Hipmunk’s “Off the Beaten Path” Guide to Rome
Although attractions like the Coliseum and the Vatican top must-see lists for a reason, don’t let your trip to Rome stop there. We’ve compiled a list of five of the best lesser-known Rome attractions to help you see all this beautiful ancient city has to offer. Enjoy your trip off the beaten path!
Baths of Caracalla
The Baths of Caracalla were named for Emperor Caracalla, a Roman ruler who reigned from AD 211-217. The vast ruins that stand today are an incredible monument to Roman architecture and culture, featuring many of the Baths’ original mosaics, tiling and marble walls. The sheer size of the ruins speaks to the scale of Roman construction! This is a great spot to check out incredible Roman ruins without dealing with the crowds that pack more famous destinations. A don’t miss experience: during the summertime, the Baths become a venue for operas and other cultural events.
Housed in a Renaissance palace, the Palazzo Altemps is a recent addition to the Roman art scene after opening in 1997. Its relative youth makes it one of the city’s best-kept secrets, housing a beautiful collection of classical sculptures without the staggering lines found at other museums. The collection features works from ancient Greece and Rome, most notably a 3rd-century sarcophagus, picturing the Romans fighting the Ostrogoths, carved from a single block of stone.
The Jewish Quarter (or Ghetto) is a historic destination dating back to 1555, when Pope John Paul IV pushed all Jews into a small, restricted walled-off area of the city. Today, while the walls have come down, the area retains the flavor and culture of its early inhabitants. It is the home of the Synagogue of Rome, and a small piece of the original Ghetto wall remains in the area. Take a stroll through to sample kosher food and experience incredible lived history.
This small island in the middle of the Tiber River has been linked to the Roman mainland by bridge since antiquity. Once called the Insula Inter-Duos-Pontes, or “island between the two bridges”, its bridges are the Ponte Fabricio, the only original bridge in Rome, and the Ponte Cestio. In 239 BC, the Temple of Aesculapius was built on the island to worship the Greek god of healing. Although the temple is now gone, legend still holds that the island is a place of healing.
The Aurelian Walls, a line of city walls built around 271 AD, remain standing after nearly 1400 years of Roman life, creating both a testament to Rome’s history and a line between antiquity and modern Italy. Created to provide fortification against invasion, the walls cover 12 miles in a circuit that includes 383 towers and 2,066 external windows. The walls continued to serve as a military defense for the city until the late 19th century, when the Bersaglieri of the Kingdom of Italy captured Rome.
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