Rome continues to be one of the greatest cities on earth fifteen hundred years after the fall of the Roman Empire. The history behind the city is fascinating, yet even more intriguing is how the modern city contrast the city’s ancient past. Tall, young, and beautiful Italian women in heels and olive skin men in fancy business suits make their way to lunch, past fountains that have flowed for hundreds of years. Cafés serve the most delicious cappuccinos overlooking where the earliest politicians once gathered to set the course for western civilization. Traffic, horns, and sirens echo into the Coliseum, where brave men once battled for their lives in an epic and gruesome form of mass entertainment.
Rome has many historical attractions, and one could not possibly see them all in a short vacation. If you are in Rome on a limited time frame, here are a few of the city’s highlights that should not be missed.
The Vatican: This is an obvious tourist attraction, however, much more than the Pope resides within the Vatican. An amazing collection of art decorates the halls of the Vatican and paints the ceilings. Among the most famous are Michelangelo’s murals within the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo painted the breathtaking mural on the ceiling in his thirties. Years later, Pope Clement VII commissioned Michelangelo to paint the massive wall behind the altar. Amazingly, Michelangelo completed the daunting mural depicting the last judgment in his early sixties. Also within the Vatican’s walls are Rafael’s The School of Athens, and the enormous St. Peter’s Basilica. When in St. Peter’s Basilica, find the mural of the scribe King Solomon. To comprehend the size of the Basilica, recognize that the pen King Solomon holds is nearly 9 feet long.
The Pantheon: One of the best-preserved buildings in Rome, the Pantheon, dates back to 126 A.D. It was originally built in honor of the gods of Ancient Rome. It has been in continuous use, and since the 7th century has been used as a Roman Catholic Church. The Pantheon is massive; its dome continues to be the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome nearly two thousand years after it was built. On the Pantheon’s porch stand 16 immense columns with an amazing story of passage. The columns were quarried in Egypt. These 16 columns, each 39 feet tall, with a circumference larger than the wingspan of three men and weighing 60 tons, were dragged more than 60 miles to the Nile River where they were floated by barge and transferred to Roman vessels waiting on the Mediterranean's shores. Once across the Mediterranean, they were then transferred back onto barges and pulled up the Tiber River to Rome.
Other necessary sites to see include the Coliseum, the Roman Forum, and the Spanish Steps; yet hidden gems lie around every corner in Rome. The city is beautiful, from its spectacular historical monuments, to the quiet, tucked away cafés down its dark cobble stone alleys. The original city of love will leave you amazed and you’ll get back on the plane headed home wondering when you’ll return. Of course you will, provided you threw a coin in the Trevi.
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