History and culture blend together when it comes to art in Rome. The eternal city is famous for the abundance of art museums with famous pieces such as my favorite, the Mosè di Michelangelo, and the grandeur architecture throughout the city.
With art on every corner in Rome, there are memorable works of art by renowned artists such as Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Michelangelo Buonarroti in spectacular museums like the Vatican Museums. Many art enthusiasts visit to explore the iconic museums and the inspiring architecture as well as the timeless masterpieces that have left such a significant mark in the world of art.
Some of my favorite pieces can be found in museums and galleries around the city. Keep reading to discover my favorite works and where you can find them.
Rome, the Eternal City
Art plays a significant role in highlighting the history of Rome. Around the city, there is art in various forms such as sculptures and frescoes. Roman art reflects the city’s culture and values, conveying the ideals of beauty and power and how they played a significant role in ancient Roman society. The magnificent pieces and sculptures are a window into the past and a reflection of the culture of the city’s identity.
Ancient Roman Art: 10 Memorable Works
Rome has been a muse for countless artists throughout the ages. The city holds a remarkable collection of art that reflects Italy’s rich history. These are ten magnificent pieces that encapsulate the diverse artistic heritage throughout the city of Rome.
1. Mosè di Michelangelo
The Mosè di Michelangelo, one of Michelangelo’s most remarkable sculptures, was created between 1513 and 1515. You can find it in the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli in Rome, Italy. Originally, it was commissioned for the tomb of Pope Julius II, but it ended up being placed in this church. To see the Mosè di Michelangelo, which is one of the most famous pieces of art in Rome, you can visit the Church of San Pietro.
2. Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius
The Equestrian State of Marcus Aurelius is a remarkable work of art from ancient Rome. The exact identity of who created the statue remains unknown, but it is believed to be an ancient Roman sculpture. It is likely that it was created around 175 AD, during the reign of Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. You can find the bronze statue depicting Aurelius on horseback in the Capitoline Museum. You can visit this museum and learn more about the history of the Roman Empire during your visit to Rome.
3. Boxer at Rest
Also known as the Boxer of Quirinal, the Boxer at Rest is an ancient Greek sculpture thought to be created by Aoikkinius of Athens, who was a Greek artist from the Hellenistic period. The Boxer of Quirinal dates back to the Hellenistic period of ancient Greece, in approximately 330-50 BC. You can find the Greek Statue in Rome, at the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme. You can find it by visiting this museum, which is a part of the National Roman Museum.
4. Apollo and Daphne
Between 1622 and 1625, Gian Lorenzo Bernini created this work of art in Rome that depicts the mythological story of Apollo and Daphne. Today, Apollo and Daphne is housed in the Borghese Gallery, surrounded by many other works of art by Bernini. You can view Apollo and Daphne by visiting this gallery in Rome, but be sure to check ticket availability as it is a very popular attraction for art enthusiasts.
5. La Pietà
One of the most famous sculptures by Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo Buonarroti, La Pietà was completed in 1499 when Michelangelo was just 24 years old. It can be found in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Rome, Italy. The Basilica is open to the public and there is no entrance fee, but the line to enter may be quite long.
6. Statua Colossale di Costantino I
Also known as the Colossal Statue of Constantine I, the Statua Colossale di Constantino I was created in the workshop of the Roman sculptor Apollodorus of Damascus, but the exact creator is unknown. It was likely created during the time of Constantine’s reign, and is believed to have been completed between 312 and 315 AD. You can find this statue in the Capitoline Museum in Rome, which can be found on Capitoline Hill.
7. Sarcophagus of the Spouses
The Sarcophagus of the Spouses is a famous Etruscan funerary artifact, reflecting the style of the Etruscans, an ancient Italian civilization. The creator of this is unknown, but it is ancient Etruscan work dating back to the 6th century BC. It is housed in the National Etruscan Museum, which is dedicated to artifacts and artwork from the Etruscan civilization.
8. Tomb of Pope Julius II
The Tomb of Pope Julius II was designed by Italian sculptor Michelangelo Buonarroti. He began in 1505 but with several modifications and delays was not completed until 1545. It is located in the Basilica of San Pietro in Vincoli. When it comes to art in Rome, the tomb is a very significant site for art and history enthusiasts.
9. Capitoline Brutus
Capitoline Brutus is a famous sculpture from ancient Rome that represents Lucius Junius Brutus, a legendary figure in the Roman Republic. The artist is unknown, but it is thought that an ancient Roman artist created it in the 1st century BC. Like many works of art in Rome, it can be found at the Capitoline Museum.
10. Marcus Aurelius Column
The Marcus Aurelius Column, an ancient Roman monument, was constructed by an unknown artist to celebrate the achievements of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius and his co-emperor Lucius Verus. The column was built between the years of 176 and 193 AD, although it symbolizes the earlier reigns of the emperors. It is located in the Piazza Colonna, a public square in Rome, Italy which is easily accessible by foot. It is known for its historical significance as a testament to the military accomplishments of Aurelius and Verus.
Places and Museums Where to See the Best Artistic Works in Rome
When strolling the streets of Rome, you will be in awe by the amount of art you see around every corner. It truly is the city of art for a reason with grandeur architecture and stunning sculptures scattered throughout the city. Below are a few of my favorite places to visit when I want to see some of the best artistic works in Rome.
The beautiful public square of Piazza Navona was designed by Gian Lorenenzo Bernini. Many famous works of art can be found here including the Fountain of the Four Rivers by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Moor Fountain which was also designed by Bernini, the Fountain of Neptune, and the beautiful church Sant’Agnese in Agone designed by Francesco Borromini and Girolamo Rainaldi. With the multiple artistic and architectural creations located in Piazza Navona, this is a popular destination for tourists and art enthusiasts.
Vatican City is an independent city-state surrounded by Rome. It is not only known for being the smallest country in the world, but also for the remarkable works of art you can find here. One of the largest and most renowned churches in the world, St. Peter’s Basilica, can be found in Vatican City. Inside, you can find numerous sculptures and works of art. Also in Vatican City, you can find various works of art in Rome by visiting the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums, Raphael Rooms, St. Peter’s Square, and Apostolic Palace, which is the official residence of the Pope.
The Colosseum, located in the city center of Rome, is one of the most iconic ancient Roman structures in the world. The Colosseum is a masterpiece of Roman engineering and architecture. Commissioned by the Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty in 70-72 AD, it was completed in 80 AD by his son Titus. It is known for its historical significance as an arena for gladiatorial contests and various public events.
In the historical center of Rome, the Pantheon can be found in Piazza della Rotonda. The Pantheon was constructed by Roman Emperor Hadrian between 118 and 128 AD. It is known for the large, open dome called the Oculus and the remarkable interior, which has an intricate design and stunning architectural features. The Pantheon is the final resting place for several notable individuals, and you can find the Tomb of Raphael and the tombs of two Italian kings, Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I.
The most famous fountain in the world, where wishes are made and dreams come true amidst the enchanting beauty of art in Rome
The Trevi Fountain is one of the most notable works of art in Rome. with Baroque design, it was designed by architect Nicola Salvi and completed by Pietro Bracci in the 18th century. The grandeur and beauty of the fountain has made it a very popular tourist attraction, and one of the most famous traditions is to toss a coin over your left shoulder into the fountain.
Known for its extensive gardens, walking paths, and cultural attractions, Villa Borghese is a large public park in Rome. The villa and its gardens were created by the architect Flaminio Ponzio in the early 17th century. Villa Borghese has the renowned art museum the Borghese Gallery, which has many masterpieces by artists including Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Caravaggio. Combining art and nature, the park is beautifully landscaped with gardens, fountains, ponds, and a lake.
The Vatican Museums are located within Vatican City and are one of the most renowned art museums in the world holding some of the most magnificent art in Rome. They have an extensive collection of art and historical artifacts from Italian history. The Vatican Museums were not created by one single person, but were developed by multiple popes and curators as they have evolved over the years. One of the most famous attractions is the Sistine Chapel which has works of art by Michelangelo including The Creation of Adam and The Last Judgment.
On the banks of the Tiber River in the Trastevere neighborhood in Rome, Villa Farnesina was designed by architect Baldassare Peruzze in the early 16th century. It was commissioned by a wealthy banker, Agostino Chigo, and construction lasted from 1506 to 1511. Villa Farnesina has been preserved as a museum to view the exceptional frescoes and decorations, created by prominent artists including Raphael, Sebastino del Piombo and Peruzzi. The architecture blends with the surrounding gardens and is now considered a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture.
Frequently Asked Questions about Art in Rome
Whether you’re a seasoned art enthusiast or you are just starting to explore the works of art in Rome before your Italian vacation, you likely still have questions about the eternal city’s artistic wonders. Keep reading to discover answers to all of your questions about Roman art.
What is Rome known for in art?
Rome is famous for its rich artistic heritage. There are many incredible classical sculptures that tell stories within them. During the Renaissance, artists like Michelangelo, Raphael, and da Vinci created iconic works that made Rome a center of artistic innovation. Rome is also famous for Baroque art, such as works by Bernini including The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. Additionally, Rome is known for the legendary architecture with structures like the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and St. Peter’s Basilica. Over centuries, Rome has become a city that has made a profound impact in the art world.
What major art is in Rome?
Rome is home to a number of major works of art. Some of the most notable works of art in Rome include the Vatican Museums which hold an extensive collection of art and historical artifacts, the Trevi Fountain, Galleria Borghese, and the Capitoline Museums. While these are some of the most famous pieces, you will find works of art and pieces of history all over the city.
What is unique about Roman art?
Roman art is very distinct and unique for several reasons including the integration of various styles incorporated from Greek, Etruscan, and other cultures that have been blended into the stunning Roman style. Romans are famous for creating lifelike portraits and attention to detail. Roman architecture is known for the elaborate use of arches, vaults, and domes when creating intricate structures such as the Colosseum.
Is Rome the city of art?
Rome is often referred to as the “Eternal City” as well as the city of art. Rome has this reputation thanks to being the home of some of the world’s most famous pieces of classical art and architectural structures. Many cities around the world have made significant contributions to the art world, but Rome’s unique combination of history and classical art have earned it the title of the city of art and made it known for being a “living museum”.
Where is famous art in Rome?
As the “living museum”, art is everywhere in Rome. Undoubtedly, the most famous art museum in Rome is the Vatican Museums. Other renowned places to find famous works of art in Rome are St. Peter’s Basilica, the Colosseum, Galleria Borghese, Capitoline, Museums, the Trevi Fountain, and the Pantheon.