Italy’s vibrant capital, Rome, is a city rich in artistic, cultural, and architectural heritage. The “eternal city” is the cosmopolitan capital of Italy and is home to several major monuments and buildings that have influenced the world of architecture. Ancient Roman architecture introduced several new ideas and techniques including the arch and dome which are evident in some of the city’s most iconic landmarks which still stand today as a symbol of Roman ingenuity. Here’s a look at some of our favorites we found on Instagram.
Commissioned by Roman Emperor Vespasian in 72AD and completed in 80AD, the iconic Colosseum is perhaps Rome’s most famous landmark. Regarded as an architectural and engineering marvel well ahead of its time, the massive oval-shaped amphitheatre was built with 80 arched entrances and was designed to hold over 55,000 spectators. However, while the Colosseum is celebrated as an architectural masterpiece, it’s also known for being the site of violent gladiator battles and executions resulting in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives of humans and animals.
The Roman architectural revolution was also known as the concrete revolution as it introduced the widespread use of concrete in construction. One of the most famous examples is the Pantheon and its 43.4 meter (142 feet) dome which after almost 2,000 years since it was built, is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world.
St. Peter’s Basilica
As the center of Vatican City — the papal enclave within the city of Rome — St. Peter’s Basilica is the most famous Roman Catholic Church in the world. It’s also one of the world’s finest examples of Renaissance and Baroque architecture with influences from famous artists and architects including Michelangelo, Alberti and Bernini.
Constructed between 123 and129 AD, Castel Sant’Angelo was originally built as a mausoleum for the Roman Emperor Hadrian and his family. In the 14th century the structure was transformed and repurposed into a Papal fortress, castle and prison. The Passetto di Borgo, an elevated and fortified passageway, was added in 1277 by Pope Nicholas III, to provide a connection between Castel Sant’Angelo and Vatican City while also acting as an escape route for popes in danger.
Although Rome is known for its ancient buildings and historical Renaissance and Baroque architecture, some would say the city is currently experiencing an architectural renaissance with new, modern, and contemporary buildings popping up throughout the city. One such building is the National Museum of XXI Century Arts (MAXXI) located in Rome’s Flaminio quarter. Opened in May 2010, the anthropomorphic-shaped structure was designed by the late Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid.