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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Top 5 Ancient Ruins in Rome

The Pantheon, a landmark of the Campus Martius...Image via Wikipedia
By Roberta Stuart
Only a short distance from many a hotel, Rome centre sights include some of the world's most impressive ancient ruins. With so much to choose from, it's hard to know where to begin. Why not start with the following five.
Colosseum. The Colosseum is perhaps Rome's most iconic ruin, standing tall in the heart of the modern city. While not entirely intact, plenty remains to give visitors a sense of how impressive it would have been in ancient times, when 55,000 Romans filled its benches to watch gladiatorial contests, dramas based on Classical mythology, re-enactments of ancient land battles, performances of mock sea battles, and much more. It was built between 70 and 80 AD under Emperor Titus, with further modifications under Emperor Domitian.
Pantheon. As the best preserved ancient building in Rome, the Pantheon should be on one of the first excursions from your hotel. Rome centre sights don't come much grander. The Pantheon was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa and completely rebuilt in approximately 126 AD by Emperor Hadrian. Cassius Dio, writing 75 years later, surmised that its name came either from the numerous statues of the gods placed within, or its dome's resemblance to the heavens. Under the Christians it became a church. Later, during the Renaissance, it began to be used as a tomb, and contains two Italian kings whose remains still receive vigil despite Italy's republican government. Masses continue to be conducted in the Pantheon. It is a magnificent testament to the longevity of Rome.
Via Appia. The Romans are famed for their roads, long and straight and all famously said to lead to Rome. Walk the other way on a full day of exploration away from your hotel: Rome centre outwards, along the well-preserved Via Appia. Ultimately connecting Rome to Brundisium, its phases of construction went from 312 to 264 BC. As well as being a fantastic relic in its own right - some of the cobbles visitors walk on are the originals, over two thousand years old - it is lined with many other points of interest. Churches, tombs, baths, temples, villas, ruined bridges and more can be found in the first 10 kilometres.
Baths of Caracalla. Imperial Rome contained over more than 50 public baths, some of them as luxurious at the spa areas of a modern luxury hotel. Rome centre's baths were crowned by the Baths of Caracalla, constructed between 212 and 216 AD under Emperor Caracalla. Judging by the remnants of mosaic found, it was truly a splendour to behold. It contained more than the baths: a library, a garden, art galleries and shops selling food and drinks were also found in its grounds. While the beauty has faded over the millennia, the sheer grandeur remains. The size of the ruined baths is immense, many times taller than the visitors wandering in its midst.
Ostia Antica. For those who want a day's break from Rome, the city's ancient harbour, Ostia Antica, is a fantastic site. The harbour is now 3 kilometres inland due to silting. The oldest discovered archaeological remains at the site date to the 4th century BC, and it stayed in use until the 9th century AD. It is famous for its well-preserved ancient buildings, many of which contain magnificent frescoes and mosaics. Ostia Antica is easily accessed by public transport from Rome's centre.
Roberta Stuart is the Travel Manager for World Hotels, a company offering holidays in a selection of unique four and five star hotels worldwide. If you're looking for a quality hotel, Rome centre or any other destination worldwide, World Hotels can provide you with your ideal accommodation.

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