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What did Ancient Rome look like?

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What did Ancient Rome look like? 🤔

What kind of city Raphael walked into in the 1500s? And what did it look like to Bernini, 100 years later?

Sometimes it takes a lot of imagination to picture in our mind what the ruins looked like originally. They might look just like a bunch of stones.. 

That’s why I LOOOVE reconstructions! 😍 They make me dream! (And I know you love them too!)

So you can imagine what a sensation it was when I entered this incredible cinema. 🤩

what did ancient rome look like
The Pantheon’s dome was visible over the skyline of Ancient Rome

Are you into Ancient Rome? Try our live-streamed tours of the Colosseum and Roman Forum+Palatine hill!

A special cinema showing what Rome looked like through the centuries

This place is called “Welcome to Rome” and it is located between Campo de’ Fiori and Piazza Navona, so in the historical center of Rome

detailed map of Rome today
As you enter, you’ll find this incredibly detailed map of Rome today. Have fun finding all the places you know in the city!

Inside you will discover what ancient Rome looked like, through an immersive cinema and four different reconstructions. As you enter the site, they give you an audio guide which will synchronize as you enter the different rooms.

I’d suggest you to start with the four reconstructions, each of them in a separate room:

Imperial Forums

Here you will have a clear picture of how the modern city lays on top of the ancient one! With projections and 3d models you will see the extension of the Forums (the downtown squares of Ancient Rome) against the modern street via dei Fori Imperiali

what did ancient rome look like
The imperial Forums. The reconstructions are shown on top of the modern city

Walk back in time with us, in our super-fun Virtual Walk through Ancient Rome ruins!

Castel Sant’Angelo

This model shows how this building became a castle through the centuries. In fact Castel Sant’Angelo was originally a mausoleum built by the emperor Hadrian for himself and his family. Later on it became a fortress where the Popes took shelter in dangerous situations.

what did castel sant'angelo looked like
Castel Sant’Angelo used to be the Mausoleum of the emperor Hadrian. This is what it looked like in Ancient Rome

Forum of Augustus

When today you look at the Forum of Augustus, you may not imagine how grandiose this ancient Roman complex was. The reconstruction will show you the majestic temple of Venus, the halls on the sides and the sturdy fireproof precinct wall behind all of this, which still survives today

what did the forum of augustus look like
Reconstruction of the Temple of Mars Ultor (Mars the Avenger) in the Forum of Augustus

Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican

Everyone knows the basilica of St Peter. But how many do know that the original basilica was another one? Here you will find out how a very bold Pope, Julius II, decided to destroy a 1000-year-old basilica built by Constantine in ancient Rome, to build a brand new one. Sounds crazy to us, but I imagine Julius II felt quite confident by having Raphael and Michelangelo next to him 😉

what did ancient rome look like
This is what the original basilica of Saint Peter (built in the 4th century) used to look like! It was then replaced by the basilica that we know today, which was built in the 1500s and completed in the 1600s

The immersive cinema

what did ancient rome look like
The four screens make this cinema super immersive!

After enjoying the reconstructions, you will enter a special cinema. This cinema has four screens (one in front of you, two on the sides and one below). All of these screens together make the experience super immersive and tri-dimensional! 🤯

The show lasts 30 minutes and it is an incredible experience. A voice will guide you through over 2700 years of history of Rome, in a super easy and simple way.

what did ancient rome look like
The dome of the Pantheon was visible over the skyline of Ancient Rome

The history of Rome in (very) brief

The story of Rome starts millions of years ago, when the Italian peninsula was under water and the limestone started to accumulate, forming the travertine stone. Which is the stone the Roman used to build the Colosseum, and pretty much everything in the city! 😅

Then the storytelling continues through Rome starting as a huts village, to become an empire stretching over three continents.

what did ancient rome look like
Aerial view over the Stadium of Domitian, which is Piazza Navona today

The show will also cover what Rome looked like in the middle ages, after the fall of the Roman empire. You will be shocked to find out that the city shrank from over 1 million inhabitants (at its highest peak, 2nd century AD) down to only 30000 inhabitants! The city almost disappeared!

Then gradually the Popes took control of the city and started shaping the way Rome looks like today. They built churches, squares, and fountains. All the major landmarks (excluding the ancient ruins) that tourists come to visit still today!

It is a great summary for both those who know Rome very well and those who know nothing about it.

I loved this experience and recommend it to anyone, adults and kids (schools bring their students here too) either at the start of at the end of your Roman holiday. 😊

what did ancient rome look like
View over the Forums. The map below always points out which area of Rome is shown on the top screens

Some useful info

“Welcome to Rome” is located Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, in between Campo de’ Fiori and Piazza Navona. Therefore very handy while you visit the historical center of the city. 

Tickets can be purchased on-site. For all the information refer to their website: https://welcometo-rome.it/

I hope you’ll enjoy the visit to this special cinema. And if you go, let me know your thoughts about it! 😊

If you like this article, you can Buy Me a Coffee as a thanks! ☕️😊 https://www.buymeacoffee.com/livevirtualguid

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Written by Federica

Creative director of Live Virtual Guide. Her favorite things are gelato, pizza and the hidden gems of Rome.
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