Rome Tourist Attractions
Most visitors wonder less about what to see in Rome than how to fit it all in. There are so many things to see in Rome that it is impossible to see them all in the amount of time that most people have allotted for the city. Some come to explore and study for months or years. Whether it’s historical monuments or grand Christian churches, ancient Roman ruins or Italian language classes, there are Rome attractions to satisfy any interest.
St. Peter's Square
This city is the historic center of the Christian church. You could go sightseeing in Rome for weeks, and not see all the churches. The city is also the spiritual and physical center of the Catholic religion. If all you do is visit the monuments in and around Vatican City, you will have covered the basic bases. San Pietro (or St. Peter’s Basilica) is one of the greatest churches in the world. But it is actually not as important as the Pope’s personal church, the Basilica of St. John Lateran. This, along with St. Peter’s is one of the traditional Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome that includes Santa Maria Maggiore and four others. These most famous Rome attractions are no less fascinating than some of the hidden gems, like Santa Pressede Church, with its beautiful early Christian mosaics.
Rome also is the location of the oldest continuous Jewish community, after Jerusalem, in the world. The city’s vibrant Jewish District around Via Portico d’Ottavia provides wonderful sightseeing in Rome that reaches deep into the rich Jewish heritage. Here is one of the most important places of worship in Judaism, the Great Synagogue of Rome, as well as the Teatro Marcellus or Roman amphitheater. There are two (out of six known) Jewish catacombs open to visitors, and they are located in the same area as the Christian Catacombs of San Callistro.
Obviously, things to see in Rome also include the ancient ruins of the great Roman Empire. Most tours of the city, whether independent or organized, will highlight at least one. And if it is to be only one, it probably should be the iconic Colosseum, or perhaps the beautifully intact Pantheon, or the Forum that includes the Arch of Titus celebrating the sacking of Jerusalem and destruction of the second temple on Temple Mount. The list of ancient Roman ruins whose name is known to most Americans goes on and on.
All of this sightseeing in Rome will show you great art and architecture. You can view some of the light of the Renaissance in other places. In the Apostolic Palace (the Pope’s official residence) is the most famous chapel in the world. The rather architecturally mundane Sistine Chapel has been transformed into a treasure of Renaissance art thanks to the artistry of Michelango. Bernini’s genius can be viewed in the grand architecture of St. Peter’s Basilica as well as in Piazza Navonna, where his beautiful Fountain of Four Rivers stands. To admire eighteenth-century sculpture, you can spend some time people watching at the Trevi Fountain, which was originally designed by Bernini.
More things to see in Rome include museums, most prominent of which is the Vatican Museum, actually several museums that house an incomparable collection of art, manuscripts, and artifacts. There are other museums that include art, archeology, history, and even the history of cooking. In fact, food is one of the Rome attractions that everyone experiences. Dining is an event in Rome, as it is throughout the Mediterranean. The city is full of fine gourmet restaurants, charming sidewalk cafés, and colorful local markets overflowing with fresh produce.