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8 Historical & Religious Sites To Visit In Rome
If you love history and religious sites, then no city appeals to you more than Rome. Rome is a treasure trove of historic and religious places to visit. There is so much to see and do in Rome for history and religious enthusiasts that it is a bit overwhelming. However, everyone should visit this place once in their lifetime. If you are traveling there for vacation or business, then I have the perfect guide for you. Here are eight historic and religious places to visit in Rome that will give you a taste of the past.
1. Old St. Peter's Basilica:
In the Vatican, visit St. Peter's Basilica, built on the site where the apostle Peter was martyred in 64 AD and buried. The current basilica has been standing since 1626. It was constructed over St. Peter's tomb. St. Peter was crucified upside-down during emperor Nero's reign, who was known for his persecution of Christians for being atheists because they did not believe in Roman gods! Just outside St. Peter's lies St. Peter's Square, designed by Bernini in 1656 and known for its 284 columns and 140 statues.
Also inside Vatican City are the Vatican Gardens, a 50-acre area filled with fountains, gardens, and sculptures that were once reserved only for popes but can now be visited by tourists.
2. Archbasilica Of St. John :
It is the cathedral church of Rome and is the official ecclesiastical seat of the Pope, who holds the title of Bishop of Rome.
The archbasilica was built by Constantine in 324 when he made Christianity a state religion and moved his seat to Byzantium. The first Christian basilica was built on this site in 314, and the current building replaced this during the reign of Pope Sixtus V (1585-90).
The church has been renovated and restored many times over the centuries, but it still retains its original architectural style. In 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte's troops took over Rome and declared it a republic. They looted all the Archbasilica treasures, including marble railings, doors, and candelabras.
The roof is the best feature to see from the outside, and it is decorated with statues representing the church fathers and saints. Inside, many interesting features can be found, including a vast mosaic of Christ Pantocrator that dates back to 1360, a copy of Michelangelo's Pieta, and a huge Baldacchino designed by Borromini in 1634.
3. The Vatican Museums:
The greatest museums in the world include the Vatican Museums, which display works from the vast collections built up throughout the centuries by the Roman Catholic Church. They have works by famous artists like Michelangelo and Raphael and are often considered some of the best art collections in the world.
Pope Julius II founded the Vatican Museums in the early 16th century. The buildings have an area of 54,000 m² (about 580,000 ft²). Over 70,000 paintings and sculptures are included in the collection, with approximately 20,000 on display.
The museum system spans over 5 miles (9 kilometers), making it one of the largest museum complexes in the world. Vatican Museums receive more than 4 million people each year!
One of the best-preserved ancient structures is the Pantheon in Rome. It is also a church and a popular tourist destination. In 126AD, Hadrian built it on the site of an earlier temple. Unfortunately, the original building was struck by lightning and burned down. It has been used as a Catholic Church since the 7th century.
It's an incredibly well-designed building, with a huge dome with a diameter equal to its height! At the top, the oculus (or "eye") lets light into the structure, creating incredible reflections on the floor at times. There are even drains so that it wouldn't flood when it rained!
5. The Colosseum:
You can't miss the Colosseum while in Rome. It's an iconic symbol of the city originally built in 70 AD. With a capacity of 50,000 spectators, the Colosseum was used for gladiator fights, executions, and wild animal hunts.
Visitors can explore the ground floor and first floor of the Colosseum and get a feel for what it must have been like to be a spectator at one of the gladiator fights or public executions that were held here.
The view is particularly impressive from the top level of the Colosseum, so it is a good idea to climb to the top level if you have enough time.
6. Sistine Chapel:
The Sistine Chapel is a breathtaking sight for every art lover. This chapel's ceiling was painted by Michelangelo in 1508 and is considered one of the great masterpieces of all time. The painting depicts nine panels from the Book of Genesis, including The Creation of Adam and Eve, The Drunkenness of Noah, and The Flood. The Sistine Chapel also houses Michelangelo's last masterpiece, The Last Judgment, covering an entire wall behind the altar. These two paintings are considered to be his most significant works during his lifetime.
7. Santa Maria Maggiore:
The Roman Catholic Church of Santa Maria Maggiore is located in Rome. Pope Sixtus III built it in the 4th century. The church was built to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was built on the site where the Virgin Mary appeared in a dream of Pope Liberius. Furthermore, on the 5th of August 352, a blanket of snow appeared on the hill in the middle of summer. In honor of this day, white flower petals are dropped from the ceiling.
The church has been rebuilt several times, and it is now one of the best-preserved examples of Byzantine architecture in Rome.
This building is most notable for the mosaics added during Justinian's reign. Therefore, the visitor to Santa Maria Maggiore will find himself in a jewel box of art treasures of every era and style. The church's apse is adorned with gold mosaics from the Byzantine period, while colorful mosaics from a previous period wind up the architrave. A blaze of gilded bronze and porphyry adorn the altar, balanced by the richness of other materials.
8. Piazza Navona:
Piazza Navona is a beautiful open square in Rome initially built as a water reservoir. It's now one of the city's most famous and popular squares. Visitors flock to this area because of its beautiful fountain and church and because restaurants, cafes, and shops surround it.
Located just outside the Pantheon, Piazza Navona is one of Rome's most famous landmarks. The piazza is home to a number of fountains, including Bernini's Fountain of Four Rivers (1651). The fountain features four statues representing the Nile with a crocodile, Ganges with her tiger, Danube with her horse, and Rio de la Plata with his dolphin.
In addition to this fountain, the square also has two smaller fountains by Giacomo Della Porta, an apprentice of Michelangelo. The Fontana del Moro (the Fountain of the Moor) and the Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune).
Rome is a fantastic city full of things to see and do. It is one place in Italy you can never get tired of. There are too many attractions that it is impossible to see them all during one short visit. I recommend staying at least a week if you want to cover most of the essential points of interest.
In this article, I have presented eight historical and religious sites to visit in Rome. These places will take you back in time for sure.
The thing about Rome is that it keeps on giving no matter how many times you visit, so make sure to take your time and enjoy.