Italy TravelThree Lesser-Known Architectural Sites in Rome

Three Lesser-Known Architectural Sites in Rome
Published on Monday, October 14, 2019 by

The beauty of Rome is that the city’s vast collection of art and architecture means there’s always something different and unexpected to see beyond the usual tourist haunts. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler to Rome looking to discover new sites or a first-time visitor seeking to escape the crowds, on your next trip to Rome, visit these lesser-known architectural gems:

Ara Pacis

This altar that hosted animal sacrifices is, somewhat ironically, dedicated to Pax, the Roman god of peace. Made entirely of marble with intricate and elaborate carvings on the outside, the Ara Pacis dates back to the 9th century B.C. The Roman Senate commissioned it to commemorate Emperor Augustus’ return to Rome; the emperor used its carved scenes to convey his vision of a prosperous Rome as well as his interpretation of Roman religion. (Lungotevere in Augusta; 39-06-0608;

Basilica of St. Paul

The Basilica of St. Paul is one of four papal basilicas in Rome, and is also known as St. Paul Outside the Walls for its location outside the ancient city center in the San Paolo neighborhood. Built in the 4th century A.D. on top of St. Paul’s burial site, the basilica has a golden mosaic façade, as well as more gold mosaics and marble columns inside. The atrium holds a statue of St. Paul, and inside the cathedral are portraits of all of the popes. (Piazzale San Paolo, 1; 39-06698-80800;

Palazzo Spada

The star of Palazzo Spada is Borromini’s 28-foot-long gallery of sculpted columns: The artist employed forced perspective, making the gallery appear longer and the columns larger than they actually are. Besides this optical illusion, Palazzo Spada houses several paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries, including works by Titian, Rubens and Caravaggio. The façade is also impressive, in a post-Renaissance Mannerist style featuring bas-relief sculptures of fruit, flowers and figures. (Piazza Capodiferro, 13; 39-06-6874896;

By Kathy McCabe

Photo: “IMG_8694” by jeaneeem is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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