One of the most thrilling ancient sites in this city is the Colosseum wherein gladiatorial fights in ancient Rome occurred. Also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, the 50,000-seater arena is constructed in 72 A.D. and is currently one of the most popular tourist sites in the world. The Colosseum may be partially ruined due to the damage brought by earthquakes and stone-robbers, but it still remains as an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome. With more than 6.5 million visitors in 2015 alone, it is the most visited monument in Italy, and it may take a while to enter the Colosseum especially during summer time. Guided tours allow you to skip the lines, and it is best to book one with the official tours as there are peddlers lurking outside the arena who are offering unreasonably priced tours. The Colosseum is open daily (except on January 1 and December 25), and can be visited as early as 8:30 in the morning.
The smallest independent state in the world, the Vatican, is also based in Rome. With area less than half a square kilometer, the Vatican palace and its structures are enclosed within the Vatican walls wherein St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square are located. Exhibited inside St. Peter’s Basilica is the masterpiece of Michelangelo called Pieta. The Sistine Chapel is the unquestionable highlight of the Vatican museums in which the work of Michelangelo can be seen high above the frescoed ceiling. The Raphael Rooms, Borgia Apartments, and the Vatican Library are placed inside the Vatican Palace, which you can visit for only €11. Collections in the Apostolic Palace range from papal coaches to religious-themed works of art from the 20th century.
The Centro Storico is the historic center of Rome wherein splendid palaces, lively squares, and churches full of art are located. You can spend an entire in this area alone and still find yourself preoccupied with the activities and attractions that Centro Storico has to offer. Although the atmosphere of the neighborhood is delightful enough, the attractions located here are worth checking out as well. The Pantheon, Piazza Navona, the Trevi Fountain, and the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore are in Centro Storico, along with boutiques, stylish bars, cafes, and restaurants. Nearby Centro Storico is a flight of irregular stairs called the Spanish Steps wherein tourists can take gelato breaks in the summer while enjoying the ambiance of the area.
Piazza Navona, located in Centro Storico, is one of Rome’s Baroque squares designed by Borromini. The square is filled with locals, tourists, souvenir stalls, coffee shops, and seasonal Christmas markets. On its west side is the church of Sant’Agnese which became the model church for Baroque and Rococo churches in Italy and other places. Fontana dei Fiumi, the square’s centerpiece, was designed by Borromini’s archrival, Bernini. Two other fountains can be seen in the square: Fontana del Moro, a 16th-century fountain by Giacomo della Porta erected in front of the Palazzo Pamphili, and Fontana del Nettuno, a 19th-century fountain with the figure of Neptune. Nearby is San Luigi dei Francesi, a church that exhibits three of Caravaggio’s major paintings from the 16th-century.
Another well-preserved monument of the Roman antiquity is the Pantheon. The Pantheon used to be a temple dedicated to the Virgin and Christian martyrs. Currently, the 2000-year old architectural stunner is still a functioning church that survived centuries despite being roofless for quite a while. Inside, you will see the world's largest unreinforced solid concrete dome, the well-preserved interior Pantheon interior, the tombs that house the bodies of Italian kings, and the 7th-century icon of Madonna and Child. The Pantheon can be visited every day (except January 1, May 1, and December 25) as early as 8:30 in the morning. Entrance to the Pantheon is free of charge at all times, but there are also guided tours that you may avail.
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