So much comes to mind when I think about the Eternal City and archaeological sites in Rome is one of the first and most important ones as with any cultural travel.
Has it ever happened to you that you visit a place for the first time and you fall completely in love with it?
That was exactly my experience in Rome. Art, architecture, history, archaeology, anthropology, culture, beauty… they all describe Rome and they are the best in cultural travel.
It is truly one of the most beautiful cities in the World and you can find all aspects of culture there.
The most spectacular archaeological sites in Rome
So when I asked myself about the Top 10 archaeological sites in Rome, it was kind of a hard choice!
Many didn’t make the cut, but I’ll be sure to leave them for future posts. They are all extremely interesting!
Please beware that we can speak volumes of each of these sites but the idea with this post is for you to get a sense of the vast history of Rome.
So without further ado, here’s my list!
10: Ara Pacis
Time period: 13 BC to 9 BC. (Yes, Christ hadn’t even been born!)
Augustus was the first true Emperor after the Republic and he had a very successful time in power.
The monument is completely made of marble and it consists basically of an altar surrounded by an enclosure with one main entrance and another opening at the back.
The inside walls are filled with symbolism related to abundance and prosperity while the outer walls depict members of Augustus’ family.
The visit comprises a look at the genealogical tree of Augusts’ family, busts of famous family members and an incredible modern design gift shop.
Also, information about Augusts’ plan for this site, which is next to his own Mausoleum and included a sun dial.
The Ara Pacis – Myth at the Heart of the Roman Empire
9: Domus Aurea
Time period: 64 – 68 AD. (Christ had been dead for more than 30 years).
It is located at the heart of Rome and held an impressive palace and gardens, an artificial lake and most importantly the colossal statue of the Emperor (Forever lost).
After the death of Nero the palace was dismantled and the artificial lake dried out.
A small part of the palace still remains under the ruins of the Baths of Trajan and it is a testimony to the skilled labor that Nero hired with its lavish decoration and exuberant style.
Many innovations in art and architecture were introduced with the design of the Domus Aurea by architects Severus and Celer and the painter Fabullus (isn’t that a fabulous name?).
Unfortunately, the site has been closed for a couple of years for restoration and I heard that it floods sometimes, making the work difficult. It’s not known when it will open again.
According to writer Suetonius, when the palace was finished Nero remarked: “Good, now I can at last begin to live like a human being!”
Domus Aurea website.
8: Vatican Necropolis
Emperor and time period: From the 1st to the 3rd century, starting with Augustus.
Is it the actual site of Saint Peter’s Basilica, the immense church in the Vatican, where the head of the Catholic Church and the Vatican State reside.
The visit to the actual archaeological site is amazing, with mausoleums of wealthy ancient Romans and a fascinating tale of how the tomb of Saint Peter came to be.
And as archaeological evidence and tradition suggest, it is the actual tomb of Saint Peter and his bones can be seen there.
Quite a humbling experience to be able to experience what death must have been like for people in the Roman Empire.
7. Castel Sant’Angelo
Time period: 135 – 139 AD.
It is located near the Vatican and I believe there are underground passages that link it to the Papal buildings.
Because of this it has been used as a fortress to protect popes.
It’s called Castle of the Holy Angel because it is believed that Archangel Michael appeared on top of it in 590.
In antiquity the building had gardens on top of it and a quadriga statue of the Emperor. After Hadrian, the mausoleum was used by several subsequent emperors, the last one being Caracalla in 217 AD.
Oficial Castel Sant’Angelo website.
6: Temples in the Forum Boarium
Emperor: None, these temples come from the time of the Roman Republic, before the Roman Empire.
Time Period: 2nd century BC until around 80 BC. (No Christ yet).
It is particularly important today because two of Rome’s oldest temples are still there in quite a magnificent condition.
But that is a wrong assumption. The interior wall of the cella and 19 columns are original, and this temple is the oldest surviving building in all of Rome.
Both temples owe their state of conservation to the fact that they’ve been used as churches before.
To think that to stand before these two buildings and think that they’ve been there since before there was a Roman Empire is simply… mind-boggling and astonishing.
Visiting the Forum Boarium is free!
Ok, so meet me here next time to find out about the next five archaeological sites in Rome you can’t miss!
Was any of these sites in Rome a surprise?
Had you heard about them?
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