Famous structures in Rome: Top 12 most beautiful buildings of the Italian capital

By Alina GoncharovaOct 28, 2023 16:06 PMRome
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Famous structures in Rome: Top 12 most beautiful buildings of the Italian capital
Atmospheric streets of Rome. Source: Image djedj/Pixabay

Roman architecture, both modern and ancient, combined with real marvels of engineering art, are known all over the world. One of the richest capitals in terms of culture and history, it displays a large number of treasures, reflecting a special style. Some of the buildings are more than a thousand years old, testifying to the level of civilization that the city has reached over the centuries.

When visiting the Italian capital, we recommend visiting at least a few of the famous buildings of Rome from the following list, which will definitely leave pleasant memories of the trip and atmospheric photos.

The Colosseum

Since its opening back in 80 AD, this famous structure in Rome has never ceased to amaze everyone. The Colosseum, formerly known as the Flavian Amphitheater, was a giant arena with a diameter of about 500 metres. It could accommodate more than 50 thousand spectators (according to some estimates, 80 thousand), who had the opportunity to quickly leave the location thanks to a network of exits called "vomitoriums". The massive amphitheater was used for many competitions, including bloody ones not for life, but for death. In its heyday, the Colosseum was filled with marble statues in each of its many arches.

Despite its very respectable age, the amphitheater welcomes guests, giving an unforgettable experience. We advise you not only to take a photo in front of the iconic arches but also to look inside and explore the ruins. Tourists can step into the arena where terrifying shows took place, as well as go down into the dungeon where gladiators awaited their fate.

St. Peter's Basilica

Famous structures in Rome: Top 12 most beautiful buildings of the Italian capital
Incredible church decorated with gold and marble. Source: Image Mauricio A./Pixabay

The number of churches in the Italian capital exceeds 900. However, one of the most famous buildings in Rome - St. Peter's Basilica - deserves special attention. You can see iconic works of art by Michelangelo, Carl Maderno, Bramante, Bernini, and others inside.

The church is impressive in size and can accommodate 20 thousand people. A separate work of art of the basilica is the dome, the construction of which was completed in 1614. The interior of this remarkable building is exquisitely decorated with an incredible amount of marble and gold, including paintings and sculptures of the Italian Renaissance.

The top of the famous building in Rome, Italy, offers incredible views of St. Peter's Square and is close to some of the most popular tourist destinations, such as the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.

Marcellus Theater

One of the central cultural features in the best times of the Roman Empire was not only bloody gladiatorial fights and sporting events but also famous theater performances. One of the most famous buildings in Rome - the Marcellus Theater - deserves special attention.

Located on the eastern bank of the Tiber River in the centre of the capital's historic district, the theater resembles the famous Colosseum in shape and design. You can see a large number of arches around the outer walls, but the scale of the building itself is, of course, not so large.

The construction of the Marcellus Theater was completed in 13 AD during the reign of Augustus Caesar. Since then, a significant part of the once famous institution has collapsed, but most of the walls and the foundation itself remain in good condition.

Vittoriano

This Rome building, nicknamed the "wedding cake," is located on the famous Piazza Venezia. The white marble building, erected on the slope of Capitoline Hill, has aroused controversial opinions since its opening. The Vittoriano, or Altar of the Fatherland, was built in honor of the first king of united Italy, Vittorio Emmanuel II. The complex includes a museum, but the most noteworthy is the top of the "wedding cake". The top level of the monument, which can be reached by a glass elevator, offers a panoramic view of the city. On a clear day, you can see almost the entire capital, including the countryside and picturesque hills beyond.

Pantheon

Famous buildings can be found almost at every turn in Rome. However, one of the best-preserved ancient buildings deserves special attention. The Pantheon is an ancient building erected in 128 AD by the Roman Emperor Hadrian. The building was designed as a temple honoring the 12 most important deities. Later, in 608, the Pantheon was converted into a Christian church.

The Pantheon is impressive in size. The oculus, a round hole with a diameter of 9 meters, is in the centre of the hemispherical dome. It is the only source of light that personifies the connection between heaven and the temple. You can see the tombs of Vittorio Emmanuel II and other prominent Italians, including Raphael, inside the building.

Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana

The Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, better known as the "square Colosseum", was built in 1942 for the World's Fair by order of Mussolini. The project was realized by Mario Romano, Giovanni Guerrini, and Ernesto La Padula, some of the most respected architects of their time.

The Second World War interfered with plans for the grand opening of the iconic building in Rome, but despite its clearly fascist architecture, it still stands in the Italian capital. The Palace of Italian Civilization was conceived as a museum in which sculptures were to be kept in a semi-open environment.

The building is covered with white marble and includes a large number of loggias decorated with statues like the iconic Roman monument, the Colosseum. The Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana is currently occupied by the Fendi brand, so exhibitions are often held on the ground floor, which are open to everyone.

Museo dell'Ara Pacis

This Rome building is distinguished by its glass facade and straight white lines as opposed to a contrasting mix of Italian architectural styles and burnt pastel colors. The Museo dell'Ara Pacis was designed by Richard Meier, a prominent American architect. Once part of a large complex, the ancient altar is now the centrepiece of the museum. The marble structure was built in 13 B.C. in honor of the Emperor Augustus and was used, paradoxically, for sacrifices to the goddess Pax. The altar is distinguished by the complexity of its decorative elements with friezes depicting battles, figures, and processions.

Castle of the Holy Angel

Famous structures in Rome: Top 12 most beautiful buildings of the Italian capital
Amazing castle in Rome. Source: Image 5786499/Pixabay

One of the best buildings in Rome is the Castel Sant'Angelo. The cylindrical majestic building is located along the Tiber River. Built during the reign of Hadrian, the Castel Sant'Angelo was intended to serve as the tomb of the Roman emperor.

Construction of the building began around 123 AD. Until now, scientists have not been able to determine the burial place of Hadrian. According to one version, the emperor was cremated and his ashes scattered over the castle. In 400 AD, the building was converted into a military fortress during numerous battles of the Roman Empire with Germanic tribes.

Today, one of Rome's most famous buildings attracts millions of tourists from all over the world. The Castle of the Holy Angel can be reached by a bridge connecting the iconic building with the opposite bank of the Tiber.

Palazzo Doria Pamphili

This beautiful building in Rome, which is often unfairly overlooked due to its location on Via del Corso, is found on an active, always noisy street, crowded with chain stores. Doria Pamphilj Gallery was designed in the XVII century by the famous Italian architect Francesco Nicoletti. The building got its name thanks to the Doria family, which owned the gallery from the very beginning of its foundation and the building itself.

A picturesque courtyard is behind the seemingly austere facade. However, the museum upstairs deserves special attention. The main gallery, which consists of only four corridors, is filled with marble sculptures, paintings, murals, and other art objects. You can find a portrait of Pope Innocent X by Velázquez, as well as paintings by Tintoretto and Caravaggio, in the mirrored hall of Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, which almost always remains half empty. The art gallery's collection includes more than 400 unique and diverse works. Combined with the decorated halls, it gives the impression of being in a special unforgettable place.

MAXXI

The popular building in Rome, which is not an ancient structure, is home to the National Museum of Art of Italy of the XXI century. MAXXI (Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo) was created by the famous British architect Zaha Hadid. The building stands out among classic ancient structures and medieval palaces with its bent metal pipes and curved staircases.

The museum is located in the popular Flaminio district, attracting eclectic, creative visitors who want to explore the unique MAXXI architecture and MAXXI art collections from all over the world. The most noteworthy are the majestic steel and glass installations.

Quartier Coppede

Gino Coppedè, a famous Italian architect and sculptor, having received complete freedom to design a new district in the capital in 1917, decided not to stop at just one style.

Quartier Coppedè is not just one building to see in Rome but a whole complex of buildings surrounding Piazza Mincio. Art Nouveau details, Gothic accents, Greek and medieval influences: Gino Coppedè's works are striking in their richness and diversity. Unfortunately, Rome's iconic buildings are currently closed to the public as private offices and apartments are located inside. Nevertheless, we recommend taking a walk around the Trieste area to see the many decorative details of the eclectic facades. You can even see huge exterior chandeliers!

Casino del Bel Respiro

The road to the Casino del Bel Respiro runs through the largest park in the capital, Villa Pamphili, which is a pleasure to walk through as there are picturesque fields and tall pines. This exquisite building in Italy, Rome, was built in 1644. Unfortunately, the villa is not open to the public, but its exterior is worth a short walk. The building itself is surrounded by carved decorative figures that hint at the incredible interior hidden behind the blue shutters.

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