Rome is a city that cannot be described in few words. With more than 2,500 years of history, hundreds of thousands of art works, monuments, and beautiful views, the aptly named Eternal City is interwoven with unparalleled history, beauty and drama. Every monument, palazzo, park and piazza are testament to the many rises and falls of Rome, from its early Republican birth and Imperial age through to its 21st century incarnation. Likened to a gigantic open-air museum, Rome is living history, and every year the city hosts millions of visitors -- tourists, scholars and pilgrims -- from all over the world. It is chaotic, friendly, aggressive and relaxed; in essence a charming contradiction that wins the hearts of its visitors, who always return.
Rome is famously noted as being built on seven hills -- the Quirinale, Viminale, Esquilino, Celio, Aventine, Capitoline, and Palatine. The birth of Rome starts on the Palatine, a small shepherding settlement where, as tradition says, Romulus lived when he founded the city. Historically, the Palatine was the "it" hill where Rome's celebrated leaders lived from the kings of 7th to 5th centuries, to the Republican senators and patricians and the Imperial Age's emperors. The Capitoline hill represents Rome itself. It was the center of the Empire, home to the most important temples (which served for religious as well as political significance) from the 7th century BC through Rome's changing times. Today, the Capitoline hill is centered by the Michelangelo-designed Piazza del Campidoglio, with the statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius on horseback at the very center. Lining the piazza are the Capitoline Museums, Italy's most precious sculpture collection and Rome's city hall.
The highest of Rome's seven hills, the Quirinale, is home to Palazzo del Quirinale, a former papal and monarchy residence and now the palace of Italy's reigning president. Noteworthy is the open piazza, with its looming obelisk and equestrian statues. Opposite the Palazzo is the Scuderie, formerly stables and now a gorgeous temporary exposition space for international exhibitions. The base of the Quirinale was partially dismantled by Emperor Trajan at the beginning of the 2nd century. What remains are the markets of Trajan and Trajan's column, marking the height of the hill. The Viminale stands next to Quirinale and is smaller in size. The hill is bisected by Via Nazionale, a shopping street where the early 20th century Palazzo delle Esposizioni building resides, and leads upward to the majestic Piazza della Repubblica, a favorite piazza for its double-sided arcade of columns and playful Naiad fountain. Just behind the piazza is Rome's principal railway station, Stazione Termini. Roman poets Virgil and Horace lived on the Esquiline hill, now a very busy neighborhood which encompasses the popular Monti district. The Esquiline's terrain includes three peaks, one of which is Monte Oppio, where Nero built his infamous Domus Aurea. Below the Esquiline and behind the Colosseum is the Celio, Rome's greenest and most charming hill where the lovely Villa Celimontana park is located. The Aventine, seen from the peak of the Palatine, past the Circus Maximus, is a quiet, residential neighborhood, with remains of Rome's original 3rd century wall.
Rome has expanded these seven hills, and in a city full of hundreds of rooftops and domes like San Pietro (St. Peter's Basilica), some of the most beautiful panoramas can be seen from the hills of Montemario, the Pincio and the Janiculum.
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