Rome facts for kids
|Nickname(s): The Eternal City, Caput Mundi,
the City of seven hills
|Location of Rome in Italy|
|• Total||1,285.31 km2 (496.26 sq mi)|
|Elevation||20 m (70 ft)|
|Population (September 2011)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Postal code||00100; 00121 to 00199|
|Patron saint||Saint Peter and Saint Paul St.Lawrence|
|Saint day||29 June|
Rome (Italian Roma) is the capital city of Italy and the Italian region Latium. It is on the Tiber River and has 2.8 million people. An estimate by the OECD put the number of people of the city area of Rome at 3.47 million. The enclave Vatican City is in the north-west.
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Nothing is known for sure about the founding of ancient Rome. The myth of Romulus and Remus is often told. They were supposedly raised by a she-wolf. Romulus killed Remus, and became the first king of Rome, for some time Romulus ruled alongside a Sabine King a neighbouring tribe. There is no historical evidence of this, but the story is popular. Numa Pompilius was the next king.
With the overthrow of the Roman Kingdom began the Republican era. The new Roman Republic fought and conquered the people around it. In 390 BC, the town was invaded by Gauls. Between the third and second century BC, Rome fought against the rival Carthage. The Roman army captured and destroyed Carthage.
Only with Julius Caesar in the first century BC, did the city began to grow significantly, especially toward the Campo Marzio, at the north of Capitol, and its domain was extended to Britannia. Caesar was never crowned emperor, a title which, however, fell to his adopted son Octavian who took the throne under the name of Augustus. Augustus "found a city of bricks and left it of marble". Later emperors also added new monuments, temples and triumphal arches to ancient Rome.
With the decline of the Roman Empire, the city declined in importance and fell into ruin. Pope Gregory I created major reforms for the people. The city was ruled by the pope, and soon also became the capital of a state, the Papal States, which remained active until the nineteenth century. Popes, like the emperors, became richer over the centuries. The city of monuments and churches was called the "capital of Christendom", as the home of the Basilica di San Giovanni Lateran, the most important church of the world. The power of the Pope lessened along with its state. On 20 September 1870, Garibaldi's army, which had the task of uniting all of Italy under the crown of Savoy, entered the city through a breach opened in the walls at Porta Pia and, the same year, Rome became the capital of the new Italian state.
Rome is a major European political and cultural center, containing the HQ headquarters of FAO. It is home of the pope and was one of the most powerful cities of antiquity (the old world). It currently contains numerous museums, basilicas and palaces, such as the Colosseum.
Rome is in the Lazio region of central Italy on the Tiber river (Italian: Tevere). The original settlement developed on hills that faced onto a ford beside the Tiber Island, the only natural ford of the river in this area. The Rome of the Kings was built on seven hills: the Aventine Hill, the Caelian Hill, the Capitoline Hill, the Esquiline Hill, the Palatine Hill, the Quirinal Hill, and the Viminal Hill. Modern Rome is also crossed by another river, the Aniene, which flows into the Tiber north of the historic centre.
Although the city centre is about 24 kilometres (15 mi) inland from the Tyrrhenian Sea, the city territory extends to the shore, where the south-western district of Ostia is located. The altitude of the central part of Rome ranges from 13 metres (43 ft) above sea level (at the base of the Pantheon) to 139 metres (456 ft) above sea level (the peak of Monte Mario). The Comune of Rome covers an overall area of about 1,285 square kilometres (496 sq mi), including many green areas.
Throughout the history of Rome, the urban limits of the city were considered to be the area within the city walls. Originally, these consisted of the Servian Wall, which was built twelve years after the Gaulish sack of the city in 390 BC. This contained most of the Esquiline and Caelian hills, as well as the whole of the other five. Rome outgrew the Servian Wall, but no more walls were constructed until almost 700 years later, when, in 270 AD, Emperor Aurelian began building the Aurelian Walls. These were almost 19 kilometres (12 mi) long, and were still the walls the troops of the Kingdom of Italy had to breach to enter the city in 1870. The city's urban area is cut in two by its ring-road, the Grande Raccordo Anulare ("GRA"), finished in 1962, which circles the city centre at a distance of about 10 km (6 mi). Although when the ring was completed most part of the inhabited area lay inside it (one of the few exceptions was the former village of Ostia, which lies along the tyrrhenian coast), in the meantime quarters have been built which extend up to 20 km (12 mi) beyond it.
The comune covers an area roughly three times the total area within the Raccordo and is comparable in area to the entire provinces of Milan and Naples, and to an area six times the size of the territory of these cities. It also includes considerable areas of abandoned marsh land which is suitable neither for agriculture nor for urban development.
As a consequence, the density of the comune is not that high, its territory being divided between highly urbanised areas and areas designated as parks, nature reserves, and for agricultural use.
Its average annual temperature is above 20 °C (68 °F) during the day and 10 °C (50 °F) at night. In the coldest month – January, the average temperature is 12 °C (54 °F) during the day and 3 °C (37 °F) at night. In the warmest months – July and August, the average temperature is 30 °C (86 °F) during the day and 18 °C (64 °F) at night.
December, January and February are the coldest months, with average temperatures around 12.5 °C (54.5 °F) during the day and 3.6 °C (38.5 °F) at night.
|Source: ISTAT 2001|
At the time of the Emperor Augustus, Rome was the largest city in the world: with a population of about one million people (about the size of London in the early 19th century, when London was the largest city in the world).
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the city's population fell dramatically to less than 50,000 people, and continued to either stagnate or shrink until the Renaissance. When the Kingdom of Italy annexed Rome in 1870, the city had a population of about 200,000, which rapidly increased to 600,000 by the eve of World War I. The Fascist regime of Mussolini tried to block an excessive demographic rise of the city, but failed to prevent it from reaching one million people by early 1930s. After the Second World War, growth continued, helped by a post-war economic boom. A construction boom also created a large number of suburbs during the 1950s and 1960s.
In mid-2010, there were 2,754,440 residents in the city proper, while some 4.2 million people lived in the greater Rome area (which can be approximately identified with its administrative province, with a population density of about 800inhab./km2 stretching over more than 5,000 km²). Minors (children ages 18 and younger) totalled 17.00 percent of the population compared to pensioners who number 20.76 percent. This compares with the Italian average of 18.06 percent (minors) and 19.94 percent (pensioners). The average age of a Roman resident is 43 compared to the Italian average of 42. In the five years between 2002 and 2007, the population of Rome grew by 6.54 percent, while Italy as a whole grew by 3.56 percent. The current birth rate of Rome is 9.10 births per 1,000 inhabitants compared to the Italian average of 9.45 births.
According to the latest statistics conducted by ISTAT, approximately 9.5% of the population consists of non-Italians. About half of the immigrant population consists of those of various other European origins (chiefly Romanian, Polish, Ukrainian, and Albanian) numbering a combined total of 131,118 or 4.7 percent of the population. The remaining 4.8 percent are those with non-European origins, chiefly Filipinos (26,933), Bangladeshis (12,154), Peruvians (10,530), and Chinese (10,283).
The Esquilino rione, off Termini Railway Station, has evolved into a largely immigrant neighbourhood; it is now seen as Rome's Chinatown, but in fact immigrants from more than a hundred different countries crowd its busy streets and piazzas. A thriving commercial district, Esquilino boasts dozens of restaurants featuring every kind of international cuisine. There are innumerable wholesale clothes shops: of the 1,300 or so commercial premises operating in the district 800 are Chinese-owned, around 300 are run by immigrants from other countries around the world and some 200 are owned by Italians.
Hundreds of Romani gypsies live in illegal trailer camps on the city's outskirts. There is a growing population of homeless people in Rome, mostly not Italian and estimated at 7,000.
Much like the rest of Italy, Rome is predominantly Roman Catholic, and the city has been an important centre of religion and pilgrimage for centuries, the base of the ancient Roman Religion with the pontifex maximus and later the seat of the Vatican and the pope. Before the arrival of the Christians in Rome, the Religio Romana (literally, the "Roman Religion") was the major religion of the city in classical antiquity. The first gods held sacred by the Romans were Jupiter, the most high, and Mars, god of war, and father of Rome's twin founders, Romulus and Remus, according to tradition. Other gods and goddesses such as Vesta and Minerva were honoured. Rome was also the base of several mystery cults, such as Mithraism. Later, after St Peter and St Paul were martyred in the city, and the first Christians began to arrive, Rome became Christian, and the Old St. Peter's Basilica was constructed in 313 AD. Despite some interruptions (such as the Avignon papacy), Rome has for centuries been the home of the Roman Catholic Church and the Bishop of Rome, otherwise known as the pope.
Despite the fact that Rome is home to the Vatican City and St. Peter's Basilica, Rome's cathedral is the Basilica of St. John Lateran, located to the south-east of the city-centre. There are around 900 churches in Rome in total, aside from the cathedral itself, some others of note include: the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, the Basilica di San Clemente, San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane and the Church of the Gesu. There are also the ancient Catacombs of Rome underneath the city. Numerous highly important religious educational institutions are also in Rome, such as the Pontifical Lateran University, Pontifical Biblical Institute, Pontifical Gregorian University, and Pontifical Oriental Institute.
In recent years, there has been a significant growth in Rome's Muslim community, mainly due to immigration from North African and Middle Eastern countries into the city. As a consequence of this increase of the local practitioners of the Islamic faith, the comune promoted the building of the largest mosque in Europe, which was designed by architect Paolo Portoghesi and inaugurated on 21 June 1995. Since the end of the Roman Republic, Rome is also the center of an important Jewish community, which was once based in Trastevere, and later in the Roman Ghetto. There lies also the major synagogue in Rome, the Tempio Maggiore.
The territory of Vatican City is part of the Mons Vaticanus (Vatican Hill), and of the adjacent former Vatican Fields, where St. Peter's Basilica, the Apostolic Palace, the Sistine Chapel, and museums were built, along with various other buildings. The area was part of the Roman rione of Borgo until 1929. Being separated from the city on the west bank of the Tiber river, the area was an outcrop of the city that was protected by being included within the walls of Leo IV, later expanded by the current fortification walls of Paul III/Pius IV/Urban VIII.
When the Lateran Treaty of 1929 that gave the state its present form was being prepared, the boundaries of the proposed territory was influenced by the fact that much of it was all but enclosed by this loop. For some tracts of the frontier, there was no wall, but the line of certain buildings supplied part of the boundary, and for a small part of the frontier a modern wall was constructed.
The territory includes Saint Peter's Square, separated from the territory of Italy only by a white line along the limit of the square, where it touches Piazza Pio XII. St. Peter's Square is reached through the Via della Conciliazione, which runs from the Tiber River to St. Peter's. This grand approach was constructed by Benito Mussolini after the conclusion of the Lateran Treaty. According to the Lateran Treaty, certain properties of the Holy See that are located in Italian territory, most notably the Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo and the major basilicas, enjoy extraterritorial status similar to that of foreign embassies.
Rome's architecture over the centuries has greatly developed, especially from the Classical and Imperial Roman styles to modern Fascist architecture. Rome was for a period one of the world's main epicentres of classical architecture, developing new forms such as the arch, the dome and the vault. The Romanesque style in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries was also widely used in Roman architecture, and later the city became one of the main centres of Renaissance and Baroque architecture.
One of the symbols of Rome is the Colosseum (70–80 AD), the largest amphitheatre ever built in the Roman Empire. Originally capable of seating 60,000 spectators, it was used for gladiatorial combat. A list of important monuments and sites of ancient Rome includes the Roman Forum, the Domus Aurea, the Pantheon, Trajan's Column, Trajan's Market, the Catacombs, the Circus Maximus, the Baths of Caracalla, Castel Sant'Angelo, the Mausoleum of Augustus, the Ara Pacis, the Arch of Constantine, the Pyramid of Cestius, and the Bocca della Verità.
Often overlooked, Rome's medieval heritage is one of the largest in Italian cities. Basilicas dating from the Paleochristian age include Santa Maria Maggiore and San Paolo Fuori le Mura (the latter largely rebuilt in the 19th century), both housing precious 4th century AD mosaics. Later notable medieval mosaic and fresco art can be also found in the churches of Santa Maria in Trastevere, Santi Quattro Coronati, and Santa Prassede. Lay buildings include a number of towers, the largest being the Torre delle Milizie and the Torre dei Conti, both next the Roman Forum, and the huge staircase leading to the basilica of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli.
Renaissance and Baroque
Rome was a major world centre of the Renaissance, second only to Florence, and was profoundly affected by the movement. Among others, a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture in Rome is the Piazza del Campidoglio by Michelangelo. During this period, the great aristocratic families of Rome used to build opulent dwellings as the Palazzo del Quirinale (now seat of the President of the Italian Republic), the Palazzo Venezia, the Palazzo Farnese, the Palazzo Barberini, the Palazzo Chigi (now seat of the Italian Prime Minister), the Palazzo Spada, the Palazzo della Cancelleria, and the Villa Farnesina.
Many of the famous city's squares – some huge, majestic and often adorned with obelisks, some small and picturesque – got their present shape during the Renaissance and Baroque. The principal ones are Piazza Navona, Piazza di Spagna, Campo de' Fiori, Piazza Venezia, Piazza Farnese, Piazza della Rotonda and Piazza della Minerva. One of the most emblematic examples of Baroque art is the Fontana di Trevi by Nicola Salvi. Other notable 17th-century baroque palaces are the Palazzo Madama, now the seat of the Italian Senate and the Palazzo Montecitorio, now the seat of the Chamber of Deputies of Italy.
In 1870, Rome became the capital city of the new Kingdom of Italy. During this time, neoclassicism, a building style influenced by the architecture of antiquity, became a predominant influence in Roman architecture. During this period, many great palaces in neoclassical styles were built to host ministries, embassies, and other governing agencies. One of the best-known symbols of Roman neoclassicism is the Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II or "Altar of the Fatherland", where the Grave of the Unknown Soldier, that represents the 650,000 Italians that fell in World War I, is located.
Parks and gardens
Public parks and nature reserves cover a large area in Rome, and the city has one of the largest areas of green space among European capitals. The most notable part of this green space is represented by the large number of villas and landscaped gardens created by the Italian aristocracy. While many villas were destroyed during the building boom of the late 19th century, a great many remain. The most notable of these are Villa Borghese, Villa Ada, and Villa Doria Pamphili. Villa Doria Pamphili is west of the Gianicolo hill comprising some 1.8 square kilometres (0.7 sq mi). Also on the Gianicolo hill there is Villa Sciarra, with playgrounds for children and shaded walking areas. In the nearby area of Trastevere the Orto Botanico (Botanical Garden) is a cool and shady green space. The old Roman hippodrome (Circus Maximus) is another large green space but the main attraction is the ancient site of the chariot racing and it has few trees. Nearby is the lush Villa Celimontana, close to the gardens surrounding the Baths of Caracalla and Rose Garden (‘roseto comunale’). The Villa Borghese garden is the best known large green space in Rome, with famous art galleries among its shaded walks. It is close to the Spanish Steps that climb the slope to the Piazza Trinita dei Monti from the Piazza di Spagna,and Piazza del Popolo with its Augustinian Church built in the 13th century. Rome also has a number of regional parks of much more recent origin including the Pineto Regional Park and the Appian Way Regional Park. There are also nature reserves at Marcigliana and at Tenuta di Castelporziano.
Fountains and aqueducts
Rome is a city famous for its numerous fountains, built in all different styles, from Classical and Medieval, to Baroque and Neoclassical. The city has had fountains for more than two thousand years, and they have provided drinking water and decorated the piazzas of Rome. During the Roman Empire, in 98 AD, according to Sextus Julius Frontinus, the Roman consul who was named curator aquarum or guardian of the water of the city, Rome had nine aqueducts which fed 39 monumental fountains and 591 public basins, not counting the water supplied to the Imperial household, baths and owners of private villas. Each of the major fountains was connected to two different aqueducts, in case one was shut down for service.
During the 17th and 18th century the Roman popes reconstructed other ruined Roman acqueducts and built new display fountains to mark their termini, launching the golden age of the Roman fountain. The fountains of Rome, like the paintings of Rubens, were expressions of the new style of Baroque art. They were crowded with allegorical figures, and filled with emotion and movement. In these fountains, sculpture became the principal element, and the water was used simply to animate and decorate the sculptures. They, like baroque gardens, were "a visual representation of confidence and power".
Rome is well known for its statues but, in particular, the talking statues of Rome. These are usually ancient statues which have become popular soapboxes for political and social discussion, and places for people to (often satirically) voice their opinions. There are two main talking statues: the Pasquino and the Marforio, yet there are four other noted ones: il Babuino, Madama Lucrezia, il Facchino and Abbot Luigi. Most of these statues are ancient Roman or classical, and most of them also depict mythical gods, ancient people or legendary figures; il Pasquino represents Menelaus, Abbot Luigi is an unknown Roman magistrate, il Babuino is supposed to be Silenus, Marforio represents Oceanus, Madama Lucrezia is a bust of Isis, and il Facchino is the only non-Roman statue, created in 1580, and not representing anyone in particular. They are often, due to their status, covered with placards or graffiti expressing political ideas and points of view. Other statues in the city, which are not related to the talking statues, include those of the Ponte Sant'Angelo, or several monuments scattered across the city, such as that to Giordano Bruno in the Campo de'Fiori.
Obelisks and columns
The city contains eight ancient Egyptian and five ancient Roman obelisks, together with a number of more modern obelisks; there was also formerly (until 2005) an ancient Ethiopian obelisk in Rome. The city contains some of obelisks in piazzas, such as in Piazza Navona, St Peter's Square, Piazza Montecitorio, and Piazza del Popolo, and others in villas, thermae parks and gardens, such as in Villa Celimontana, the Baths of Diocletian, and the Pincian Hill. Moreover, the centre of Rome hosts also Trajan's and Antonine Column, two ancient Roman columns with spiral relief.
The city of Rome contains numerous famous bridges which cross the Tiber. Famous ones include the Ponte Cestio, the Ponte Milvio, the Ponte Nomentano, the Ponte Sant'Angelo, the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II, the Ponte Sisto and the Ponte dei Quattro Capi. Currently there are five ancient Roman bridges still remaining in the city. Most of the city's public bridges were built in Classical or Renaissance style, but also in Baroque, Neoclassical and Modern styles. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, the finest ancient bridge remaining in Rome is the Ponte Sant'Angelo, which was completed in 135 AD, and was decorated with 10 statues of the angels, designed by Bernini in 1688.
Rome has extensive amount of ancient catacombs, or underground burial places under or near the city, of which there are at least forty, some discovered only in recent decades. Though most famous for Christian burials, they include pagan and Jewish burials, either in separate catacombs or mixed together. The first large-scale catacombs were excavated from the 2nd century onwards. Originally they were carved through tuff, a soft volcanic rock, outside the boundaries of the city, because Roman law forbade burial places within city limits. Currently maintenance of the catacombs is in the hands of the Papacy which has invested in the Salesians of Don Bosco the supervision of the Catacombs of St. Callixtus on the outskirts of Rome.
Images for kids
Roman representation of Tiber as a god, Capitoline Hill in Rome.
Capitoline Wolf suckles the infant twins Romulus and Remus.
Crowning of Charlemagne in Old Saint Peter's Basilica, on 25 December 800
Castel Sant'Angelo, where Pope Alexander VI is locked.
Bombardment of Rome by Allied troops, 1943.
Tyrrhenian Sea, District of Ostia
Panorama of Rome from the dome of St. Peter's Basilica
The Palazzo del Quirinale, now seat of the President of the Italian Republic.
The San Paolo fuori le mura with the statue of Paul the Apostle, the patron.
Original relief from the Arch of Titus showing spoils from the siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of its famous Second Temple
FAO headquarters in Rome, Circo Massimo
Rome Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.