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Attraction, Cultural, Historic
The Circus Maximus Since ancient times the Roman culture promoted entertainment and sports. Chariot racing was one of the Ancient Roman’s most popular forms of entertainment and it ... moreled to the establishment of the Circus Maximus. The Circus Maximus was one of the largest stadiums of Rome that was used to host chariot races among other entertainment events. The stadium is located within the valley between the Palatine and Aventine hills, in Rome, Italy. The original size of the stadium was 621 m long and 118 m wide, and it could accommodate 150,000 people.

The Circus Maximus was developed in the 6th Century BC, during the reign of Tarquinius Priscus who was the fifth king of Rome. The original Circus Maximus was built out of wood and it was designed specifically to race chariots. The very first gates of the Circus Maximus were built in 329 BC. In 174 BC, these gates were rebuilt and seven wooden eggs were placed on top of the spina, which was the central wall in the stadium. These eggs were used to count the number of laps during racing. One egg was removed after each lap. In 33 BC, seven bronze dolphins were added to the spina to serve the same purpose.

In 31 BC, the Circus Maximus was destroyed by a fire. The wooden structure was burnt but was later rebuilt by Emperor Augustus who also added an imperial box on the Palatine Hill. It was then that a large obelisk was added to the spina as a form of decoration. The obelisk can still be found in Rome today, at the center of the Piazza del Popolo. The second fire to burn Circus Maximus occurred in AD 64 during the reign of Emperor Nero. The Circus Maximus was again rebuilt by Trajan in AD 103. The stadium was now built by stones and it was three stories high. The sitting area of the stadium was built in marble. The stadium became bigger and more impressive. The Circus Maximus continued being popular and was used for several events. However chariot races were still the most popular events. The stadium could accommodate up to 250,000 and entry was free. Actually anybody, including the Rome’s poor, could attend the races in the stadium.

The last race to be held at the Circus Maximus was in AD 549. Thereafter, the stadium started becoming a forfeited area. Some of its marble and stones were stolen and used to construct new premises in the area. The decentralization of the area led to the collapse of the Circus Maximus.

Today, the Circus Maximus is just a public park within the centre of the city. The stadium is still used to host some concerts and meetings in Rome, though it is not as popular as it was during the ancient days.
The Seven Hills of Rome The ancient city of Rome was originally built on the topographical layout of seven separate hills. These seven hills were joined together by the ancient walls ... moreof Rome- the Servian walls. The Seven Hills of Rome lie in the east to the Tiber River. Later many more areas were annexed to the city. The city walls were extended to include them also and the city is now much bigger than its original territory. The Vatican and Vatican hill are included in the Areas that were added to the city much later in history.

The seven hills are, namely:

The Quirinal Hill

The Aventine Hill

The Caelian Hill

The Viminal Hill

The Capitoline Hill

The Esquiline Hill

The Palatine Hill 

The biggest of all the seven is the Esquiline hill. It is famous because the Roman emperor constructed the domus aurea on it. Before the time of the Roman Empire the east side of the Esquiline was used for refuse and the poor buried their dead there. Execution of criminals was held by the Esquiline gate and the bodies were left to rot there. Burial was not allowed within the borders of the city but the burial area at the Esquiline was not within the walls of the city.

In addition on the Esquiline were The Temple of Claudius, The Colossus, and the Baths of Trajan.

The Palatine hill is also very important. According to the legend about the foundation of Rome the city to was first founded on the Palatine Hill by Romulus.

Rome had a very humble beginning. According to the legend the seven hills were originally occupied by tiny groups of separate tribes and were not affiliated to any city. Rome did not yet exist. Eventually the residents of the seven hills started to cooperate in order to participate in a series of religious games. These games were the adhesive that bonded the different settlers. As these separate settlements came together and became friendly, they formed together the newborn city of Rome. They started to work together to drain the marshes between the different hills and turn them into markets. The safety of any city used to depend on the height, sturdiness and breadth of its walls. The seven hills were protected by the walls called the Servian Walls. These were built in the early 4th century BC.

Whereas five out of the seven hills of Rome; The Caelian, The Esquiline, The Aventine, The Viminal and The Quirinal) include monuments, buildings, and parks m the poher two are not populated currently. The Capitoline hill is now Rome's city hall, and the Palatine Hill is part of an archaeological site.

Because of the seven hills Rome is known as the city of seven hills among other names given to it. The legend of the seven hills is so famous that here are other cities in the world that claim to have been built on seven hills. One of these cities is Athens, Greece.

The Pincian Hill located north of the tiber, The Vatican Hill which is located north-west to the river Tiber , and the Janiculum Hill lying to the west, are not part of the Seven Hills.
Historic, Neighborhood
Trastevere, Rome Trastevere is rione (region) XIII of Rome. It is a medieval area in Rome which is separated from the central city by the Tiber river. Despite its narrow lanes, many ... moretourists are attracted by its liveliness and the beautiful sceneries surrounding it. Trastever means literaly beyond the Tiber. It is the only place in Rome that survived the medieval period. Trastevere has a diverse nightlife and houses several archeological gems, as well as an international body of artists, students and expatriates who love the area’s special picturesque atmosphere and many secrets alleyways.

Trastevere has several historical attractions among them are the following:

Church of Santa Cecilia: this is a historical landmark decorated with beautiful frescoes and mosaics. It also has a fountain that contains a water vessel that lights up during the night. Behind this church, there is a sculpture dedicated to the martyr Santa Cecilia.

Gianicolo: it is also known as Janiculum Hill. If you climb this hill you will be rewarded with a breathtaking view of Rome. This is the hill became famous in the ancient days because it is where pagan priests used to go to in order to read the omens provided by the flight of birds; from these they would divine the outcome of different events which occurred in the city. The Janiculum Hill was also known as the site of a battle between troops that were under Giuseppe Garibaldi’s command and fought against the French.

Nightclubs: Trastevere is an awesome place to spend some time during the night. There are many lively nightclubs in the area that plays all types of music and keeps people entertained for the whole night. If you want to have some good time out in Rome, then Trastevere is the place to go. Some of the popular clubs in the area are Big Mama and Freni e Frizioni.

Restaurants: Trastevere area is also full of world class restaurants where you can enjoy Roman food at affordable prices. The restaurants offer classic dishes that are not easy to find in any other place. Some of the renowned restaurants in the area include Checco er Carettiere, Osteria Zi Mberto, The Mirror, Ai Marmi, among others. The restaurants offer both in-door and out-door services. The atmosphere at the restaurants is relaxing and soothing.

Trastevere also has an excellent museum as the Museum of Rome in Trastevere, located in Piazza Sant'Egidio, which hosts the permanent exhibition dedicated to folklore and Roman dialect poets, but also many temporary exhibitions. But that is not the only museum in the district: the House of Memory and History presents exhibitions and events to keep alive the memory of anti-fascism, Resistance and Liberation war; the Corsini Gallery which is full of historic pictures, the Botanic Garden located in the park of Villa Corsini, etc. The Trastevere area also has many Roman Catholic churches such as San Crisogono, Santa Maria in Trastevere.

On Saturday mornings Trastevere hosts a huge flee market called the Porta Portese. If you like flee markets this is most definitely the place for you as you can find there anything from clothes to antiques and old records.
Attraction, Historic
Piazza Venezia Piazza Venezia is a square located in the heart of Rome, Italy, at the end of the Via del Corso. The square is surrounded by magnificent sites such as the Pantheon, ... morethe Roman Forum, Trajan’s Forum, the Capitoline Hill, Palazzetto Venezia, the outstanding monument of Victor Emanuel II, Palazzo Bonaparte (home of Napoleon’s mother), Palazzo delle Aste, and San marco Church among others.The square is normally characterized by the heavy traffic as it forms an intersection of various road sections and therefore you may not find a quiet place to stand in at the square itself but its surrounding areas are full of incredible sites.

One of the outstanding landmarks at the Piazza Venezia is the II Vittoriano. The monument was dedicated to King Victor Emmanuel II, who was the first king of Italy. This monument was built in the 20th century and it completely changed the appearance of the square. During the construction of the II Vittoriano, many structures were demolished and others moved to other sites, among them was the Palazzetto Venezia.

Another structure near the Piazza Venezia is the Palazzo Venezia. This is the building that gave Piazza Venezia its name. It was built between 1455 and 1464 by cardinal Pietro Barbo who later became Pope Paul II. Piazza Venezia is among the most magnificent structures in Rome. This building was first used as a papal residence until when it was handed over to Venice by Pope Pius IV to be used as the Venetian embassy. The Italian government acquired Palazzo Venezia in 1916. It was from this building’s balcony that Benito Mussolini used to address people. Currently, Palazzo Venezia houses Museo del Palazzo Venezia museum which has a collection of historic decorative art including ceramics, sculptures, paintings and tapestries.

Adjacent to Piazza Venezia you can find the Palazzo Generali which was built between 1906 and 1911. This building replaced two palazzos which were demolished in 1900 to give space for the expansion of Piazza Venezia square.

Another incredible structure near Piazza Venezia is Palazzo Bonaparte. The palace was named after Letizia Bonaparte (the mother of Emperor Napoleon I).

During the excavations of the Rome C Metro Line in 2009, ancient remains which were said to be to be the relics of Emperor Hadrian were excavated from the middle of this square.

The whole area of Piazza Venezia is amazing. The place is full of spectacular buildings that can be seen from the square. You can climb the many steps at the Piazza Venezia square and have an overview of the neighborhood. The square is very beautiful and always full of people from all walks of life. When you climb to the top of the stairs, you can see the view of the whole of Rome. You will have an amazing view of beautiful buildings, sites and parks. Transportation to and from the square is very efficient as there are many buses leaving from the square to other parts of Rome.
Attraction, Historic
Piazza Navona Piazza Navona is one of the most beautiful baroque sites in Rome. It was built at the exact place where the Domiziano Stadium was situated. This magnificent square has ... moremore than three magnificent fountains. The Piazza Navona is located in the historic center of Rome, west to the Pantheon. The square is one of the liveliest and most visited squares of Rome, with many outdoor cafes, restaurants and nightclubs in the surrounding areas.

There are several structures that can be found at Piazza Navona namely:

Domitian’s Stadium: this is the stadium that occupied this site before Piazza Navona was built. The stadium was built by Emperor Domitian in 86 AD and although you cannot see it today the Piazza Navona took its oval shape from this structure.

Fountain of the Four Rivers: Its fountains are among the major attractions of Piazza Navona. The central fountain, called Fontana dei Quattro Fium (Fountain of the Four Rivers), is the largest and most attractive. The fountain features four figures, each representing a river from a different continent – rivers Rio de la Plata, Ganges, Nile and Danube. The statues are at the base of a rock supporting an obelisk, originally located at the Massenzio Circus, near the Appian Way.

The Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone: the church was commissioned in 1652 by Pope Innocent X. The facade of the church was designed by Borromini and it was completed in 1670.

Neptune Fountain and Moor Fountain: these are two other outstanding fountains in the Piazza Navona. The first is the Fontana del Nettuno (Neptune Fountain) on the northern side of the piazza and Fontana del Moro (Moor Fountain) on the southern side. The Neptune Fountain was built in 1576 by Giacomo della Porta. During the 19th century, the statues of Neptune surrounded by sea nymphs were added. The Moor Fountain was also built by Giacomo della Porta; and it has a central statue of a Moor holding a dolphin designed by Bernini which was added in the 17thcentury. The Fontana del Moro was vandalized on the 3rd of September 2011. The man who damaged the fountain was captured on the security cameras.

The Piazza Navona has hosted several events and festivals. Between 1650 and late 19th century, The Piazza Navona could be flooded during the summer season and was used for aquatic games and staged marine battles. Piazza Navona is a cool place to hang around and this is true for Rome's local residents as well as tourists. It also features beautiful sculptural and architectural creations. There are many artists who gather in the square to paint and there are also several entertainers and vendors who sell souvenirs. The nightlife at the Piazza Navona is also lively as there are many nightclubs in the surrounding areas of the square. In Christmas the Piazza hosts a charming Christmas market. The Piazza Navona is a square full of life and worth a visit. There are lots of people, artists sharing their talents and lots of places to enjoy meals and have fun.
Attraction, Historic
The Pantheon The Pantheon is a spectacular building located in Rome, Italy. The Pantheon is located at Regione IX Circus Flaminius. Originally its construction was commissioned by ... moreMarcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus as a temple to all the gods of ancient Rome. The Pantheon was built in 27-25 BC by the magistrate Marcus Agrippa in order to commemorate the victory over Mark Antony and Cleopatra in the battle of Actium. Later this original temple was burned down in 80 AD. It was then completely reconstructed by the Emperor Hadrian in 125 AD.

The Pantheon is a circular structure with a portico of large granite Corinthian columns under a pediment. There is a rectangular vestibule which links the porch to the rotunda, which is underneath a coffered concrete dome, with a central opening (oculus) to the sky. Until today, this dome is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. The diameter of the interior circle and the height to the oculus are the same, 43.4 meters. The oculus was the only source of light to the building at the time when it was constructed.

The Pantheon was later turned into a church. Today the Pantheon contains tombs of several famous artists and various Italian kings. The tombs in the Pantheon include among others those of the painters Raphael Sanzio da Urbino, Carracci Annibale, the architect Baldassare Peruzzi, and Arcangelo Corelli. In Adittion to the kings Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I as well as Umberto's Queen, Margherita.

The Pantheon is renowned for its exclusive architectural structures and the use of space. The special designs of the portico, the bronze doors ,the dome, tall walls, oculus, decorations and monumental tombs all contribute to the beauty of the building and turn it into a great tourist's attraction. There is also a lovely fountain nearby topped by an ancient Egyptian obelisk which was erected by Pope Clement XI.

The Pantheon also borders with the Piazza della Rotonda, which is a rectangular square situated in the historic center of Rome. With its long history and the many reconstructions made to it, the Pantheon it is one of the most visited buildings in Rome. The square bordering the Pantheon is always crowded with tourists taking pictures or moving in and out of the building. The Pantheon is open from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m on Sunday and on holidays 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. There is no admission fee needed in order to enter the building; it is open to the public free of charge.

There is no doubt that the Pantheon is a spectacular building that is worth a visit. Both the interior and the exterior of the building are amazing and breathtaking.The large dome, the oculus, the huge columns, and the inscriptions are exemplary. The Pantheon is said to be the Roman monument with the largest number of records and it is the most imitated of all ancient structures.
Attraction, Cultural, Historic
Trevi Fountain in Rome Trevi Fountain is the biggest Baroque fountain in Rome, Italy. It is also among the most beautiful fountains in the whole world. The fountain was constructed ... morebetween 1732 and 1762. The fountain is located at the end of the Aqua Virgo, which brings water from the Salone Springs which are located approximately 20 km from Rome. Trevi fountain symbolizes Rome’s rich history and architecture.

The first design of Trevi Fountain was made by the artist Bernini in 1640 but his plan was not implemented. During the mid 18th century, Nicola Salvi won the papal competition to adapt Bernini’s previous design of the fountain.Unfortunately, Nicola died before the completion of the construction. Eleven years later the project was taken over by Giuseppe Panini who then completed it.

The Trevi Fountain is 85 feet high and 65 feet wide, making it the largest fountain in Rome. There is a large structure depicting Neptune (god of the sea) at the centre of the fountain. The god is riding a chariot which is being pulled buy two seahorses. One of the horses is obedient and calm while the other one is edgy. The two horses symbolize the changing moods of the sea. The fountain contains some more statues including one on the left hand side of Neptune which represents Abundance and another on the right representing Salubrity.

Trevi fountain is an iconic monument and no tourist who visits Rome goes back home without visiting it. The fountain has a great history and the water at the bottom of it is said to represent the sea. According to the famous legend if you throw a coin into the water then you will then return again to Rome one day. The coin is tossed over thy shoulder with the back to the fountain. This is a great experience and nearly all the tourists who visit the fountain try it and throw a coin into it. Incredibly enough it is estimated that an average of 3,000 Euros are thrown into the fountain everyday! This money is used to fund a city food bank.

The Trevi Fountain has also been featured as an iconic part of Rome's imagery in several movies including the 1954 Hollywood movie “Three Coins in a Fountain”. The fountain’s presence can be noticed from the nearby streets. You will start hearing the sound of gushing waters growing more intense as you come closer.The gushing sound makes the visiting tourists eager to see this spectacular monument that is full of history, art, architecture and tradition. This is why the fountain attracts millions of tourists every year.

The Trevi Fountain is truly extraordinary: it combines an internal cool environment with a vibrant sound of gushing water from the fountain and wonderfully detailed life like statues.There are plans to restore the fountain which will involve a complete overhaul including an overall cleaning of the statues, replacing the gilded Latin inscriptions and also re-waterproofing the main basin. During the process, the fountain will not be closed to tourists and it is expected to becompleted by 2015.
Geological Feature
The Tiber River in Rome The Tiber is famous for being the main river that runs through the city of Rome. Rome is situated on the Tiber's eastern banks. The Tiber (called the Tevere ... morein Italian) is one of the longest watercourses in Italy. Its depth is between 7 and 20 feet. The Tiber rises from the Apennine Mountains in Emilia-Romagna and flows for 406 Kilometers. Its course runs through Umbria and Lazio and ends at the Sea. The source of the Tiber is in two springs 10 33 feet apart from each other situated on Mount Fumaiolo in central Italy.

The river rises from these two springs in Mount Fumaiolo and flows in a southern direction passing Perugia and then Rome. The Tiber eventually arrives at the sea at Ostia, now a Suburb of Rome. the Tiber has advanced since the ancient Roman era, which is why the ancient port of Ostia Antica is now almost 6 km inland. The Tiber has an island in the center of Rome called Isola Tiberina which is situated between the ancient center and the neighborhood of Trastevere. Coming from the direction of the center of Rome the Vatican is situated across the Tiber.

Scholars think that name Tiber dates to ancient times, It originated in another language before the Latin " Tiberis". Most probably it is a very ancient name. According to an ancient Roman myth the king Tiberinus Silvius of Alba Longa urinated into a river named the Albula River, which was then renamed in his honor. Jupiter then made him a guardian spirit of the river and a god. The Tiber is also called flavus ("the blond") because of the yellowish hue of its water.

The Tiber used to be famous for its floods as it used flood regularly. In order to prevent floods the river is now confined by stone embankments. The building of these high embankments started in 1876. Inside the city today, the edges of the Tiber are lined with streets called lungoteveri, which means along the Tiber in Italian.

The Tiber has become very much identified with the City of Rome. The famous legend about the founding of Rome takes place on the banks of the Tiber. The Legend says that, the twins Romulus and Remus, Rome's founders, were abandoned to its waters. This is where they were saved by a she-wolf.

The Tiber played an important strategic defensive and economic part for Rome during ancient Roman times. The Tiber was crucial for trade and commerce. The Tiber had many other uses in ancient Rome . For example: the Tiber a used to be connected to the ancient Roman sewage system. Also, In ancient Rome, criminals who were executed were thrown into the Tiber afterwards.An interesting fact is that due to the identification of Rome with the Tiber "Swimming the Tiber" has come to be the Protestant euphemism for converting to Roman Catholicism
Geological Feature, Historic
Vatican Hill The Vatican Hill is located right on the opposite side of the Seven Hills of Rome. The hill is situated just across from the Tiber. The Vatican Hill was in existence even ... morebefore Christianity took its strong ground in Rome. It is said that the Vatican Hill was the site of an Etruscan town known as Vaticum. According to Roman history, the Vatican Hill obtained its name from its location and the people who occupied its location at the time when it was first inhabited.

There is some mystery surrounding the name of the hill; On the one hand the Vatican Hill was the home of people called Vates before Rome became the land of Christianity. On the other hand, Vaticanus was an Etruscan god of prophecy and that his temple was built on the ancient site of the Vatican Hill. The history of the original site of the Vatican Hill is linked back to St. Peter’s as it is very close to the site of his burial and some tombs of renowned Romans who contributed to the foundation of Christianity in Rome. 

The Vatican Hill was included within the Vatican City walls during the reign of Pope Leo IV. This was part of this Pope’s attempt to protect the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica. After being included in the Vatican City walls, the Vatican Hill became part of the Vatican and Roman Catholic Church.

The Vatican Hill is one of the natural sites of Rome which are visited by millions of tourists every year. The hill itself is a spectacular site and the surrounding areas are also remarkable. The hill is one of the sites in Rome that can be easily identified from a distance. For instance, people who visit the Vatican easily recognize the Vatican Hill and end up climbing it to enjoy the fresh air and the views surrounding the area.

Getting to the Vatican Hill is stress-free as there are guided tours that will take you there if it is your first time in the Vatican. There are tour guides who help people to climb the hill and go round it to enjoy the natural sites and the surrounding environs. The transportation means to the Vatican Hill are also easily available making the access to the hill easier.

Additionally, there are many hotels, restaurants and other recreational facilities near the Vatican Hill if you are hungry or tired. If you want to go and visit the hill for one or two days and stay in a hotel or camp at the hill site for weeks, all provisions are available to meet these demands.

With the rich history of the incredible architectural structures, art and relics, Vatican Hill is one of the most visited sites in Rome. It has continued to receive visitors from all over the world and it is attached to the great history of Christianity in Rome, making it an important site in Rome.
Attraction, Cultural, Historic
The Lateran Palace In ancient Roman times the Lateran Palace was a palace belonging to Roman noblemen but later it became the major papal residence. It was originally kwon as the Apostolic ... morePalace of the Lateran. The Lateran Palace is one of the major Lateran buildings in Rome. It was the primary Apostolic residence prior to the Avignon Exile.

Nowadays the Lateran Palace displays the history of the Papal States. The Lateran Palace is now occupied by the Museo Storico Vaticano. In addition, the Lateran Palace houses some residential apartments of the Cardinal Vicar and the offices of the Vicariate of Rome. During the ancient days, the Lateran Palace also housed some of the collections and relics of the Lateran Museum, which were later distributed in different museums of Vatican.

The Lateran Palace is next to the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, which is the cathedral church of Rome. The Lateran Palace obtained its name from the Laterani family whose family members served as administrators for numerous Roman emperors and donated land, property and funded several projects in Rome.

Despite the change of its use, the Lateran Palace has remained an incredibly well kept palace and it is now an important part of the Roman Catholic Church's history. The palace is surrounded by several gardens and structures that make it a tourist attraction. Different popes who have ruled Rome have also used the Lateran Palace to serve various purposes; mostly for holding important meetings. It is at the Lateran Palace that the Lateran Treaty was signed on 11th February 1929.

The Lateran Palace is open to the public and tourists are allowed to visit the palace especially in the morning hours. In case you are new to the place, you will be guided through the whole palace and shown important sites and their meanings. The Lateran Palace itself is an incredible place to visit. The inside of the palace is full of historical relics and artifacts created by the great artists of Rome. It is here that the popes used to reside and therefore it is given the attention and respect it deserves. There is tight security in the place and no incidences of crimes despite the high crime rate in Rome.

It is also important to note that the Lateran Palace was destroyed by fires in 1307 and 1361.Due to the damage the ancient building of the Lateran Palace was replaced with the same structure, which is the current Lateran Palace, during the papacy of Pope Sixtus V. The restructuring was designed and supervised by architect Fontana. 

The Lateran Palace houses the famous Scala Sancta and as it is among the holiest places in Rome, you will meet many people visiting the Lateran Palace especially in the morning hours.
Attraction, Church, Historic
Santa Maria Maggiore Santa Maria Maggiore is the largest Catholic Marian church in Rome, Italy. It is a papal basilica and often used by the pope. It is one of the four basilicas in ... moreRome holding the title major basilica. Santa Maria Maggiore is located on the summit of the Esquiline Hill, and it is the only patriarchal basilica of the four basilicas in Rome to have retained its paleo-Christian structures. The other three basilicas of Rome are: St. Peter’s Basilica, St. John’s Basilica and St. Paul’s Basilica. Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major) is the largest church in Rome having been dedicated to the ‘Virgin Mary’. Its name ‘major’ shows that it is the most important of the 80 churches in Rome that are dedicated to Mary.

Santa Maria Maggiore dates back to the 5th century when the landowner (according to legend the patrician John) of Esquiline Hill had a dream on the 4th of August 352. In the dream, Virgin Mary appeared to him and told him to build a church at the site where snow would fall the following day. On that same night, Pope Liberius had the same dream.

The following day, snow fell on the Esquiline Hill. The pope and the patrician quickly ran towards the site of the miracle and they found that the snow had fallen in the shape of a floor plan for a church. Pope Liberius then decided to build a basilica at that very site as an honor of the Virgin Mary. However, archeological evidence shows that the church was first built in the early 400s and was completed under the reign of Pope Sixtus III between 432 and 440. This was the time when many churches were built and dedicated to Mary.

The Santa Maria Maggiore has had many names from the time it was built. First, it was called St. Mary of the Snow (Santa Maria della Neve), after the miraculous snowfall; then Santa Maria Liberiana after Pope Liberius. After the basilica had obtained a relic of the Holy Crib, it was called St. Mary of the Crib (Santa Maria Del Presepe). Then it finally obtained its current name St. Mary Major (Santa Maria Maggiore).

Full restoration and renovation of Santa Maria Maggiore took place during the 18th century, when the facade and its interior were greatly changed. Santa Maria Maggiore is a tourist’s attraction and it is said to be the second most beautiful church in Rome second only to St. Peter’s. Among the attractions that you can see at the Santa Maria Maggiore are several mosaics (apse mosaic depicting the Coronation of the Virgin, mosaics of the triumphal arch which depicts scenes from the early life of Christ), the nave, the medieval bell tower (the highest in Rome), Athenian marble columns, the Pauline chapel, an icon of Virgin Mary known as Salus Populi Romani (Health of the Roman People), a relic of the True Cross and a museum containing Roman remains. The basilica is decorated with lots of artworks that will make your visit interesting. The feast day of Santa Maria Maggiore is celebrated on August 15th.
St. Peter's Dome St. Peter’s Dome is the dome that covers St. Peter's basilica, one of the most exceptional religious and historic sites in Rome, Italy. Rome is a city of wonders in ... moreterms of architectural buildings as well as its natural landscape. St. Peter’s Square, just outside the basilica, is where the most important Catholic Masses and occasions are celebrated. It is here where the newly elected pope appears to the rest of the world for the first time. St. Peter’s basilica also houses several papal tombs, among many other Catholic relics. This site is incredible, both in it interior and exterior.

Another incredible feature of St. Peter’s Basilica is the Dome. This is the largest dome in the world and it is a marvel of architecture. The dome is also referred to as the cupola. The dome ascends above the altar of St. Peter’s Basilica and it is extravagantly embelished with mosaic and ornaments. It is supported by four main structural piers with a height of 120m and a perimeter of 71m; starting from the ground to the roof of the lantern.

There are huge letters on the gold background, from St. Veronica to St. Helen, stating: “Hinc una fides mundo refulgent” (From here a single faith shines throughout the world); and from St. Longinus to St. Andrew: “Hinc sacerdotii unitas exoritur” (From here is born the unity of the priesthood). There are several other verses as well and all these gigantic letters (2 meter high) are lit by the light from 16 large windows.

The dome is divided into 16 ribs and into many segments by majestic figures on 6 ascending concentric levels. The levels are as follows, starting at the bottom: busts of the 16 popes buried in the basilica; the majestic figures of Christ, the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. John the Baptist, and other Apostles; the angels bearing the instruments of Jesus’ Passion (in the rectangular frames); the faces of cherubim and seraphim in circular medallions; the angels, the custodians of St. Peter’s tomb; and additional faces of winged angels.

The most interesting experience is climbing up the dome. It has 551 stairs and that is why if you are not very energetic it is recommended to take a lift; or else you will spend hours just climbing the dome. It costs around 7 Euros to take the lift. Once you reach the basilica, you will see a queue to climb the dome; this is because there are many people climbing up the dome every day. Queue in the line and get your climbing ticket. After getting the ticket, you will be guided either to the stairs or the lift depending on your choice. Paying for the lift is worthwhile as after a short while you will already be at the top of the dome. You can get outside the dome, where you can see a panoramic view of ALL of Rome. It is a spectacular view with magnificent and breath-taking sites.

If you are planning to visit Rome, put St. Peter’s Dome in your list “must see” sites. There are guided tours by professionals who will take you to all places in and outside the dome and give you comprehensive explanation of every detail of the dome. Climbing St. Peter’s Dome is a lifetime experience.
Attraction, Historic
The Fountains in St. Peter's Square St. Peter’s Square is one of the most famous venues in Rome, Italy. The square is located in front of St. Peter’s Basilica within Vatican City. ... moreSeveral special Masses are celebrated in St. Peter's square during various special dates on the Roman Catholic Church's calendar. It is at St. Peter’s Square where a newly elected pope appears to the rest of the world for the first time. Other special Masses celebrated at St. Peter’s Square include: Easter and Christmas Masses.

St. Peter’s Square is known for its spectacular beauty and the fountains may be listed among its many outstanding features. Most of these fountains were constructed during ancient days and they have contributed ever since to the beauty of the square. The fountains have been renovated and are well conserved making them worth visiting if you are visiting the Vatican and Rome.

The following are some of the fountains that can be found in St. Peter’s Square:

Maderno Fountain: this fountain was redesigned by architect Carlo Maderno after being commissioned by Pope Paul V. The design is that of an octagonal base with a large irregular basin at the top. It also has small columns and steps which hold water. The new design is also comprised of a large lower stone vasque, which the old fountain had possessed also as well as four stone scrolls. The top of the fountain is a cap in shape of a mushroom, which is covered with stone scales. Water from the top of the fountain pours down over the top of the upper vasque. The fountain was designed in such a way that it did not operate by pumps but purely by gravity. This was facilitated by the fact that the source of water for the Maderno Fountain was higher than the fountain itself. This caused the water to shoot upwards by the power of gravity. In 1641, this fountain was said to be the most beautiful fountain in the whole of Europe.

Bernini Fountain: it is located on the southern side of St. Peter’s Square. It was created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini between 1667 and 1677. The fountain was commissioned by Pope Clement X. Bernini built the fountain for ten years and its design followed earlier designs.

These fountains continuously give St. Peter’s Square a spectacular atmosphere in which the sounds of trickling water made by these fountains can be heard from a distance. Therefore as you approach St. Peter’s Square, you will start hearing the relaxing sounds supplied by the fountains’ waters. The fountains have remained a great tourist attraction and are among the most beautiful fountains in Rome, Italy.

Therefore if you are planning to visit Rome, do not miss out on a visit St. Peters square and its fountains. They are among the tallest and most beautiful fountains in the Vatican City. You will meet attendants who will give a brief history of the fountains and explain every detail about these fountains. If you are allowed to enter St. Peter’s square then there are no restrictions on viewing and taking photos of these fountains. The fountains also discharge very clean water and are well maintained.
Attraction, Historic
The Apostolic Palace The Apostolic Palace is the official residence of the reigning pope. The palace is located in Vatican City; North-East of St. Peter’s Basilica and next to the ... moreBastion of Nicholas V and the Palace of Gregory XIII. The Apostolic Palace is also referred to as the Vatican Palace, the Papal Palace, the Sacred Palace and also the Palace of the Vatican. The construction of the current Apostolic Palace started on the 30th of April 1589 during the reign of Pope Sixtus V and it was completed by his successors Pope Urban VII, Pope Innocent XI and Pope Clement VIII.

Originally, the person in charge of the activities at the Apostolic Palace was the prefect of the Apostolic Palace. However this position only existed between the 15th century and the 1800s. The Papal States had some economic crises and as a way of saving some money, the position of the prefect of the Apostolic Palace was reviewed and a committee was created by Leo XIII to run the palace.

The Apostolic Palace is a complex building comprising of several Papal Apartments, the Vatican Museums, some of the Catholic Church’s government offices, the Vatican Library, and a number of both private and public chapels among other buildings. Generally, there are over 1000 rooms within the Apostolic Palace. The palace houses offices of different functions including administrative offices that are not necessarily related to the Pope's duties. Some of the renowned rooms within the Apostolic Palace include the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael’s Rooms.

Therefore, despite the Apostolic Palace's name, it is not merely the pope's residence. It is also used for other administrative functions of the Holy See. For instance, there are several administrative offices within the Apostolic Palace which are used to administer government functions of the Vatican State. In many ways the Apostolic Palace can be compared with the White House, which is the term used to describe the general presidential administration of the United States. Hence the Apostolic palace is not only used for religious purposes but for the Vatican's general administration including the exercising of its political, economic and social responsibilities as a State.

The Apostolic Palace has several outstanding features and it has become one of the top tourist attractions in Rome, Italy. The palace has within it several beautiful gardens, fishponds, museums, natural conservatories, cattle premises (which produce plenty of milk to serve the whole palace) and a library. It is also the home to the Vatican Observatory.

There are several residences meant for the reigning pope and the Apostolic Palace is among the places where the Pope spends most of his time. once a new pope is elected, he takes over the Apostolic Palace as his residence. Some of the popes liked to spend time reflecting in the gardens within the Apostolic Palace. The Apostolic is also where several administrative meetings of the Vatican take place.
Attraction, Historic, Museum
Castel Sant Angelo Castel Sant Angelo was originally built as a mausoleum for theEmperor Hadrian but was later transformed into a big castle where popes couldseek refuge at turbulent ... moretimes. The Castel Sant Angelo is located on the rightside of the Tiber and its construction startedin 130 AD and was completed in 139 AD, during the reign of Emperor AntoniusPius who was Hadrian’s successor. At the time which the Castel Sant Angelo was constructedit was the tallest building in Rome, Italy.

The Castel Sant Angelo has undergone several changes basedon the different purposes that it served throughout history. First it was usedas a mausoleum and then it became part of the city wall. Later on it was turnedinto a fortress before being used a papal residence. Afterwards it was used asa barracks and prison and currently it is a national museum. The museum is richin history and it contains the remains of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and thoseof his successors up to the emperor Caracalla.

Castel Sant Angelo is comprised of a square 89 m wide base on acylindrical colonnaded drum with a diameter of 64 m. The mausoleum wasconnected to the Vatican Cityby a bridge (Pons Aelius). Today the passageway that connects Castel SantAngelo and the Vaticanstill exists. This bridge is presently known as the Ponte Sant Angelo.

The Castel Sant Angelo is a spectacular structure. Thebuilding is divided into five floors. Floor I is made of the famous windingramp which is approximately 400 feet long (this is a common Roman construction). FloorII, which is also known as the floor of the prisons contained horrible prisoncells as well as stores for oil and wheat. Floor III, also known as themilitary floor, has two large courtyards. Floor IV which is known as the papalfloor contains the loggia of Julius II, by Bramante, and a papal apartmentconsisting of superbly decorated rooms. Floor V, the top floor, has a bigterrace with apanoramic view and a statue of the Archangel Michael made of bronze.

The incredible statue depicting the Archangel Michael placed at the topof the fortress was sculpted by the Flemishsculptor and architect Pieter Verschaffelt. This statue replaced an older one with the same theme. The previous statue was made ofmarble but after being damaged it was replaced by the current bronze statue. This statue depicts the Archangel Michael who is said to haveappeared on top of the fortress in the year 590 and miraculously ended thesevere plague that had infected the city of Rome.

Castel Sant Angelo is visited by millions of tourists fromall over the world every year and it has become one of the favorite tourists’destinations. Being a home to the National Museum of Castel Sant Angelo, thesite has remained a source of valuable historical resources and manyresearchers visit it every day. There is a lot of art and architecture in andaround Castel Sant Angelo from which you can learn much regarding Rome’s history, religionand architecture.
Attraction, Historic
The Gandolfo Castel Gandolfo Castel is a town located 24 km southeast of Rome, Italy. The GandolfoCastel is on the Alban Hills, overlooking Lake Albano. The town has a totalpopulation ... moreof approximately 8840 people, and it is said to be one of the mostscenic towns in Italy. The Gandolfo Castel hosts the Apostolic Palace of CastleGandolfo, which is used as a summer residence and vacation retreat for thePope. The Gandolfo Castel is located within the borders of Castle Gandolfo, butit has extraterritorial status as one of the properties of the Holy See andtherefore it is not under the jurisdiction of Italy.

Themain source of water for the Gandolfo Castel is Lake Albano, which is oftencalled Lake Castel Gandolfo. This place is surrounded by several summerresidences, villas and cottages; some of which were built during the 17thcentury. The Gandolfo Castel also houses the Stadio Olimpico, which staged rowingevents during the Rome Olympics. There are also several archeological siteswithin The Gandolfo Castel, among them Emissario del Lago Albano and theremains of the Villa of Domitian. It is also an area full of artistic interest,such as the Collegiate Church of St. Thomas of Villanova, which was designed byGian Bernini Lorenzo.

Justlike most towns in Rome, Italy, Gandolfo Castel is also a town full ofactivities. There are many events that take place in the town on variousoccasions. There is a local market which takes place on Friday mornings, manyfestivals, theatres, artwork, schools, archeological sites, canoeing, golf,rugby, football, etc. The town offers many hotels which are constantly full ofvisitors. Some of the fabulous hotels in The Gandolfo Castel and near the towninclude Hotel Castel Gandolfo, Hotel Castel Vecchio, Hotel Villa Degli Angeli, andmore. The abundance of hotels displays the prominence of the town as a holidaydestination. Visitors frequent the town, especially during summer, to enjoy thefresh air, cool atmosphere and spectacular views in the town and thesurrounding areas. Limited parking for tourists is available within the boundsof Gandolfo Castel.

Butmore important to the Catholic Church and its followers, the Gandolfo Castel isthe Papal residence during summer. The Pope stays in this place during summertimes, and also holds occasional special meetings with his delegates at thesite. Recently, during the election of the new Pope following the resignationof Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Benedict retired to the Gandolfo Castel during theelection process.

Despitethe fact that Castel Gandolfo is a town full of tourism, agriculture, games,art, and other activities; the town hold a great importance to the Catholic believersas it is the Pope's second home and the place where he spends most of his timeoutside Vatican City.
The Vatican Necropolis The Vatican Necropolis is located under the Vatican City, at a depth of 5 to 12 meters below Saint Peter’s Basilica. Major archaeological excavations took place ... moreunder Saint Peter’s in the years 1940 to 1949, with the sponsorship of the Vatican. This excavation work was done at the request of the then Pope Pius XI who wanted to be buried very close to Peter the Apostle. St Peter is believed to have been the first Pope. It is said that he was martyred in a Roman Circus and that his remains were then buried at the site of the Vatican. These excavations were done so as to locate the actual site of the grave of St. Peter, which had been assumed to be under St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Necropolis of the Vatican is also home to the Tomb of the Julii family (The family of Julius Ceaser). During Ancient times people were not allowed to be buried within the walls of the city of Rome and this led to the establishment of the Vatican necropolis. The Vatican necropolis was originally established as a burial place built on the southern slope of the Vatican Hill. The Vatican hill was located next to a circus built by Emperor Caligula.

There have been some reconstructions done in the Vatican necropolis including one reconstruction in the area around the grave of the Apostle Peter. Some archaeologists who were involved in the early excavations of the Vatican necropolis in search of St. Peter’s grave suggested that at the time of the construction of Constantinian basilica, the remains of the Apostle Peter were removed from his original grave and placed in the opening.

Every year, millions of people from different parts of the world visit the Vatican for various reasons. A big percentage of these people visit the Vatican necropolis, the place where Peter the Apostle and other popes are believed to have been buried. This site is one of the holiest places in Rome. Saint Peter was crucified on Nero’s circus in the center of St. Peter’s Basilica and his body was moved and buried to a cemetery. According to history, this cemetery is said to be the current Vatican necropolis .Many people who take a tour of Vatican appreciate the conservancy of this place.There are guided tours which can be arranged in advance online in different languages. You will be taken through the chambers until you reach the Tomb of Saint Peter.In the tours you will enjoy magnificent monuments, inscriptions and works of art which symbolize the history of Christianity and the City of Vatican. A tour of Vatican necropolis will last approximately one hour and fifteen minutes. Please note that only a small group of people of between ten and fifteen is allowed in at a time. On a tour of the area you can also enjoy the view of Vatican hill, the Vatican Gardens, museums, St. Peter’s Square, and the Apostolic Palace, among other monuments.
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