5 Amazing Ancient Ruins in Rome (That Aren’t the Colosseum)

One of the Ancient Ruins in Rome

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Rome is full of ruins. You practically can’t turn a corner without seeing an ancient temple or statue or column. Obviously the Colosseum is the most popular site to visit, but don’t stop there! Here are the best ancient ruins in Rome that AREN’T the Colosseum!

Want to go underground to a 1st century Roman street? How about walking through the ruins of an ancient palace? Here are the best ruins to add to your Rome itinerary.

Pro Tip: Save money visit Rome’s museums and ancient sites with the Go City Pass. You can get the Explorer Pass and choose how many of the included attraction you want to see. But be sure to check the prices of your specific activities to make sure it’s the right deal for you!

Basilica San Clemente

The Basilica San Clemente is such a fantastic attraction in Rome that I think is completely underrated! A lot of people don’t know about it, but it was one of our favorite places we went in Rome. And anytime I know someone going to Rome, I always talk them into visiting this gem.

Within walking distance of the Colosseum, the Basilica San Clemente is a modern Basilica with an interesting history that you can literally descend into.

In the late 1800s, the Prior of the church began excavating beneath it and uncovered a 4th century basilica. Further excavations revealed a section of 1st Century Rome that had been destroyed in the fire of Nero in 64 A.D. At this level you can find an altar of Mithras, an alleyway, and what is thought to be an apartment room and school room.

The thing that is so amazing about San Clemente is that you can see these layers of history and the way Rome has been built on top of itself over and over again. It is such a unique experience to be able to descend into the different levels of Roman history and walk around in them.

Tips Visiting Basilica San Clemente

The Basilica San Clemente is location at Via Labicana 95, just a few blocks east of the Colosseum.

The San Clemente Basilica is a sacred site, so be sure to wear appropriate and modest clothing (as you would when visiting St. Peter’s Basilica).

Palatine Hill

Palatine Hill

The Palatine Hill was once the home of ancient Roman emperors and elites. Now it is an open air museum of sorts, and it’s one of our favorite ruins to visit in Rome because it has such a relaxing feel to it. Wandering through the Palatine Hill truly makes you feel like you are not in the middle of a busy city!

Stroll through the grassy meadows just southwest of the Colosseum and explore the Palace of Domitian, which includes a stadium, as well as the houses of other nobility, and ancient temples. The Palatine Hill also provides some beautiful views of Rome and the Colosseum.

Tips for Visiting the Palatine Hill

Tickets to the Palatine Hill include admission to the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. You can also pay extra to book a guided 3 hour tour through the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and Roman Forum.

Don’t rush yourself here and be sure to allow plenty of time to enjoy this beautiful place!

Roman Forum

Roman Forum

The Roman Forum is just east of the Colosseum and was once the center of Roman government. It’s smaller than the Palatine Hill and can get more crowded, but it is full of truly rich history.

Here you can find the public forums and a civic hall, temples, statues, and even the ruins of an ancient Roman jail. It really is like walking through a central city block in ancient Rome (although of course you have to picture that all the buildings are in their prime.)

We highly recommend finding some kind of guide for your visit, whether you go on a guided tour or use something like the Rick Steves Roman Forum audio tour and map.

Visiting the Roman Forum

Tickets to the Roman Forum include admission the Palatine Hill and Colosseum. You can also pay extra to book a guided 3 hour tour through the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and Roman Forum or purchase an audio guide ticket.

The Jewish Ghetto

The Jewish Ghetto is an area of Rome just north of Tiber Island. The Jewish Ghetto was established in 1555 and for centuries was home to Rome’s Jewish population.

Today it is part of the regular city of Rome, but several ancient ruins still exist in the area. We love this area because the streets are lovely to stroll through and you stumble upon the ruins of the ghetto which are just interspersed with everything else.

This area was also subject to tragic round-ups of Jews during WWII, and if you look at the ground you can see gold markers indicating where various members of the community were arrested.

Visiting the Jewish Ghetto

There is no ticket for the Jewish Ghetto — it is just part of the city of Rome! Downloading a guide for your visit might be helpful though.

Largo de Torre Argentina

Largo di Torre Argentina

The Largo de Torre Argentina is located just north of the Jewish Ghetto. Here you can see the ruins of several temples and a theater. You can’t actually wander through these ruins, but you can walk along the edge of them. My favorite thing here is that the Largo de Torre Argentina is home to a colony of cats!

Visiting the Largo de Torre Argentina

There is no ticket for the Largo de Torre Argentina; rather it makes a great quick stop as you are wandering through the streets of Rome.

More Ancient Ruins in Rome

Even beyond these five ruins to see, there so many more ancient ruins in Rome. Here’s a some to considering visiting:

  • Circus Maximus — A ruins of a chariot stadium and a place where ancient Roman’s gathered for games and competition. Located just south of the Palatine Hill. (You can actually see it from certain spots on the Palatine Hill.)
  • Via Sacra — A major street of ancient Rome that leads to the Colosseum and has lots to see along it still.
  • Baths of Diocletian — The largest public bath in Rome (Seriously, it’s a huge complex!) and part of the National Museum of Rome. Located just northwest of the Termini train station.
  • Baths of Caracalla — Once the second largest public baths in Rome. Located south of the Colosseum.
  • Teatro Marcello — A theater planned by Julius Caesar and built by Augustus. Located just north of Tiber Island.
  • Pyramid of Cestius — A Egyptian-style pyramid that was the burial spot for Gaius Cestius, an ancient Roman magistrate. Located in the southern part of the city.
  • Via Appia — The Appian Way was one of ancient Rome’s most important roads, and part of it runs through Rome. The most popular part to visit in Rome is the Parco Regionale dell’Appia Antica.
  • Ostia Antica — Technically this isn’t quite in Rome, but its a large archaeological park of an ancient city near Rome’s port. It takes about 30 minutes to drive there from central Rome, or about 1.5 hours on public transportation.

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