A carefully curated collection of interesting facts about Rome plus tips on where to learn about them in the city. Fun facts about Rome for kids and curious adults alike!
One of the things I love the most about Rome is how generous of stories, facts and learning opportunities the city is.
With a a history spanning almost 3000 years, almost every corner of the city holds a story to tell.
Growing up in Rome, I was lucky enough to learn many of them from several generations of locals and got so passionate about them I studied Roman history in college (I graduated in Rome) and still now take regular tours of the city with expert guides to keep learning about the city.
This is a collection of my favorite and most interesting facts about Rome and curiosities.
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Facts about ancient Rome
Rome has an exact date of birth, the 21st of April 753 BC. The date is still celebrated in the city every year: the Italian name for it is ‘Natale di Roma’
The legend says that Rome was founded by Romulus, one of two twins of divine descendant. Their mother, Rhea Silvia claimed their father was the God Mars. Later, history added additional divine elements to this story, connecting Rhea Silvia with Aeneas, son of Venus. This way, Rome is connected with two of the most powerful Gods of the Roman Pantheon, those presiding war and love.
Romulus and his twin brother Remus were said to have been abandoned and brought up by a she wolf. The wolf is still nowadays the symbol of Rome and you can see her statue in the capitol museums, on the Campidoglio hill and also on the football shirts of the Rome football team!
RELATED: a scavenger hunt for vestiges of ancient Rome is a great activity for kids in Rome. Find more ideas for children in our Rome family city guide and guide to 50 things to do in Rome with kids and teens
Rome knew several political systems and the first one was a monarchy.
The old kings of Rome were: Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Tullus Ostilius, Ancus Marcius, Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullius and Tarquinius Superbus. You can still see vestiges of this time in the Servian walls in several parts of Rome including Aventine and Capitol hill.
Rome has several sets of walls: the Servian walls, republican walls and much later ones, built by Emperor Aurelianus.
After its 7th king, Rome became a republic with a complex political system of honors and titles. Part of them are remembered in the acronym SPQR still easy to come across in Rome (especially on utilities). Its meaning is: Senatus PopulusQue Romanus (The Senate and people of Rome)
The main affairs of the Rome Republic were dealt with in the Roman forum, still now open to visitors
The roman forum should really be called roman fora (plural) as it is made of several forums from different times, including some from Republican times and some from the imperial times.
Across the road from the main Roman Forum lies the Forum of Trajan. This is said to be the first ‘shopping mall’ in history. This can now be visited and is an excellent activity also on a rainy day since part of it is covered (the main forum is all outdoors).
Emperor Trajan was functional to the impressive growth of the Roman Empire. The history of his campaigns and victories is engraved on the Trajan’s column, which is known as the first film in history (it is in nowadays Piazza Venezia).
One of the mot important figures in the history of Rome was Julius Caesar: you can visit an altar to his figure inside the roman forum
The place where Julius Caesar was murdered is in what is now called Largo di Torre Argentina, in Rome city center, and is now a refuge for cats!
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Octavianus Augusts is considered the first emperor of Rome. The Roman empire lasted until 476 AD when its western part fell under invasions (The Eastern part had a much longer life, coming to an end only after Constantinople was taken in 1453).
Ancient Rome sits at the center of what is now modern Rome. Its most famous monument, the Colosseum is now surrounded by cars and bus traffic!
The Colosseum is one of the most popular attractions in Rome and buying tickets in advance is paramount. Get them from the Colosseum directly for the best price or, if sold out, from a provider offering skip the line entrance such as this one
Fun facts about Rome for kids: geography
Rome is built on 7 hills. You can still catch exquisite views from some of the them such as Aventino and Quirinale.
Rome hills are: Campidoglio, Palatino, Esquilino, Aventino. Quirinale, Viminale, Celio
Two of the most beautiful views over Rome are from hills not part of the original 7: Janiculum and Monte Mario.
The most impressive view over Rome of all is from the top of St Peter’s dome
Rome is crossed by the river Tiber that, here, has a small island, Isola Tiberina which sometimes in summer is the stage of evening events and festivals
Some of the streets in Rome city center are named after the professions of their inhabitants in the Middle Ages. Via dei cestari for instance had the basket weavers (basket in Italian is cesto).
An exception to this seems to be via dei sediari (chair people) which seems to make reference to those who carried the Papal Chair.This is a fun fact about Rome I learn from a taxi driver and one of my favorite of all!
Rome was consistently inhabited during medieval times and vestiges of these different times are visible in the several layers of buildings the city is made of. The best places to see this is Crypta Balbi and the Basilica di San Clemente
Rome curiosities for kids and adults
Rome has over 900 churches, some of them hosting famous masterpieces by artists such as Caravaggio (San Luigi dei Francesi) and Ghirlandaio
The Trevi fountains easily collect over 1 million each year in coins thrown in by tourists. These coins get collected and go to charity and are used to take care of families in need
Rome has over 280 fountains: this is the largest number of public fountains in the world. The small fountains with drinkable water are called nasoni ‘big noses’ because of they peculiar shape resembling that of a face with a long nose
The water from Rome’s nasoni is free and delicious
While Italy was formed in 1861, Rome became its capital only in 1970. The Bersaglieri (Italian army) entered the city from porta Pia, which you can still see today (Via Nomentana / Piazza di Porta Pia)
Concrete was used extensively in ancient Rome and was used to build ancient famous buildings such as the pantheon
The Pantheon dome is one of the biggest in the world and the biggest of its kind. It has a hole in its center called Oculos that yes, leaves water pour in when it is raining
The Romans were incredible engineers and you can see signs of this in the incredible draining system under the Pantheon and the Colosseum and in the aqueducts on Via Appia
The saying ‘all roads lead to Rome’ is true. In ancient times, all the main roads departed from Rome and therefore connected anywhere with it. Via Appia still now connect Rome with Brindisi and Via Aurelia is still now a main artery connecting Rome to France, just to name a couple of them.
There is a law in Rome that protects cats. This explain why in some locations such as Rome’s pyramid and nearby protestant cemetery there are thriving colonies.
As well as cats, Rome has peculiar birds, the storni. The create elaborate geometries in Rome sky that look like a dance: look up at sundown for an incredible show!
Rome went thought a period when Egyptian art was very fashionable. This is why you see in the city many Egyptian obelisks and even a pyramid!
Rome receives over 15 million tourists each year. 2017 saw over 21 million tourists visiting and August 2018 alone saw over 1 million arrivals
Rome has a city within the city and a state within the state: the Vatican is inside Rome and fully surrounded by the city
There is no border control between the Vatican and Rome but they are technically two member states with different laws, currency (the Vatican Euro are different from Italian ones) and postal system
The Sistine chapel inside the Vatican museums has the same dimension as the temple of Salomon in Jerusalem
The Vatican basilica and museum applies a strict dress code, which you can learn here
Rome now has 2.8 million inhabitants and 1.7 million cars
There are 2 football teams in Rome, AS Rome and SS Lazio and they are arch rivals. The both play in the Olympic Stadium, the biggest stadium in Rome
Rome’s university is the biggest in Europe and recently nominated one of the best for classical studies
Rome’s famous cobbles are called sanpietrini (Little Saint Peters). This name comes form the place where they were first used, Piazza San Pietro (St Peter’s square)
There is nothing Spanish about the Spanish steps. In fact, they were built by Italian architects Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi with French money. Their name seems to come from the fact that the Spanish embassy used to be beside them
While the most famous park in Rome is Villa Borghese, the biggest is Villa Doria Pamphili which offers unbelievable views over St Peter’s dome
While the Roman Colosseum always steals the show, there is also a modern, square one: you usually see it from the taxi when coming into the city from Rome Fiumicino airport.
Rome has interesting fascist architecture and one of the best places to see it is the Stadio dei Marmi, near the Olympic stadium.
Rome has a very peculiar area with architecture that is different from anywhere else in the city and slightly reminiscent of Gaudi’s work: quartiere Coppede.
Rome has pretty impressive yet little known street art: two great aces to discover it are Ostiense and tor Marancia
There is a secret passage between San Pietro and Castel Sant’Angelo that the Popes used to find safety should the basilica be under attack. The passage is called Passetto and is now open to the public.
Castel St Angelo was the mausoleum of emperor Hadrian, subsequently transformed in the defense structure we see now.
One of Romes’ most famous squares, piazza Navona, used to be a stadium. You can still guess its original shape while standing in it.
Rome has some talking statues, the most famous of which is Pasquino, who is beside Piazza Navona. These statues were used to share anonymous complaints again the Papal regime at a time when there was no freedom of speech.
Giordano Bruno died on the stake in Campo de’ Fiori, one of Rome’s most atmospheric squares. His statues still dominates the piazza which nowadays is a popular drinking spot thanks to its many cafe terraces.
Rome has food specialties that are specific to the city: among the most famous there are carbonara (now known around the world), fried artichokes and puntarelle (a type of salad)
Rome has incredibly delicious jewish cuisine: the best plcce tolearn abuot the important jewish community of Rome, their history and food is the Rome ghetto
In Rome, looking though a keyhole is a holy activity: if you go to the top of the Aventine and spy through the keywhole, you get a wonderful view of St Peter’s!
I hope you enjoyed this collection of fun facts about Rome for kids! Safe travels!