The Best Ancient Rome Monuments: A Top 10 List

Rome is a city full of history, magnificent architecture, and stunning monuments. If you’re planning a family trip to Rome be sure to include these top 10 ancient Rome monuments in your itinerary. Each of the monuments on this list is essentially a must-see so make sure that you catch as many as you can!

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THE COLOSSEUM

This ancient arena is an iconic symbol of ancient Rome. Previously the home of gladiators and dramatic spectacles, this massive arena was able to hold up to 50,000 people. It is now open for all to come, visit, and step into history.

The Colosseum in Rome, Italy

This is one of the things that you’ll visit in Rome that is guaranteed not to disappoint, in fact, it was a highlight of our trip to Rome. It’s hard not to be amazed walking around this awesome landmark, which makes it a great place to bring your family.

Travel Tip: Be sure to purchase your tickets ahead of time online so that you can skip the massive lines. You can also choose from a variety of tours that can give you a unique perspective of the Colosseum.

ROMAN FORUM

The Forum was the center of ancient Rome. It was the home of political, social, and commercial life and had a great impact on ancient Roman life.

The ruins of important buildings such as temples, markets, basilicas, and government buildings remain, though not in whole at the site. Other structures of particular interest include the Arch of Septimius Severus, the Temple of Saturn, and the Basilica Julia.

The Roman Forum in Rome, Italy

Travel Tip: Wear comfy shoes and a hat for the sun. There is quite a bit of ground to cover and there is no shade at all to protect you from the sun.

Also purchasing an audio tour guide or joining some other type of tour can be helpful because while there are a lot of ruins, there’s not much in the way of explanation.

We wish that we would’ve had a tour guide to explain things that we saw during our visit, it would’ve added a bit more to the experience.

PANTHEON

This remarkable architectural marvel is amazing to see and experience. To see the engineering and design behind the building and stand under its famous dome is one of the highlights of visiting Rome.

The Pantheon in Rome, Italy

This happens to be the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome and it has a central opening that allows light to stream in. Make sure to stand in the center to fully appreciate the oculus and the dome above.

Travel Tip: It’s inexpensive to visit, but it’s best to visit in the morning or the evening to avoid the large crowds. Also, schedule time to wander around the piazza which is magnificent in its own right.

VATICAN CITY AND ST. PETER’S BASILICA

When you visit Vatican City you’re stepping into a new country and it’s quite the trip to take. Within its borders are St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums, and St. Peter’s Square.

Both the Vatican museums as well as St. Peter’s holds numerous art masterpieces with the Basilica itself being a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture.

St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City

Travel tip: Dress modestly and prepare for security checks. The museum lines can be especially long so purchasing tickets ahead of time may be best.

PALATINE HILL

Palatine Hill is perhaps the most prominent of the 7 hills that make up the city of Rome. From this point, you can enjoy panoramic views of the city’s ancient structures including palaces and royal residences that were there in the past. This is the location that is said to be the birth of the city.

Travel Tip: It’s probably best to purchase a combination ticket that includes not only access to Palatine Hill but also the Forum and Colosseum for the best value.

TREVI FOUNTAIN

Trevi Fountain is an astonishing masterpiece of Baroque art. While the Colosseum was a personal favorite this is a very close number two on my list of favorite spots to visit in Rome.

Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy

The exquisite detail in the sculpture work in addition to the water is a marvelous combination. The piazza that holds it seems to be too small which adds to an intimacy that creates an unforgettable atmosphere. 

If you’re visiting Italy on a budget be sure to include free sites like this in your itinerary!

Travel Tip: Arrive early in the morning for the pics and to avoid the crowds but come back later at night for the vibes. Be warned, though, it can get quite crowded in the evening.

SPANISH STEPS

A visit to the Spanish Steps is an opportunity to take in an architectural highlight of Rome. The famous stairway links the Piazza di Spagna with the Trinita dei Monti Church.

Spanish steps in Rome, Italy

The view from below in the piazza is wonderful, but it’s just as nice to climb the steps, and take in the atmosphere and a completely different perspective from the top of the steps. The entire area including the piazza is a great place to relax and people watch.

Travel Tip: Even though this is a great place to stop and enjoy the area, sitting on the steps is not allowed.

BATHS OF CARACALLA

In ancient times, the Baths of Caracalla were a massive public bathing complex that was used as much for physical relaxation as for social reasons. The location was able to accommodate up to 1,600 bathers at once.

Today, the grand ruins still give the feeling of grandeur and luxury making it an ideal spot to visit on a trip to Rome.

Travel Tip: The site is fairly large and expansive so it would be helpful to plan your visit. Highlight the areas that you want to see and make sure that you have time for those areas.

CASTEL SANT’ANGELO

This impressive structure is a mausoleum-turned-fortress that served several other purposes throughout the centuries. From papal residence to prison and treasury, this location has seen a lot of Rome’s intriguing history.

Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome, Italy

Exploring the interior with its many sections and rooms is an adventure. The castle also provides some spectacular views of Rome throughout especially from its rooftop terrace. Castel Sant’Angelo is a must see.

Travel Tip: Visit during sunset to get an awesome view of the sun setting over the Tiber River and the city. If you want a bird’s eye view of Vatican City, this is the place.

CIRCUS MAXIMUS

Even though the structure and ruins aren’t as complete as some other landmarks in Rome, just standing in this space will allow you to imagine the action in what was the largest chariot racing stadium in Rome. The Circus Maximus could hold up to 250,000 people.

Travel Tip: This is a great place to make use of mobile apps or audio guides that can fill in the background info and history that will help bring the Circus Maximus to life.

VISIT THE BEST ANCIENT MONUMENTS IN ROME

Rome, Italy

The numerous ancient monuments in Rome provide fascinating windows into the history of Rome. They stand witness to the glory, grandeur, and achievements of the ancient Roman Empire. As you explore the city be sure to take time to appreciate all Rome has to offer.

So grab your camera, pack your curiosity, and start an unforgettable trip through ancient Rome. Before you go, find out how long do you need in Rome and check out this essential itinerary to help you organize your trip.

Author

  • Jeremiah Pittmon

    Jeremiah Pittmon is a published travel writer and photographer from Cleveland, Ohio. Passionate about exploring the world with his family, he finds inspiration in all types of travel. Through his blog, smilesonarrival.com, and social media channels, he shares captivating experiences and valuable tips for families who love to travel.

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The Best Ancient Rome Monuments: A Top 10 List
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