Top historic sites in Rome

Santa Costanza

Santa Costanza is a 4th-century round church in Rome with well preserved original layout and mosaics. It has been built adjacent to a horseshoe-shaped church, now in ruins, which has been identified as the initial 4th-century cemeterial basilica of Saint Agnes. Santa Costanza and the old Saint Agnes were both constructed over the earlier catacombs in which Saint Agnes is believed to be buried. According to the traditiona ...
Founded: 4th century AD | 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

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

Catacombs of Domitilla

Close to the Catacombs of San Callisto are the large and impressive Catacombs of Domitilla (named after Saint Domitilla), spread over 15 kilometres of underground caves. The Domitilla Catacombs are unique in that they are the oldest of Rome's underground burial networks, and the only ones to still contain bones. They are also the best preserved and one of the most extensive of all the catacombs. Included in their passage ...
Founded: 2nd century 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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Abbey of Saint-Étienne

The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.

Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.

The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.

As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).