Rome is one of the best destinations in Europe and this is no surprise. The Eternal City is home to some of the most impressive architectural wonders and unending culture and history. There are so many fun facts about Rome, waiting to be discovered. Read on to discover some of the most interesting Rome facts and more!
Rome’s story involves a she-wolf, twins and murder
As legend has it, the twin brothers Romulus and Remus were abandoned as infants and sent along the River Tiber in a basket. This basket was discovered by a wolf that nurtured the two boys until a shepherd found them and took them in. As adults, they would return to Palatine Hill, the very place their lives were saved, to establish a new town of their own. But, as many of these stories tend to go, there was a vague and petty quarrel, resulting in Romulus killing his brother Remus, proclaiming himself King and then naming their new town after himself: Rome!
The world’s first shopping mall was built in Ancient Rome
The oldest known shopping mall in the entire history of human civilization is Trajan’s Market. This amazing structure was once home to 150 stores, giving the vendors of ancient Rome the chance to sell and trade goods before anyone else in the world.
The Spanish Steps aren’t Spanish
In Italian, the official name of the famous Spanish Steps is “Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti”. Located in Piazza di Spagna, the name comes from the Spanish Embassy to the Vatican which has been housed in this square since the 17th century.
There are more obelisks in Rome than in Egypt
It may be difficult to imagine, but the Roman Empire stretched all the way to Egypt, which for centuries was home to the wealthiest province of the entire empire outside of modern-day Italy. Obelisks became emperor’s favourites to take back to Rome as trophies, an obsession that became so popular that Rome’s obelisk collection is actually bigger than Egypt’s.
Rome is ruled by cats
Law in Rome allows cats to live without disruption in the place they were born. Wild cats can be climbing the walls of the Colosseum, and sleeping among the ruins of the Forum. These cats have been protected by law since 1991.
Rome has a museum dedicated entirely to pasta
When you say Italy, you instantly think of pasta! This country is known for its elegant cuisine, and especially for its pasta-based dishes. So, it can’t be too surprising that there’s a Rome museum dedicated entirely to pasta.
Rome was the fastest growing city in the world
In the year 133 BC, Rome recorded a population of just over 1 million inhabitants for the first time in world history.
St Peter’s Basilica is the world’s largest church
The famous St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the most sought-after tourist attractions in Rome, with a capacity of 60,000 people and it’s the biggest church ever constructed.
Rome has more fountains than any other city on the planet
Rome is the undisputed record holder. Alongside historical monuments, the city has well over 2,000 fountains in varying forms and sizes, some of which you can even drink from.
The Pantheon is the only ancient building in pristine condition
The marvellous Pantheon has managed to withstand the destructive forces of nature since around 27 BC, thanks to a special cement mixture of limestone and volcanic ash. Most importantly, it survived any ravaging by human hands over the centuries, thanks to its function as a consecrated site.
Rome was not the first capital of Italy
Although Rome has always been at the center of Italian events, it was not the only capital of the country. Italy has had three! The first Italian capital was Turin (1861 – 1865), the second was Florence (1865 – 1871) and in 1871 Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy.
The famous Colosseum is the largest amphitheater ever built
The Colosseum is the largest ancient amphitheatre ever built, and is still the largest standing amphitheatre in the world, despite its age. It could hold more than 50,000 spectators at its maximum capacity.
Rome is home to Italy’s First McDonald’s
Rome is the place where Italy’s first McDonald’s was opened in 1986, in Piazza di Spagna. At the time, people strongly opposed the introduction of fast food in the country and this is why the Slow Food Movement started. This McDonald’s has grand interiors with frescoes, statues and mosaics, so it’s not a regular fast food.
There’s a state within the city of Rome
Rome is the only city in the world that is home to a country, known as the Vatican City.
There’s a secret passage to the Vatican City
There’s a secret elevated passage in the Castel Sant’Angelo, known as “Passetto di Borgo”, which leads to the Vatican City. This passage was specially built for the safety of the Pope.
The Colosseum’s gory history
It’s common knowledge that the famous gladiator fights used to take place in the Colosseum. But did you know that more than a million animals and 400,000 people died in The Colosseum? The gladiator games lasted for nearly a thousand years and were officially banned by Constantine in 325 CE.
Invention of law happened in Rome
One of the lesser-known facts about Rome is that it’s the birthplace of the first known legal system in the world. The legal system, known as “Twelve Tables” was created in Rome for the very first time. This became the foundation of Roman law and it covered everything from religious, public and civil law.
All roads lead to Rome
The Romans built a road network of over 53,000 miles as early as the 4th century. This network of highways played a vital role in the history of Rome, helping them outpace and outmaneuver their enemies as they traveled across Europe conquering everything in sight. Every time the Romans added another town to their empire, they linked it to Rome, establishing a solid supply network between the conqueror and the conquered.
Purple clothes were reserved for Emperors and Senators in ancient Rome
While today you can dress in any color you want, in ancient Rome there was one color that you couldn’t wear: purple. In fact, only the Roman Elite was allowed to wear purple.
Only 10% of Ancient Rome has been excavated
The famous Roman ruins in Rome are just a small fraction of the remains of the Roman civilization. They are the only few monuments that were excavated, and brought above ground. But the truth is, most of the city is still uncovered!