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.
Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri
This interesting basilica incorporates the remains of the extensive Baths of Diocletian. Inside are works of medieval and modern art and an astronomical gnomon.
Santa Maria Sopra Minerva
Said to be Rome's only Gothic church, this 13th-century basilica was built over a temple to Minerva. It contains many art treasures and the venerated tomb of St. Catherine of Siena.
Capitoline Museums
The most sacred of the seven hills in Rome, Capitoline Hill once hosted a great temple. Today it is home to the Capitoline Museum, with temple ruins and classical sculptures.
San Giovanni in Fonte
Also known as the Lateran Baptistery, this octagonal structure is the oldest baptistery in the world, built by Constantine in 315 AD.
Santo Stefano Rotondo
Dedicated to St. Stephen, the first martyr, this is one of the largest and oldest round churches in existence. Dating from the 5th century, it reflects local and foreign influences.
Santa Costanza
This little round church was built c.360 AD to house the tombs of Constantine's daughter and sister. Its ceilings are covered in some of the earliest Christian mosaics in the world.
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.
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.

Guided Tours of Rome