Pantheon Rome

The Pantheon is one of Rome’s Top 10 tourist attractions and one of the city’s best preserved monuments. Although it started its existence as a pagan temple dedicated to all the Gods it is at present a Catholic church and officially called Santa Maria ad Martyres. It has survived virtually unaltered since it was erected in the 2nd century AD. The structure of its domed interior is unique in Rome.

Pantheon Rome

Address, Opening Hours and Admission

Opening hours: 8.30 AM till 7.30PM (Sundays: 9AM till 6PM; holidays: 9AM till 1PM). Closed: January 1, May, December 25. Admission: Free.

Pantheon Facts

Facade Pantheon Rome

The Pantheon is located in the heart of Rome and its facade faces the south side of the Piazza della Rotonda.

The name signifies “Temple of all the Gods” and it was meant as Hadrian‘s gift to all the people of the Roman Empire.

The very first version of the Pantheon was constructed by Agrippa, in the year 27 BC. Agrippa was both the advisor and son-in-law of the Emperor Augustus. At the time it was only meant to be a temple dedicated to Mars and Venus, the protective Gods of the family Julius. At the time the entrance was on the southern side.

There is not much left of the original temple and Hadrian had to have it rebuilt (by the architekt Apollodorus of Damascus) almost from scratch between the years 118 and 125 AD. The famous cupola stems from this period.

Hadrian was rather humble for an Emperor and, not being in the habit of having his name inscribed on the buildings he commissioned, he had Agrippa‘s put on the church’s facade.

The Emperor Severius ordered some restorations in the beginning of the 3rd century, but after that the Pantheon was more or less left to itself.

In 608 the Byzantine Emperor Foca donated the building to pope Bonifacius IV, who transformed it into the Santa Maria ad Marytres church.

In 1625 pope Urban VIII took the bronze parts of the Pantheon‘s portico and used them for the four columns supporting Bernini’s baldachino in Saint Peter’s Basilica and also for the 80 cannons of the Castel Sant’Angelo.

In 1870 the Pantheon became the official shrine of the Italian kingdom and Vittorio Emanuele II, Umberto I and Margherita di Savoia were buried in the monument. Another VIP having been laid to rest in the Pantheon is the artist Raphael.

Highlights and Tourist Attractions Pantheon

Thanks to inscriptions on the bricks and walls of the Pantheon it has been relatively easy to understand who was responsible for which restaurations and modifications of the building.

Monarchist volunteers protect the tombs of the kings Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I (and the latter’s wife), who are buried in the Pantheon.

The artist Raphael is also buried in the monument, as are Annibale Caracci and Baldassare Peruzzi.

The bas-reliefs on the tympan portray the war between the Gods and the Giants.

Melozzo da Forli painted the fresco L’Annunziazione in the first chapel on the right.

Tourist Attractions near the Pantheon

The fountain in front of the Pantheon was designed by Giacomo della Porta.

Address and opening hours

The address of the Pantheon is Piazza della Rotonda – 00186 Rome (tel. +39 0668300230). Bus lines: 30, 46, 62, 63, 64, 70, 81, 87, 116, 119, 130F, 186, 190F, 492, 57 (stop: Largo Argentina).

Piazza della Rotonda – Rome

Marble Foot Rome

The Marble Foot (Pie’ di Marmo) is an enormous sculpture of the left foot of the goddess Isis. It can be seen in the Via di Santo Stefano del Cacco in Rome. Since the foot has a length of about 1,20 m (4 feet), the statue is thought to have been about 9 m (26 feet) tall.

Marble Foot Rome

Opening hours and admission

The Pie’ di Marmo can be seen from outside.

History and description

The gigantic marble foot was part of a sculpture that used to adorn the Iseo Campense, a temple dedicate to the Egyptian Gods Isis and Serapis. It is the left foot and it is clad in a Greek sandal called crepida. After Alexander the Great had conquered Egypt, the cult of these Gods had become very popular in the Roman world.

In the middle ages the foot was placed at the point where the Via del Pie’ de Marmo meets the Piazza del Collegio Romano. It was placed in its present position in 1878, in occasion of the funeral of King Victor Emanuel II. If it had stayed in its original position the funeral procession would not have been able to pass on its way to the Pantheon.

In the same street there used to be an archway consisting of three arches giving access to the Iseo Campense, but this was destroyed between 1585 and 1597.

The street name and the name of the Santo Stefano al Cacco Church also refer to the temple and more precisely, to a statue of an Egyptian monkey (macaco) in the area. This statue was moved to the Capitoline Hill in 1562 and later, in 1838, to the Egyptian section of the Vatican Museums. Other remains from the temple are a number of obelisks, an allegorical statue of the river Nile and another one of the river Tiber. The first one is now on display in the Vatican‘s Chiaramonti Museum, the second one in the Louvre.

Address and public transport

The monument can be seen in the Via di Santo Stefano del Cacco. The nearest bus stop is Plebiscito (30, 46, 62, 64, 70, 81, 87, 130F, 190F, 492, 628, 916, 916F, N5, N6, N7, N15, N20).

Marble Foot (Pie’ di Marmo) – Rome

Piazza della Minerva Rome

The Piazza della Minerva is located in the center of Rome, in the rione Pigna. It is named after the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, in its turn named after a temple built by Pompey and dedicated to Minerva Calcidica. Its biggest attraction is the Minerva Obelisk, also known as Bernini’s Elephant.

Piazza della Minerva Rome

Santa Maria Sopra Minerva with Bernini's Elephant in Rome
Santa Maria Sopra Minerva with Bernini’s Elephant

The Piazza della Minerva is indirectly named after the Minerva Calcidica Temple. The statue of Minerva that stood in this temple is now to be seen in the Vatican Museums.

One claim to fame the Piazza della Minerva has is that it is the lowest square in Rome and therefore always the first one to be flooded. 15th and 16th century inscriptions on the side of the Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Church show how high the water rose.

The Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Church is the only Gothic church in Rome, although this is not directly visible in the exterior part of the building. Highlights in the church itself are a “Resurrected Christ” by Michelangelo and a fresco by Filippino Lippi.

The most important attraction on the square is the Minerva Obelisk, a statue of an elephant with an obelisk on its back, made by Bernini. In 1667 the obelisk was moved to its present spot from the Iseo Campense. Although the elephant was designed by Bernini, it was sculpted by Ercole Ferrata.

The building to the right of the church is the Palazzo Fonseca and since 1832 houses the Grand Hotel de la Minerve.

Directly across from the church the Palazzo dell’Accademia Ecclesiastica can be seen. Here the diplomats of the Vatican City obtain their training.

The writer Stendhal used to live on the Piazza della Minerva (n. 66) for a while.

From the square the back of the Pantheon with the ruins of the Baths of Agrippa can be seen. The baths were built between 27 and 25 BC and are the oldest of the city.

Address and public transport

The nearest bus stop is Argentina (lines 30, 40, 46, 62, 64, 70, 81, 87, 130F, 190F, 492, 628, 916, 916F, N5, N6, N7, N15, N20, SHOP1).

Piazza della Minerva – Rome

Largo di Torre Argentina Rome

The Sacred Area at the Largo di Torre Argentina is a complex of ruins in the center of Rome. It lies several feet below the present street level and is especially known for its cat sanctuary.

Largo di Torre Argentina Rome

Address, Opening Hours and Admission

The Area Sacra di Largo di Torre Argentina lies between the Via Florida, the Via di San Nicola de’ Cesarini, the Via di Torre Argentina and Largo Argentina itself. Scroll down for more practical information about this tourist attraction in Rome, including a map of the area and directions. The site can only be seen from outside.

History and Description

Sacred Area of Largo di Torre Argentina
Rome – Largo di Torre Argentina

The area was discovered by chance, between 1926 and 1928 when road works were carried out.

Since there is no certainty about the function and exact age of the 4 temples that were brought to light, they are simply identified through the letters A, B, C and D.

Temple C is the oldest of the four and is probably the Temple of Feronia. Feronia was an Italic divinity who was worshipped by the Sabines. The temple is thought to have been constructed by Curius Dentatus after his victory over the Sabines (290 BC).

Temple A is the northernmost temple and dates back to the 3rd century B.C. It was transformed several times before, during the Middle Ages, being incorporated into the church of San Nicola de’ Calcarario. It is thought to be the temple of Juno Curitis or Diuturna and on its northern side the ruins of a large portico are visible. This portico was called the Hecastylon because it consisted of one hundred columns. Behind this temple the ruins of a latrine belonging to the nearby portico of the Theater of Pompey (which has unfortunately been reduced to nothing) can be seen.

Also part of the Theater of Pompey was the quadrangular exedra between temples B and C. This was the Curia of the Theater and it is here that Julius Caesar was killed (44 BC).

Temple D was also built in the beginning of the third century BC. and has been identified as the temple of the Nymphs or the temple of the Lari Per Marini. It is largely covered by the Via Florida.

The most recent of the four temples is Temple B. This temple was most likely dedicated to the Fortuna del Giorno Presente or “Luck of the Current Day” (Fortuna huiusce diei). Near temple B a partly marble and partly bronze statue was found, supposedly a depiction of the god worshipped in it.

Behind the A and B temples are some chambers that belonged to the Administration of the Water Supply Office of Rome (Statio acquarum).

In the middle ages the philosopher Severinus Boethius is thought to have started a monastery on the grounds, of which there is but little trace left, whereas between the 8th and the 9th century important families built their residences there. A church, San Nicola de’ Calcarario, was built inside Temple A, the 12th century altar and the frescoes in the apse, are still visible. The church got its name thanks to the ovens for the production of lime (calce, in Italian) in its immediate surroundings. The church was destroyed in the twenties and the only medieval monument still standing is the Torre del Papito, in front of temple D.

Underneath the modern staircase leading into the area is the Porticus Minucia Frumentaria, a portico where wheat was given to the poor Romans. The pavement is made of Travertine marble and dates back to the reign of Emperor Domitian (81-86 A.D.).

Largo di Torre Argentina Rome

Palazzo Altieri

The Palazzo Altieri is a historical building in the Pigna district in the center of Rome.

Palazzo Altieri Rome

Address, opening times and admission

The address of the Palazzo Altieri is Piazza del Gesù, 49 – Rome, but the entrance is in the Via degli Astalli 19 (tel. +39 ). Bus: 30, 46, 62, 64, 70, 81, 87, 130F, 190F, 492, 628, 916, 916F, N5, N6, N7, N15, N20. Openingstimes and admission: The building is usually not open for visitors.

History and description

The building is named for the family who owned it, the Altieri. They also owned a number of other properties in the area, including several buildings that were later destroyed in order to be able to construct the Chiesa del Gesù.

Fresco in the Palazzo Altieri
Interior Palazzo Altieri

When Giambattista Altieri became cardinal (1643) he of course needed a residence in accordance with his new status and the architect Giovanni Antonio De Rossi was given the task to redesign the Piazza del Gesù.

An interesting detail is that one woman, a widow named Berta, refused to abandon her home and thus De Rossi came up with the idea to incorporate it into the new Palazzo Altieri. The two smaller windows used to belong to Berta‘s house.

When the Cardinal died and the building was completed (1655) it was smaller than it is now and the courtyard was not there yet.

In those days being a Cardinal ran in the family and in 1679 it was Giambattista‘s brother Emilio Altieri‘s turn. He had been appointed by Pope Clement IX, whose successor he became, as Clement X, only one year later.

Obviously Popes need bigger residencies than Cardinals and De Rossi was told to enlarge the palazzo. He kept the original façade but enlarged the structure itself to the right and to the back, also adding the courtyard.

Nowadays part of the Palazzo Altieri is owned by Associazione Bancaria Italiana and can only rarely be visited.

Piazza del Gesù, 49 – Rome

Chiesa del Gesù Rome

The Chiesa del Gesù (Church of Jesus) in Rome is officially called the Chiesa del Santissimo Nome di Gesù all’Argentina (“Church of the Extremely Holy Name of Jesus at the Argentina”).

Chiesa del Gesù Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Piazza del Gesù, Rome (District: Pigna). Tel: +39 06697001. Public transport: Bus: H, 40, 64. Opening hours: 7.00 till 12.30 and 16.00 till 19.45. (Saint Ignatius’ room san be visited from monday till staurdan from 16.00 till 18.00 an don sundays and holidays from 10.00 till 12.00.) Closed: Never. Admission: Free.

History and description

Chiesa del Gesù Rome

The church was designed by two of the most famous architects at the time, Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola and Giacomo della Porta. The design is rather important since it came to be the model for every Jesuit church in the entire world.

The baroque church, after a construction that took 12 years to complete, was dedicated in 1584. The sumptuous interior decorations are a way of underlining the importance of the church. This is a counter-Reformation reaction to the more sober protestant designs of the period.

The church’s interior is more Renaissance than baroque. It is 34 meters wide and has a length of 76 meters. The nave is longer than usual and the dome is decorated with frescoes and marble statues.

The most typical characteristic of Jesuit churches is clearly in evidence: As the Council of Trent had decreed, churches should not have aisles, since these were seen as place where people could hang around without paying attention to what was going on around the altar.

The side chapels in the Church of the Gesù are connected by means of balustrades.

Chiesa del Gesù Rome Highlights

  • The ceiling fresco “Triumph in the Name of Jesus” is made by Baciccio.
  • The Chapel of St. Ignatius of Loyola containing the saint’s tomb was designed in 1696. Andrea Pozzo created a huge statue of Saint Ignatius, flanked by 4 pillars decorated with lapis lazuli.
  • The Chapel of Saint Andreas contains frescoes by Agostino Ciampelli, depicting scenes from the life of this martyr. The ceiling painting is titled “The Glory of the Virgin”.
  • The Chapel of the Passion has frescoes as well as paintings with the Passion of Jesus as a theme.
  • The Chapel of the Madonna della Strada is decorated with “Scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary” by Giuseppe Valeriani and G.P. Pozzi.

Photo gallery

Piazza del Gesù Rome

Palazzo Venezia Museum Rome

The Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Venezia (Palazzo Venezia National Museum) is housed in the building of the same name. Its collection mainly consists of late medieval art.

Palazzo Venezia Museum Rome

Address, opening hours, admission

Address: Via del Plebiscito, 118 – Rome. Tel: +39 066780131 (information and bookings). District: Pigna. Opening hours: tuesday to Sunday from 08.30 till 19.30 hours. Closed: Mondays, May 1, December 25. Online reservations: Admission: 5 Euros; EU citizens 18-25: 2,50 Euros; free for anybody below the age of 18; free for anybody on the first Sunday of the month. Museum passes: Roma Pass.

History and description

Saint Peter Crying by Guercino
Saint Peter Crying by Guercino

The Museo Nazionale del Palazzo di Venezia opened its doors in 1916. Since that time it has been Rome’s main museum for medieval and Renaissance art. The initial exhibtion consisted of collections from other museums (The Kircher Museum, the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica and the art works displayed during the 1911 International Art Exhibition in the Castel Sant’Angelo).

Gradually the collection became bigger and weapons, medals and porcelain were added.

After World War I wooden sculptures and sacred jewelery found after an earthquake in Abruzzo (1915) became part of the collection. Later these objects were returned to Abruzzo itself.

The main addition to the National Museum of Palazzo Venezia occurred in 1933, when Henriette Tower and George Wurts donated their private art collection.

After World War II the collection continued growing. There are now 43 rooms with works of art of all kinds, including those the former collection or the now closed Museo Artistico Industriale.

The Barbo Apartment is used for temporary exhibitions.

Via del Plebiscito, 118 – Rome

Crypta Balbi Museum Rome

The Museo della Crypta Balbi is located in a building between the Via delle Botteghe Oscure and the Via Castani. The complex consists of two medieval buildings on the Via delle Botteghe Oscure and the “Dormitorio Barberiano” on the Via Caetini. It is one of the four seats of the Museo Nazionale Romano.

Crypta Balbi Museum Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Via delle Botteghe Oscure, 31 – Rome (tel. +39 06 6780167). Opening hours: 09.00 till 19.45. Closed: Monday, January 1, December 25. Admission: 10 Euros (EU citizens age 18-25: 5 Euros; any nationality age 0-17: free). Combi-ticket Palazzo Massimo, Palazzo Altemps, Crypta Balbi, Terme di Diocleziano: 12 Euros (discount: 6 Euros). There can be a surcharge of 3 Euros in case of special exhibitions.

History and desciption

The original connections and hallways between the buildings were kept intact.

Thanks to the archeological excavations that started in the 80’s and took about 20 years it has been possible to get a good idea of the different building methods through the centuries.

In the Roman times there was a big courtyard with a portico around it, which was connected to the Theater of Balbo. During the middle ages and the Renaissance this courtyard was transformed and became part of the 8th century Monastero di Santa Maria Domine Rose, the 11th century patricians’ houses  behind the walls of the Crypta and the 16th century Conservatorio di Santa Caterina dei Funari.

The ground floor of the museum shows the developments in the historical center of Rome, as understood from the excavations, while the 1st floor highlights Roman culture between the 5th and 10th centuries, by showcasing tools used by the artisans of the time.

Except for the artifacts found in the Crypt itself there are also objects found in the Fori Imperiali and on the Colle Oppio and Celio hills.

The important coin collection comprises the Gnecchi and the Vittorio Emanuele III collections.

Via delle Botteghe Oscure, 31 – Rome

Palazzo Venezia Rome

The Palazzo Venezia, seat of the Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Venezia, is located in the Via del Plebescito 118 in the center of Rome.

Palazzo Venezia Rome

It was constructed in 1451 by the Venetian Pietro Barbo (later Pope Paul II), at the time the titular Cardinal of the nearby Basilica of Saint Mark.

When Lorenzo Cibo, the nephew of Pope Innocent VIII, became its owner, he had it enlarged along the Via del Plebescito.

The building is designed in a style reminiscent of Tuscany. Its main aspects are the Loggia of the Benedictions and the “Corridor of the Cardinals”, a walkway overlooking the Via degli Astalli.

The palazzo underwent big changes in 1911, when the Monument for Vittorio Emanuele II was constructed. Part of the building was moved and attached, stone for stone, to the other side.

In 1916 Palazzo Venezia became property of the Italian State and was turned into a museum. Before that time it had served as an Embassy, first of the Republic of Venice and then of Austria.

From 1929 to 1943 Mussolini made it into the residence of the Head of State and the Grand Council of Fascism. The famous news reels of Mussolini addressing the crowds took place from a balcony of the Palazzo Venezia.

The talking statue of Madama Lucrezia can be seen outside the building.

Via del Plebiscito, 118 – Rome

Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Church Rome

The Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva is a church in the historical center of Rome. It is partly famous because some important people are buried in it, partly because it contains works of art by masters such as Michelangelo and Bernini, and partly because of the obelisk that is place right in front of it, on the back of a little sculpted baby elephant.

Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Church Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Piazza della Minerva, 42 – Rome (tel. +39 06 6793926 or 06 69920384). Opening hours: 10.30 till 12.30 and 15.00 till 19.00. Admission: Free.

History and description

Santa Maria Sopra Minerva with Bernini's Elephant in Rome
Santa Maria Sopra Minerva with Bernini’s Elephant

The church was built in the 7th century, on top of the ruins of a temple dedicated to Minerva Calcidica and underwent a reconstruction in the 12th century.

The facade is the result of another reconstruction in the Renaissance period, during which time also a number of changes were made to the interior of the church.

The interior of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva is the only example in Rome of a Gothic architectural complex. The three naves of the church have cross vaults resting on pilasters. The marble decorations and paintings on the pilasters are the result of a restoration that took place in the year 1850.

Interior Santa Maria Sopra Minerva
Interior Santa Maria Sopra Minerva

In front of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva is a small Egyptian obelisk on top of a small statue of an elephant. This statue was made by Bernini and was originally planned to embellish the Palazzo Barberini.

The obelisk itself had been found in the gardens of the Monastero di Santa Maria sopra Minerva. It was erected in the square of the church according to the wishes of the friars who had found it.

The works of art in the church include a Michelangelo (“Christ the Redeemer”) as well as a gorgeous fresco by Filippino Lippi.

Bernini designed the funerary monument for Suor Maria Raggi. The nun is depicted in a bronze clypeus (a Roman shield), which is held high by two cherubs. The monument was placed in the church in 1647, when Lorenzo Raggi was elected cardinal.

Underneath the altar are the remains of Saint Caterina di Siena (except for her head, which is still in her birthplace, Siena).

The artist Beato Angelico is also buried in the church, as are the sculptors Filarete and Andrea Bregno.

Piazza della Minerva, 42 – Rome