ROME: CITY OF ART
Although the pontiffs did many questionable things during their reign in Rome, their most lasting legacy is a gift to art lovers everywhere. The vast artistic heritage fostered by the pontiffs is still one of Rome's most attractive features, and the architectural boom that took place from the 15th to the 17th century left behind the indelible image generations have come to associate with Rome.
With all its palaces, churches and monuments, Rome is a veritable museum in and of itself. Rome has more artworks per square metre, originating from a greater number of historical periods than any other city in the world.
On your way to a museum, you already stroll past ancient monuments like the Coliseum or encounter Renaissance and baroque masterpieces in the city's many squares. Much of Rome's glorious art is completely free, standing in the midst of daily life. And then, of course, is the indescribable variety offered at its many museums, art galleries and churches. Some of the museums charge an admission fee, but the churches can all be visited for free. Even many of the smaller parish churches contain invaluable works of art, such as Michelangelo's Moses in the San Pietro in Víncoli Church.
The Renaissance was an artistic movement that spread throughout Europe from the late 14th to the mid-16th century. The movement was born in Italy and was based on the rediscovery of ancient art forms and culture. Although the movement went on to influence almost every form of artistic expression and scientific thought, the fields of sculpture and architecture seemed to embody the Renaissance spirit the most.
Florence was the undisputed centre of Renaissance art, but many of the artists who lived there would spend long periods of time in Rome. The capital city was not only ideal for studying the art of the ancient world, but it was also home to the pope, who commissioned many pieces from the artists. Rome benefited greatly from the sojourns of artists like Michelangelo as well as from the influence the pontiffs exerted on the art world of the time.
The Renaissance wasn't alone in changing Rome's urban character; the Baroque period was equally important in shaping the face of the city. In fact, the Baroque style, characterised by elaborate ornamentation and exaggerated form, was born right here in Rome. Not only is there logic behind the development of the style, but also as to why Rome was its birthplace. During the 17th century, the Catholic Church needed to bolster its image. Faced with threats of other religious movements, such as the rise of the Protestant Church, the pontiffs had to reassert their power.
THE ETERNAL CITY
Twenty million visitors a year can't all be wrong; there is something about Rome that fascinates and attracts people, year after year, century after century. This incredible hold on the world's imagination has turned Rome into one of the most interesting and sought out tourist destinations in the world. The eternal city is a veritable open air museum, layer upon layer of history leaving its mark on thousands of monuments, ruins, museums, art works, churches and catacombs.
Considering the long and impressive history that has moulded this city, the historic centre is actually quite small and easily visited within a short time. The immense amount of history and cultural legacy expressed by this small section of the city, however, takes more than a few days to settle in and be grasped in its entirety.
Rome is known as the city of the seven hills. The name is taken from the hills that made up the ancient city: the Palatine, Capitoline, Aventine, Caelian, Esquiline, Viminal and Quirinal Hills. There are actually two other hills in the city, the Janiculum and Pincian Hills, but they never formed part of the ancient city and are thus not counted. Rome is also famous for its staggering number of museums, but that is not what makes the city so unique.
The city's singular character stems from the fact that the entire city is a gigantic, outdoor museum in and of itself. Furthermore, art works as magnificent as Michelangelo's Moses or the Pieta adorn parish churches and basilicas, allowing visitors to admire them completely free of charge.
A statistic claims that Rome is home to so many churches that seeing them all, at a rate of one church a day, would take more than a year. It is therefore best to take your time and carefully select the churches you wish to visit, a task that might seem rather overwhelming at first. It is therefore helpful to know that there are seven churches that have historically been the principal destinations for pilgrims.
The most important of the seven are the four patriarchal basilicas (Saint Peters in the Vatican, San Giovanni in Laterano, Santa Maria Maggiore and San Paolo Fuori le Mura). The last three on the list are the churches of San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme and San Sebastiano.
City of Art
Lasting Legacy to Art Lovers
Legendary Rome's Identity
The Eternal City