In a recent blog (Faris Mousa: The Pantheon still amazes nearly 2,000 years on) I said that the Pantheon was such an incredible feat of architecture that I wanted to write about it all by itself. I think it’s worthy of its own post, but that’s not to say it’s the only spectacle worth seeing in Rome. There are many more great buildings, both old and new, and here are a few more that I recommend for any traveller or fan of architecture.
This theatre was completed in 11BC and is still revered by architecture enthusiasts more than 2,000 years later. Its arches, columns and tunnels were revolutionary at the time, and its ability to comfortably hold an audience of 20,000 was a great showcase of Roman ingenuity. In fact, it was the inspiration for the much better know Colosseum, built around 70 years later.
St Peter’s Basilica
Rome is home to a great many religiously significant buildings, including an estimated 900 churches. The Vatican’s basilica is the most widely recognised, and it’s easy to see why. It took more than 100 years to build and was completed in 1626. Its design is the work of a string of world renowned architects, including Michelangelo who helped design the iconic dome, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, a sculpture who is responsible for much of its decoration.
The Supreme Court
One of the most important buildings in the country, where the ultimate rule of law is decided, it is also fittingly one of the most imposing and eye catching. The architecture is inspired by late Renaissance and Baroque styles and is so opulent (and took so long to build) that many locals still question how it was funded. But to the casual tourist, it’s an incredible sight.
The National Museum of the 21st Century Arts
Rome is recognised for its historic architecture but has continued to innovate and modernise. One of the best examples from modern times is Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI museum. Its sharp angles and bold curves, which provide a backdrop for the many contemporary exhibits and events which take place there, stand in stark and exciting contrast to the surrounding ancient buildings.
There is plenty more to Rome than fantastic architecture – we haven’t even touched upon the magnificent food, culture or sport – and these four buildings (and the Pantheon, of course) are just a few of the many examples of iconic buildings. But hopefully this will give you enough of a taste to go and explore this beautiful city for yourself.