Rome, Italy

Area Sacra dell'Argentina, with the foundations of ancient temples, in the heart of Rome. Photo © Sacred Destinations.

Rome, the "Eternal City," has been a sacred place and internationally important city since ancient times. Rome's history extends nearly 2,800 years, during which time it has been the seat of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic, the Roman Empire, the Papal States, the Kingdom of Italy and the Italian Republic. The first known temple in Rome was built around 575 BC. A Jewish community was established in Rome in 161 BC and remains active today. Christians arrived in the 1st century AD, and Rome has been the center of Catholic Christianity ever since. Rome's abundance of ancient temples, synagogues, churches and shrines make it one of the best cities to explore the holy places of a variety of religious traditions.

This magnificent ancient temple was built by Emperor Hadrian in 125 AD and converted into a church in 609. It is the oldest intact ancient building in Rome.
Mamertine Prison
Located on the Capitoline Hill above the Forum, this ancient prison is where St. Peter and Paul are said to have been held before their execution in Rome.
Sant'Agnese in Agone
Dedicated to a young woman martyred in 303 AD, this church was built by Constantine and rebuilt in the 7th century. It has a Byzantine apse mosaic and crowd-free catacombs.
Santa Maria Maggiore
Built on the site of a miraculous snowfall, this major basilica dates from 420 AD. The huge church is lined with Byzantine mosaics and contains many important relics.
Designed by Borromini, this impressive Baroque church is dedicated to St. Yves of Britanny, a lawyer who became a monk and fought for justice.
Santa Maria del Popolo
A 15th-century church filled with Renaissance and Baroque art by masters such as Raphael, Caravaggio, and Bernini.
Temple of Saturn
The focus of the Saturnalia festival, the Temple of Saturn in the Forum was erected in 497 BC and rebuilt in 380 AD.
Santa Sabina
Santa Sabina is Rome's best surviving example of an early Christian church. It dates from 422, including its carved wooden doors with biblical scenes.
St. Peter's Basilica
For Roman Catholics, St. Peter's is the most sacred site after the Holy Land. It centers around the tomb of St. Peter the Apostle and is one of the largest churches in the world.
Sistine Chapel
This world-famous chapel painted by Michelangelo is still used for papal elections. Explore a complete photo gallery of its art as part of our article on the Sistine Chapel.