According to popular legend, the city of Rome owes its origins to the twins, Romulus and Remus. Following a dispute between Romulus and Remus, Romulus murdered Remus and gave the city its name. From there, the city grew into the administrative centre of an empire which stretched from Britain to Mesopotamia, and at one time was the largest, richest and most important city in the entire Western World.
Today a holiday in Rome can prove very fascinating, thanks to the varied range of historical sites and monuments that are dotted throughout the city. While there are many guided tours around the city, most of the major sites are recognisable from a distance and very well signposted throughout the city.
One of the sites which best depicts ancient Rome is the Circus Maximus. At the height of the Roman Empire, this stunning oval building provided seating for 50,000 spectators who came to watch gladiators pitch their strength against Rome’s toughest beasts. And as a major entertainment centre of the Roman Empire, the Circus Maximus is a must see attraction. When in operation, the Circus Maximus could seat as many as 250,000 people; but while much of the building has been restored, looting by builders throughout history has left some parts unrecognisable.
Unlike the Circus Maximus and indeed every other building from the period, the Pantheon has the unique privilege of being the only building to remain intact. Originally a celebration of the various Roman Gods, the building survived the destruction many other pagan buildings suffered when the pope revamped it as a Christian Church in 609 A.D.
One of Rome’s most popular attractions, the Trevi fountain proves top of most tourists’ visiting lists. Indeed, legend has it that if you throw a coin into the fountain, you are destined to return to Rome. The legend has proved so popular that the fountain collects around three thousand Euros in coins per day, with the money now funding a local charity.
Although technically in a separate state to the Trevi fountain, the Vatican is another major highlight of any trip to Rome. With a population of around eight hundred people, Vatican City is the smallest independent state in the world; however, it is home to a vast array of history and power than most major cities can offer. The world centre of Catholicism, the Vatican is heavily guarded; although, it is good to know that parts such as the Basilica of St Peter and the Vatican Museums are open to tourists to view.
Of course, there are plenty of guidebooks and websites offering a wealth of information on what to see and do. In addition, when you arrive you will find that most Rome hotels should also be able to advise you on what the city has to offer.
But having had such a prominent place at the forefront of European history, the most difficult thing about a trip to Rome is deciding which of the attractions you are going to have the time to see.