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Country Italy
Region Lazio
Area 1,285 km2
Population 2,800,000 inh.
Density 2,179 inh./km2

Rome, nicknamed the "Eternal City", is the capital of Italy, and administrative center of the Latium region. It has about 2.5 million inhabitants. It is the biggest city in Italy.

Capital of the Roman Empire in ancient history and the seat of the Vatican, Rome has exerted a great influence in the history of the world. The Risorgimento made it the capital of Italy and the seat of government institutions.

Rome is one of the big economic places of Italy (with Milan) and many companies have their headquarters here. It is also an important media center of country (newspapers, radios, TV...)

Rome is visited by nearly 12 million tourists each year.

Geography[edit | edit source]

Rome is located in the region of Latium, in the center of Italy. The River Tiber runs through it, 22 kilometers from the Tyrrhenian Sea. Its area is approximately 1,285 km², which makes it the largest comune in Italy, exceeding Paris, London, and New York in terms of area. There are 29 comunes bordering Rome.

The site of Rome is made up of seven hills: the Capitoline, the Palatine, the Viminal, the Quirinal, the Esquiline, the Caelian, and the Aventine. The hills of Rome comprise all of the city center.

Demographics[edit | edit source]

At the beginning of the city (in the sixth century BC), it probably had 17,000 inhabitants.

At the apogee of the Roman Empire, Rome was the biggest and the most populated city in the world with about one million inhabitants.

However, after being plundered several times following the fall of the Roman Empire, it went through quite a dark period. In the 16th century, it had 100,000 inhabitants.

After the Italian unification, the population surpassed 500,000; this number subsequently increased during the 20th century.

From the 1980s to the 2000s, the population stagnated and even fell slightly. From 2002 to 2007, the population rose, increasing from 2,800,000 to 2,890,000 inhabitants. Immigrants (particularly from Eastern Europe) have always formed a large community (approximately 360,000 "legal" foreigners). Today, it is the fourth most populous city in Europe, after London, Berlin and Madrid.

History[edit | edit source]

The Tiber, Saint Peter's Basilica and the Castel Sant'Angelo (Mausoleum of Hadrian).
The Roman Forum, old view.

Rome from Antiquity to the Renaissance[edit | edit source]

According to legend, Rome was founded in 753 B.C. on the Palatine Hill by Romulus, son of the god of war (Mars). Romulus had been found and raised, with his brother Remus, by a she-wolf.

Between the 7th century B.C. and the 1st century A.D., the Roman State, which began as a mere collection of villages on the site of the seven hills of Rome, dramatically expanded its territory until it became the Roman Empire, of which Rome remained the capital. Its system of government was a monarchy, then a republic and, after Julius Caesar, an empire.

Under the Empire, the ancient city had about half a million people (the largest city in the world at the time). Many monuments were built: temples, the Roman Forum, the Coliseum. Throughout the Empire, the Romans built Roman cities imitating their capital.

Christianity, which developed in Rome under the Empire, became the official religion in the 4th century.

With the invasions of Barbarians on Europe, Rome was taken in fifth century AD and as a result was partially destroyed. A thousand years followed during which the activity and the power of the city were reduced. Nevertheless, the city continued to be the seat of Popes, except from 1309 to 1420, when the Popes governed from Avignon, two or three persons claiming to be the Pope in different cities at the same time.

After that, the popes brought back to Rome a large part of its splendor, inviting some of the greatest artists, such as Michelangelo and Raphael. The great aristocratic families built palaces such as the Palazzo Farnese and the Palazzo Borghese.

Rome had been the major center of antiquity, and later, during the Renaissance, this central position reappeared thanks to the installation of the Vatican.

From the Renaissance to today[edit | edit source]

Rome was annexed by Napoleon Bonaparte to the Kingdom of Italy, which he had created. After his defeat in 1815, Rome was again placed under the control of the Pope.

In the middle of the 19th century, with the Italian unification, it became the capital of the new Kingdom of Italy, and then the Republic, starting in 1946. It was thus the seat of the institutions of the State.

Fascism gave Rome a central position. New buildings were built: Mussolini wanted it to become the capital of the Fascist regime. Peri-urban districts and suburbs were developed. The World's Fair of 1942, which was planend to take place there, was cancelled.

After the war, the city continued to expand with the creation of new districts.

Rome used its exceptional ancient heritage to take advantage of the events that were held in the city (Olympics, soccer World Cup, etc.).

Culture[edit | edit source]

Cinema[edit | edit source]

Rome has been the setting of a multitude of famous films. It has a large film complex, Cinecittà, where Gladiator, Ben Hur, and Gangs of New York (directed by Martin Scorsese), among others, were shot. Federico Fellini, a well-known Roman director, used Rome for some of his films: his film La Dolce Vita and the scene where Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni bathe in the Trevi Fountain (then relatively unknown) are particularly famous. Sergio Leone shot "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" there.

Many movies are linked to Rome (although some were not shot on the spot), which is mainly due to its history: epics like Gladiator or Ben-Hur, religious and esoteric types like "Angels and Demons". Other filmmakers have filmed or performed in the city: Dario Agento, Alberto Sordi, and Vittorio de Sica, among others.

Museums[edit | edit source]

Rome has a large number of museums. Located on the Capitoline, the Capitoline Museums constitute a large collection of Roman and Etruscan antiquities. The Villa Borghese has assembled an important collection of sculptures (including several works by Bernini). There are also many museums dedicated to modern and contemporary art. The Vatican Museums welcome several million tourists each year.

Gastronomy[edit | edit source]

Roman cuisine is, at its origins, that of Ancient Rome (see Food in Ancient Rome).

Today's traditional Roman cuisine is comprised of dishes with local products (vegetables, fruits, cheese, meat, seafood...). You can taste many types of pasta including the famous "pasta alla carbonara", prepared with bacon, cream and egg yolk. The antipasti and bruschettas accompany the meals, typically Mediterranean.

Art[edit | edit source]

Rome was the cradle of Ancient Rome; the emperors built a great many buildings there and invited artists from throughout the Empire. Roman statuary was greatly inspired by Greek statuary. In fact, numerous Roman marble copies of Greek sculptures (in bronze or stone) have been found. The characteristic of this type of statuary is mainly the realism. However the Romans are different from the Greeks in many ways. The body was "idealized" and "perfect."

The face was very important to the Romans. This was what made it possible to distinguish one emperor from another. It was so that he could decide how he should be depicted. The symbolism was very present, everything was chosen so that it represented something very specific.

After Christianity became official, the prestigious Roman art was abandoned. The early Christian art made its appearance (although it already existed for about two centuries). One can find beautiful examples in the catacombs of San Sebastiano. It is characterized by the proliferation of symbols-image (the dove, the Chrism or fish).

The Middle Ages were marked by the construction of many towers by the local lords to expand their power.

In the 15th and 16th centuries, Rome also became one of the main centers of diffusion of the Renaissance. The popes and aristocrats attracted the most reputable artists of the time. Some went to study the ancients and Roman art. Michelangelo built St Peter's Cathedral and decorated the Sistine Chapel, Raphael painted many frescoes ...

The Baroque was a continuation of the Renaissance, reflecting the desire to impress the church's followers and thus limit the growing influence of the Reformation (Protestantism). Movement and shape were preferred. Bernini was an example of a Baroque artist.

In the 17th century, Rome lost its position as the European capital, and artistic production was in decline.

With its new status as the capital of the Kingdom of Italy in 1870, Rome had to adapt to the changes of the modern world. Fascism renovated the city's image. The buildings that were constructed in this period were to be used by the Fascist regime, and were profoundly modern in comparison to the city's ancient history.

Monuments of Rome[edit | edit source]

Religious architecture[edit | edit source]

Religious architecture is very present in Rome, and testifies to the city's glorious past.

The first places of worship were Roman temples. They were not used for the ceremonies, but to house the religious statue of the deity. There must be about a hundred temples in Rome.

Churches are an integral part of the heritage of the city. There are hundreds of them and their history reflects the economical, cultural and political past of Rome. Some of them were ancient Roman temples (like the Pantheon).

The cathedral of Rome is the St. John Lateran's Basilica, which is one of the four patriarchal and Papal basilicas. Millions of pilgrims from around the world make this pilgrimage each year.

There are also many tombs (especially along the Via Appia), mausoleums and you can visit some catacombs (including those of San Sebastiano).

Roman architecture[edit | edit source]

As the capital of the Roman Empire, Rome had many imposing buildings. The city's enrichment was insured by trade and the taxes levied in the empire's colonies.

The Colosseum was the largest of the amphitheaters, with its 50,000 seats and 50-meter height. Built under Vespasian in 72 and unveiled in 80 by his son Titus, it hosted circuses (gladiatorial fights, big cats fight, and mock sea battles, among other things).

The Roman Forum was the political, commercial, and judicial heart of the city. Numerous temples and institutions (the Curia, the basilicas, etc.) could be found there. A few emperors had their own forums built (Caesar, Trajan, etc.). The Via Sacra was a road taken during religious processions leading towards the Capitoline Hill. Trajan's Market had more than 150 shops at the time. The arcs (of triumph or not) used to glorify the emperor who had built them and were used during religious ceremonies (arcs located on the Via Sacra were triumphal arches).

The Baths of Caracalla could accommodate more than 1,500 people. The Circus Maximus was the place where chariot races were held.

However, certain Roman monuments were transformed into other buildings (churches, town halls, etc.).

Civil architecture[edit | edit source]

Civil architecture of the city form a rather heterogeneous architectural ensemble from Middle Ages lord palaces to the luxurious papal villas through the square Colosseum, symbol of fascist Italy or modern and contemporary constructions of the EUR.

Many town square are very famous. Piazza Venezia is the center of Rome today and yesterday (there are buildings from several eras). The St. Peter's Square in front of St. Peter's Basilica. The square of Spain, or Piazza di Spagna, where his famous stairs can be seen. Piazza Navona was built on a former circus, that is the cause of its oval shape; then Bernini executed there one of his finest works: the Fountain of the Four Rivers (Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi).

The villas and palaces of the lord, cardinal or papal families can be visited. Most of them have been decorated or constructed by well-known artists (like Raphael, Bramante and Michelangelo).

At the time of the annexation of Rome to the Kingdom of Italy, being the capital of the country many buildings were built for the needs of the administration: the Quirinal Palace, seat of government; the Palazzo Madama, seat of the Senate; Montecitorio Palace, seat of the Chamber of Deputies or the Koch Palace, headquarters of the Bank of Italy.

When Mussolini took power, many things changed. Many historic districts were destroyed to make room for wide avenues and buildings. Architecture was to serve the regime. The peasants had to stay away from the city centre, because what Mussolini feared most was that they would become urban residents: unemployed or workmen. The latter were his worst enemies because they often adhered to socialist and communist political movements, thoughts contrary to fascism. The symbol of this new architecture was the Colosseo Quadrato, located in the EUR district of Rome.

Beautiful villas can be found outside of urbanized Rome (Villa d'Este, Hadrian's Villa...).

Other[edit | edit source]

The city has many parks in which to take walks. There exist numerous obelisks brought by the Romans from Egypt (such as that of the Vatican) or intentionally built. There are also 14 columns, including Trajan's Column.

Religion[edit | edit source]

The first religion practiced in Rome was that of the Romans. The Roman religion was polytheistic and made up of a collection of myths and a very detailed mythology. There was a "cycle" of ceremonies that they followed scrupulously (the Ides, the Lupercales, etc.…) The "Penates," were creators of household wealth, and the "Lares," were protectors of the household. But with the expansion of the Empire, strange new gods were integrated and mystery cults appeared (Mithra…).

In the 1st Century, Christianity began to spread. However, the Christians became martyrs for their refusal to worship the Roman gods (because Christianity was monotheistic) and to celebrate the cult of the emperor. Some thought them a danger to the cohesiveness of the Empire (this is why Marcus Aurelius allowed the execution of Christians).

With the conversion of Constantine I in 313 and the establishment of the Christian religion in the Empire, the expansion of Christianity began. The Roman religion was rapidly abandoned and many temples were sacked. The major preachers of the era wanted to remove all traces of that "pagan" epoch. The first "official" churches were built.

The glory of Baroque and Renaissance art made the Christian religion resplendent.

Transportation[edit | edit source]

Fiumicino International Airport

The two main airports are the Leonard da Vinci Airport of Rome-Fiumicino and the Ciampino Airport.

The capital has several railway stations, the most important is the Termini station, located in the center of the city.

Rome has two metro lines (A and B) that have an intersection at Termini Station. Work is planned to build two new lines.

The intercity buses have their terminus at Tiburtina.

Political[edit | edit source]

The mayor of the city is Ignazio Marino (Democratic Party).

Economy[edit | edit source]

Rome has a rather dynamic and diverse economy. But the industry did not develop until after the Second World War. This explains a small percentage of employment in this sector (about 20%). It mainly concentrates on the heavy industries, luxury, film, printing (and publishing). More recently, it has turned to the high-technologies. The tertiary sector gathers 75% of active population. The heart of the business area is the Esposizione Universale di Roma (EUR) district.

Nationally, Rome stands in first place in Italy for economic growth. It begins to overtakes its Lombard rival, Milan.

Tourism[edit | edit source]

Tourism is one of the capital's major assets. Rome is the most-visited city in Italy by number of tourists, and the second most-visited in the world (after Paris). The historic center receives the majority of these visits (97%).

Twinning[edit | edit source]

Rome is twinned with only one city: Paris. The slogan of this twinning was: "Only Rome is worthy of Paris and only Paris is worthy of Rome." However, it has many partnerships and friendly relationships with cities around the world.

Education[edit | edit source]

Rome is an important university center and has many schools. There are 528 primary schools, 152 high schools, and, still, 3 art institutes. It is ranked number one in Italy for the number of nursery schools, primary schools, high schools, and secondary schools. La Sapienza University, is one of the oldest (1303) and largest universities in the world (and the largest in Europe) by the number of students (150,000).

Sports[edit | edit source]

Rome hosted the Olympic Games in 1960 and the first Paralympic Games the same year. During the third week of May, the Rome Masters or Italian Open take place. It is the second clay court tournament in importance after the tournament at Roland Garros. The Rome Marathon goes through the many historic sites of the city (the Roman Forum, St. Peter ...).

Teams[edit | edit source]

  • The Associazione Sportiva Rome (AS Roma) and the Società Sportiva Lazio and (SS Lazio) are the two football clubs of the city.
  • The Rome Gladiators, American football team.

Sports facilities[edit | edit source]

Basketball match at the PalaLottomatica
  • The Olympic Stadium is the largest stadium in Rome with 73,000 seats.
  • The PalaLottomatica, the Sports Palace in Rome is used for concerts and sports events.
  • The Stadio Flaminio, used for rugby matches.

People related to the city[edit | edit source]

Many people have ties with Rome. Kings, emperors, popes, artists, philosophers, writers, politicians, athletes, sculptors, and actors (among others) have left their traces there.

Sources[edit | edit source]

As on 2014-10-28, this article is essentially a translation of the article "Rome" on Vikidia in French.

Did you know it?[edit | edit source]

The capital of Christendom : there are more than 500 churches in Rome !

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