9 Epic Historical Sites in Rome You Must See

The past is still alive in these 9 historical sites scattered across Rome.

Last updated: May 8, 2024

Pantheon, Free things to do in Rome, Roads and Destinations
The best historical sites in Rome, Italy

History of Rome Unveils in these Ancient Sites

Rome is a city where the old meets new in the most organic way. It’s a city where a combination of ancient and modern has become an essential part of Roman culture. Where else than not in Rome can you see some of the world-known historical sites peacefully co-existing with “representatives” of the modern world?

Strolling the streets of Rome is like reading a history book. Every corner of this remarkable city is a witness of the bygone eras. From ancient ruins to renovated piazzas and churches, the capital of Italy keeps its history alive.

While you might not have time to explore Rome through and through and learn about all of its famous attractions, make sure to check out these 9 historical places. They will take you back in time and show Rome beyond its modern facade.


The Best Historical Places in Rome: Ancient Ruins

1. Colosseum

The Colosseum tops the list of the must-see historical sites in Rome. As one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, the Colosseum is also the most popular attraction in Italy. The history of the great structure goes back to 70 AD, the time when emperors and gladiators frequented this section of the ancient city.

It took ten years to build the Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre. Upon completion, it was one of the largest amphitheaters in the Roman Empire. It could fit up to 55,000 people and was popular for gladiator and animal fights that often took place in its arena.

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The Colosseum | The best historical sites in Rome

2. Arch of Constantine

You find the Arch of Constantine, one of the most recognizable historical sites in Rome, right behind the Colosseum. Similar to the latter, this famous attraction never suffers from the lack of visitors. The city’s largest triumphal arch was built in 315 AD to commemorate Constantine I for his outstanding victory at the Battle of Milvian Bridge.

Historical Sites in Rome - Roads and Destinations
Arch of Constantine | Top 9 historical sites in Rome

3. Imperial Forums

Unlike the previous two Roman historical sites, the Imperial Forums or Imperial Fora include a series of squares. The construction of these public squares along with their magnificent buildings took place between 46 BC and 113 AD. Several emperors built their own forums here to immortalize their names and legacies.

The Imperial Forums – now just ruins – served as the center of Rome life where influential people discussed economy and politics.

Historical Sites in Rome - Roads and Destinations
Imperial Forums | The best historical sites in Rome

4. Roman Forum

The Imperial Forums are often confused with the Roman Forum or the Forum Romanum, one of the oldest places in Rome.

The Roman Forum is much older than the Imperial Forums. Its history goes back to the Etruscan dynasty that ruled over Rome until 509 BC and built numerous buildings and arches. Eventually, the Roman Forum became the political center of the city.

Unfortunately, not much of the historical site has survived. Yet if you look closely, you can still recognize remains of the ancient temples and arches.

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The Roman Forum | Top historical sites in Rome

Top 9 Historical Places in Rome: Renovated and Reconstructed

5. Pantheon

The Pantheon is one of the most preserved historical places in Rome. The ancient structure lives side by side with younger buildings of the city. You’d never guess that a prominent historic place exists in a modern area unless you know its exact location.

The Pantheon of Rome as we see it today, however, is a rebuilt copy of the ancient temple. Originally, Marcus Agrippa built the structure in 25 BC and dedicated it to one of the Roman gods. A terrible fire burnt the temple to the ground in 80 AD. About 45 years later, by decrees of Emperor Hadrian, the Pantheon came back to life. Today, it’s a church in the not particularly historic center of Rome.

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The Pantheon | Rebuilt and renovated historical places in Rome

6. Castel Sant’Angelo

Located within a short walk from the Vatican City, the Castel Sant’Angelo is one of the historical places in Rome with the most interesting stories.

Initially, Emperor Hadrian built it as a mausoleum for himself and his family. As time passed, the building served as a part of the city wall and fortress. Later, the popes used it as their residence until it became a barracks and military prison. Today, the Castel Sant’Angelo is a national museum and one of the most famous historical monuments in Rome.

The Top 9 Historical Sites in Rome - Roads and Destinations
Castel Sant’Angelo | Historical places in Rome

7. Piazza Navona

Similar to the Castel Sant’Angelo, Piazza Navona completely changed its original functions. Built in 86 AD, one of the most famous historical sites of Rome was known as Domitian’s Stadium. Thanks to its large area and oval shape, it hosted festivals and sporting events.

In the 15th century, however, the life of the stadium came to an end. The place embarked on a new journey and became Piazza Navona, arguably the most beautiful historical square in Rome.

The Top 9 Historical Sites in Rome, safe destinations to travel to - Roads and Destinations
Piazza Navona | Historical sites in Rome

8. Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain is another beautiful historical place in Rome that had many adjustments done to its original version. In 19 BC Agrippa, the son-in-law of Emperor Augustus constructed a big aqueduct that still brings water from the Salone Springs (about 14 miles from Rome).

Only a small fountain was added to the aqueduct in the 15th century. In 1732, however, pope Clement XII commissioned Nicola Salvi to replace the small fountain with a bigger one. It took years of hard work before the new fountain was finally inaugurated in 1762.

Top Historical Sites in Rome - Roads and Destinations
Trevi Fountain | The most beautiful historical places in Rome

9. St.Peter’s Basilica – Historical Sites in Rome and Vatican

Only the location of the St. Peter’s Basilica – in the center of Rome – is as ancient as most of the above-mentioned historical places. The original church was built between 326 and 349 AD. The location of the site was rather symbolic. It’s believed Saint Peter, the chief apostle, was buried here in 64 AD.

By the middle of the 15th century, the St. Peter’s Basilica was falling into ruin. Pope Nicolas V ordered to restore the church. His plan, however, never came to life.

Half a century later, pope Julius II decided to build a completely new church on this site. It was a very long endeavor that took over 100 years. Only in 1626 pope Urban VIII reconsecrated the new church. The St. Peter’s Basilica has been a center of the Christianity and one of the main historic attractions in Rome and the Vatican City ever since.

Historical Sites in Rome - Roads and Destinations
St. Peter’s Basilica


  1. Tyler Johnson
    September 6, 2019 / 7:34 am

    I like the idea of having an old building like the pantheon restored so you could see what it was like. I feel like that would be the best way to see what the people would have seen back in the day. I think it would be cool to look for something like that that was restored a bit closer to home for me so that I could learn more about history.

    • Zhanna
      September 10, 2019 / 12:02 pm

      Having these old structures so close to you is absolutely incredible. It makes appreciate more what you have right now because in a few hundred years somebody will be looking at your house and thinking how ancient and interesting is it.

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