Rome is a city and special comune ("Roma Capitale") in Italy. Rome is the capital of Italy and the capital 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 fourth-most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. Between 3.2 and 3.8 million people live in the Rome urban and metropolitan area.The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy. Rome is referred to as "The Eternal City," a notion expressed by ancient Roman poets and writers.
After the Middle Ages, Rome was ruled by popes such as Alexander VI and Leo X, who transformed the city into one of the major centers of the Italian Renaissance, along with Florence. The current version of St Peter's Basilica was built and the Sistine Chapel was painted by Michelangelo. Famous artists and architects, such as Bramante, Bernini and Raphael resided for some time in Rome, contributing to its Renaissance and Baroque architecture.
|The Sistine Chapel|
There is archaeological evidence of human occupation of the Rome area from at least 14,000 years ago, but the dense layer of much younger debris obscures Palaeolithic and Neolithic sites. Evidence of stone tools, pottery and stone weapons attest to at least 10,000 years of human presence. Several excavations supports the view that Rome grew from pastoral settlements on the Palatine Hill built above the area of the future Roman Forum. While some archaeologists argue that Rome was indeed founded in the middle of the 8th century BC (the date of the tradition), the date is subject to controversy. However, the power of the well known tale of Rome's legendary foundation tends to deflect attention from its actual, and much more ancient, origins.
Roman dominance expanded over most of Western Europe and the shores of the Mediterranean, though its influence through client states and the sheer power of its presence was wider than its formal borders. Its population surpassed one million inhabitants. For almost seven hundred years, Rome was the most politically important, richest, and largest city in the Western world. After the Empire started to decline and was split, it lost its capital status to Milan and then to Ravenna, and was surpassed in prestige by the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, Constantinople, whose Greek inhabitants continued through the centuries to call themselves Roman.
Rome remained the capital of the Papal States until its annexation by the Kingdom of Italy in 1870; the city became a major pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages and the focus of struggles between the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire starting with Charlemagne, who was crowned its first emperor in Rome in 800 by Pope Leo III. Apart from brief periods as an independent city during the Middle Ages, Rome kept its status as Papal capital and "holy city" for centuries, even when the Papacy briefly relocated to Avignon (1309–1377).
Rome became the focus of hopes of Italian reunification when the rest of Italy was reunited under the Kingdom of Italy with a temporary capital at Florence. In 1861, Rome was declared the capital of Italy even though it was still under the control of the Pope. During the 1860s, the last vestiges of the Papal States were under French protection, thanks to the foreign policy of Napoleon III. And it was only when this was lifted in 1870, owing to the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, that Italian troops were able to capture Rome entering the city through a breach near Porta Pia. Afterwards, Pope Pius IX declared himself as prisoner in the Vatican, and in 1871 the capital of Italy was moved from Florence to Rome.
Rome grew momentously after the war, as one of the driving forces behind the "Italian economic miracle" of post-war reconstruction and modernisation. It became a fashionable city in the 1950s and early 1960s, the years of "la dolce vita" ("the sweet life"), with popular classic fims such as Ben Hur, Quo Vadis, Roman Holiday and La Dolce Vita being filmed in the city's iconic Cinecittà Studios. A new rising trend in population continued until the mid-1980s, when the comune had more than 2,800,000 residents; after that, population started to decline slowly as more residents moved to nearby suburbs.
Rome contains a vast and impressive collection of art, sculpture, fountains, mosaics, frescos, and paintings, from all different periods. Rome first became a major artistic centre during ancient Rome, with forms of important Roman art such as architecture, painting, sculpture and mosaic work. Metal-work, coin die and gem engraving, ivory carvings, figurine glass, pottery, and book illustrations are considered to be 'minor' forms of Roman artwork. Rome later became a major centre of Renaissance art, since the popes spent vast sums of money for the constructions of grandiose basilicas, palaces, piazzas and public buildings in general. The city was affected greatly by the baroque, and Rome became the home of numerous artists and architects, such as Bernini, Caravaggio, Carracci, Borromini and Cortona, to name a few. In the late 18th century and early 19th century, the city was one of the centres of the Grand Tour, when wealthy, young English and other European aristocrats visited the city to learn about ancient Roman culture, art, philosophy and architecture. Rome hosted a great number of neoclassical and rococo artists, such as Pannini and Bernardo Bellotto. Today, the city is a major artistic centre, with numerous art institutes and museums.
- The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican commonly known as Saint Peter's Basilica, is a Late Renaissance church located within Vatican City. Designed principally by Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Bernini, St Peter's is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture and remains one of the largest churches in the world. While it is neither the mother church of the Roman Catholic Church nor the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, Saint Peter's is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic sites. It has been described as "holding a unique position in the Christian world" and as "the greatest of all churches of Christendom". In Roman Catholic tradition, the basilica is the burial site of its namesake Saint Peter, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and, according to tradition, was the first Bishop of Rome and therefore first in the line of the papal succession. Tradition and some historical evidence hold that Saint Peter's tomb is directly below the altar of the basilica. For this reason, many Popes have been interred at St Peter's since the Early Christian period. There has been a church on this site since the 4th century. Construction of the present basilica, over the old Constantinian basilica, began on 18 April 1506 and was completed on 18 November 1626.
- The Colosseum, or the Coliseum, originally the Flavian Amphitheatre, is an elliptical amphitheatre in the centre of the city, the largest ever built in the Roman Empire. It is considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and Roman engineering.
Occupying a site just east of the Roman Forum, its construction started in 72 AD under the emperor Vespasian and was completed in 80 AD under Titus, with further modifications being made during Domitian's reign (81–96). The name "Amphitheatrum Flavium" derives from both Vespasian's and Titus's family name (Flavius, from the gens Flavia). Capable of seating 50,000 spectators, the Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology. The building ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era. It was later reused for such purposes as housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry, and a Christian shrine. Although in the 21st century it stays partially ruined because of damage caused by devastating earthquakes and stone-robbers, the Colosseum is an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome. It is one of Rome's most popular tourist attractions and still has close connections with the Roman Catholic Church, as each Good Friday the Pope leads a torchlit "Way of the Cross" procession that starts in the area around the Colosseum.
- The Trevi Fountain is a fountain in the Trevi district. Standing 26 metres (85.3 feet) high and 20 metres (65.6 feet) wide, it is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world. The fountain at the junction of three roads (tre vie) marks the terminal point of the "modern" Acqua Vergine, the revived Aqua Virgo, one of the ancient aqueducts that supplied water to ancient Rome. In 19 BC, supposedly with the help of a virgin, Roman technicians located a source of pure water some 13 km (8.1 mi) from the city. The Roman custom of building a handsome fountain at the endpoint of an aqueduct that brought water to Rome was revived in the 15th century, with the Renaissance. In 1453, Pope Nicholas V finished mending the Acqua Vergine aqueduct and built a simple basin, designed by the humanist architect Leon Battista Alberti, to herald the water's arrival. In 1629 Pope Urban VIII, finding the earlier fountain insufficiently dramatic, asked Gian Lorenzo Bernini to sketch possible renovations, but when the Pope died, the project was abandoned. Though Bernini's project was never constructed, there are many Bernini touches in the fountain as it exists today. Competitions had become the rage during the Baroque era to design buildings, fountains, and even the Spanish Steps. In 1730 Pope Clement XII organized a contest to construct a new fountain in which Nicola Salvi initially lost to Alessandro Galilei – but due to the outcry in Rome over the fact that a Florentine won, Salvi was awarded the commission anyway. Work began in 1732, and the fountain was completed in 1762, long after Clement's death, when Pietro Bracci's Oceanus (god of all water) was set in the central niche. Salvi died in 1751, with his work half-finished, but before he went he made sure a stubborn barber's unsightly sign would not spoil the ensemble, hiding it behind a sculpted vase, called by Romans the asso di coppe, the "Ace of Cups". The Trevi Fountain was finished in 1762 by Giuseppe Pannini, who substituted the present allegories for planned sculptures of Agrippa and "Trivia", the Roman virgin.
- The Pantheon was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa as a temple to all the gods of Ancient Rome, and rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in about 126 AD. The building is circular with a portico of large granite Corinthian columns (eight in the first rank and two groups of four behind) under a pediment. A rectangular vestibule links the porch to the rotunda, which is under a coffered, concrete dome, with a central opening (oculus) to the sky. Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon's dome is still the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 43.3 metres (142 ft). It is one of the best-preserved of all Roman buildings. It has been in continuous use throughout its history, and since the 7th century, the Pantheon has been used as a Roman Catholic church dedicated to "St. Mary and the Martyrs" but informally known as "Santa Maria della Rotonda." The square in front of the Pantheon is called Piazza della Rotonda.
- Sistine Chapel is the best-known chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope in the Vatican City. It is famous for its architecture and its decoration that was frescoed throughout by Renaissance artists including Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Pinturicchio and others. Under the patronage of Pope Julius II, Michelangelo painted 1,100 m2(12,000 sq ft) of the chapel ceiling between 1508 and 1512. The ceiling, and especially The Last Judgment (1535–1541), is widely believed to be Michelangelo's crowning achievement in painting. The chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV, who restored the old Cappella Magna between 1477 and 1480. During this period a team of painters that included Pietro Perugino, Sandro Botticelli and Domenico Ghirlandaio created a series of frescoed panels depicting the life of Moses and the life of Christ, offset by papal portraits above and trompe l’oeil drapery below. These paintings were completed in 1482, and on 15 August 1483, Sixtus IV celebrated the first mass in the Sistine Chapel for the Feast of the Assumption, at which ceremony the chapel was consecrated and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Since the time of Sixtus IV, the chapel has served as a place of both religious and functionary papal activity. Today it is the site of the Papal conclave, the process by which a new Pope is selected.