Rome is the capital of Italy, in the Lazio region and in the metropolitan area of Rome. The city is located on both sides of Tevere (Tiber), about 25 km from its outlet in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Rome has 2,879,728 residents (2019), while the metropolitan area has 4,600,162 residents (2019).
Rome is Italy’s administrative, cultural and religious center. The city encompasses the Vatican City, which is ruled by the pope and is the spiritual and administrative center of the Roman Catholic Church.
Mayor of Rome from June 20, 2016 is Virginia Raggi of the Five Star Movement (Movimento 5 Stelle).
Rome’s economic life has long been focused on providing for the city’s own population and the hundreds of thousands of tourists and pilgrims visiting “the eternal city”. In recent years, the industry has developed strongly. Rome, however, comes after Milan in industrial and economic terms. Rome has significant machinery, upholstery and food factories alongside the chemical, petrochemical and graphic industries. It is furthermore a fashion center and the center of Italy’s film industry.
Transport and Communications
Rome is an important national and international traffic hub. The railway lines run together in the large central station Stazione Termini. There are good motorway connections both to the industrially important northern Italy and south along the coast towards Naples, out to the coast and inland. Around Rome, Grande Raccordo Anulare (“the great ring road”) runs, a highway that forms a circle around the city about ten kilometers outside the city center. It is connected to the Autostrada del Sole and other main roads.
Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino International Airport is located in Fiumicino at the mouth of Teveres. Ciampino Airport, southeast of Rome, provides some charter and domestic traffic. Traffic within Rome is partly provided by the metro, La Metropolitana, which opened in 1955 and was expanded with a new line in 1980. A third metro line (line C) is under construction. Public transport is also provided by buses, trams and local trains.
Like many other major cities, Rome has major traffic problems. The car park is huge, with a large number of scooters and motorcycles. Road traffic, among other things, causes vibration damage to the city’s historic monuments, as well as weathering of marble and other building stones. In recent years, the authorities have reduced private car traffic in the city center, and in some streets that were previously heavily trafficked, transit traffic has now disappeared.
Education and culture
In addition to its many administrative functions, Rome has a large number of educational and research institutions. The city has several universities, the largest and oldest of which is the Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”, founded in 1303. With over 112,000 students (2016), this is considered the largest university in Europe. The other state universities are Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata, founded in 1982, and Università degli Studi Roma Three, founded in 1992. Rome also has a number of colleges, including technical college, music conservatory, art academy, film college and business college. Rome is rich in educational institutions for the education of Roman Catholic clergy from all countries. Of the many learned companies and academies, mention must be made of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
Several international organizations have their headquarters in Rome, including the FAO (United Nations Organization for Nutrition, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries). Numerous are also foreign institutions that conduct archaeological, historical and literary historical research; the oldest and most traditional are the French Academy of Rome and the German Archaeological Society. A Norwegian Institute was established in 1959 (The Norwegian Institute in Rome for Archeology and Art History).
Rome is rich in cultural treasures, and among the large number of museums, art galleries and other collections, libraries and archives, the Vatican is in a special position. Among the foremost museums are the Terme Museum (National Roman Museum – Terme di Diocleziano), Capitol Museums, Villa Giulia Museum (Etruscan Collections), Palazzo Barberini National Gallery, Villa Borghese Museum and Gallery, Castel Sant’Angelo and National Museum of modern art. Countless are also works of art found in churches, palaces and villas. The city has about 400 churches, the most significant of the late antiquity, renaissance and Baroque, many of them are built into ancient buildings. Rome has a world-renowned opera and a rich theater and music scene.
Rome hosted the 1960 Summer Olympic Games, and the finals of the 1934 and 1990 World Cups, as well as the finals of the 1968 and 1980 Football Championships, were played in the city.
There are a number of sports facilities in Rome, the largest of which is the Olympic Stadium, which was inaugurated in 1932 as Stadio dei Cipressi. This facility was part of a larger area with a number of other sports facilities, which when it was put into operation in 1932 went by the name Foro Mussolini, and today is called Foro Italico. The Olympic Stadium has been expanded and restored several times, and is today a modern facility with 72,698 seats.
The football clubs AS Roma and Società Sportiva Lazio belong in the city, and both play their home games at the Olympic Stadium.
Other popular team sports, in addition to football, are basketball, volleyball, water polo and rugby.
The city covers an area of over 200 square meters on both sides of Tevere, which meanders through the city. The settlement has also spread along Aniene, one of Tevere’s bees. The inner city is from old divided into 14 rioni (from Latin regions). Today, the city municipality is administratively divided into 15 districts (municipi), where the historic center of the city (centro storico) forms a separate district.
The center of Rome (within the city walls) is small compared to other European capitals, and you can easily get on foot between the sights. Most streets are still narrow and without sidewalks and often lead to surprising squares with a church, a palace, a monastery or a cluster of cafes.
Rome encompasses the seven heights of ancient Rome: Capitol, Palatin, Monte Celio, Quirinal, Viminal, Esquilin and Aventin. In addition come Monte Pincio, Gianicolo and Monte Mario.
The Capitol was the center of the Roman world and is today the seat of the city’s government. The Comune di Roma holds its meetings in the Palazzo Senatorio. Today’s buildings on the Capitol date from the 16th century, and two of the three buildings around the piazza now contain the Capitol Museum. At the Capitol Hill is also the church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli. Below is the huge Victor Emanuel Monument and Piazza Venezia with the Palazzo Venezia.
Between the Capitol and Palatin lies the Roman Forum which was the center of political, commercial and legal life in ancient Rome; today a large area with ruins of temples and basilicas. There are several ancient triumphal arches in this area, including the Arch of Titus, the Arch of Constantine and the Arch of Septimius Severus. Along one of the forums, Via dei Fori Imperiali, a wide street connecting the Coliseum, Rome’s largest amphitheater, with Piazza Venezia. This street, which was built as a parade street during fascism and opened in 1932, was previously a heavily congested street, but from 2013 it is closed to all private motoring.
Piazza Venezia forms a crossroads for a number of streets going in all four directions. The historic center (centro storico) is not the Roman Forum and ancient Rome, but a maze of streets that form the city center with buildings from the Middle Ages up to the last century. In the district between Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Via del Corso are several of the city’s top sights, including the ancient temple of the Pantheon at Piazza della Rotonda, Palazzo Doria-Pamphilj, the Baroque church of Il Gesù and Rome’s only Gothic church, Santa Maria sopra Minerva. Also in this area are the Palazzo di Montecitorio, which houses the Chamber of Deputies of Italy and the Piazza Colonna with the Column of Marcus Aurelius .Further west in the direction of Tevere lies Rome’s main square Piazza Navona, with Bernini ‘s fountain Fontana dei Fiumi as the centerpiece in front of the Baroque church of Sant’Agnese in Agone.
South of Corso Vittorio Emanuele II is Rome’s Renaissance quarter with beautiful buildings such as Palazzo Farnese and Palazzo Spada, as well as the outdoor market at Piazza Campo de ‘Fiori. Close by is the beautiful Via Giulia street. East of this part of town we find the old Jewish ghetto and synagogue. Rome’s oldest bridge, Ponte Fabricio from 62 BCE, leads to Isola Tiberina and across to the other bank leads the Ponte Cestio bridge from 46 BCE.
The main street in central Rome, Via del Corso, runs from Piazza del Popolo to Piazza Venezia. Piazza del Popolo is one of Rome’s most monumental places, and for 300 years Porta del Popolo was the ceremonial entrance to Rome. Next to it stands the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo; on the south side of the square are the twin churches of Santa Maria di Montesanto and Santa Maria dei Miracoli on either side of Via del Corso. Northeast of Piazza del Popolo are Borghese Park, Villa Borghese, Museo Borghese, Villa Giulia and a number of significant churches.
The network of narrow streets between Piazza di Spagna and Via del Corso is one of the liveliest areas in Rome. Here you will find the Spanish Steps and the Trinità dei Monti Church. Also located at Piazza di Spagna is Keats-Shelley Memorial House. This district contains Rome’s most famous shopping streets around Via Condotti. On the west side of the Corso is the reconstruction of the Ara Pacis Augustae peace altar.
Near Piazza Barberini is the fashionable Via Veneto shopping street with hotels, restaurants and cafes. At Piazza Barberini are Bernini’s fountains Fontana del Tritone and Palazzo Barberini.
From Piazza Venezia, Via del Quirinale goes northeast. Here we find Palazzo del Quirinale, the official residence of the President of Italy. Nearby is one of the city’s most famous sights, the Fontana di Trevi. Towards the Piazza Venezia there are magnificent palaces, including the Palazzo Colonna. Parallel to Via del Quirinale is Via Nazionale, which leads to the Piazza della Repubblica. From here it is a short distance to Diocletian’s terms with the built-in church of Santa Maria degli Angeli and Stazione Termini (the main train station). Via Via Nazionale is Rome’s opera, the Teatro dell’Opera.
The height of Esquilin is the largest and highest of Rome’s seven heights. Here are Nero’s golden houses, but the most interesting in the district are the churches: Santa Maria Maggiore from the 400s with ancient columns and mosaics, one of Rome’s most beautiful churches, as well as San Pietro in Vincoli and Santa Prassede. Southeast of Esquilin are Rome’s Cathedral of San Giovanni in Laterano and the Lateran Palace, as well as the churches of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme and San Clemente.
Celio Hill overlooks the Coliseum. In the imperial era, it was a fashionable residential area here. In this area are the huge ruins of Caracalla’s terms, a number of churches and the FAO building as well as large greenery. To the east stands the Arch of Drusus and Porta San Sebastiano, one of the best preserved gates in the old city wall at Via di Porta San Sebastiano (part of the old Via Appia).
The Aventine Heights is one of the most peaceful areas within the city walls. It is mainly a residential area, but there are also some outstanding historical sights; including the magnificent Santa Sabina Basilica. At the foot of the hill lies Circus Maximus, and at the far south of the district lies Rome’s only pyramid, Cestius’ pyramid.
Ponte Sisto connects central Rome with the Trastevere district (“on the other side of Tevere”), a charming town with narrow medieval streets, now a popular tourist area with many restaurants, bars and shops. Here are also the churches of Santa Cecilia and Santa Maria in Trastevere.
The Gianicolo Hill is located north of Trastevere and is known for its parks, botanical gardens and monuments over the freedom hero Giuseppe Garibaldi. Here there is a nice view of the city. In the convent of San Pietro in Montorio stands Bramante’s miniature masterpiece, the Tempietto Chapel. Also nearby is The Norwegian Institute. At Via della Lungara towards Tevere are Villa Farnesina and Palazzo Corsini.
North of Gianicolo Hill is the Vatican, with St. Peter’s Basilica, St. Peter’s Square and the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel. To the west lies the massive fortress of Castel Sant’Angelo.
Outside the city wall are a number of interesting sights. To the south lies the church of San Paolo fuori le Mura, an impressive basilica that was destroyed by a fire in 1823, but later rebuilt. Further south lies the EUR (Esposizione Universale di Roma) district, which was to be completed for the 1942 World Exhibition, but was not completed until the late 1950s. Here is also the huge Palazzo dello Sport that was built for the 1960 Summer Olympic Games. In the southeast lies the historic Via Appia Antica road and the Catacombs of San Callisto, San Sebastiano and Domitilla.
Large parts of Rome (bounded by the remains are the ancient city walls), including the Roman Forum, the Coliseum, the Pantheon and the terms, as well as Hadrian’s villa (outside Rome) are placed on UNESCO’s World Heritage and Natural History List.
Rome grew up in a place where an island in Tevere simplified the crossing of the river and the traffic between Latium and Etruria. The site was also adjacent to a road between the mountains inland and the coast. As a centerpiece of the Roman Empire, the city played an unusually large role in world history for hundreds of years. It is estimated that the city may have had as many as 1,500,000 residents this year.
When Emperor Constantine the Great in 330 AD moved the imperial residence to Byzantium (Constantinople), the city’s decline began, which accelerated during the battles with Goths and langoards in the 400s and 500s. The population of the million city dropped to around 50,000, later even lower. The greatest devastation struck Rome during Justinian’s battles against the Germans in 534–553, when the aqueducts were broken and entire districts destroyed and abandoned. At the fall of the Roman Empire, the bishop of Rome, the pope, became the real ruler of the city. Rome was under the Ostrogoths until 552, and then belonged to the East Roman Exarchate. With the help of the Franks in the 7th century, the foundation of the Church State was laid. The Arabs ravaged Rome in 846, and when the Normans under Robert Guiscard stormed the city in 1084, Rome largely went up in flames.
From the 12th to the 13th centuries, the political dominance of Rome was highly contested; during the bitter party battles between the nobles, especially Colonna and Orsini, the ancient ruins were transformed into fortresses. First Pope Martin 5 succeeded around 1420 to fortify the papacy and make the city the capital of the Church State. Now a new heyday began for Rome, only a short time hampered by Emperor Charles 5 ‘s looting in 1527 (Il Sacco di Roma). The city was under French rule during the periods 1798–1799, 1808–1814 and after the February Revolutionin 1848, when French troops moved in to protect the Pope’s sovereignty. The occupation lasted until 1870. In 1871 Rome became the capital of Italy and a new period of growth began. The population was 244,000 in 1871, 425,000 in 1901 and 664,000 in 1921. During the 1930s, the population passed one million.
When the Church State was incorporated in Italy in 1870, and Rome became Italy’s capital, the relationship between the Vatican and the Italian state became problematic. The conflict was resolved by the Lateran Agreement in 1929, when the Vatican City was created. During World War II, Rome was declared an open city and was not particularly harmed by the acts of war. In September 1943, the Germans occupied the city, but on June 4, 1944, it was left to the Allies without a fight. Rome was proclaimed June 2, 1946 as the capital of the Republic of Italy.
The city experienced significant population growth in the 1930s. While Milan was Italy’s largest city municipality in 1930, Rome had taken over this position in 1940. In the post-war period, the city continued to grow. The population rose from 1.6 million in 1951 to 2.8 million in 1981. After 1980, the population in the urban municipality has stabilized, while the population in some of the neighboring municipalities has increased sharply.