10 Best Museums in Rome

Martina Rosado
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Museum of Roman Civilization

National Etruscan Museum

In the Roman Forum you will find a large arena where arena matches, which were once the highlight of Roman festivals, took place. In the arena, which is still standing, in addition to the arena you will find a large arch, the Rostra, which was used as a podium on the Rostrum (pictured), a stone platform, then covered with wood during the imperial era. In front of the Rostra, the Delicates, the chief financial officer of the city, sitting before a large group of senior Roman senators, would read out decrees.

Next to the Rostra, also in the Roman forum, you will find a building and a museum, the Borghese Gallery, which houses what most people consider the most important collection of ancient art in existence: the Borghese Collection.

In the courtyard of the museum, at No. 8, you will find the famous sculpture of Discobolus, the Discus thrower, which was originally believed to have been discovered in Florence. While this may have been a popular story at one time, it seems now that the sculpture “only” exists in copies made by scribe Domenico Pollaiolo.

MAXXI Museum

Just outside the city. They are working on a major expansion to increase the exhibits. I love how they use many different types of architecture to display their artwork.

Villa Farnesina

The Villa Farnesina (villa meaning "country house" in Italian and Farnesina possibly in reference to either Flemish or Germanic origins, or the nickname of a German prince present at the founding) “ is an 18th century villa in Rome. The main building is considered an architectural masterpiece by both architects and visitors, and houses a Venetian All’or affair Museum

The villa is currently owned by the Instituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato (Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato Institute and Mint). The institute is the main press and mint in Italy and the museum includes a considerable collection of old coins and medals with a focus on Egyptian antiquities.

The villa was built in the 1750s by Cardinal Giuseppe Vincenzo Grimaldi for himself and his mistress La Nofri. The two shared a love for art and Roman antiquities. The villa’s grandeur attracted many artists and visitors to the city.

As the institution grew, the villa served as a home for the institute’s board and now is a research center and museum. It is now managed by the Istituto Centrale per il Libro e per l…Estate (Central Institute for the Book and for the Summer).

Palazzo Doria Pamphilj

The Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, or the “Doria Pamphilj”, is an ancient palace facing onto the Roman Forum, in a very populated and historical area of Rome. Students of architecture, history, and design may want to stop by to see the designs and interesting foundries of the ancient world.

Palazzo Doria Pamphilj is a former aristocratic family residence, originally designed by Giovanni Battista Trevano. It is a Baroque style private mansion in Rome, built between 1644 and 1650. It is currently a museum, and now has one of the largest and most valuable art galleries in the world.

This collection includes some of the greatest works of Renaissance and Baroque, including frescoes by Andrea Sacchi, the beautiful collection of Roman statues by Gian Lorenzo Bernini as well as some Cerasi, and drawings, cartoons, and frescoes by artists including Raphael, Dalì, Giambologna, Fra Carnevale, and Pietro da Cortona.

National Roman Museum

Marcello's altarpiece (1464-69) from the cloister of Santa Maria dei Servi in Rome: This masterpiece depicts the Madonna with the infant Jesus in Glory, surrounded by four angels.

The third room, the Sala Borghese (Saxa Rubra) frescoes (1725-30) by Pinturicchio (da Cortona) from the Benedictine church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli: These frescoes depict the life of Saint Augustine, which is the main altarpiece of the basilica built by Pope Innocent IV, the main church of the Aracoeli parish.

The chapel of the Crucifix (1446-66), by Neroccio di Bartolomeo, from Santa Maria in Aracoeli: The purpose of this hall corresponds to the request made by Bonifacio Celso, nephew of Leone X, and which saw the completion of this chapel by the artist, led by the art family of the Pietrasanta monks, he was responsible for the original project and supervision of the work.

Castel Sant'Angelo

The Castel Sant'Angelo was commissioned by Pope Sixtus V in 1590. His motto was “In hoc signo vinces”, or “In this sign, you will conquer”. This probably refers to the Christian rock of Giordano Bruno, who had been imprisoned in this tower.

Now, it houses a museum of Christian antiquities, featuring a small part of the Neronian floors, recently discovered under Piazza Navona.

The museum was classified as a minor art gallery by the 1996 Law for the Conservation and Restoration of the Architectural Heritage. It houses works of art by Greek, Roman and Etruscan artists, Byzantine works, frescoes and mosaics from churches of Rome. Among them is the is the famous Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, with the four symbols of the Evangelists and the Annunciation of Saint Anne, Segno di Tauro, a unique bull's head ring of the Roman Emperors, and the large Crucifixion with Descent from the Cross.

Capitoline Museums

The Capitoline Museums are among the oldest museums in the world, and their collections include classical Greek and Etruscan sculptures. You will also find an Egyptian collection, ancient Flemish tapestries, and a few pieces of Roman sculpture.

The museums are housed in the Flavian Amphitheater, built by Domitian. On view are the Ara Pacis (Altar to Peace), Frieze of Gallic Warriors found in the Colosseum, and a whole menagerie of ancient Roman sarcophagi in the new Capitoline Museum.

Befitting the ancient Roman muse of poetry, there are also stanzas of poetry carved by Quintus Marcius as well as busts of poets and sculptural fragments. Meanwhile, the bust of the Roman poet Horace was found in the ruins of Horace’s house and is still found today in the Palazzo Nuovo.

The main floor of the Palazzo Nuovo houses paintings by the Greek artist Zeuxis, who lived in the fourth century B.C. The halls with the Altare della Patria and the Il Campidoglio were used for the celebrating of ancient games.

The Capitoline museums, as well as the information you can find there, make a wonderful addition to anyone’s visit to Rome.

Galleria Borghese

The Galleria Borghese or the “Beautiful Gallery,” as it was also called, was built in the 1700s by Cardinal Scipione Borghese. The Borghese family were famous for their private art collections.

The gallery’s collection is composed of paintings produced by prominent artists of the time, including Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Guido Reni, Bernini, and Van Dyck. When Cardinal Scipione Borghese died in 1766, his widow, Maria Adelaide, decided to open the gallery as a public museum.

The museum in the 19th century hosted European writers and artists as they visited Rome, such as Victor Hugo, who was surrounded by admirers 100 years after he walked the streets of the city. The interiors of Galleria Borghese are among the best preserved and most spectacular examples of 17th century Rome. The collection is housed in the last and most beautiful of Scipione Borghese’s buildings …. With a floor area of approximately 6,000 square meters, the gallery contains one of the richest and most eclectic art collections in Rome.

Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums are the museums of the Vatican City, located within Vatican Hill. They contain works from classical antiquity, and also from a later period. Admission is free, and they are world-renowned and remained as such when they were looted during the conclave in the Sistine Chapel. They are among the most visited art museums in the world, and are of great importance historically and artistically, as well as to the Catholic Church. The collections include arms, sculptures, tapestries, and paintings.

The Apostolic Palace is connected with the museums and it is the main entrance. Next to St. Peter’s Basilica, it provides the visitor with great frescoes, splendid halls and huge burial chambers. The museums in the Vatican are:

  • The Vatican Museums (Giovanni Agnesi collection)
  • Bibliotheca ApostolicaVatican Library

Old St. Peter’s Basilica

Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel, alternatively known as the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican Palace, is located in the Apostolic Palace and is famous for its architecture and its contents. It received its name from Pope Sixtus IV and was built in approximately A.D. 1475–80.