Bye! I am Michele, who has always been passionate about Rome and creator of this blog where I help Romans and tourists to get to know the beauties of this city better. I decided that the time had come to talk about the real historical center of Rome , that of ancient Rome, I wanted to do it in such a way as to list to you who are reading and to all the other tourists, everything that you absolutely must see in the center regarding the heart of the old city of Rome.
I wrote those questions at the beginning of the article because I want to make it clear right away that I will not talk to you exclusively about the Colosseum or the Roman Forum, there are really many beauties to see and I hope to give you some curiosities that will also make you passionate to the rest of the stages I will tell you about!
Everything that I will list is in the center, you will not have to stray between one stage and another. I wrote this guide by creating a hypothetical path you could take. If you start from the first stage, you can follow all the others in order until you get to the last one and vice versa. For this reason I have also included in this guide a map that you can connect directly to Google Maps and that can help you on this tour of Ancient Rome, make good use of it
All you need to see
Largo di Torre Argentina
Let’s start from the first stage of our journey: Largo di Torre Argentina . What if I told you that this archaeological area is located right in the middle of today’s buildings? Absurd but true. While strolling or driving through the streets of Rome, you can come across an archaeological area from the 3rd century BC. One of the most important curiosities is that this archaeological area was brought to light during the demolition of a district of medieval origin in the 1920s, just under a hundred years ago.
To date, Largo di Torre Argentina is one of the most important archaeological areas in the whole city of Rome. The thing that I particularly like is that we are talking about an area far from the ancient center of Rome that everyone knows, such as the Colosseum or the Imperial Forums, which makes it a different destination than usual. What you can see are the archaeological remains of four Roman temples , history is certainly not lacking here!
One thing I like to tell tourists is that Largo di Torre Argentina is a perfect place for those who love cats. Right here you can find one of the oldest cat colonies in Rome. The felines have found their home in Largo di Torre Argentina, which makes them real stars and a reason for attracting many tourists and Romans
Here we are at the second stage, the Teatro Marcello! You can easily reach it from Largo di Torre Argentina, they are about 5-10 minutes from each other. It is a very important theater of ancient Rome and is located very close to the Campidoglio area and the Roman Forum, so it is truly a stone’s throw from the heart of ancient Rome. As you can see from the photo, the Teatro Marcello is very similar to the Colosseum. It is no coincidence of course and now I will tell you a curiosity that will make you understand how important this monument is and why you must visit it!
This theater was built before the Colosseum. You can well understand then that it was fundamental for the design of the most famous amphitheater in the world. This model was used for most of the Roman amphitheaters of ancient Rome. If today you can admire the Colosseum with that shape it is thanks to the Teatro Marcello! I want to press a lot on the visit of this theater because it is very little visited despite its location in the center. Among other things, we are talking about a structure that is still standing today, even if partially. For this reason it is a stop that I absolutely recommend when it comes to the historic center of Rome .
An advice! The Altare della Patria has an area that is now accessible for free and is just a stone’s throw from the Teatro Marcello. Going up to one of its side terraces, you can enjoy a panoramic view right on the theater. I recommend you do it at sunset and bring a camera, it will be worth it
There is an electric bike tour that makes you fully experience the city of Rome passing through the Teatro Marcello. If you want to know the details, I wrote this guide about it!
Let’s now pass to the true heart of ancient Rome: the Imperial Forums . You cannot miss this unique place in Rome. This archaeological site includes squares and monuments that date back to the time of Julius Caesar, Vespasian and Trajan. At that time they were the real heart of the political activity of Rome, which is why they are very important, it is nice to be able to admire today what remains of 2000 years ago. Attention! The Imperial Forums do not belong to the Roman Forum, the latter were built much earlier, many people confuse them, I’ll tell you about it shortly.
Also in this case, the Imperial Forums are very close to the last stage, for this reason you can easily reach them by following the path I am telling you. If you walk along Via dei Fori Imperiali you can see this archaeological area near you and you certainly can’t help but look at it
Let’s now come to the main destination of this tour: the Colosseum! Before reading this guide you already knew that this monument would be on this tour. Nobody can see Rome without visiting the Colosseum. Nobody can come to Rome and skip the visit of one of the new seven wonders of the world. There are never too many tourists, there is always someone ready to admire the majesty of this Roman amphitheater built more than two thousand years ago and which, even today, is standing in front of us. Think how many tourists the Colosseum has seen throughout its existence, how much history has passed through here, still today we can admire it in all its glory, especially after the recent restoration.
As for ancient Rome, the Colosseum is the monument par excellence you must visit, but you already knew this. Here you can feel the real heart of Rome, especially if you look at it in the evening away from the morning chaos, it is a truly unique sight. You can visit the Colosseum by booking your visit on this page . The ticket grants you priority access to save a lot of time on the ordinary line at the ticket office which can last even more than an hour! You also included visits to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill . During this particular period, most museums invite tourists to book their visit in advance. By taking the normal ticket you can choose a date and book yourself.
Arch of Constantine
It is located in front of the Colosseum, unique in its beauty, I’m talking about the Arch of Constantine . It has an absolute historical importance, it is one of the few triumphal arches to have remained standing in Rome. Given its location, it is a very popular destination for tourists. The luck for all Romans is to be able to see it for free every time you are near the Colosseum. The most important thing is that the monument has remained standing for hundreds of years, all thanks to the restorations that have taken place over the centuries.
A monument to be seen, perhaps while waiting to enter the Colosseum! The advice I can give you is to visit this area of Rome in the evening, I always say this because it is really worth it. The darkness allows the lights of the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine to make these two monuments stand out in all their beauty. Furthermore , the absence of many tourists makes everything even more magical.
Let’s now talk about the beating heart of Roman civilization: the Roman Forum. Walking in this place will be an experience that you will not easily forget. Precisely where this archaeological area stands today, once was the center of trade, politics and religion of the ancient city of Rome. By “a time” I mean hundreds of years before the birth of Christ , so you can well understand that this little place in Italy has seen a lot, a lot of history. Today you can walk there, going back in time hundreds and hundreds of years, a corner of Rome to visit!
Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and Imperial Forums are the true center of ancient Rome. Visiting them is a classic for every tourist and for this reason I could not help but include them in this guide. As far as I’m concerned, you should carve out at least a large part of a day to be able to see them at their best. This area of Rome is waiting to be discovered, only the Forum and the Palatine Hill take up 2 and a half hours. For this reason, I always recommend that you book your visit in advance on this page and skip the long queue at the cash desks I mentioned earlier. You should also know that a tourist guide in these cases is very important to better visit the archaeological sites. I always recommend the GetYourGuide one, you can find all the info at this link .
As a Roman, I can’t help but tell you that by going up to the Campidoglio , you can access the viewpoint of Via Monte Tarpeo . It allows you to enjoy a unique panoramic view of the Roman Forum . If you want some dispassionate advice, visit this place in the evening and you definitely won’t regret it
Let’s now pass to one of the 7 hills of Rome: the Palatine Hill . You can find it a stone’s throw from the Roman Forum, for this reason it is easy to understand that it is one of the oldest areas of Rome. This area of the city is an open-air archaeological area, Roman Forum style, where you can savor the true ancient heart of the city. Some emperors have decided to reside on this hill, such as Augustus and Nero, which makes it a very important archaeological area. Every tourist should visit the Palatine Hill as Rome was founded in this very area!
With the Colosseum + Roman Forum + Palatine Hill ticket you can visit three unique places, the heart of the Roman world, unique archaeological areas in the world. Surely after visiting the hill you will want to see others! Climbing the Roman hills allows you to enjoy unique views of their kind. For example, a few steps from the Palatine Hill you can visit the Aventine Hill with the beautiful Orange Garden , the Campidoglio with a unique view of the Roman Forum and the Quirinal with a square from which you can see a “small” Dome of St. Peter
Now we immerse ourselves in one of the main stops of our tour in ancient Rome: the Circus Maximus . Known throughout the world for its grandeur, the Circus Maximus is an ancient Roman circus that had its first installations in the 2nd century BC. We are talking about a huge structure dedicated to shows, one of the largest built by man. I myself attended a concert right here and I assure you that it is truly immense as a place. I couldn’t believe that all those people could attend a concert of that size right in the center of one of the largest cities in the world. It is not a stadium which makes it a truly magical place for all summer shows.
One piece of advice I can give you as a Roman is to visit the Circus Maximus at sunset. The colors of the sky create a unique atmosphere. I personally like to sit on one of the benches from which you can see both the Circus Maximus from above and the wonders of ancient Rome on the Palatine Hill. The swallows create unique choreographies around the twilight hour and from those benches you have a perfect view of the Rome sky. Furthermore, as I said before, 5/10 minutes walk from the Circus Maximus you can find the Giardino degli Aranci , a small garden with one of the most beautiful and romantic panoramic views of Rome. I recommend you to visit it since you are in the area, you will keep another beautiful memory of Rome
Our tour continues with a very important stage: the Foro Boario ! It is one of the oldest areas of the city. In ancient Rome it was both a sacred area and the center of commerce. You must know that the monuments you can see today in this area are older than the Colosseum and some in the Roman Forum. This alone makes you understand the importance that this place has after more than 2000 years of history!
But let’s come to us, the Foro Boario hides two temples and a very particular arch. The Temple of Hercules Victor is the one in the picture, it will seem strange to you but it is one of the most important monuments in the world (unfortunately little visited). It dates back to 120 BC and today holds the record for the oldest marble building in Rome . The second monument is the Temple of Portunus , another beauty of ancient Rome that dates back to the third century BC. The third beauty is the Arch of Janus , I absolutely recommend you to visit it.
Caracalla’s thermal baths
Last stop on our journey in Ancient Rome! I’m talking about the Baths of Caracalla , a very important archaeological area for Rome. This area will make you discover some imperial baths of ancient Rome. The nice thing is that this area is completely surrounded by greenery, you will be stunned to see these gigantic structures, especially thinking about the time in which they were built, more than eighteen centuries ago!
The Baths of Caracalla are located near the Circus Maximus, if you want to do these two stages together, consider this tour! And with this stage we conclude our journey. A very important thing is that you can take advantage of the tourist card put in place by the city of Rome: the Roma Pass . It includes access to most of the stages that we have seen in this guide, as well as unlimited means of transport for the duration of the pass. If you are interested in learning more, I wrote this guide on this tourist card.