Rome is a city that’s known as one of the most historically-rich locations in the world. The many different buildings in Rome, Italy reflect a distinct style that has—in many ways remain unchanged throughout the thousands of years it has existed.
Some of the city’s most well-known buildings are among the greatest historical masterpieces of all time as they are related to the Roman Empire, which dominated much of Europe, Northern Africa, and parts of Asia during the first five centuries after the common era.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at 10 of the most famous buildings in Rome and discuss some of the details regarding the architects behind each of these works, as well as their overall purpose.
Famous Buildings in Rome
The Colosseum is one of the most iconic structures in the world and it is one that is often used in a synonymous manner to represent the Roman Empire in all its glory.
The massive building was a central feature in ancient Rome as it was used as a site for many of the empire’s sporting events, which were often bloody affairs that included the gruesome deaths of participants in combat sports, as well as accounts of slaves being fed to dangerous animals.
The building is said to have been designed under the rule of Vespasian during the Flavian Dynasty, which took place around 70 A.D. The structure is a large oval amphitheater that sits in the middle of the eastern section of the Roman Forum.
It is the largest of any ancient amphitheater in the world and is one of many that was built during the Roman Empire’s first two centuries of rule in Italy and the surrounding area.
Although the building was initially constructed under the oversight of Vespasian, it would be finished under his successor, Titus, in 80 A.D.
There were many modifications made to the Colosseum throughout the centuries since it was originally built, but it has mostly remained intact.
Much of the Colosseum is still standing as it was when it was first finished, but the southern half of the giant amphitheater’s upper section has since collapsed.
2. Pantheon Rome
The Pantheon Rome is one of the city’s most-visited buildings that remain from the ancient Roman Empire. This building sits in the heart of Rome’s historic district and exists today as one of the most well-preserved ancient temple structures anywhere in the world.
The Pantheon Rome was first built to serve as a temple in which Romans came to worship the many different gods of their mythological belief system.
The current Pantheon Rome, although it is one of the most ancient structures in Italy, was built on the site of an already-existing temple that is believed to have been built under Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus Caesar from 27 B.C. to 14 A.D.
The structure was rebuilt under the rule of Hadrian in the year 126 A.D., but it is not certain if the new modifications that occurred during this time were done as a remodeling effort, or if it greatly changed the appearance of the Pantheon Rome.
The Pantheon Rome is a structure that many consider to be one of the most iconic buildings from ancient Rome. Its design has been used and replicated many times over the centuries since it was built, especially during the architectural movement of the Classical revival that occurred in Europe during the 18th and early 19th centuries.
The building’s interior is made with a cylindrical structure and features various reliefs and statues that date back to the earliest days of the Roman Catholic Church and the Roman Empire.
3. Castel Sant’Angelo
Another one of Rome’s most famous buildings is known as the Castel Sant’Angelo. This massive, cylindrical structure is located along the banks of the river Tiber and was built during the reign of the famous Roman emperor Hadrian to serve as his official burial tomb.
The name ‘Castel Sant’Angelo’ translates in Italian to ‘The Castle of the Holy Angel’ and the structure is another one that draws many millions of tourists each year.
Construction on the Castel Sant’Angelo began around 123 A.D. and there is much history regarding the intended burial site of Roman emperor Hadrian and the Castel Sant’Angelo.
Hadrian’s tomb was originally meant to be built on the opposite side of the Tiber, but it was instead built on the eastern side of the river. The emperor Hadrian is said to have been cremated and his ashes were scattered at the site upon its dedication.
The Castel Sant’Angelo served as a memorial for Hadrian for the first few centuries of its existence, but it was converted into a military fortress around 400 A.D. when the Roman Empire began to have significant battles with the Germanic tribes to the north, as well as other forces from around the vast empire.
Today, a bridge connects the Castel Sant’Angelo to the opposite side of the Tiber and this location has since become one of the most historic and iconic in all of Rome.
4. St. Peter’s Basilica
One of the most famous cathedrals in all of Italy, as well as the rest of the world, is St. Peter’s Basilica. This massive church is located in the middle of Vatican City, which is the official capital of the Catholic Church and has been since its inception in the later decades of the Roman Empire. St.
Peter’s Basilica was designed and built during the height of the Italian Renaissance, which is regarded as the most influential art movement in history.
The church of St. Peter’s Basilica was designed by some of the most famous members of the Italian Renaissance, including Donato Bramante, Carlo Maderno. Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Michelangelo.
Many of these artists were highly-skilled architects in their own right and Michelangelo is known to have worked on the church’s interior, which includes incredibly beautiful sculptures and paintings from the Italian Renaissance era.
The basilica is considered to be the central feature of Vatican City and is said to be the most-visited portion of the city of Rome each year.
The interior of St. Peter’s Basilica is just as elaborately-decorated as the exterior and its domed roof structure makes it one of the most easily recognized buildings in Rome.
5. Theatre of Marcellus
In addition to sporting events and gladiator games, theatrical productions were another one of the central features of Roman culture during the height of the empire’s domination.
Throughout the first three centuries of the Roman Empire’s rule in Italy and the surrounding areas. Various theaters were constructed in and around the empire’s greatest metropolis areas. One of the most famous in Rome is the Theatre of Marcellus.
The Theatre of Marcellus sits in the heart of Rome’s historic district on the eastern side of the Tiber River and is a structure that’s reminiscent of the massive Colosseum in its design and shape.
The Theatre of Marcellus has the same type of arched openings all around its exterior walls, but it is considerably smaller than the Colosseum.
The theater was built during the reign of Julius Caesar and was later finished during the era of Augustus Caesar in the year 13 A.D. Much of the structure has since eroded and collapsed, but the foundation and most of the walls of the Theatre of Marcellus remain intact.
6. Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana
Although many of the most iconic buildings in Rome are of ancient origin, one of the most well-known structures in the city was built much more recently than the days of the Roman Empire.
The Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana is a structure that is reminiscent of the Colosseum and other buildings that feature arched openings on the walls. This building sits in the southern portion of the city and has become another one of Rome’s most iconic buildings.
The Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana was intended to be a museum in which some of the greatest sculptures of Rome could be stored in a semi-open environment that allowed natural light to come into its walls.
It was designed in the late 1930’s by Giovanni Guerrini, Ernesto La Padula, and Mario Romano, who were three of the most respected architects in Rome during this time period.
The Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana is a major tourist attraction, especially for those seeking to view some of Rome’s most famous recent architectural works. It is built with many well-known sculptures in the building’s interior, as well as the area immediately outside its walls.
7. Doria Pamphilj Gallery
One of the most famous art collections in Rome is the Doria Pamphilj Gallery. This massive collection of paintings and other artworks is held in a building known as Palazzo Doria Pamphilj.
The building is located on the eastern side of the river Tiber and sits along the Via del Corso, which is one of the city’s busiest streets that’s often filled with tourists.
The Doria Pamphilj Gallery building was designed in the 17th century by Francesco Nicoletti, a prominent architect from Trapani, Italy. It was constructed in the mid-17th century with the project being finished in 1651.
The Doria Pamphilj Gallery draws its namesake from the fact that the Doria family, which is one of Rome’s most prominent, has owned the building and the art gallery since it was established.
Today, the location is a major attraction for any tourists interested in Rome’s great artwork and architecture.
Another highly-recognized building in Rome that’s known as a central hub for the arts is the Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo, which is more commonly referred to as the MAXXI.
This massive complex of art galleries and architectural design, mostly representing contemporary art and architecture. It is one of the more famous buildings in Rome that has been built since the beginning of the 21st century, but it’s also quickly become a known landmark for locals and tourists.
The MAXXI was designed by world-famous architect, Zaha Hadid, who was awarded the distinction of being the winner of a contest that was held to determine the building’s design.
The 18th-century building known as the Palazzo Ardinghelli, which houses MAXXI L’Aquila, was damaged in a massive earthquake in 2009, which forced the city to begin the process of renovating and rebuilding the structure.
9. Trajan’s Market
Another one of Rome’s most ancient structures and a major historical landmark is Trajan’s Market. This structure was built many centuries ago and sits on the side of the Quirinal Hill along the city’s eastern side of the river Tiber.
Trajan’s Market represents a perfect example of ancient Roman architecture and what the city would have looked like during the height of the Roman Empire.
It is described by many tour guides and historians as the world’s oldest shopping mall. Trajan’s Market would have held a wide variety of merchants during the height of its use.
It is believed to have been built sometime during the first century A.D. by Apollodorus of Damascus, who was a trusted friend of Trajan and one of the most notable architects during his reign.
The location today is a major tourist draw and is often used as a stop among some of the more prominent tour guides for visitors to the city of Rome.
The city has made extensive efforts to maintain Trajan’s Market in its original state throughout the many centuries since it was first established.
10. Palace of Justice, Rome
One of the more iconic buildings that has been constructed in the modern era is the Palace of Justice, Rome.
This elaborately-decorated building is located along the western banks of the river Tiber and is the official Supreme Court of Cassation, as well as the Judicial Public Library for Rome.
The Palace of Justice, Rome was designed by Guglielmo Calderini who oversaw the project throughout the decades it was under construction.
The palace was finished in 1910 and remains a popular landmark in Rome.