomb(s) of Callixtus is one of the Catacombs of Rome on the Appian Way, most notable for containing the Crypt of the Popes, which once contained the tombs of several popes from the 2nd to 4th centuries. The Catacomb is believed to have been created by future Pope Callixtus I, then a deacon of Rome, under the direction of Pope Zephyrinus, enlarging pre-existing early Christian hypogea. Callixtus himself was entomb ...
Founded: 2nd century AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Santa Cecilia in Trastevere

Santa Cecilia in Trastevere is a 5th-century church in the Trastevere rione. The first church on this site was founded probably in the 3rd century, by Pope Urban I; it was devoted to the young Roman woman Cecilia, martyred it is said under Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander (AD 222-235). Tradition holds that the church was built over the house of the saint. The baptistery associated with this church, together with the rema ...
Founded: 822 AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Pyramid of Cestius

The Pyramid of Cestius is an ancient pyramid in Rome. Due to its incorporation into the city"s fortifications, it is today one of the best-preserved ancient buildings in Rome. The pyramid was built about 18–12 BC as a tomb for Gaius Cestius, a magistrate and member of one of the four great religious corporations in Rome, the Septemviri Epulonum. The sharply pointed shape of the pyramid is strongly reminiscent of ...
Founded: 18-12 BC | Location: Rome, Italy

Temple of Portunus

The Temple of Portunus or Temple of Fortuna Virilis ('manly fortune') is one of the best preserved of all Roman temples. Its dedication remains unclear, as ancient sources mention several temples in this area of Rome, without saying enough to make it clear which this is. The temple was originally built in the third or fourth century BC but was rebuilt between 120-80 BC, the rectangular building consists of a tetrastyle p ...
Founded: 120-80 BC | 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.