Rome - Filip Šubrt Photo

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Rome

Rome ( Latin: Rōma) is a city and special comune (named "Roma Capitale") in Italy.

Rome is the capital of Italy and also of the homonymous province and of the region of Lazio. With 2.8 million residents in 1,285.3 km2 (496.3 sq mi), it is also the country's largest and most populated comune and fifth-most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber within Lazio (Latium). Rome is the only city in the world to contain in its interior a whole state; the enclave of Vatican City.

Architecturally and culturally, Rome has some contrasts - you have areas with pompously huge majestic palaces, avenues and basilicas which are then surrounded by tiny alleyways, little churches and old houses; you may also find yourself walking from a grand palace and tree-lined elegant boulevard, into a small and cramped Medieval-like street. The abbreviation "S.P.Q.R" - short for the old motto of the Roman Republic Senatus Populusque Romanus ("The Senate and People of Rome") - is ubiquitous in Rome, being the symbol of its city council; a humorous variation is "Sono pazzi questi romani" (these Romans are crazy).

Rome's history spans over two and half thousand years, which have seen its transformation from a small Latin village to the centre of a vast empire, through the founding of Catholicism, and into the capital of today's Italy. Rome's history is long and complex; what follows is merely a quick summary. Rome is traditionally thought to have been founded by the mythical twins Romulus and Remus (the sons of Mars and Rhea Silvia) on April 21, 753 BC. The twins were abandoned as infants in the Tiber river and raised by a she-wolf before being found by a shepherd (Faustulus), who raised them as his own sons. Actually, Rome was founded as a small village surrounding the Palatine Hill (including the area where the Roman Forum is found) sometime in the 8th century BC; due to the village's position at a ford on the Tiber river, Rome became a crossroads of traffic and trade. The settlement developed into the capital of the Roman Kingdom, led by a series of Etruscan kings, before becoming the seat of the Roman Republic in 509 BC and then the centre of the Roman Empire from 27 BC to 330 AD. For almost a thousand years, Rome was the largest, wealthiest, most powerful city in the Western world, with dominance over most of Europe and the Mediterranean Sea. Even after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD, Rome maintained considerable importance and wealth.


Sights in Rome

Colloseum
A monument to raw, merciless power, the Colosseum (Colosseo) is the most thrilling of Rome's ancient sights. It's not just the amazing completeness of the place, or its size, but the sense of violent history that resonates: it was here that gladiators met in mortal combat and condemned prisoners fought off wild beasts in front of baying, bloodthirsty crowds. Two thousand years later it's Italy's top tourist attraction, pulling in between 16,000 and 19,000 people on an average day.

Pantheon
Along with the Colosseum, the Pantheon is one of Rome's iconic sights. A striking 2000-year-old temple (now a church), it is the city's best-preserved ancient monument and one of the most influential buildings in the Western world. The greying, pock-marked exterior might look its age, but inside it's a different story and it's an exhilarating experience to pass through its towering bronze doors and have your vision directed upwards to the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome.

Trevi Fountain
This fountain almost fills an entire piazza, and is Rome's most famous fountain, its iconic status sealed when Anita Ekberg splashed here in La Dolce Vita. The flamboyant baroque ensemble was designed by Nicola Salvi in 1732 and depicts Neptune's chariot being led by Tritons with sea horses – one wild, one docile – representing the moods of the sea.

Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps (Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti) provide a perfect auditorium for people-watching, and have been a magnet for visitors since the 18th century. The Piazza di Spagna was named after the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See, and consequently the steps were so-named.

Piazza Navona
With its baroque palazzi and extravagant fountains, pavement cafes, hawkers and surging crowds, stadium-sized Piazza Navona is Rome's most iconic public square. Laid out on the ruins of an arena built by Domitian in AD 86, it was paved over in the 15th century and for almost 300 years hosted the city's main market.
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