A mainstay on many travellers' bucket lists, Rome is world-famous for its architecture and artwork that influenced practices all over the world for centuries. Whether you're travelling to the Eternal City for the first time, or you've missed out on some of the top attractions in the past, here are the most famous buildings in Rome and how to see them.
St Peter's Basilica is one of the most famous Catholic shrines in the world and is one of the city's most notable attractions. Constructed on the burial site of Peter the Apostle, the basilica is an important pilgrimage site and an artistic marvel, including elements from such greats as Carlo Maderno, Gian Lorenzo Bernin, Donato Bramante and Michelangelo.
You can visit the basilica for free, and it's open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. from April to September and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. from October to March. If you want to avoid crowds, it's best to visit as early as possible. As a religious site, the basilica requires conservative clothing like covered knees and shoulders, regardless of the weather. If you want an in-depth experience of the basilica, you can book a guided tour. You can also combine your visit with a papal audience to see the pope and receive a blessing, which is available on Wednesdays when the pope is in Rome.
The Colosseum is arguably the most famous of Rome's attractions and is one of the most recognizable structures in the world. Originally named the Flavian Amphitheatre for its construction from 72-80 AD during the Flavian Dynasty, the Colosseum is the largest amphitheatre in history. During the height of its use, the Colosseum brought over 50,000 spectators together for epic gladiator battles and public events like animal hunts and historic reenactments.
The Colosseum is part of the archaeological area that includes Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. While they all have separate entrances, you can purchase one admission ticket to visit all 3 within a 2-day period. You can also purchase a pass that gives you access to several attractions for one flat fee. There are also tours to visit the Colosseum and learn about its history. The Colosseum is located in Piazza del Colosseo, which can be reached by Metro line B at the Colosseo stop or tram line 3. It's open from 8.30 a.m. until sunset, which is between 4.30 p.m. and 7.15 p.m., depending on the season. The Colosseum is closed on Dec. 25, Jan. 1 and the morning of June 2.
The Pantheon is a well-preserved ancient monument and one of the best examples of ancient Rome's architecture and engineering. It was constructed in 126 AD on the site of a previous temple by Emperor Hadrian and has been in continuous operation since. The massive circular domed ceiling is one of its notable features, and it's believed it was created to symbolise the heavenly sphere.
The Pantheon is located in the Piazza della Rotonda, a lively town square near the Piazza di Spagna metro station. You can take the train or take a bus that connects the Vatican to Termini Station via buses 40, 60 and 64. You could also opt for the hop-on, hop-off bus, which stops near Piazza Navona, and walk to the Pantheon. It's open year-round, but its hours vary according to the season, day of the week and holidays. The Pantheon is technically a church, so it's free to visit. It's also one of the biggest attractions in Rome, so it does get crowded. If you want to visit, it's best to arrive early. You may want to consider booking a guided tour to experience the history of this unique building as well.
Castel Sant'Angelo is located on the bank of the River Tiber overlooking the city. The 2,000-year-old fortress was designed to protect the city and provide an escape route for the pope in the event of a siege. Also known as Hadrian's Mausoleum, Castel Sant'Angelo is home to a museum with coveted historic artefacts like artwork and weapons, along with other features such as the Papal Apartments, the Courtyard of the Angel and the secret passageway into the Vatican.
Castel Sant'Angelo is located on Lungotevere Castello and may be reached by buses 23, 34, 49, 64, 87, 280, 492, 926 and 990. It's open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. You can buy tickets to see it yourself, or choose a guided tour to learn more about its history and trivia. Regardless of how you choose to visit, be sure to arrive early and set aside enough time to explore the many rooms of the fortress and take in the panoramic city views from its terrace.
Rome is a fascinating travel destination with plenty of things to see and do, but these famous landmarks are a must for your trip. When it comes time to plan, take a look at Rome holidays from Expedia to make the most of your experience!