Rome

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Posted by bender 03/13/2009 @ 00:12

Tags : rome, italy, europe, world

News headlines
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During his trip, which began Sunday, Gianni Alemanno will meet Yad Vashem President Avner Shalev and outline plans for a planned new Holocaust museum in Rome. He also will meet senior Israeli and, probably, Palestinian officials and inaugurate a square...
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Amid the Glory of France, the Grandeur That Was Rome - New York Times
By MAÏA DE LA BAUME The most efficient way to discover Roman France is to take the high-speed train from Paris to Nîmes and rent a car. From there, head northeast to the Pont du Gard, then south to Arles and then north to Orange....
When in Rome... - WA today
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Swimmer Bree heading to Rome - Belfast Telegraph
Andrew Bree claimed his place at the World Championships in Rome at the weekend with plenty to spare. Bree, ranked 14th in the world after his 2:10.16 performance at the Beijing Olympics, only needed a 2:15 and duly delivered at the Bulldog...
Savings and opportunities in Monday's Rome News-Tribune - Rome News Tribune
Save money by taking advantage of these offers from Rome News-Tribune advertisers. Pick up Monday's paper for details. Floyd PC - Computer problems? We come to you… home or business Troy's Bar-B-Que - "Memorial Day Picnic Pack" Call now to place your...
Teen Bible Quiz was held in Rome - Cedartown Standard
by Kevin Myrick Two weeks after a regional junior Bible quiz competition was in Rome at DaySpring Church of God, it was the teens' turn Saturday to show off their knowledge for the regional finals. The top five teen teams advancing to the national...

Rome

Skyline of Rome

Rome (pronounced /roʊm/; Italian: Roma, pronounced ; Latin: Roma) is the capital city of Italy and Lazio, and is Italy's largest and most populous city, with 2,724,347 residents in an urban area of some 1,285.5 km2 (496.3 sq mi). It is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber river.

Rome's history as a city spans over two and a half thousand years, as one of the founding cities of Western Civilisation. It was the centre of the Roman Empire, which dominated Europe, North Africa and the Middle East for four hundred years from the 1st Century BC till the 4th Century AD. Rome has a significant place in the story of Christianity up to the present day as the home of the Roman Catholic Church and the site of the Vatican City, an independent city-state run by the Catholic Church within as an enclave of Rome.

As one of the few major European cities that escaped World War II relatively unscathed, central Rome remains essentially Renaissance and Baroque in character. Rome is the third-most-visited tourist destination in the European Union, and its historic centre is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. As a modern city it has been capital of the unified Italy since 1870, and grew mainly in two periods either side of Word War II.

Rome's early history is shrouded in legend. According to Roman tradition, the city was founded by the twins Romulus and Remus on 21 April 753 BC. Archaeological evidence supports the view that Rome grew from pastoral settlements on the Palatine Hill built in the area of the future Roman Forum. While some archaeologists argue that Rome was indeed founded in the middle of the 8th century BC, the date is subject to controversy. The original settlement developed into the capital of the Roman Kingdom (ruled by a succession of seven kings, according to tradition), and then the Roman Republic (from 510 BC, governed by the Senate), and finally the Roman Empire (from 27 BC, ruled by an Emperor). This success depended on military conquest, commercial predominance, as well as selective assimilation of neighbouring civilisations, most notably the Etruscans and Greeks. From its foundation Rome, although losing occasional battles, had been undefeated in war until 386 BC, when it was briefly occupied by the Gauls. According to the legend, the Gauls offered to deliver Rome back to its people for a thousand pounds of gold, but the Romans refused, preferring to take back their city by force of arms rather than ever admitting defeat, after which the Romans recovered the city in the same year.

Roman dominance expanded over most of Europe and the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, while its population surpassed one million inhabitants. For almost a thousand years, Rome was the most politically important, richest, and largest city in the Western world, and remained so after the Empire started to decline and was split, even as it lost its capital status to Milan and then to Ravenna, and was surpassed in prestige by the Eastern capital Constantinople.

With the reign of Constantine I, the Bishop of Rome gained political as well as religious importance, eventually becoming known as the Pope and establishing Rome as the centre of the Catholic Church. After the Sack of Rome in 410 AD by Alaric I and the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD, Rome alternated between Byzantine and Germanic control. Its population declined to a mere 20,000 during the Early Middle Ages, reducing the sprawling city to groups of inhabited buildings interspersed among large areas of ruins and vegetation. Rome remained nominally part of the Byzantine Empire until 751 AD, when the Lombards finally abolished the Exarchate of Ravenna. In 756, Pepin the Short gave the Pope temporal jurisdiction over Rome and surrounding areas, thus creating the Papal States. In 846, Muslim Arabs invaded Rome and looted St. Peter's Basilica.

Rome remained the capital of the Papal States until its annexation by the Kingdom of Italy in 1870; the city became a major pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages and the focus of struggles between the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire starting with Charlemagne, who was crowned its first emperor in Rome in 800 by Pope Leo III. Apart from brief periods as an independent city during the Middle Ages, Rome kept its status as Papal capital and "holy city" for centuries, even when the Papacy briefly relocated to Avignon (1309–1377).

The latter half of the 15th century saw the seat of the Italian Renaissance move to Rome from Florence. The Papacy wanted to equal and surpass the grandeur of other Italian cities and to this end created ever more extravagant churches, bridges, and public spaces, including a new Saint Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, Ponte Sisto (the first bridge to be built across the Tiber since antiquity), and Piazza Navona. The Popes were also patrons of the arts engaging such artists as Michelangelo, Perugino, Raphael, Ghirlandaio, Luca Signorelli, Botticelli, and Cosimo Rosselli.

The period was also infamous for papal corruption, with many Popes fathering children, and engaging in nepotism and simony. The corruption of the Popes and the extravagance of their building projects led, in part, to the Reformation and, in turn, the Counter-Reformation.

Italy became caught up in the nationalistic turmoil of the 19th century and twice gained and lost a short-lived independence. Rome became the focus of hopes of Italian reunification when the rest of Italy was reunited under the Kingdom of Italy with a temporary capital at Florence. In 1861, Rome was declared the capital of Italy even though it was still under the control of the Pope. During the 1860s, the last vestiges of the Papal States were under French protection. And it was only when this was lifted in 1870, owing to the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, that Italian troops were able to capture Rome.

After a victorious World War I, Rome witnessed the rise to power of Italian Fascism guided by Benito Mussolini, who marched on the city in 1922, eventually declaring a new Empire and allying Italy with Nazi Germany. This was a period of rapid growth in population, from 212,000 people at the time of unification to more than 1,000,000, but this trend was halted by World War II, during which Rome was damaged by both Allied forces bombing and Nazi occupation. After the execution of Mussolini and the end of the war, a 1946 referendum abolished the monarchy in favour of the Italian Republic.

Rome grew momentously after the war, as one of the driving forces behind the "Italian economic miracle" of post-war reconstruction and modernisation. It became a fashionable city in the 1950s and early 1960s, the years of la dolce vita ("the sweet life"), and a new rising trend in population continued till the mid-1980s, when the commune had more than 2,800,000 residents; after that, population started to slowly decline as more residents moved to nearby suburbs.

Rome is the national capital of Italy and is the seat of the Italian Government. The official residences of the President of the Italian Republic and the Italian Prime Minister, the seats of both houses of the Italian Parliament and that of the Italian Constitutional Court are located in the historic centre. The state ministries are spread out around the city; these include the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is located in Palazzo della Farnesina near the Olympic stadium.

Rome constitutes one of Italy's 8,101 communes, albeit the largest both by extent and by population. It is governed by a Mayor, currently Gianni Alemanno, and a city council. The seat of the commune is in on the Capitoline Hill the historic seat of government in Rome. The local administration in Rome is commonly referred to as "Campidoglio", the name of the hill in Roman dialect.

Rome is divided into 19 administrative areas, called municipi or municipalities. They were created for administrative reasons to increase decentralisation in the city. Each municipality is governed by a president and a council of four members who are elected by the residents of the municipality every five years. The municipalities frequently cross the boundaries of the traditional, non-administrative divisions of the city.

Rome is also divided into differing types of non-administrative divisions. The historic centre is divided into 22 rioni, all of which are located within the Aurelian Walls except Prati and Borgo. After the designation of the newest and last rione, Prati, newer districts of the city were designated as quarters. There are 35 of these and they go all the way to the sea at Ostia, where they are called marine quarters. Rome also has six officially designated suburban zones and 52 agricultural zones. Many of the latter, however, have actually been subject to considerable development.

Rome is in the Lazio region of central Italy on the Tiber river (Italian: Tevere). The original settlement developed on hills that faced onto a ford beside the Tiber island, the only natural ford of the river. The historic centre of Rome was built on seven hills: the Aventine Hill, the Caelian Hill, the Capitoline Hill, the Esquiline Hill, the Palatine Hill, the Quirinal Hill, and the Viminal Hill. The city is also crossed by another river the Aniene which joins the Tiber north of the historic centre.

Although the city centre is about 24 km (14.9 mi) inland from the Tyrrhenian Sea, the city territory extends to the shore, where the south-western district of Ostia is located. The altitude of the central part of Rome ranges from 13 m (43 ft) above sea level (at the base of the Pantheon) to 139 m (456 ft) above sea level (the peak of Monte Mario). The Commune of Rome covers an overall area of about 1,285 km2 (496 sq mi), including many green areas.

Throughout the history of Rome, the urban limits of the city were considered to be the area within the city walls. Originally, these consisted of the Servian Wall, which was built twelve years after the Gaulish sack of the city in 390 BC. This contained most of the Esquiline and Caelian hills, as well as the whole of the other five. Rome outgrew the Servian Wall, but no more walls were constructed until almost 700 years later, when, in 270 AD, Emperor Aurelian began building the Aurelian Walls. These were almost 19 km (12 mi) long, and were still the walls the troops of the Kingdom of Italy had to breach to enter the city in 1870. Modern Romans frequently consider the city's urban area to be delimited by its ring-road, the Grande Raccordo Anulare, which circles the city centre at a distance of about 10 km.

The Commune of Rome, however, covers considerably more territory and extends to the sea at Ostia, the largest town in Italy that is not a commune in its own right. The Commune covers an area roughly three times the total area within the Raccordo and is comparable in area to the entire provinces of Milan and Naples, and to an area six times the size of the territory of these cities. It also includes considerable areas of abandoned marsh land which is suitable neither for agriculture nor for urban development.

As a consequence, the density of the Commune is not that high, the communal territory being divided between highly-urbanised areas and areas designated as parks, nature reserves, and for agricultural use. The Province of Rome is the largest by area in Italy. At 5,352 km², its dimensions are comparable to the region of Liguria.

Rome enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate that is characteristic of the Mediterranean coasts of Italy. It is at its most comfortable from April through June, and from mid-September to October; in particular, the Roman ottobrate (which can be roughly translated as the "beautiful October days") are famously known as sunny and warm days. By August, the temperature during the heat of the day often exceeds 32 °C (90 °F). Traditionally, many businesses closed during August, and Romans abandoned the city for holiday resorts. In more recent years, however, in response to growing tourism and changing work habits, the city is increasingly staying open for the whole summer. The average high temperature in December is about 13 °C (55 °F), but subzero lows are not uncommon.

At the time of the Emperor Augustus, Rome was the largest city in the world, and probably the largest built until the 19th century. Estimates of its peak population range from 450,000 to over 3.5 million people, with 1 to 2 million being most popular with historians. Estimates have been made using the weight and consumption of imported grain and the free dole to 20% of the population. In the 1st and 2nd centuries, this suggests an 800,000 - 1.2 million inhabitants based on various per captia consumption figures. The figure 25.5 million modii of grain (400 million pounds) in storage in the time of emperor Septimius Severus is taken from the late 4th century Historia Augusta. The city population may have been as high as 600,000 until the loss of the richest North African Provinces in the 430s, 440s, and 450s. Thereafter, the population fell rapidly without grain imports (except for some from Sicily and Sardinia) and the unwillingness of the upper classes to support the continued cost to them after the loss of many of their own estates outside Italy. Moreover, it was not worth the effort to maintain an artificially large population. However, every effort was made to keep the area of the Palatine and Forum intact as well as the largest Baths and some other amenities for a smaller population of 90-150,000. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the city's population fell dramatically to less than 50,000 people, and continued to either stagnate or shrink until the Renaissance. When the Kingdom of Italy annexed Rome in 1870, the city had a population of about 200,000, which rapidly increased to 600,000 by the eve of World War I. The Fascist regime of Mussolini tried to block an excessive demographic rise of the city, but failed to prevent it from reaching one million people by 1931. After the Second World War, growth continued, helped by a post-war economic boom. A construction boom also created a large number of suburbs during the 1950s and 1960s.

In 2007, there were 2,718,768 people resident in Rome (some 4 million live in the greater Rome area), located in the province of Rome, Lazio, of whom 47.2% were male and 52.8% were female. Minors (children ages 18 and younger) totalled 17.00 percent of the population compared to pensioners who number 20.76 percent. This compares with the Italian average of 18.06 percent (minors) and 19.94 percent (pensioners). The average age of a Roman resident is 43 compared to the Italian average of 42. In the five years between 2002 and 2007, the population of Rome grew by 6.54 percent, while Italy as a whole grew by 3.56 percent. The current birth rate of Rome is 9.10 births per 1,000 inhabitants compared to the Italian average of 9.45 births.

As of 2006, 92.63% of the population was Italian, either born in Rome or coming from other cities in the country. The largest ethnic minority groups came from other European countries (mostly from Romania and Poland): 3.14%, East Asia (mostly Filipino): 1.28%, and the Americas (mostly from Argentina): 1.09%.

Much like the rest of Italy, Rome is predominantly Roman Catholic. Although Rome is home to the Vatican City and St. Peter's Basilica, Rome's cathedral is the Basilica of St. John Lateran, located to the south-east of the city-centre. There are around 900 churches in Rome in total, aside from the cathedral itself, some others of note include: the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, the Basilica di San Clemente, San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane and the Church of the Gesu. There are also the ancient Catacombs of Rome underneath the city. Numerous highly important religious educational institutions are also in Rome, such as the Pontifical Lateran University, Pontifical Biblical Institute, Pontifical Gregorian University, and Pontifical Oriental Institute.

The territory of Vatican City is part of the Mons Vaticanus, and of the adjacent former Vatican Fields, where St. Peter's Basilica, the Apostolic Palace, the Sistine Chapel, and museums were built, along with various other buildings. The area was part of the Roman rione of Borgo until 1929. Being separated from the city, on the west bank of the Tiber river, the area was an outcrop of the city that was protected by being included within the walls of Leo IV, and later expanded by the current fortification walls of Paul III/Pius IV/Urban VIII. When the Lateran Treaty of 1929 that gave the state its present form was being prepared, the boundaries of the proposed territory was influenced by the fact that much of it was all but enclosed by this loop. For some tracts of the frontier, there was no wall, but the line of certain buildings supplied part of the boundary, and for a small part of the frontier a modern wall was constructed.

The territory includes Saint Peter's Square, distinguished from the territory of Italy only by a white line along the limit of the square, where it touches Piazza Pio XII. St. Peter's Square is reached through the Via della Conciliazione, which runs from the Tiber River to St. Peter's. This grand approach was constructed by Benito Mussolini after the conclusion of the Lateran Treaty. According to the Lateran Treaty, certain properties of the Holy See that are located in Italian territory, most notably Castel Gandolfo and the major basilicas, enjoy extraterritorial status similar to that of foreign embassies.

One of the symbols of Rome is the Colosseum (70–80 AD), the largest amphitheatre ever built in the Roman Empire. Originally capable of seating 60,000 spectators, it was used for gladiatorial combat. A list of important monuments of ancient Rome includes the Roman Forum, the Domus Aurea, the Pantheon, Trajan's Column, Trajan's Market, the Catacombs, the Circus Maximus, the Baths of Caracalla, Castel Sant'Angelo, the Mausoleum of Augustus, the Ara Pacis, the Arch of Constantine, the Pyramid of Cestius, and the Bocca della Verità.

Often overlooked, Rome's medieval heritage is one of the largest in Italian cities. Basilicas dating from the Paleochristian age include Santa Maria Maggiore and San Paolo Fuori le Mura (the latter largely rebuilt in the 19th century), both housing precious 4th century AD mosaics. Later notable medieval mosaic and fresco art can be also found in the churches of Santa Maria in Trastevere, Santi Quattro Coronati, and Santa Prassede. Lay buildings include a number of towers, the largest being the Torre delle Milizie and the Torre dei Conti, both next the Roman Forum, and the huge staircase leading to the basilica of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli.

Rome was a major world centre of the Renaissance, second only to Florence, and was profoundly affected by the movement. The most impressive masterpiece of Renaissance architecture in Rome is the Piazza del Campidoglio by Michelangelo, along with the Palazzo Senatorio, seat of the city government. During this period, the great aristocratic families of Rome used to build opulent dwellings as the Palazzo del Quirinale (now seat of the President of the Italian Republic), the Palazzo Venezia, the Palazzo Farnese, the Palazzo Barberini, the Palazzo Chigi (now seat of the Italian Prime Minister), the Palazzo Spada, the Palazzo della Cancelleria, and the Villa Farnesina.

Rome is also famous for her huge and majestic squares (often adorned with obelisks), many of which were built in the 17th century. The principal squares are Piazza Navona, Piazza di Spagna, Campo de' Fiori, Piazza Venezia, Piazza Farnese and Piazza della Minerva. One of the most emblematic examples of Baroque art is the Fontana di Trevi by Nicola Salvi. Other notable 17th-century baroque palaces are the Palazzo Madama, now the seat of the Italian Senate and the Palazzo Montecitorio, now the seat of the Chamber of Deputies of Italy.

In 1870, Rome became the capital city of the new Kingdom of Italy. During this time, neoclassicism, a building style influenced by the architecture of antiquity, became a predominant influence in Roman architecture. During this period, many great palaces in neoclassical styles were built to host ministries, embassies, and other governing agencies. One of the best-known symbols of Roman neoclassicism is the Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II or "Altar of the Fatherland", where the Grave of the Unknown Soldier, that represents the 650,000 Italians that fell in World War I, is located.

The Fascist regime that ruled in Italy between 1922 and 1943 developed an architectural style that was characterised by its links with ancient Roman architecture. The most important Fascist site in Rome is the E.U.R district, designed in 1938 by Marcello Piacentini. It was originally conceived for the 1942 world exhibition, and was called "E.42" ("Esposizione 42"). The world exhibition, however, never took place because Italy entered the Second World War in 1940. The most representative building of the Fascist style at E.U.R. is the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana (1938–1943), the iconic design of which has been labelled the cubic or Square Colosseum.

After World War II, the Roman authorities found that they already had the seed of an off-centre business district of the type that other capitals were still planning (London Docklands and La Défense in Paris). Also the Palazzo della Farnesina, the current seat of Italian Foreign Ministry, was designed in 1935 in Fascist style.

Public parks and nature reserves cover a large area in Rome, and the city has one of the largest areas of green space amongst European capitals. The most notable part of this green space is represented by the large number of villas and landscaped gardens created by the Italian aristocracy. While many villas were destroyed during the building boom of the late 19th century, a great many remain. The most notable of these are Villa Borghese, Villa Ada, and Villa Doria Pamphili.

Rome has a number of regional parks of much more recent origin including the Pineto Regional Park and the Appian Way Regional Park. There are also nature reserves at Marcigliana and at Tenuta di Castelporziano.

With a 2005 GDP of €94.376 billion (US$121.5 billion), the city produces 6.7% of the national GDP (more than any other single city in Italy), and its unemployment rate, lowered from 11.1% to 6.5% between 2001 and 2005, is now one of the lowest rates of all the European Union capital cities. Rome grows +4,4% annually and continues to grow at a higher rate in comparison to any other city in the rest of the country.

Although the economy of Rome is characterized by the absence of heavy industry and it is largely dominated by services, high-technology companies (IT, aerospace, defense, telecommunications), research, construction and commercial activities (especially banking), and the huge development of tourism are very dynamic and extremely important to its economy. Rome's international airport, Fiumicino, is the largest in Italy, and the city hosts the head offices of the vast majority of the major Italian companies, as well as the headquarters of three of the world's 100 largest companies: Enel, Eni, and Telecom Italia.

Universities, national radio and television and the movie industry in Rome are also important parts of the economy: Rome is also the hub of the Italian film industry, thanks to the Cinecittà studios, working since the 1930s. The city is also a centre for banking and insurance as well as electronics, energy, transport, and aerospace industries. Numerous international companies and agencies headquarters, government ministries, conference centres, sports venues, and museums are located in Rome's principal business districts: the Esposizione Universale Roma (EUR); the Torrino (further south from the EUR); the Magliana; the Parco de' Medici-Laurentina and the so-called Tiburtina-valley along the ancient Via Tiburtina. Tourism is inevitably one of Rome's chief industries, with numerous notable museums including the Vatican Museum, the Borghese Gallery, and the Musei Capitolini: in 2005 the city registered 19.5 million of global visitors, up of 22.1% from 2001. In 2006 Rome has been visited by 6.03 million of international tourists, reaching the 8th place in the ranking of the world's 150 most visited cities.

Rome is a nation-wide centre for higher education. Its first university, La Sapienza (founded in 1303), is the largest in Europe and the second-largest in the world, with more than 150,000 students attending. Two new public universities were founded: Tor Vergata in 1982, and Roma Tre in 1992, although the latter has now become larger than the former. Rome also contains a large number of pontifical universities and institutes, including the Pontifical Gregorian University (The oldest Jesuit university in the world, founded in 1551), the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, and many others. The city also hosts various private universities, such as the LUMSA, the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Roman centre), the LUISS, Istituto Europeo di Design, the St. John's University, the John Cabot University, the IUSM, the American University of Rome, the Scuola Lorenzo de' Medici, the Link Campus of Malta, the S. Pio V University of Rome, and the Università Campus Bio-Medico. Rome is also the location of the John Felice Rome Center, a campus of Loyola University Chicago.

Rome is an important centre for music. It hosts the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (founded in 1585), for which new concert halls have been built in the new Parco della Musica, one of the largest musical venues in the world. Rome also has an opera house, the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, as well as several minor musical institutions. The city also played host to the Eurovision Song Contest in 1991 and the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2004.

Rome hosts the Cinecittà Studios, the largest film and television production facility in continental Europe and the centre of the Italian cinema, where a large number of today's biggest box office hits are filmed. The 99-acre (40-ha) studio complex is 5.6 miles (9 km) from the centre of Rome and is part of one of the biggest production communities in the world, second only to Hollywood, with well over 5,000 professionals — from period costume makers to visual effects specialists. More than 3,000 productions have been made on its lot, from recent features like The Passion of the Christ, Gangs of New York, HBO's Rome, The Life Aquatic and Dino De Laurentiis’ Decameron, to such cinema classics as Ben-Hur, Cleopatra, and the films of Federico Fellini.

Founded in 1937 by Benito Mussolini, the studios were bombed by the Western Allies during the Second World War. In the 1950s, Cinecittà was the filming location for several large American film productions, and subsequently became the studio most closely associated with Federico Fellini. Today Cinecittà is the only studio in the world with pre-production, production, and full post-production facilities on one lot, allowing directors and producers to walk in with their script and "walk out" with a completed film.

The original language of Rome was Latin, which evolved during the Middle Ages into Italian. The latter emerged as the confluence of various regional dialects, among which the Tuscan dialect predominated, but the population of Rome also developed its own dialect, the Romanesco. The ancient romanesco, used during the Middle Ages, was a southern Italian dialect, very close to the Neapolitan. The influence of the Florentine culture during the renaissance, and, above all, the immigration to Rome of many Florentines, amongst them the two Medici Popes (Leo X and Clement VII) and their suite, caused a major shift in the dialect, which began to resemble more the Tuscan varieties (the immigration of Florentines was mainly due to the Sack of Rome in 1527 and the subsequent demographic decrease). This remained largely confined to Rome until the 19th century, but then expanded to other zones of Lazio (Civitavecchia, Latina), from the beginning of the 20th century, thanks to the rising population of Rome and to better transportation systems. As a consequence, Romanesco abandoned its traditional forms to mutate into the dialect spoken within the city, which is more like standard Italian, although it remains distinct from the other Romanesco-influenced local dialects of Lazio. Dialectal literature in the traditional form Romanesco includes the works of such authors as Giuseppe Gioachino Belli, Trilussa, and Cesare Pascarella. Contemporary Romanesco is mainly represented by popular actors such as Aldo Fabrizi, Alberto Sordi, Nino Manfredi, Anna Magnani, Gigi Proietti, Enrico Montesano, and Carlo Verdone.

Rome hosted the 1960 Summer Olympics and is an official candidate to hosting the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Football is the most popular sport in Rome, as in the rest of the country. The Olympic Stadium hosted the final game of the 1990 FIFA World Cup; it is also the home stadium for local Serie A clubs A.S. Roma and S.S. Lazio, whose rivalry has become a staple of Roman sports culture. Indeed, famous footballers who play for these teams and are also born in the city tend to become especially popular, as has been the case with players such as Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi (both for A.S. Roma).

While far from being as popular as football, Rugby union is gaining wider acceptance. The Stadio Flaminio is the home stadium for the Italy national rugby union team, which has been playing in the Six Nations Championship since 2000, albeit with less than satisfactory performances, as they have never won the championship so far. Rome is home to local rugby teams, such as Unione Rugby Capitolina, Rugby Roma, and S.S. Lazio.

Every May, Rome hosts the ATP Masters Series tennis tournament on the clay courts of the Foro Italico. Cycling was immensely popular in the post-WWII period, although its popularity has faded in the last decades; Rome has hosted the final portion of the Giro d'Italia twice, in 1989 and 2000. Rome is also home to many other sports teams, including basketball (Virtus Roma), volleyball (M. Roma Volley), handball or waterpolo.

Rome is at the centre of the radial network of roads that roughly follow the lines of the ancient roman roads that began at the Capitoline Hill and connected Rome with its empire. Today Rome is circled, at a distance of about 10 km (6 mi), by the ring-road called the Grande Raccordo Anulare.

Due to its location in the centre of the Italian peninsula, Rome is a principal railway node for central Italy. Rome's main train station, Termini, is one of the biggest train stations in Europe and the most heavily-used in Italy, with around 400 thousand travellers passing through every day. The second-largest station in the city, Roma Tiburtina, is currently being redeveloped as a high-speed rail terminus.

Rome is also served by three airports. The intercontinental Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport is Italy's chief airport and is more commonly known as "Fiumicino Airport", as it is located within the nearby Commune of Fiumicino, south-west of Rome. The older Rome Ciampino Airport is a joint civilian and military airport. It is more commonly referred to as "Ciampino Airport", as it is located beside Ciampino, south-east of Rome. A third airport, the Aeroporto dell'Urbe, is a small, low-traffic airport located about 6 km north of the city centre, which handles most helicopter and private flights.

The city suffers from considerable traffic problems largely due to this radial street pattern, making it difficult for Romans to move easily from the vicinity of one of the radial roads to another without going into the historic centre or using the ring-road. Problems that are not helped by limited size of Rome's metro system when compared to other cities of similar size. In addition, Rome has only 21 taxis for every 10,000 inhabitants, far below other major European cities. Chronic congestion caused by cars during the 1970s and 1980s led to restrictions being placed on vehicle access to the inner city-centre during the hours of daylight. Areas where these restriction apply are known as Limited Traffic Zones (Zona a Traffico Limitato (ZTL) in Italian). More recently, heavy night-time traffic in Trastevere and San Lorenzo has led to the creation of night-time ZTLs in those districts, and there are also plans to create another night-time ZTL in Testaccio.

A 2-line metro system called the Metropolitana operates in Rome. Construction on the first branch started in the 1930s. The line had been planned to quickly connect the main train station with the newly-planned E42 area in the southern suburbs, where the 1942 World Fair was supposed to be held. The event never took place because of war. The area was later partly redesigned and renamed EUR (Esposizione Universale di Roma: Rome Universal Exhibition) in the 1950s to serve as a modern business district. The line was finally opened in 1955, and it is now part of the B Line. The A line opened in 1980 from Ottaviano to Anagnina stations, later extended in stages (1999 – 2000) to Battistini. In the 1990s, an extension of the B line was opened from Termini to Rebibbia. This underground network is generally reliable (although it may become very congested at peak times and during events, especially the A line) as it is relatively short. As of 2005, its total length is 38 km (24 mi). The two existing lines, A & B, intersect at Roma Termini station. A new branch of the B line (B1) is under construction with an estimated cost of €500 million. It is scheduled to open in 2010. B1 will connect to line B at Piazza Bologna and will have 4 stations over a distance of 3.9 km (2 mi). A third line, line C, is under construction with an estimated cost of €3 billion and will have 30 stations over a distance of 25.5 km (16 mi). It will partly replace the existing Rail Road line, Termini-Pantano. It will feature full automated, driverless trains. The first section is due to open in 2011 and the final sections in 2015, but archaeological findings often delay underground construction work. A fourth line, line, is also planned. It will have 22 stations over a distance of 20 km (12 mi). The first section is projected to open in 2015 and the final sections before 2035.

Above-ground public transport in Rome is made up of a bus and tram network. This network is run by Trambus S.p.A. under the auspices of ATAC S.p.A. (which originally stood for the Bus and Tram Agency of the Commune, Azienda Tranvie ed Autobus del Comune in Italian). The bus network is currently made up of in excess of 350 bus lines and over 8 thousand bus stops, whereas the more-limited tram system currently has 39 km of track and 192 stops.

Rome is unique in having a sovereign state located entirely within its city limits, the Vatican City. The Vatican is a enclave of Rome and a sovereign possession of the Holy See, the supreme government of the Roman Catholic Church. Rome hosts foreign embassies to both Italy and the Holy See, although frequently the same ambassador is accredited to both.

Another body, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), took refuge in Rome in 1834 after having lost Malta to Napoleon. It is sometimes classified as having sovereignty but does not claim any territory in Rome or anywhere else, hence leading to dispute over its actual sovereign status.

Rome is also the seat of significant international organisations of the United Nations, such as the World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Rome has traditionally been heavily involved in the process of European political integration. In 1957, the city hosted the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community (predecessor to the European Union), and also played host to the official signing of the proposed European Constitution in July 2004.

Rome is the seat of the NATO Defence College and is the place where the Statute of the International Criminal Court was formulated.

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History of Rome

A simplified plan of the city of Rome from the 15th-century illuminated manuscript Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry.

The History of the city of Rome spans 2,800 years of the existence of a city that grew from a small Italian village in the 9th century BC into the center of a vast civilization that dominated the Mediterranean region for centuries. Its political power was eventually replaced by that of peoples of mostly Germanic origin, marking the beginning of the Middle Ages. Rome became the seat of the Roman Catholic Church and the home of a sovereign state within its walls, the Vatican City. Today it is the capital of Italy.

The traditional date for the founding of Rome, based on a mythological account, is April 21, 753 BC, and the city and surrounding region of Latium has continued to be inhabited with little interruption since around that time.

The legendary origin of the city's name is the traditional founder and first ruler, Romulus. More recently, attempts have been made to find a linguistic root for the name Rome. Possibilities include derivation from Greek language Ῥώμη meaning bravery, courage; possibly the connection is with a root *rum-, "teat", with possible reference to the totem wolf that adopted and suckled the cognately-named twins Romulus and Remus. Etruscan gives us the word Rumach, "from Rome", from which Ruma can be extracted. Its further etymology, as with that of most Etruscan words, remains unknown. The Basque scholar Manuel de Larramendi thought that the origin could be related to the Basque language word orma (modern Basque horma), "wall".

Rome grew from pastoral settlements on the Palatine Hill and surrounding hills approximately 18 miles (29 km) from the Tyrrhenian Sea on the south side of the Tiber. Another of these hills, the Quirinal Hill, was probably an outpost for another Italic-speaking people, the Sabines. At this location the Tiber forms a Z-shape curve that contains an island where the river can be forded. Because of the river and the ford, Rome was at a crossroads of traffic following the river valley and of traders travelling north and south on the west side of the peninsula.

Archaeological finds have confirmed that in the 8th century BC in the area of the future Rome there were two fortified settlements, the Rumi one on the Palatine Hill and the Titientes one on the Quirinal Hill, backed by the Luceres living in the nearby woods. These were simply three of numerous Italic-speaking communities that existed in Latium, a plain on the Italian peninsula, by the 1st millennium BC. The origins of the Italic peoples is not known, but their Indo-European languages migrated from the east in the second-half of the 2nd millennium BC.

In the 8th century BC, these Italic speakers — Latins (in the west), Sabines (in the upper valley of the Tiber), Umbrians (in the north-east), Samnites (in the South), Oscans and others — shared the peninsula with two other major ethnic groups: the Etruscans in the North, and the Greeks in the south.

The Etruscans (Etrusci or Tusci in Latin) were settled north of Rome in Etruria (modern northern Lazio and Tuscany). They deeply influenced Roman culture, as clearly showed by the Etruscan origin of some of the mythical Roman kings. The behaviour of the Etruscans has led to some confusion. Like Latin, Etruscan is inflected and Hellenised. Like the Indo-Europeans, the Etruscans were patrilineal and patriarchal. Like the Italics, they were war-like. The gladiatorial displays actually evolved out of Etruscan funerary customs. Future studies of Etruscan and more excavations in the region will no doubt clarify the origin of Rome and the Romans even more.

The Greeks had founded many colonies in Southern Italy (that the Romans later called Magna Graecia), such as Cumae, Naples and Taranto, as well as in the eastern two-thirds of Sicily, between 750 and 550 BC.

One theory on the origins of the original settlers of Rome is that the population may have been immigrants from outside the Italian peninsula, possibly an off-shoot from the same group that would become Celtic or Germanic peoples. Traces of this founding population were apparently evident in the appearance of the aristocracy well into the era of the Empire. According to Francis Owens the evidence available from Roman literature, historical records and statuary and personal names shows that in physical appearance the Roman aristocracy differed from most of the population in the rest of the peninsula. The records describe a very large number of well known historical personalities as blonde. In addition, 250 individuals are recorded to have had the name Flavius, meaning blonde, and there are many named Rufus and Rutilius, meaning red haired and reddish haired respectively. The following Roman gods are said to have had blonde hair; Amor, Apollo, Aurora, Bacchus, Ceres, Diana, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Minerva and Venus.

It may be argued, however, that such descriptions of hair and eye colour are relative, and do not correspond to 'blondes' or 'redheads' in English or other northern European languages. A more direct translation of the Latin text of Suetonius renders 'grey-blue' or 'grey' rather than 'blue' for Nero's eyes, and 'yellowish' rather than 'light blond' for Nero's hair. His hair, in other words, was yellowish in comparison to the brown or black hair common in ancient Rome, rather than being actual blonde in colour. In addition to this, the overwhelming majority of colour images from Roman art, such as Pompeian frescoes, show both male gods and aristocrats, as well as ordinary people, with tan complexions, resembling people in Spain, Greece, and Italy today.

After 650 BC, the Etruscans became dominant in Italy and expanded into north-central Italy. Roman tradition claimed that Rome had been under the control of seven kings from 753 to 509 BC beginning with the mythic Romulus who along with his brother Remus were said to have founded the city of Rome. Two of the last three kings, namely Tarquinius Priscus and Tarquinius Superbus, were said to be (at least partially) Etruscan (Priscus is said by the ancient literary sources to be the son of a refugee Greek, and an Etruscan mother), their names referring to the Etruscan town of Tarquinia. The list of kings is of dubious historical value, though the last-named kings may be historical figures. It is believed by some historians (again, this is disputed) that Rome was under the influence of the Etruscans for about a century. During this period a bridge called the Pons Sublicius was built to replace the Tiber ford, and the Cloaca Maxima was also built; the Etruscans are said to have been great engineers of this type of structure. From a cultural and technical point of view, Etruscans had arguably the second-greatest impact on Roman development, only surpassed by the Greeks.

Expanding further south, the Etruscans came into direct contact with the Greeks. After initial success in conflicts with the Greek colonists, Etruria went into a decline. Taking advantage of this, around 500 BC Rome rebelled and gained independence from the Etruscans. It also abandoned monarchy in favour of a republican system based on a Senate, composed of the nobles of the city, along with popular assemblies which ensured political participation for most of the freeborn men and elected magistrates annually.

The Etruscans left a lasting influence on Rome. The Romans learned to build temples from them, and the Etruscans may have introduced the worship of a triad of gods — Juno, Minerva, and Jupiter — from the Etruscan gods: Uni, Menrva, and Tinia. However, the influence of Etruscan people in the evolution of Rome is often overstated. Rome was primarily a Latin city. It never became fully Etruscan. Also, evidence shows that Romans were heavily influenced by the Greek cities in the South, mainly through trade.

After 500 BC, Rome joined with the Latin cities in defence against incursions by the Sabines. Winning the Battle of Lake Regillus in 493 BC, Rome established again the supremacy over the Latin countries it had lost after the fall of the monarchy. After a lengthy series of struggles, this supremacy became fixed in 393, when the Romans finally subdued the Volsci and Aequi. In 394 BC, they also conquered the menacing Etruscan neighbour of Veii. The Etruscan power was now limited to Etruria itself, and Rome was the dominant city in Latium.

Also a formal treaty with the city of Carthage is reported to have been made in the end of the sixth century B.C., which defined the spheres of influence of each city and regulated the trade between them.

At the same time, Heraclides states that fourth century Rome is a Greek city.

Rome's early enemies were the neighbouring hill tribes of the Volscians, the Aequi, and of course the Etruscans. As years passed and military successes increased Roman territory, new enemies appeared. The fiercest were the Gauls who controlled much of Northern Europe including what is modern North and Central-East Italy.

In 387 BC, Rome was suddenly sacked and burned by the Senones coming from eastern Italy and led by Brennus, who had successfully invaded Etruria. The northern menace was thwarted by the dictator Furius Camillus, who defeated Brennus at Tusculum soon afterwards.

After that, Rome hastily rebuilt its buildings and went on the offensive, conquering the Etruscans and seizing territory from the Gauls in the north. After 345 BC, Rome pushed south against other Latins. Their main enemy in this quadrant were the fierce Samnites, who heavily defeated the legions in 321 BC at the Battle of Caudine Forks. In spite of these and other temporary setbacks, the Romans advanced steadily. By 290 BC, Rome controlled over half of the Italian peninsula. In the 3rd century BC, Rome brought the Greek poleis in the south under its control as well.

Amidst the never ending wars (from the beginning of the Republic up to the Principate, the doors of the temple of Janus were closed only twice - when they were open it meant that Rome was at war), Rome had to face a severe major social crisis, the struggle between patricians and plebeians.

According to tradition, Rome became a republic in 509 BC. However, it took a few centuries for Rome to become the great city of popular imagination. By the 3rd century BC, Rome had become the pre-eminent city of the Italian peninsula. During the Punic Wars between Rome and the great Mediterranean empire of Carthage, Rome's stature increased further as it became the capital of an overseas empire for the first time. Beginning in the 2nd century BC, Rome went through a significant population expansion as Italian farmers, driven from their ancestral farmlands by the advent of massive, slave-operated farms called latifundia, flocked to the city in great numbers. The victory over Carthage in the First Punic War brought the first two provinces outside the Italian peninsula, Sicily and Sardinia. Parts of Spain (Hispania) followed, and in the beginning of the 2nd century the Romans got involved in the affairs of the Greek world. By then all Hellenistic kingdoms and the Greek city-states were in decline, exhausted from endless civil wars and relying on mercenary troops.

The Romans looked upon the Greek civilisation with great admiration. The Greeks saw Rome as a useful ally in their civil strifes, and it wasn't long before the Roman legions were invited to intervene in Greece. However the Romans had their own agenda, and in less than 50 years the whole of mainland Greece was subdued. The Roman legions crushed the Macedonian phalanx twice, in 197 and 168 BC; in 146 BC the Roman consul Lucius Mummius razed Corinth, marking the end of free Greece. The same year, Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus, the son of Scipio Africanus destroyed the city of Carthage, making it a Roman province.

In the following years, Rome continued its conquests in Spain with Tiberius Gracchus, and it set foot in Asia, when the last king of Pergamus gave his kingdom to the Roman people. The end of the 2nd century brought once again threat, when a great host of Germanic peoples, namely Cimbri and Teutones, crossed the river Rhone and moved to Italy. Gaius Marius was consul five consecutive times (seven total), and won two decisive battles in 102 and 101 B.C. He also reformed the Roman army, giving it such a good reorganization that it remained unchanged for centuries.

The first thirty years of the last century B.C. were characterized by serious internal problems that threatened the existence of the Republic. The Social War, between Rome and its allies, and the Servile Wars (slave uprisings) were very hard conflicts, all within Italy, and forced the Romans to change their policy with regards to their allies and subjects. By then Rome had become an extensive power, with great wealth which derived from the conquered people (as tribute, food or manpower, i.e. slaves). The allies of Rome felt bitter since they had fought by the side of the Romans, and yet they were not citizens and shared little in the rewards. Although they lost the war, they finally got what they asked, and by the beginning of the first century AD practically all free inhabitants of Italy were Roman citizens.

However, the growth of the Imperium Romanum (Roman power) created new problems, and new demands, that the old political system of the Republic, with its annually elected magistrates and its sharing of power, could not solve. The dictatorship of Sulla, the extraordinary commands of Pompey Magnus, and the first triumvirate made that clear. In January 49 BC, Julius Caesar the conqueror of Gaul, marched his legions against Rome. In the following years, he vanquished his opponents, and ruled Rome for four years. After his assassination in 44 BC, the Senate tried to reestablish the Republic, but its champions, Marcus Junius Brutus (descendant of the founder of the republic) and Gaius Cassius Longinus were defeated by Caesar's lieutenant Marcus Antonius and Caesar's nephew, Octavian.

The years 44-31 mark the struggle for power between Marcus Antonius and Octavian (later known as Augustus). Finally, on September 2, 31 BC, in the Greek promontory of Actium, the final battle took place in the sea. Octavian was victorious, and became the sole ruler of Rome (and its empire). That date marks the end of the Republic and the beginning of the Principate.

By the end of the Republic, the city of Rome had achieved a grandeur befitting the capital of an empire dominating the whole of the Mediterranean. It was, at the time, the largest city in the world (and probably the largest city ever built until the 19th century). Estimates of its peak population range from 450,000 to over 3.5 million people with estimates of 1 to 2 million being most popular with historians. This grandeur increased under Augustus, who completed Caesar's projects and added many of his own, such as the Forum of Augustus and the Ara Pacis. He is said to have remarked that he found Rome a city of brick and left it a city of marble. Augustus' successors sought to emulate his success in part by adding their own contributions to the city. The Great Fire of Rome during the reign of Nero left much of the city destroyed, but in many ways it was used as an excuse for new development.

Rome was a subsidized city at the time, with roughly 15 to 25 percent of its grain supply being paid by the central government. Commerce and industry played a smaller role compared to that of other cities like Alexandria. This meant that Rome had to depend upon goods and production from other parts of the Empire to sustain such a large population. This was mostly paid by taxes that were levied by the Roman government. If it had not been subsidised, Rome would have been significantly smaller.

Rome's population declined after its peak in the 2nd century. At the end of that century, during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, a plague killed 2,000 people a day. Marcus Aurelius was killed in 180, his reign being the last of the "Five Good Emperors" and Pax Romana. His son Commodus, who had been co-emperor since 177, assumed full imperial power, which is most generally associated with the gradual decline of the Western Roman Empire. Rome's population was only a fraction of its peak when the Aurelian Wall was completed in the year 273 (at that year its population was only around 500,000).

Starting in the early 3rd century, matters changed. The "Crisis of the third century" defines the disasters and political troubles for the Empire, which nearly collapsed. The new feeling of danger and the menace of barbarian invasions was clearly shown by the decision of Emperor Aurelian, who at year 273 finished encircling the capital itself with a massive wall which had a perimeter that measured close to 20 km. Rome formally remained capital of the empire, but emperors spent less and less time there. At the end of 3rd century Diocletian's political reforms, Rome was deprived of its traditional role of administrative capital of the Empire. Later, western emperors ruled from Milan or Ravenna, or cities in Gaul. In 330, Constantine I established a second capital at Constantinople. At this time, part of the Roman aristocratic class moved to this new centre, followed by many of the artists and craftsmen who were living in the city.

However, the Senate, while stripped of most of its political power, was socially prestigious. The Empire's conversion to Christianity made the Bishop of Rome (later called the Pope) the senior religious figure in the Western Empire, as officially stated in 380 by the Edict of Thessalonica. In spite of its increasingly marginal role in the Empire, Rome retained its historic prestige, and this period saw the last wave of construction activity: Constantine's predecessor Maxentius built notable buildings such its spectacular basilica in the Forum, Constantine himself erected its famous arch to celebrate his victory over the former, and Diocletian built the greatest baths of all. Constantine was also the first patron of official Christian buildings in the city. He donated the Lateran Palace to the Pope, and built the first great basilica, the old St. Peter's Basilica.

Still Rome remained one of the strongholds of Paganism, led by the aristocrats and senators. When the Visigoths showed off before the walls in 408, the Senate and the prefect proposed pagan sacrifices, and it seems that even the pope was agreeable if this could help to save the city. However, the new walls did not stop the city being sacked first by Alaric on August 24, 410, by Geiseric in 455 and even by general Ricimer's unpaid Roman troops (largely composed of barbarians) on July 11, 472. The sackings of the city, which had remained untouched by barbarians since the times of Brennus 800 years earlier (390 B.C.), astonished all the Roman world. The fall of Rome was read as the definitive fall of the ancient order. Many inhabitants fled, and at the end of the century Rome's population may have been less than 50,000. In any case, the damage the sackings made has been probably overestimated. The city was already in a steep decline, and many monuments had been destroyed by the citizens themselves, who stripped stones from closed temples and other precious buildings, and even burned statues to make lime for their personal use. In addition, most of the increasing number of churches were built in this way. For example, the first St. Peter was erected using spoils from the abandoned Circus of Nero. This "self-eating" attitude was a constant feature of Rome until the Renaissance. From the 4th century imperial edicts against stripping of stones and especially marble were common, but the need for their repetition shows that they were ineffective. Sometimes new churches were created by simply taking advantage of early Pagan temples, perhaps changing the Pagan god or hero to a corresponding Christian saint or martyr. In this way the Temple of Romulus and Remus became the basilica of the twin saints Cosmas and Damian. Later, the Pantheon, Temple of All Gods, become the church of All Martyrs.

In 480, the last Western Roman emperor Julius Nepos, was murdered and a Roman general of barbarian origin Odoacer declared allegiance to Byzantine emperor Zeno. The reunification of the Roman Empire had little impact on Rome. Odoacer and later the Ostrogoths continued, like the last emperors, to rule Italy from Ravenna. Meanwhile, the Senate, even though long since stripped of wider powers, continued to administer Rome itself, with the Pope usually coming from a senatorial family. This situation continued until Theodahad murdered Amalasuntha in 535 and declared secession from the empire. Forces of the Eastern Roman Empire, sent West by Justinian I under Belisarius, recaptured the city next year.

On December 17, 546, the Ostrogoths under Totila recaptured and sacked the city. The Byzantine general Belisarius recaptured Rome, but the Ostrogoths retook it in 549. Belisarius was replaced by Narses, who captured Rome from the Ostrogoths for good in 552, ending the so-called Gothic Wars which had turned much of Italy into desert. The continual war around Rome in the 530s and 540s left it in a state of total disrepair — near abandoned and desolate with much of its lower-lying parts turned into unhealthy marshes as the drainage systems were neglected and the Tiber's embankments fell into disrepair in the course of the latter half of the sixth century. Here, malaria developed. The aqueducts were never repaired, leading to a shrinking population of less than 50,000 concentrated near the Tiber and around the Campus Martius, abandoning those districts without water supply. There is a legend, significant though untrue, that there was a moment where no one remained living in Rome.

Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I (reigned 527–565) tried to grant Rome subsidies for the maintenance of public buildings, aqueducts and bridges — though, being mostly drawn from an Italy dramatically impoverished by the recent wars, these were not always sufficient. He also styled himself the patron of its remaining scholars, orators, physicians and lawyers in the stated hope that eventually more youths would seek a better education. After the wars, the Senate was theoretically restored, but under the supervision of a prefect and other officials appointed by, and responsible to, the Byzantine authorities in Ravenna.

However, the Pope was now one of the leading religious figures in the entire Byzantine Empire and effectively more powerful locally than either the remaining senators or local Byzantine officials. In practice, local power in Rome devolved to the Pope and, over the next few decades, both much of the remaining possessions of the senatorial aristocracy and the local Byzantine administration in Rome were absorbed by the Church.

The reign of Justinian's nephew and successor Justin II (reigned 565–578) was marked from the Italian point of view by the invasion of the Lombards under Alboin (568). In capturing the regions of Benevento, Lombardy, Piedmont, Spoleto and Tuscany, the invaders effectively restricted Imperial authority to small islands of land surrounding a number of coastal cities, including Ravenna, Naples, Rome and the area of the future Venice. The one inland city continuing under Byzantine control was Perugia, which provided a repeatedly threatened overland link between Rome and Ravenna. In 578 and again in 580, the Senate, in some of its last recorded acts, had to ask for the support of Tiberius II Constantine (reigned 578–582) against the approaching Dukes, Faroald I of Spoleto and Zotto of Benevento.

Maurice (reigned 582–602) added a new factor in the continuing conflict by creating an alliance with Childebert II of Austrasia (reigned 575–595). The armies of the Frankish King invaded the Lombard territories in 584, 585, 588 and 590. Rome had suffered badly from a disastrous flood of the Tiber in 589, followed by a plague in 590. The latter is notable for the legend of the angel seen, while the newly elected Pope Gregory I (term 590–604) was passing in procession by Hadrian's Tomb, to hover over the building and to sheathe his flaming sword as a sign that the pestilence was about to cease. The city was safe from capture at least.

Agilulf, however, the new Lombard King (reigned 591 to c. 616), managed to secure peace with Childebert, reorganized his territories and resumed activities against both Naples and Rome by 592. With the Emperor preoccupied with wars in the eastern borders and the various succeeding Exarchs unable to secure Rome from invasion, Gregory took personal initiative in starting negotiations for a peace treaty. This was completed in the autumn of 598 — only later recognized by Maurice. It would last till the end of his reign.

The position of the Bishop of Rome was further strengthened under the usurper Phocas (reigned 602–610). Phocas recognized his primacy over that of the Patriarch of Constantinople and even decreed Pope Boniface III (607) to be "the head of all the Churches". Phocas' reign saw the erection of the last imperial monument in the Roman Forum, the column bearing his name. He also gave the Pope the Pantheon, at the time closed for centuries, and thus probably saved it from destruction.

During the 7th century, an influx of both Byzantine officials and churchmen from elsewhere in the empire made both the local lay aristocracy and Church leadership largely Greek speaking. However, the strong Byzantine cultural influence did not always lead to political harmony between Rome and Constantinople. In the controversy over Monothelitism, popes found themselves under severe pressure (sometimes amounting to physical force) when they failed to keep in step with Constantinople's shifting theological positions. In 653, Pope Martin I was deported to Constantinople and, after a show trial, exiled to the Crimea, where he died.

Then, in 663, Rome had its first imperial visit for two centuries, by Constans II — its worst disaster since the Gothic Wars when the emperor proceeded to strip Rome of metal, including that from buildings and statues, to provide armament materials for use against the Saracens. However, for the next half century, despite further tensions, Rome and the Papacy continued to prefer continued Byzantine rule - in part because the alternative was Lombard rule, and in part because Rome's food was largely coming from Papal estates elsewhere in the Empire, particularly Sicily.

However, in 727, Pope Gregory II refused to accept the decrees of Emperor Leo III, establishing iconoclasm. Leo reacted first by trying in vain to abduct the Pontiff, and then by sending a force of Ravennate troops under the command of the Exarch Paulus, but they were pushed back by the Lombards of Tuscia and Benevento. Roman general Eutychius sent west by the emperor successfully captured Rome and restored it as a part of the empire in 728.

On November 1, 731, a council was called in St. Peter by Gregory III to excommunicate the iconoclasts. The Emperor responded by confiscating large Papal estates in Sicily and Calabria and transferring areas previously ecclesiastically under the Pope to the Patriarch of Constantinople. Despite the tensions Gregory III never discontinued his support to the imperial efforts against external threats.

In this period the Lombard kingdom was living an age of revival under the strong Liutprand. In 730 he razed the countryside of Rome to punish the Pope who had supported the duke of Spoleto. Though still protected by his massive walls, the pope could do little against the Lombard king, who managed to ally himself with the Byzantines. Other protectors were now needed. Gregory III was the first Pope to ask for concrete help from the Frankish Kingdom, then under the command of Charles Martel (739).

Liutprand's successor Aistulf was even more aggressive. He conquered Ferrara and Ravenna, ending the Exarchate of Ravenna. Rome seemed his next victim. In 754, Pope Stephen II went to France to name Pippin the Younger, king of the Franks, as patricius romanorum, i.e. protector of Rome. In the August of that year the King and Pope together crossed back the Alps and defeated Aistulf at Pavia. When Pippin went back to St. Denis however, Aistulf did not keep his promises, and in 756 besieged Rome for 56 days. The Lombards returned north when they heard news of Pippin again moving to Italy. This time he agreed to give the Pope the promised territories, and the Papal States were born.

In 771 the new King of the Lombards, Desiderius, devised a plot to conquer Rome and seize Pope Stephen III during a feigned pilgrimage within its walls. His main ally was one Paulus Afiarta, chief of the Lombard party within the city. However the plan failed, and Stephens' successor, Pope Hadrian I called Charlemagne against Desiderius, who was finally defeated in 773. The Lombard Kingdom was no more, and now Rome entered into the orbit of a new, greater political institution.

Numerous remains from this period, along with a museum devoted to Medieval Rome, can be seen at Crypta Balbi in Rome.

On April 25, 799 the new Pope, Leo III, led the traditional procession from the Lateran to the Church of San Lorenzo in Lucina along the Via Flaminia (now Via del Corso). Two nobles (followers of his predecessor Hadrian) who disliked the weakness of the Pope with regards to Charlemagne, attacked the processional train and delivered a life threatening wound to the Pope. Leo fled to the King of the Franks, and in November 800 the King entered in Rome with a strong army and a number of French bishops. He declared a judicial trial to decide if Leo was to remain Pope, or if the deposers' claims had reasons to be upheld. This trial, however, was only a part of a well thought out chain of events which ultimately surprised the world. The Pope, naturally was declared legitimate and the attempters subsequently exiled. On December 25, 800, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne Holy Roman Emperor in St. Peter's Basilica.

This act forever severed the loyalty of Rome from its imperial progeny, Constantinople. It created instead a rival empire which, after a long series of conquests by Charlemagne, now encompassed most of the Christian Western territories.

Following the death of Charlemagne, the lack of a figure with equal prestige led the new institution into disagreement. At the same time the universal church of Rome had to face emergence of the lay interests of the City itself, spurred on by the conviction that the Roman people, though impoverished and abased, had again the right to elect the Western Emperor. The famous counterfeit document called the Donation of Constantine, prepared by the Papal notaries, guaranteed to the Pope a dominion stretching from Ravenna to Gaeta. This nominally included the suzerainty over Rome, but this was often highly disputed and as the centuries passed only the strongest Popes were to be able to assert it. The main element of weakness of the Papacy within the walls of the city was the continued necessity of the election of new popes, in which the emerging noble families soon managed to insert a leading role for themselves. The neighbouring powers, namely the Duchy of Spoleto and Toscana, and later the Emperors, learned how to take their own advantage of this internal weakness, playing the role of arbiters among the contestants.

Rome was indeed prey of anarchy in this age. The lowest point was touched in 897, when a raging crowd exhumed the corpse of a dead pope, Formosus, and put it on trial.

In this period the renovated Church was again attracting pilgrims and prelates from all the Christian world, and money with them: even with a population of only 30,000, Rome was again becoming a city of consumers dependent upon the presence of a governmental bureaucracy. In the meantime, Italian cities were acquiring increasing autonomy, mainly led by new families which were replacing the old aristocracy with a new class formed by entrepreneurs, traders and merchants. After the sack of Rome by the Normans in 1084, the rebuilding of the city was supported by powerful families such as the Frangipane family and the Pierleoni family, whose wealth came from commerce and banking rather than landholdings. Inspired by neighbouring cities like Tivoli and Viterbo, Rome's people began to consider adopting a communal status and gaining a substantial amount of freedom from papal authority.

Led by Giordano Pierleoni, the Romans rebelled against the aristocracy and Church rule in 1143. The Senate and the Roman Republic, the Commune of Rome, were born again. Through the inflammatory words of preacher Arnaldo da Brescia, an idealistic, fierce opponent of ecclesiastical property and church interference in temporal affairs, the revolt that led to the creation of the Commune of Rome continued until it was put down in 1155, though it left its mark on the civil government of the Eternal City for centuries. Twelfth-century Rome, however, had little in common with the empire which had ruled over the Mediterranean some 700 years before, and soon the new Senate had to work hard to survive, choosing an ambiguous policy of shifting its support from the Pope to the Holy Roman Empire and vice versa as the political situation required. At Monteporzio, in 1167, during one of these shifts, in the war with Tusculum, Roman troops were defeated by the imperial forces of Frederick Barbarossa. Luckily, the winning enemies were soon dispersed by a plague and Rome was saved.

In 1188 the new communal government was finally recognized by Pope Clement III. The Pope had to make large cash payments to the communal officials, while the 56 senators became papal vassals. The Senate always had problems in the accomplishment of its function, and various changes were tried. Often a single Senator was in charge. This sometimes led to tyrannies, which did not help the stability of the new-born organism.

In 1204 the streets of Rome were again in flames when the struggle between Pope Innocent III's family and its rivals, the powerful Orsini family, led to riots in the city. Many ancient buildings were then destroyed by machines used by the rival bands to besiege their enemies in the innumerable towers and strongholds which were a hallmark of the Middle Age Italian towns.

The struggle between the Popes and the emperor Frederick II, also king of Naples and Sicily, saw Rome support the Ghibellines. To repay his loyalty, Frederick sent to the commune the Carroccio he had won to the Lombards at the battle of Cortenuova in 1234, and which was exposed in the Campidoglio. In that year, during another revolt against the Pope, the Romans headed by senator Luca Savelli sacked the Lateran. Curiously, Savelli was the nephew of Pope Honorius III and father of Honorius IV, but in that age family ties often did not determine one's allegiance. Rome was never to evolve into an autonomous, stable reign, as happened to other communes like Florence, Siena or Milan. The endless struggles between noble families (Savelli, Orsini, Colonna, Annibaldi), the ambiguous position of the Popes, the haughtiness of a population which never abandoned the dreams of their splendid past but, at the same time, thought only of immediate advantage, and the weakness of the republican institutions always deprived the city of this possibility.

In an attempt to imitate more successful communes, in 1252 the people elected a foreign Senator, the Bolognese Brancaleone degli Andalò. In order to bring peace in the city he suppressed the most powerful nobles (destroying some 140 towers), reorganized the working classes and issued a code of laws inspired by those of northern Italy. Brancaleone was a tough figure, but died in 1258 with almost nothing of his reforms turned into reality. Five years later Charles I of Anjou, then king of Naples, was elected Senator. He entered the city only in 1265, but soon his presence was needed to face Conradin, the Hohenstaufen's heir who was coming to claim his family's rights over southern Italy, and left the city. After June 1265 Rome was again a democratic republic, electing Henry of Castile as senator. But Conradin and the Ghibelline party were crushed in the Battle of Tagliacozzo (1268), and therefore Rome fell again in the hands of Charles.

Nicholas III, a member of Orsini family, was elected in 1277 and moved the seat of the Popes from the Lateran to the more defensible Vatican. He also ordered that no foreigner could become senator of Rome. Being a Roman himself, he had himself elected senator by the people. With this move, the city began again to side for the papal party. In 1285 Charles was again Senator, but the Sicilian Vespers reduced his charisma, and the city was thenceforth free from his authority. The next senator was again a Roman, and again a pope, Honorius IV of the Savelli.

Successor to the meteoric Celestine V was an energetic Roman of the Caetani family, Boniface VIII. Entangled in a local feud against the traditional rivals of his family, the Colonna, at the same time he struggled to reassure the universal supremacy of the Holy See. In 1300 he launched the first Jubilee and founded the first University of Rome. The Jubilee was an important move for Rome, as it increased further its international prestige and, most of all, the city's economy was boosted by the flow of pilgrims. Boniface died in 1303 after the humiliation of the Schiaffo di Anagni ("Slap of Anagni"), which signed instead the rule of the King of France over the Papacy and marked another period of decline for Rome.

Boniface's successor, Clement V, never entered in the city, starting the so-called "Babylonian Captivity", the absence of the Pope from their Roman seat in favour of Avignon, which will last for more than 70 years. This situation brought the independence of the local powers, but these revealed largely unstable; and the lack of the holy revenues caused a deep decay of Rome. For more than a century Rome had no new major buildings. Furthermore, many of the monuments of the city, including the main churches, began to ruin.

In spite of its decline and the absence of the Pope, Rome had not lost its spiritual prestige: in 1341 the famous poet Petrarca came to the city to be crowned as poet in Capitoline Hill. Noblemen and poor people at one time demanded with one voice the return of the Pope. Among the many ambassadors that in this period took their way to Avignon, emerged the bizarre but eloquent figure of Cola di Rienzo. As his personal power among the people increased by time, on May 30, 1347 he conquered the Capitoline at the head of an enthusiast crowd. The period of his power, though very short-lived, is anyway one of the most interesting in the life of Rome in Middle Ages, as Cola tried to assure himself a renovating, almost mystical aura of a paladin of Italian independence, within a confused political dream inspired to the prestige of the Ancient Rome. Now in possession of dictatorial powers, he took the title of "tribune", referring to the pleb's magistracy of the Roman Republic. Cola also considered himself at an equal status of that of the Holy Roman Emperor. On August 1, he conferred Roman citizenship on all the Italian cities, and even prepared for the election of a Roman emperor of Italy. It was too much: the Pope denounced him as heretic, criminal and pagan, the populace had begun to be disenchanted with him, while the nobles had always hated him. On December 15, he was forced to flee.

In August 1354 A.D., Cola was again a protagonist, when Cardinal Gil Alvarez De Albornoz entrusted him with the role of "senator of Rome" in his program of reassuring the Pope's rule in the Papal States. In October the tyrannical Cola, who had become again very unpopular for his delirious behaviour and heavy bills, was killed in a riot provoked by the powerful family of the Colonna. In April of 1355, Charles IV of Bohemia entered the city for the ritual coronation as Emperor. His visit was very disappointing for the citizens. He had little money, received the crown not from the Pope but from a Cardinal, and moved away after a few days.

With the emperor back in his lands, Albornoz could regain a certain control over the city, while remaining in his safe citadel in Montefiascone, in the Northern Lazio. The senators were chosen directly by the Pope from several cities of Italy, but the city was in fact independent. The Senate council included six judges, five notaries, six marshals, several familiars, twenty knights and twenty armed men. Albornoz had heavily suppressed the traditional aristocratic families, and the "democratic" party felt confident enough to start an aggressive policy. In 1362 Rome declared war on Velletri. This move, however, provoked a civil war. The countryside party hired a condottieri band called "Del Cappello" ("Hat"), while the Romans bought the services of German and Hungarian troops, plus a citizen levy of 600 knights and even 22,000 infantry. This was the period in which Italy was scourged by these ruthless condottieri bands. Many of the Savelli, Orsini and Annibaldi expelled from Rome became leaders of such military units. The war with Velletri languished, and Rome again gave itself to the new Pope, Urban V, provided the dreadful Albornoz did not enter the walls.

On October 16, 1367, in reply to the prayers of St Brigid and Petrarca, Urban finally visited for the city. During his presence, Charles IV was again crowned in the city (October 1368). In addition, the Byzantine emperor John V Palaeologus came in Rome to beg for a crusade against the Ottoman Empire, but in vain. However, Urban did not like the unhealthy air of the city, and on September 5, 1370 he sailed again to Avignon. His successor, Gregory XI, officially set the date of his return to Rome at May 1372, but again the French cardinals and the King stopped him.

Only on January 17, 1377, Gregory XI could finally reinstate the Holy See in Rome.

The incoherent behaviour of his successor, the Italian Urban VI, provoked in 1378 the Western Schism, which impeded any true attempt of improving the conditions of the decaying Rome.

When in 1433 the Duke of Milan Filippo Maria Visconti signed a treaty of peace with Florence and Venice, he sent the condottieri Niccolò Fortebraccio and Francesco Sforza to harass the Papal States, in vengeance for Eugene IV's support to these former republics. Fortebraccio, supported by the Colonna, occupied Tivoli in October and ravaged Rome's countryside. Despite the concessions made by Eugene to the Visconti, the Milanese soldiers did not stop their action. This led the Romans to institute a Republic government under the Banderesi (May 29, 1434). Eugene left the city in the night of June 4.

However, the Banderari soon proved incapable to govern the city, and their misfits and violences deprived it soon of the popular support. The city was therefore returned to Eugene by the army of Giovanni Vitelleschi on October 26, 1434. After the death of Vitelleschi in mysterious circumstances, the power in the city was under Ludovico Scarampo, Patriarch of Aquileia. Eugene returned in Rome on 28 September 1443.

With Nicholas V (reigned from March 19, 1447) the Renaissance entered in Rome, starting a period in which Rome was to become the centre of Humanism. He was the first pope to embellish the Roman court with scholars and artists, including Lorenzo Valla and Vespasiano da Bisticci.

On September 4, 1449 Nicholas proclaimed a Jubilee for the following year, which saw a great influx of pilgrims from all Europe. The crowd was so large that in December, on Ponte Sant'Angelo, some 200 people died crushed under their feet or drowned in the Tiber. But that year the plague reappeared in the city, and Nicholas fled dishonourably.

In any case, Nicholas asserted in a stable way the temporal power of the Papacy, a power in which the Emperor was to have no part at all. In this way, the coronation and the marriage of Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor on March 16, 1452, was more a civil ceremony. The Papacy now controlled Rome with a strong hand. A plot by Stefano Porcari, whose aim was the restoration of the Republic, was ruthlessly suppressed on January 1453. Porcari was hanged together with the other plotters, Francesco Gabadeo, Pietro de Monterotondo, Battista Sciarra and Angiolo Ronconi, but the Pope gained a treacherous reputation, as when the execution was beginning he was too drunk to confirm the grace he had previously given to Sciarra and Ronconi.

He also designed urban renewal in collaboration with Leon Battista Alberti, including the construction of a new St Peter's Basilica.

Nicholas' successor Calixtus III neglected the new cultural policy of Nicholas, devoting himself instead to his greatest passion, the love for his nephews. The Tuscan Pius II, who took the reins after his death in 1458, was a great Humanist, but did little for Rome. During his reign Lorenzo Valla demonstrated that the Donation of Constantine was a forgery. Pius was the first pope to use guns, in campaign against the rebel barons Savelli in the neighbourhood of Rome, in 1461. One year later the moving to Rome of the head of the apostle St. Andrew produced a great number of pilgrims. The reign of Pope Paul II (1464-1471) was notable only for the reintroduction of the Carnival, which was to become a very popular feast in Rome in the following centuries. In the same year (1468) a plot was discovered against the pope, organized by the intellectuals of the Roman Academy founded by Pomponio Leto. The plotters were sent to Castel Sant'Angelo.

More important by far was the pontificate of Sixtus IV. In order to favour his relative Girolamo Riario, he promoted the unsuccessful Congiura dei Pazzi against the Medici of Florence (April 26, 1478) and in Rome fought the Colonna and the Orsini. The personal politics of intrigues and wars needed much money, but in spite of this Sixtus was a true patron of art in the wake of Nicholas V. He reopened the Academy and reorganized the Collegio degli Abbreviatori, and in 1471 started the construction of the Vatican Library, whose first curator was Platina. The Library was officially founded on June 15, 1475. He restored several churches, including Santa Maria del Popolo, the Aqua Virgo and the Hospital of the Holy Spirit, paved some streets and also built a famous bridge on the Tiber which still today carries his name. However, his main building project was the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Palace. Its decoration called on some of the most renowned artists of that age, including Mino da Fiesole, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Pietro Perugino, Luca Signorelli and Pinturicchio, and in the 16th century Michelangelo painted it with his famous masterpiece and made it one of the most outstanding monuments of the world. Sixtus died on August 12, 1484. He is considered the first Pope-king of Rome.

Chaos, corruption and nepotism appeared in Rome under the reign of his successors, Innocent VIII and Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503). During the vacation period between the death of the former and the election of the latter there were 220 murders in the city. Alexander had to face Charles VIII of France, who invaded Italy in 1494 and entered in Rome on December 31 of that year. The Pope could only barricade himself into Castel Sant'Angelo, which had been turned into a true fortress by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger. In the end, the skilful Alexander was able to gain the support of the king, assigning his son Cesare Borgia as military counsellor for the subsequent invasion of the Kingdom of Naples. Rome was safe and, as the King directed himself southwards, the Pope again changed his position, joining the anti-French League of the Italian States which finally compelled Charles to flee to France.

The most nepotist Pope of all, Alexander favoured his ruthless son Cesare, creating for him a personal duchy out of territories of the Papal States, and banning from Rome the Orsini family, Cesare's most relentless enemy. In 1500 the city hosted a new Jubilee, but its street grew even more unsafe as, especially at night, when they were controlled by bands of lawless "bravi". Cesare himself assassinated Alfonso of Bisceglie, his sister Lucrezia's, as well as, presumably, the Pope's son, Giovanni of Gandia.

The Renaissance had a great impact on Rome's face, with works like the Pietà by Michelangelo and the frescoes of the Borgia Apartment, all made during Innocent's reign. Rome reached the highest point of splendour under Pope Julius II (1503-1513) and his successors Leo X and Clement VII, both members of the Medici family. In this twenty-years period Rome became the greatest centre of art of the world. The old St. Peter's Basilica was demolished and a new one begun. The city hosted artists like Bramante, who built the temple of San Pietro in Montorio and planned a great project to renovate the Vatican. Raphael, who in Rome became the most famous painter of Italy creating frescos in the Cappella Niccolina, the Villa Farnesina, the Raphael's Rooms, plus many other famous paintings. Michelangelo started the decoration of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and executed the famous statue of the Moses for the tomb of Julius. Rome lost in part its religious character, becoming increasingly a true Renaissance city, with a great number of popular feasts, horse races, parties, intrigues and licentious episodes. Its economy was rich, with the presence of several Tuscan bankers, including Agostino Chigi, who was a friend of Raphael and a patron of arts. Before his early death, Raphael also promoted for the first time the preservation of the ancient ruins.

In 1527 the ambiguous policy followed by the second Medici Pope, Pope Clement VII, resulted in the dramatic sack of the city by the unruly Imperial troops of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. After the execution of some 1,000 defenders, the pillage began. The city was devastated for several days, many of the citizens were killed or took shelter outside the walls. Of 189 Swiss Guards on duty only 42 survived. The Pope himself was imprisoned for months in Castel Sant'Angelo. The sack marked the end of one of the most splendid eras of modern Rome.

The 1525's Jubilee resulted in a farce, as Martin Luther's claims had spread criticism and even despise against the Pope's greed of money throughout Europe. The prestige of Rome was then challenged by the defections of the churches of Germany and England. Pope Paul III (1534-1549) tried to recover the situation by summoning the Council of Trento, although being, at the same time, the most nepotist Pope of all. He even separated Parma and Piacenza from the Papal States to create an independent duchy for his son Pier Luigi. He continued the patronage of art supporting the Michelangelo's Last Judgment, asking him to renovate the Campidoglio and the on-going construction of St. Peter's. After the shock of the sack, he also called the brilliant architect Giuliano da Sangallo the Younger to strengthen the walls of the Leonine City.

The need for renovation in the religious costumes became evident in the vacancy period after Paulus' death, when the streets of Rome became seat of masked carousels which satirized the Cardinals attending the conclave. His two immediate successors were feeble figures who did nothing to escape the actual Spanish suzerainty over Rome.

Paul IV, elected in 1555, was a member of the anti-Spanish party, but his policy resulted in the Neapolitan troops of the viceroy again besieging Rome in 1556. Paul sued for peace, but had to accept the supremacy of Philip II of Spain. He was one of the most hated Popes of all, and, after his death the raging populace burned the Holy Inquisition's palace and destroyed his marble statue on the Campidoglio. Paul's Counter-Reformation views are well shown by his order that a central area of Rome, around the Porticus Octaviae, be delimited, creating the famous Roman Ghetto,the very constricted area in which the city's Jews were forced to live.

The Counter-Reformation gained pace under his successors, the milder Pope Pius IV and the severe Saint Pius V. The former was a nepotist lover of court splendours, but more severe costumes arrived anyway through the ideas of his advisor, the prelate Charles Borromeo, who was to become one of the most popular figures among the Rome's people. Pius V and Borromeo gave Rome a true Counter-Reformation character. All pomp was removed from the court, the jokers were expelled, and cardinals and bishops were obliged to live in the city. Blasphemy and concubinage were severely punished. Prostitutes were expelled or confined in a reserved district. The Inquisition's power in the city was reasserted, and its palace rebuilt with an increased space for prisons. During this period Michelangelo and opened the Porta Pia and turned the Baths of Diocletian into the spectacular basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri, where Pius IV was buried.

The pontificate of his successor, Gregory XIII, was considered a failure. As he tried to use milder measures than those of St. Pius, the worst element of the Roman population felt free to scourge again the streets. The French writer and philosopher Montaigne maintained that "life and goods were never as unsure as at the time of Gregorius XIII, perhaps", and that a confraternity even held homosexual marriage in the church of San Giovanni a Porta Latina. The courtesans repressed by Pius had now returned.

Sixtus V was of very different temper. Although short (1585-1590), his reign his however remembered as one of the most effective in the modern Rome's history. He was even tougher than Pius V, and was variously nicknamed castigamatti ("punisher of the mad"), papa di ferro ("Iron Pope"), dictator and even, ironically, demon, since no other Pope before him pursued with such a determination the reform of the church and the costumes. Sixtus profoundly reorganized the Papal States' administration, and cleaned the streets of Rome of thugs, procurers, dueling and so on. Even the nobles and Cardinals could not consider themselves free from the arms of Sixtus' police. The money from taxes, which were not now wasted in corruption, permitted an ambitious building program. Some ancient aqueducts were restored, and new one, the Acquedotto Felice (from Sixtus' name, Felice Peretti) was constructed. New houses were built in the desolate district of Esquilino, Viminale and Quirinale, while old houses in the centre of the city were destroyed to open new, larger streets. Sixtus's principal aim was to make Rome a better destination for pilgrimages, and the new streets were intended to permit a better access to the major Basilicas. Old obelisks were moved or erected to embellish St. John in Lateran, Santa Maria Maggiore and St. Peter, as well as Piazza del Popolo, in front of Santa Maria del Popolo.

Some of the most famous views of Rome in the 18th century were etched by Giovanni Battista Piranesi. His grand vision of classic Rome inspired many to visit the city and examine the ruins themselves.

The rule of the Popes was interrupted by the short-lived Roman Republic (1798), which was built under the influence of the French Revolution. During Napoleon's reign, Rome was annexed into his empire and was technically part of France. After the fall of Napoleon's Empire, new states were created in Italy through the Congress of Vienna of 1814. The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (Naple and Sicily) under Bourbon Ferdinand IV, the restored Papal States, and the kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia under King Charles-Albert. The two regions of Venetia and Lombardy were given to the Austrians under their direct control for some time.

Another Roman Republic arose in 1849, within the framework of revolutions of 1848. Two of the most influential figures of the Italian unification, Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi, fought for the short-lived republic. However, the actions of these two great men would not have resulted in unification without the sly leadership of Camille Cavour, Prime Minister of Piedmont-Sardinia.

In his attempt to unify Northern Italy under the kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, Cavour enacted major industrialization of the country in order to become the economic leader of Italy. In doing so, he believed that the other states would naturally come under his rule. Next, he sent the army of Piedmont to the Crimean War to join the French and British. Making minor successes in the war against Russia, cordial relations were established between Piedmont-Sardinia and France; a relationship to be exploited in the future.

The return of Pope Pius IX in Rome, with help of French troops, marked the exclusion of Rome from the unification process that was embodied in the Second Italian Independence War and the Mille expedition, after which all the Italian peninsula, except Rome and Venetia, would be unified under the House of Savoy. Garibaldi first attacked Sicily, luckily under the guise of passing British ships and landing with little resistance.

Taking the island, Garibaldi's actions were publicly denounced by Cavour but secretly encouraged via weapons supplements. This policy or real-politik, where the ends justified the means of unification, was continued as Garibaldi faced crossing the Strait of Messina. Cavour privately asked the British navy to allow Garibaldi's troops across the sea while publicly he again, denounced Garibaldi's actions. The maneuver was a success and Garibaldi's military genius carried him on to take the entire kingdom.

Cavour then moved to take Venetia and Lombardy via an alliance with France. The Italians and French together would attack the two states with France getting the city of Nice and the region of Savoy in return. However, the French pulled out of their agreement soon after, enraging Cavour who subsequently resigned. Only Lombardy had been captured at the time.

With French units still stationed at Rome however, Cavour, being called back to office, foresaw a possibility of Garibaldi attacking the Papal States and accidentally disrupting French-Italian relations. The army of Sardinia was therefore mobilized to attack the Papal States but remain outside Rome.

In the Austro-Prussian war however, a deal was made between the new Italy and Prussia, where Italy would attack Austria in return for the region of Venetia. The war was a major success for the Prussians (though the Italians did not win a single battle), and the northern front of Italy was complete.

In July, 1870, the Franco-Prussian War started, and French Emperor Napoleon III could no longer protect the Papal States. Soon after, the Italian army under general Raffaele Cadorna entered Rome on September 20, after a cannonade of three hours, through Porta Pia (see capture of Rome). The Leonine City was occupied the following day, a provisional Government Joint created by Cadorna out of local noblemen to avoid the rise of the radical factions. Rome and Latium were annexed to the Kingdom of Italy after a plebiscite held on October 2. 133,681 voted for annexion, 1,507 opposed (in Rome itself, there were 40,785 "Yes" and 57 "No").

Initially, the Italian government had offered to let Pope Pius IX keep the Leonine City, but the pope rejected the offer because acceptance would have been an implied endorsement of the legitimacy of the Italian kingdom's rule over his former domain. Pope Pius IX declared himself a prisoner in the Vatican, although he was not actually restrained from coming and going. Officially, the capital was moved from Florence to Rome in early 1871.

Today's Rome reflects the stratification of the epochs of its long history, but it also is a huge contemporary metropolis. Its vast historical centre contains many areas from Ancient Rome, areas from medieval times, many palaces and artistic treasures from the Renaissance era, many fountains, churches and palaces from baroque times, as well as many examples of the Art Nouveau, Neoclassic, Modernism, Rationalism and any other artistic styles of the XIX and XX centuries (the city is in fact considered a living encyclopedia and museum of the last 3000 years of western art). The historical centre is identified as within the limits of the ancient imperial walls. Some central areas were reorganised after the unification (1880–1910 - Roma Umbertina), and some important additions and adaptations made during the Fascist period, with the discussed creation of the Via dei Fori Imperiali, of the Via della Conciliazione in front of the Vatican (for the construction of which a large part of the old Borgo neighbourhood was destroyed) and the founding of new quartieri (among which EUR, San Basilio, Garbatella, Cinecittà, Trullo, Quarticciolo and, on the coast, the restructuring of Ostia) and the inclusion of bordering villages (Labaro, Osteria del Curato, Quarto Miglio, Capannelle, Pisana, Torrevecchia, Ottavia, Casalotti). These expansions were needed to house the huge increase of population caused by the centralisation of the Italian state.

During World War II, Rome suffered few bombings (notably at San Lorenzo) and relatively little damage because none of the sides involved wanted to endanger the life of Pope Pius XII in Vatican City. Rome fell to the Allies on June 4, 1944. It was the first capital of an Axis nation to fall, and was relatively undamaged because the Germans had declared it an "open city" and withdrawn, meaning that the Allies did not have to fight their way in.

After the war, Rome continued to expand due to Italy's growing state administration and industry, with the creation of new quartieri and suburbs. The current official population stands at 2.5 million; during the business day workers increase this figure to over 3.5 million. This is a dramatic increase from previous figures, which were 138,000 in 1825, 244,000 in 1871, 692,000 in 1921, 1,600,000 in 1931.

Rome hosted the 1960 Summer Olympics, using many ancient sites such as the Villa Borghese and the Thermae of Caracalla as venues. For the Olympic Games many new structures were created, notably the new large Olympic Stadium (which was also enlarged and renewed to host qualification and the final match of the 1990 FIFA football World Cup), the Villaggio Olimpico (Olympic Village, created to host the athletes and redeveloped after the games as a residential district), etc.

Many of the monuments of Rome were restored by the Italian state and by the Vatican for the 2000 Jubilee.

Being the capital city of Italy, Rome hosts all the principal institutions of the nation, like the Presidency of the Republic, the government (and its single Ministeri), the Parliament, the main judicial Courts, and the diplomatic representatives of all the countries for the states of Italy and the Vatican City (curiously, Rome also hosts, in the Italian part of its territory, the Embassy of Italy for the Vatican City, a unique case of an Embassy within the boundaries of its own country). Many international institutions are located in Rome, notably cultural and scientific ones - such as the American Institute, the British School, the French Academy, the Scandinavian Institutes, the German Archaeological Institute - for the honour of scholarship in the Eternal City, and humanitarian ones, such as the FAO.

Rome today is one of the most important tourist destinations of the world, due to the incalculable immensity of its archaeological and artistic treasures, as well as for the charm of its unique traditions, the beauty of its panoramic views, and the majesty of its magnificent "villas" (parks). Among the most significant resources: plenty of museums - (Musei Capitolini, the Vatican Museums, Galleria Borghese, and a great many others) — aqueducts, fountains, churches, palaces, historical buildings, the monuments and ruins of the Roman Forum, and the Catacombs.

Among its hundreds of churches, Rome contains the five Major Basilicas of the Catholic Church: Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano (St. John Lateran, Rome's cathedral), Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano (St. Peter's Basilica), Basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura (St. Paul Outside the Walls), Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major), and Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura (St. Lawrence Outside the Walls). The Bishop of Rome is the Pope.

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Ancient Rome

According to legend, Rome was founded in 753 BC by Romulus and Remus, who were raised by a she-wolf.

Ancient Rome was a civilization that grew out of a small agricultural community founded on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 10th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea, it became one of the largest empires in the ancient world.

In its centuries of existence, Roman civilization shifted from a monarchy to an oligarchic republic to an increasingly autocratic empire. It came to dominate Western Europe and the Mediterranean region through conquest and assimilation.

The Western Roman Empire went into decline and disappeared in the 5th century AD. Plagued by internal instability and attacked by various migrating peoples, the western part of the empire, including Hispania, Gaul, Britannia and Italy, broke up into independent kingdoms in the 5th century. The eastern part of the empire, governed from Constantinople, comprising Greece, Anatolia, Syria and Egypt, survived this crisis, and despite the loss of Syria and Egypt to the Arab Islamic Empire, revived and would live on for another millennium, until its last remains were finally annexed by the emerging Turkish Ottoman Empire. This eastern, Christian, medieval stage of the Empire is usually referred to as the Byzantine Empire by historians.

Roman civilization is often grouped into "classical antiquity" with ancient Greece, a civilization that inspired much of the culture of ancient Rome. Ancient Rome contributed greatly to the development of law, war, art, literature, architecture, technology and language in the Western world, and its history continues to have a major influence on the world today.

According to legend, Rome was founded on April 21, 753 BC by twin brothers descended from the Trojan prince Aeneas.

Romulus and Remus are the grandsons of the Latin King, Numitor of Alba Longa. The King was ejected from his throne by his cruel brother Amulius while Numitor's daughter, Rhea Silvia, gave birth.

Rhea Silvia was a Vestal Virgin who was raped by Mars, making the twins half-divine. The new king feared that Romulus and Remus would take back the throne, so they were to be drowned. A she-wolf (or a shepherd's wife in some accounts) saved and raised them, and when they were old enough, they returned the throne of Alba Longa to Numitor. The twins then founded their own city, but Romulus killed Remus in a quarrel over which one of them was to reign as the King of Rome, though some sources state the quarrel was about who was going to give their name to the city. Romulus became the source of the city's name. As the city was bereft of women, legend says that the Latins invited the Sabines to a festival and stole their unmarried maidens, leading to the integration of the Latins and the Sabines.

The city of Rome grew from settlements around a ford on the river Tiber, a crossroads of traffic and trade. According to archaeological evidence, the village of Rome was probably founded sometime in the 8th century BC, though it may go back as far as the 10th century BC, by members of the Latin tribe of Italy, on the top of the Palatine Hill. The Etruscans, who had previously settled to the north in Etruria, seem to have established political control in the region by the late 7th century BC, forming the aristocratic and monarchial elite. The Etruscans apparently lost power in the area by the late 6th century BC, and at this point, the original Latin and Sabine tribes reinvented their government by creating a republic, with much greater restraints on the ability of rulers to exercise power.

Roman tradition, as well as archaeological evidence, points to a complex within the Forum Romanum as the seat of power for the king and the beginnings of the religious center there as well. Numa Pompilius was the second king of Rome, succeeding Romulus. He began Rome's great building projects with his royal palace the Regia and the complex of the Vestal virgins.

The Roman Republic was established around 509 BC, according to later writers such as Livy, when the last of the seven kings of Rome, Tarquin the Proud, was deposed, and a system based on annually elected magistrates and various representative assemblies was established. A constitution set a series of checks and balances, and a separation of powers. The most important magistrates were the two consuls, who together exercised executive authority in the form of imperium, or military command. The consuls had to work with the senate, which was initially an advisory council of the ranking nobility, or patricians, but grew in size and power over time. Other magistracies in the Republic include praetors, aediles, and quaestors. The magistracies were originally restricted to patricians, but were later opened to common people, or plebeians. Republican voting assemblies included the comitia centuriata (centuriate assembly), which voted on matters of war and peace and elected men to the most important offices, and the comitia tributa (tribal assembly), which elected less important offices.

The Romans gradually subdued the other peoples on the Italian peninsula, including the Etruscans. The last threat to Roman hegemony in Italy came when Tarentum, a major Greek colony, enlisted the aid of Pyrrhus of Epirus in 281 BC, but this effort failed as well. The Romans secured their conquests by founding Roman colonies in strategic areas, establishing stable control over the region. In the second half of the 3rd century BC, Rome clashed with Carthage in the first of three Punic Wars. These wars resulted in Rome's first overseas conquests, of Sicily and Hispania, and the rise of Rome as a significant imperial power. After defeating the Macedonian and Seleucid Empires in the 2nd century BC, the Romans became the dominant people of the Mediterranean Sea.

Foreign dominance led to internal strife. Senators became rich at the provinces' expense, but soldiers, who were mostly small-scale farmers, were away from home longer and could not maintain their land, and the increased reliance on foreign slaves and the growth of latifundia reduced the availability of paid work. Income from war booty, mercantilism in the new provinces, and tax farming created new economic opportunities for the wealthy, forming a new class of merchants, the equestrians. The lex Claudia forbade members of the Senate from engaging in commerce, so while the equestrians could theoretically join the Senate, they were severely restricted in terms of political power. The Senate squabbled perpetually, repeatedly blocking important land reforms and refusing to give the equestrian class a larger say in the government. Violent gangs of the urban unemployed, controlled by rival Senators, intimidated the electorate through violence. The situation came to a head in the late 2nd century BC under the Gracchi brothers, a pair of tribunes who attempted to pass land reform legislation that would redistribute the major patrician landholdings among the plebeians. Both brothers were killed, but the Senate passed some of their reforms in an attempt to placate the growing unrest of the plebeian and equestrian classes. The denial of Roman citizenship to allied Italian cities led to the Social War of 91–88 BC. The military reforms of Gaius Marius resulted in soldiers often having more loyalty to their commander than to the city, and a powerful general could hold the city and Senate ransom. This led to civil war between Marius and his protegé Sulla, and culminated in Sulla's dictatorship of 81–79 BC.

In the mid-1st century BC, three men, Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus, formed a secret pact—the First Triumvirate—to control the Republic. After Caesar's conquest of Gaul, a stand-off between Caesar and the Senate led to civil war, with Pompey leading the Senate's forces. Caesar emerged victorious, and was made dictator for life. In 44 BC, Caesar was assassinated by senators who opposed Caesar's assumption of absolute power and wanted to restore constitutional government, but in the aftermath a Second Triumvirate, consisting of Caesar's designated heir, Octavian, and his former supporters, Mark Antony and Lepidus, took power. However, this alliance soon descended into a struggle for dominance. Lepidus was exiled, and when Octavian defeated Antony and Cleopatra of Egypt at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, he became the undisputed ruler of Rome.

With his enemies defeated, Octavian took the name Augustus and assumed almost absolute power, retaining only a pretense of the Republican form of government. His designated successor, Tiberius, took power without serious opposition, establishing the Julio-Claudian dynasty, which lasted until the death of Nero in 68. The territorial expansion of what was now the Roman Empire continued, and the state remained secure, despite a series of emperors widely viewed as depraved and corrupt (for example, Caligula is argued by some to have been insane and Nero had a reputation for cruelty and being more interested in his private concerns than the affairs of the state). Their rule was followed by the Flavian dynasty. During the reign of the "Five Good Emperors" (96–180), the Empire reached its territorial, economic, and cultural zenith. The state was secure from both internal and external threats, and the Empire prospered during the Pax Romana ("Roman Peace"). With the conquest of Dacia during the reign of Trajan, the Empire reached the peak of its territorial expansion; Rome's dominion now spanned 2.5 million square miles (6.5 million km²).

The period between 193 and 235 was dominated by the Severan dynasty, and saw several incompetent rulers, such as Elagabalus. This and the increasing influence of the army on imperial succession led to a long period of imperial collapse and external invasions known as the Crisis of the Third Century. The crisis was ended by the more competent rule of Diocletian, who in 293 divided the Empire into an eastern and western half ruled by a tetrarchy of two co-emperors and their two junior colleagues. The various co-rulers of the Empire competed and fought for supremacy for more than half a century. On May 11, 330, Emperor Constantine I firmly established Byzantium as the capital of the Roman Empire and renamed it Constantinople. The Empire was permanently divided into the Eastern Roman Empire (later known as the Byzantine Empire) and the Western Roman Empire in 395.

The Western Empire was constantly harassed by barbarian invasions, and the gradual decline of the western Empire continued over the centuries. In the 4th century, the westward migration of the Huns caused the Visigoths to seek refuge within the borders of the Roman Empire. In 410, the Visigoths, under the leadership of Alaric I, sacked the city of Rome itself. The Vandals invaded Roman provinces in Gaul, Spain, and northern Africa, and in 455 sacked Rome. On September 4, 476, the Germanic chief Odoacer forced the last Roman emperor in the west, Romulus Augustus, to abdicate. Having lasted for approximately 1200 years, the rule of Rome in the West came to an end.

The Eastern Empire, by contrast, would suffer a similar fate, though not as drastic. Justinian managed to briefly reconquer Northern Africa and Italy, but Byzantine possessions in the West were reduced to southern Italy and Sicily within a few years after Justinian's death. In the east, partially resulting from the destructive Plague of Justinian, the Byzantines were threatened by the rise of Islam, whose followers rapidly conquered territories in Syria and Egypt and soon presented a direct threat to Constantinople. The Byzantines, however, managed to stop Islamic expansion into their lands during the 8th century, and beginning in the 9th century reclaimed parts of the conquered lands. In 1000 AD the Eastern Empire was at its height: Basileios II reconquered Bulgaria and Armenia, culture and trade flourished. However, soon after the expansion was abruptly stopped in 1071 at the Battle of Manzikert. This finally lead the empire into a dramatic decline. Several centuries of internal strife and Turkic invasions ultimately paved the way for Emperor Alexius I Comnenus to send a call for help to the West in 1095. The West responded with the Crusades, eventually resulting in the Sack of Constantinople by participants in the Fourth Crusade. The conquest of Constantinople in 1204 would see the fragmentation of what little remained of the empire into successor states, the ultimate victor being that of Nicaea. After the recapture of Constantinople by imperial forces, the empire was little more than a Greek state confined to the Aegean coast. The Eastern Empire came to an end when Mehmed II conquered Constantinople on May 29, 1453.

The imperial city of Rome was the largest urban center of its time, with a population of about one million people (about the size of London in the early 19th century, when London was the largest city in the world), with some high-end estimates of 14 million and low-end estimates of 450,000. The public spaces in Rome resounded with such a din of hooves and clatter of iron chariot wheels that Julius Caesar had once proposed a ban on chariot traffic during the day. Historical estimates indicate that around 20 percent of the population under jurisdiction of ancient Rome (25–40%, depending on the standards used, in Roman Italy) lived in innumerable urban centers, with population of 10,000 and more and several military settlements, a very high rate of urbanization by pre-industrial standards. Most of these centers had a forum and temples and same type of buildings, on a smaller scale, as found in Rome.

Roman society is largely viewed as hierarchical, with slaves (servi) at the bottom, freedmen (liberti) above them, and free-born citizens (cives) at the top. Free citizens were themselves also divided by class. The broadest, and earliest, division was between the patricians, who could trace their ancestry to one of the 100 Patriarchs at the founding of the city, and the plebeians, who could not. This became less important in the later Republic, as some plebeian families became wealthy and entered politics, and some patrician families fell on hard times. Anyone, patrician or plebeian, who could count a consul as his ancestor was a noble (nobilis); a man who was the first of his family to hold the consulship, such as Marius or Cicero, was known as a novus homo ("new man") and ennobled his descendants. Patrician ancestry, however, still conferred considerable prestige, and many religious offices remained restricted to patricians.

A class division originally based on military service became more important. Membership of these classes was determined periodically by the Censors, according to property. The wealthiest were the Senatorial class, who dominated politics and command of the army. Next came the equestrians (equites, sometimes translated "knights"), originally those who could afford a warhorse, who formed a powerful mercantile class. Several further classes, originally based on what military equipment their members could afford, followed, with the proletarii, citizens who had no property at all, at the bottom. Before the reforms of Marius they were ineligible for military service and are often described as being just barely above freed slaves in terms of wealth and prestige.

Voting power in the Republic was dependent on class. Citizens were enrolled in voting "tribes", but the tribes of the richer classes had fewer members than the poorer ones, all the proletarii being enrolled in a single tribe. Voting was done in class order and stopped as soon as a majority of the tribes had been reached, so the poorer classes were often unable even to cast their votes.

Allied foreign cities were often given the Latin Right, an intermediary level between full citizens and foreigners (peregrini), which gave their citizens rights under Roman law and allowed their leading magistrates to become full Roman citizens. While there were varying degrees of Latin rights, the main division was between those cum suffragio ("with vote"; enrolled in a Roman tribe and able to take part in the comitia tributa) and sine suffragio ("without vote"; unable to take part in Roman politics). Some of Rome's Italian allies were given full citizenship after the Social War of 91–88 BC, and full Roman citizenship was extended to all free-born men in the Empire by Caracalla in 212. Women shared some basic rights with their male counterparts, but were not fully regarded as citizens and were thus not allowed to vote or participate in politics.

The basic units of Roman society were households and families. Households included the head (usually the father) of the household, pater familias (father of the family), his wife, children, and other relatives. In the upper classes, slaves and servants were also part of the household. The head of the household had great power (patria potestas, "father's power") over those living with him: He could force marriage (usually for money) and divorce, sell his children into slavery, claim his dependents' property as his own, and even had the right to punish or kill family members (though this last right apparently ceased to be exercised after the 1st century BC).

Patria potestas even extended over adult sons with their own households: A man was not considered a paterfamilias, nor could he truly hold property, while his own father lived. During the early period of Rome's history, a daughter, when she married, fell under the control (manus) of the paterfamilias of her husband's household, although by the late Republic this fell out of fashion, as a woman could choose to continue recognizing her father's family as her true family. However, as Romans reckoned descent through the male line, any children she had would belong to her husband's family.

Groups of related households formed a family (gens). Families were based on blood ties or adoption, but were also political and economic alliances. Especially during the Roman Republic, some powerful families, or Gentes Maiores, came to dominate political life.

Ancient Roman marriage was often regarded more as a financial and political alliance than as a romantic association, especially in the upper classes. Fathers usually began seeking husbands for their daughters when they reached an age between twelve and fourteen. The husband was almost always older than the bride. While upper class girls married very young, there is evidence that lower class women often married in their late teens or early twenties.

In the early Republic, there were no public schools, so boys were taught to read and write by their parents, or by educated slaves, called paedagogi, usually of Greek origin. The primary aim of education during this period was to train young men in agriculture, warfare, Roman traditions, and public affairs. Young boys learnt much about civic life by accompanying their fathers to religious and political functions, including the Senate for the sons of nobles. The sons of nobles were apprenticed to a prominent political figure at the age of 16, and campaigned with the army from the age of 17 (this system would still be in use among some noble families well into the imperial era). Educational practices were modified following the conquest of the Hellenistic kingdoms in the 3rd century BC and the resulting Greek influence, although it should be noted that Roman educational practices were still significantly different from Greek ones. If their parents could afford it, boys and some girls at the age of 7 were sent to a private school outside the home called a ludus, where a teacher (called a litterator or a magister ludi, and often of Greek origin) taught them basic reading, writing, arithmetic, and sometimes Greek, until the age of 11. Beginning at age 12, students went to secondary schools, where the teacher (now called a grammaticus) taught them about Greek and Roman literature. At the age of 16, some students went on to rhetoric school (where the teacher, almost always Greek, was called a rhetor). Education at this level prepared students for legal careers, and required that the students memorize the laws of Rome. Pupils went to school every day, except religious festivals and market days. There were also summer holidays.

Initially, Rome was ruled by kings, who were elected from each of Rome's major tribes in turn. The exact nature of the king's power is uncertain. He may have held near-absolute power, or may also have merely been the chief executive of the Senate and the people. At least in military matters, the king's authority (Imperium) was likely absolute. He was also the head of the state religion. In addition to the authority of the King, there were three administrative assemblies: the Senate, which acted as an advisory body for the King; the Comitia Curiata, which could endorse and ratify laws suggested by the King; and the Comitia Calata, which was an assembly of the priestly college which could assemble the people in order to bear witness to certain acts, hear proclamations, and declare the feast and holiday schedule for the next month.

The class struggles of the Roman Republic resulted in an unusual mixture of democracy and oligarchy. The word republic comes from the Latin res publica which literally translates to public business. Roman laws traditionally could only be passed by a vote of the Popular assembly (Comitia Tributa). Likewise, candidates for public positions had to run for election by the people. However, the Roman Senate represented an oligarchic institution, which acted as an advisory body. In the Republic, the Senate held great authority (auctoritas), but no actual legislative power; it was technically only an advisory council. However, as the Senators were individually very influential, it was difficult to accomplish anything against the collective will of the Senate. New Senators were chosen from among the most accomplished patricians by Censors (Censura), who could also remove a Senator from his office if he was found "morally corrupt"; a charge that could include bribery or, as under Cato the Elder, embracing one's wife in public. Later, under the reforms of the dictator Sulla, Quaestors were made automatic members of the Senate, though most of his reforms did not survive.

The Republic had no fixed bureaucracy, and collected taxes through the practice of tax farming. Government positions such as quaestor, aedile, or praefect were funded from the office-holder's private finances. In order to prevent any citizen from gaining too much power, new magistrates were elected annually and had to share power with a colleague. For example, under normal conditions, the highest authority was held by two consuls. In an emergency, a temporary dictator could be appointed. Throughout the Republic, the administrative system was revised several times to comply with new demands. In the end, it proved inefficient for controlling the ever-expanding dominion of Rome, contributing to the establishment of the Roman Empire.

In the early Empire, the pretense of a republican form of government was maintained. The Roman Emperor was portrayed as only a princeps, or "first citizen", and the Senate gained legislative power and all legal authority previously held by the popular assemblies. However, the rule of the emperors became increasingly autocratic over time, and the Senate was reduced to an advisory body appointed by the emperor. The Empire did not inherit a set bureaucracy from the Republic, since the Republic did not have any permanent governmental structures apart from the Senate. The Emperor appointed assistants and advisers, but the state lacked many institutions, such as a centrally planned budget. Some historians have cited this as a significant reason for the decline of the Roman Empire.

The roots of the legal principles and practices of the ancient Romans may be traced to the law of the twelve tables (from 449 BC) to the codification of Emperor Justinian I (around 530 AD). Roman law as preserved in Justinian's codes continued into the Byzantine Empire, and formed the basis of similar codifications in continental Western Europe. Roman law continued, in a broader sense, to be applied throughout most of Europe until the end of the 17th century.

The major divisions of the law of ancient Rome, as contained within the Justinian and Theodosian law codes, consisted of Ius Civile, Ius Gentium, and Ius Naturale. The Ius Civile ("Citizen law") was the body of common laws that applied to Roman citizens. The Praetores Urbani (sg. Praetor Urbanus) were the individuals who had jurisdiction over cases involving citizens. The Ius Gentium ("Law of nations") was the body of common laws that applied to foreigners, and their dealings with Roman citizens. The Praetores Peregrini (sg. Praetor Peregrinus) were the individuals who had jurisdiction over cases involving citizens and foreigners. Ius Naturale encompassed natural law, the body of laws that were considered common to all being.

Ancient Rome commanded a vast area of land, with tremendous natural and human resources. As such, Rome's economy remained focused on agriculture and trade. Agricultural free trade changed the Italian landscape, and by the 1st century BC, vast grape and olive estates had supplanted the yeoman farmers, who were unable to match the imported grain price. The annexation of Egypt, Sicily and Tunisia in North Africa provided a continuous supply of grains. In turn, olive oil and wine were Italy's main exports. Two-tier crop rotation was practiced, but farm productivity was overall low, around 1 ton per hectare.

Industrial and manufacturing activities were smaller. The largest such activity were the mining and quarrying of stones, which provided basic construction materials for the buildings of that period. In manufacturing, production was on a relatively small scale, and generally consisted of workshops and small factories that employed at most dozens of workers. However, some brick factories employed hundreds of workers.

The economy of the early Republic was largely based on smallholding and paid labor. However, foreign wars and conquests made slaves increasingly cheap and plentiful, and by the late Republic, the economy was largely dependent on slave labor for both skilled and unskilled work. Slaves are estimated to have constituted around 20% of the Roman Empire's population at this time and 40% in the city of Rome. Only in the Roman Empire, when the conquests stopped and the prices of slaves increased, did hired labor become more economical than slave ownership.

Although barter was used in ancient Rome, and often used in tax collection, Rome had a very developed coinage system, with brass, bronze, and precious metal coins in circulation throughout the Empire and beyond—some have even been discovered in India. Before the 3rd century BC, copper was traded by weight, measured in unmarked lumps, across central Italy. The original copper coins (as) had a face value of one Roman pound of copper, but weighed less. Thus, Roman money's utility as a unit of exchange consistently exceeded its intrinsic value as metal. After Nero began debasing the silver denarius, its legal value was an estimated one-third greater than its intrinsic.

Horses were too expensive, and other pack animals too slow, for mass trade on the Roman roads, which connected military posts rather than markets, and were rarely designed for wheels. As a result, there was little transport of commodities between Roman regions until the rise of Roman maritime trade in the 2nd century BC. During that period, a trading vessel took less than a month to complete a trip from Gades to Alexandria via Ostia, spanning the entire length of the Mediterranean. Transport by sea was around 60 times cheaper than by land, so the volume for such trips was much larger.

The early Roman army (c. 500 BC) was, like those of other contemporary city-states influenced by Greek civilization, a citizen militia which practiced hoplite tactics. It was small (the population of free males of military age was then about 9,000) and organized in five classes (in parallel to the comitia centuriata, the body of citizens organized politically), with three providing hoplites and two providing light infantry. The early Roman army was tactically limited and its stance during this period was essentially defensive. By the 3rd century BC, the Romans abandoned the hoplite formation in favor of a more flexible system in which smaller groups of 120 (or in some cases 60) men called maniples could maneuver more independently on the battlefield. Thirty maniples arranged in three lines with supporting troops constituted a legion, totaling between 4,000 and 5,000 men. The early Republican legion consisted of five sections, each of which was equipped differently and had different places in formation: the three lines of manipular heavy infantry (hastati, principes and triarii), a force of light infantry (velites), and the cavalry (equites). With the new organization came a new orientation toward the offensive and a much more aggressive posture toward adjoining city-states.

At nominal full strength, an early Republican legion would have included 3,600 to 4,800 heavy infantry, several hundred light infantry and several hundred cavalrymen, for a total of 4,000 to 5,000 men. Legions were often significantly understrength from recruitment failures or following periods of active service due to accidents, battle casualties, disease and desertion. During the Civil War, Pompey's legions in the east were at full strength because recently recruited, while Caesar's legions were in many cases well below nominal strength after long active service in Gaul. This pattern also held true for auxiliary forces.

Until the late Republican period, the typical legionary was a property-owning citizen farmer from a rural area (an adsiduus) who served for particular (often annual) campaigns, and who supplied his own equipment and, in the case of equites, his own mount. Harris suggests that down to 200 BC, the average rural farmer (who survived) might participate in six or seven campaigns. Freedmen and slaves (wherever resident) and urban citizens did not serve except in rare emergencies. After 200 BC, economic conditions in rural areas deteriorated as manpower needs increased, so that the property qualifications for service were gradually reduced. Beginning with Gaius Marius in 107 BC, citizens without property and some urban-dwelling citizens (proletarii) were enlisted and provided with equipment, although most legionaries continued to come from rural areas. Terms of service became continuous and long—up to twenty years if emergencies required it although Brunt argues that six or seven years was more typical. Beginning in the 3rd century BC, legionaries were paid stipendium (amounts are disputed but Caesar famously "doubled" payments to his troops to 225 denarii a year), could anticipate booty and donatives (distributions of plunder by commanders) from successful campaigns and, beginning at the time of Marius, often were granted allotments of land upon retirement. Cavalry and light infantry attached to a legion (the auxilia) were often recruited in the areas where the legion served. Caesar formed a legion, the Fifth Alaudae, from non-citizens in Transalpine Gaul to serve in his campaigns in Gaul. By the time of Caesar Augustus, the ideal of the citizen-soldier had been abandoned and the legions had become fully professional. Legionaries were paid 900 sesterces a year and could expect a payment of 12,000 sesterces on retirement.

At the end of the Civil War, Augustus reorganized Roman military forces, discharging soldiers and disbanding legions. He retained 28 legions, distributed through the provinces of the Empire. During the Principate, the tactical organization of the Army continued to evolve. The auxilia remained independent cohorts, and legionary troops often operated as groups of cohorts rather than as full legions. A new versatile type of unit, the cohortes equitatae, combining cavalry and legionaries in a single formation could be stationed at garrisons or outposts, could fight on their own as balanced small forces or could combine with other similar units as a larger legion-sized force. This increase in organizational flexibility over time helped ensure the long-term success of Roman military forces.

The Emperor Gallienus (253–268 AD) began a reorganization that created the final military structure of the late Empire. Withdrawing some legionaries from the fixed bases on the border, Gallienus created mobile forces (the Comitatenses or field armies) and stationed them behind and at some distance from the borders as a strategic reserve. The border troops (limitanei) stationed at fixed bases continued to be the first line of defense. The basic unit of the field army was the "regiment", legiones or auxilia for infantry and vexellationes for cavalry. Evidence suggests that nominal strengths may have been 1,200 men for infantry regiments and 600 for cavalry, although many records show lower actual troop levels (800 and 400). Many infantry and cavalry regiments operated in pairs under the command of a comes. In addition to Roman troops, the field armies included regiments of "barbarians" recruited from allied tribes and known as foederati. By 400 AD, foederati regiments had become permanently established units of the Roman army, paid and equipped by the Empire, led by a Roman tribune and used just as Roman units were used. In addition to the foederati, the Empire also used groups of barbarians to fight along with the legions as "allies" without integration into the field armies. Under the command of the senior Roman general present, they were led at lower levels by their own officers.

Military leadership evolved greatly over the course of the history of Rome. Under the monarchy, the hoplite armies would have been led by the kings of Rome. During the early and middle Roman Republic, military forces were under the command of one of the two elected consuls for the year. During the later Republic, members of the Roman Senatorial elite, as part of the normal sequence of elected public offices known as the cursus honorum, would have served first as quaestor (often posted as deputies to field commanders), then as praetor. Following the end of a term as praetor or consul, a Senator might be appointed by the Senate as a propraetor or proconsul (depending on the highest office previously held) to govern a foreign province. More junior officers (down to but not including the level of centurion) were selected by their commanders from their own clientelae or those recommended by political allies among the Senatorial elite. Under Augustus, whose most important political priority was to place the military under a permanent and unitary command, the Emperor was the legal commander of each legion but exercised that command through a legatus (legate) he appointed from the Senatorial elite. In a province with a single legion, the legate would command the legion (legatus legionis) and also serve as provincial governor, while in a province with more than one legion, each legion would be commanded by a legate and the legates would be commanded by the provincial governor (also a legate but of higher rank). During the later stages of the Imperial period (beginning perhaps with Diocletian), the Augustan model was abandoned. Provincial governors were stripped of military authority, and command of the armies in a group of provinces was given to generals (duces) appointed by the Emperor. These were no longer members of the Roman elite but men who came up through the ranks and had seen much practical soldiering. With increasing frequency, these men attempted (sometimes successfully) to usurp the positions of the Emperors who had appointed them. Decreased resources, increasing political chaos and civil war eventually left the Western Empire vulnerable to attack and takeover by neighboring barbarian peoples.

Comparatively less is known about the Roman navy than the Roman army. Prior to the middle of the 3rd century BC, officials known as duumviri navales commanded a fleet of twenty ships used mainly to control piracy. This fleet was given up in 278 AD and replaced by allied forces. The First Punic War required that Rome build large fleets, and it did so largely with the assistance of and financing from allies. This reliance on allies continued to the end of the Roman Republic. The quinquireme was the main warship on both sides of the Punic Wars and remained the mainstay of Roman naval forces until replaced by the time of Caesar Augustus by lighter and more maneuverable vessels. As compared with a trireme, the quinquireme permitted the use of a mix of experienced and inexperienced crewmen (an advantage for a primarily land-based power), and its lesser maneuverability permitted the Romans to adopt and perfect boarding tactics using a troop of approximately 40 marines in lieu of the ram. Ships were commanded by a navarch, a rank equivalent to a centurion, who were usually not citizens. Potter suggests that because the fleet was dominated by non-Romans, the navy was considered non-Roman and allowed to atrophy in times of peace.

Available information suggests that by the time of the late Empire (350 AD), the Roman navy comprised a number of fleets including both warships and merchant vessels for transportation and supply. Warships were oared sailing galleys with three to five banks of oarsmen. Fleet bases included such ports as Ravenna, Arles, Aquilea, Misenum and the mouth of the Somme River in the West and Alexandria and Rhodes in the East. Flotillas of small river craft (classes) were part of the limitanei (border troops) during this period, based at fortified river harbors along the Rhine and the Danube. The fact that prominent generals commanded both armies and fleets suggests that naval forces were treated as auxiliaries to the army and not as an independent service. The details of command structure and fleet strengths during this period are not well known although it is known that fleets were commanded by prefects.

Life in ancient Rome revolved around the city of Rome, located on seven hills. The city had a vast number of monumental structures like the Colosseum, the Forum of Trajan and the Pantheon. It had fountains with fresh drinking-water supplied by hundreds of miles of aqueducts, theatres, gymnasiums, bath complexes complete with libraries and shops, marketplaces, and functional sewers. Throughout the territory under the control of ancient Rome, residential architecture ranged from very modest houses to country villas. In the capital city of Rome, there were imperial residences on the elegant Palatine Hill, from which the word palace is derived. The low Plebian and middle Equestrian classes lived in the city center, packed into apartments, or Insulae which were almost like modern ghettos. These areas, often built by upper class landlords for the rental incomes collected, were often centred upon collegia or taberna. These people, provided by a free supply of grain, and entertained by gladatorial games, were enrolled as clients of patrons amongst the upper class Patricians, whose assistance they sought and whose interests they upheld.

The native language of the Romans was Latin, an Italic language the grammar of which relies little on word order, conveying meaning through a system of affixes attached to word stems. Its alphabet was based on the Etruscan alphabet, which was in turn based on the Greek alphabet. Although surviving Latin literature consists almost entirely of Classical Latin, an artificial and highly stylized and polished literary language from the 1st century BC, the actual spoken language of the Roman Empire was Vulgar Latin, which significantly differed from Classical Latin in grammar and vocabulary, and eventually in pronunciation.

While Latin remained the main written language of the Roman Empire, Greek came to be the language spoken by the well-educated elite, as most of the literature studied by Romans was written in Greek. In the eastern half of the Roman Empire, which later became the Byzantine Empire, Latin was never able to replace Greek, and after the death of Justinian, Greek became the official language of the Byzantine government. The expansion of the Roman Empire spread Latin throughout Europe, and over time Vulgar Latin evolved and dialectized in different locations, gradually shifting into a number of distinct Romance languages.

Archaic Roman religion, at least concerning the gods, was made up not of written narratives, but rather of complex interrelations between gods and humans. Unlike in Greek mythology, the gods were not personified, but were vaguely-defined sacred spirits called numina. Romans also believed that every person, place or thing had its own genius, or divine soul. During the Roman Republic, Roman religion was organized under a strict system of priestly offices, which were held by men of senatorial rank. The College of Pontifices was uppermost body in this hierarchy, and its chief priest, the Pontifex Maximus, was the head of the state religion. Flamens took care of the cults of various gods, while augurs were trusted with taking the auspices. The sacred king took on the religious responsibilities of the deposed kings. In the Roman empire, emperors were held to be gods, and the formalized imperial cult became increasingly prominent.

As contact with the Greeks increased, the old Roman gods became increasingly associated with Greek gods. Thus, Jupiter was perceived to be the same deity as Zeus, Mars became associated with Ares, and Neptune with Poseidon. The Roman gods also assumed the attributes and mythologies of these Greek gods. Under the empire, the Romans absorbed the mythologies of their conquered subjects, often leading to situations in which the temples and priests of traditional Italian deities existed side by side with those of foreign gods. Beginning with Emperor Nero, Roman official policy towards Christianity was negative, and at some points, simply being a Christian could be punishable by death. Under Emperor Diocletian, the persecution of Christians reached its peak. However, it became an officially supported religion in the Roman state under Constantine I and became exponentially popular. All religions except Christianity were prohibited in 391 AD by an edict of Emperor Theodosius I.

Roman painting styles show Greek influences, and surviving examples are primarily frescoes used to adorn the walls and ceilings of country villas, though Roman literature includes mentions of paintings on wood, ivory, and other materials. Several examples of Roman painting have been found at Pompeii, and from these art historians divide the history of Roman painting into four periods. The first style of Roman painting was practiced from the early 2nd century BC to the early- or mid-1st century BC. It was mainly composed of imitations of marble and masonry, though sometimes including depictions of mythological characters. The second style of Roman painting began during the early 1st century BC, and attempted to depict realistically three-dimensional architectural features and landscapes. The third style occurred during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD), and rejected the realism of the second style in favor of simple ornamentation. A small architectural scene, landscape, or abstract design was placed in the center with a monochrome background. The fourth style, which began in the 1st century AD, depicted scenes from mythology, while retaining architectural details and abstract patterns.

Portrait sculpture during the period utilized youthful and classical proportions, evolving later into a mixture of realism and idealism. During the Antonine and Severan periods, more ornate hair and bearding became prevalent, created with deeper cutting and drilling. Advancements were also made in relief sculptures, usually depicting Roman victories.

Latin literature was from its very inception influenced heavily by Greek authors. Some of the earliest extant works are of historical epics telling the early military history of Rome. As the Republic expanded, authors began to produce poetry, comedy, history, and tragedy.

Roman music was largely based on Greek music, and played an important part in many aspects of Roman life. In the Roman military, musical instruments such as the tuba (a long trumpet) or the cornu (similar to a French horn) were used to give various commands, while the bucina (possibly a trumpet or horn) and the lituus (probably an elongated J-shaped instrument), were used in ceremonial capacities. Music was used in the amphitheaters between fights and in the odea, and in these settings is known to have featured the cornu and the hydraulis (a type of water organ). The majority of religious rituals featured musical performances, with tibiae (double pipes) at sacrifices, cymbals and Tambourines at orgiastic cults, and rattles and hymns across the spectrum. Some music historians believe that music was used at almost all public ceremonies. Music historians are not certain if Roman musicians made a significant contribution to the theory or practice of music.

The graffiti, brothels, paintings, and sculptures found in Pompeii and Herculaneum suggest that the Romans had a very sex-saturated culture.

The interest in studying ancient Rome arose presumably during the Age of Enlightenment in France. Charles Montesquieu wrote a work Reflections on the Causes of the Grandeur and Declension of the Romans. The first major work was The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon, which encompassed the period from the end of 2nd century to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453. Like Montesquieu, Gibbon paid high tribute to the virtue of Roman citizens. Barthold Georg Niebuhr was a founder of the examination of ancient Roman history and wrote The Roman History, tracing the period until the First Punic war. Niebuhr made an attempt to determine the way the Roman tradition evolved. According to him, Romans, like other people, had an historical ethos which was preserved mainly in the noble families. During the Napoleonic period a work titled The History of Romans by Victor Duruy appeared. It highlighted the Caesarean period popular at the time. History of Rome, Roman constitutional law and Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, all by Theodor Mommsen, became very important milestones. Later the work Greatness and Decline of Rome by Guglielmo Ferrero was published. The Russian work Очерки по истории римского землевладения, преимущественно в эпоху Империи (The Outlines on Roman Landownership History, Mainly During the Empire) by Ivan Grevs contained information on the economy of Pomponius Atticus, one of the greatest landowners during the end of the Republic.

The youth of Rome had several forms of play and exercise, such as jumping, wrestling, boxing, and racing. In the countryside, pastimes for the wealthy also included fishing and hunting. The Romans also had several forms of ball playing, including one resembling handball. Dice games, board games, and gamble games were extremely popular pastimes. Women did not participate in these activities. For the wealthy, dinner parties presented an opportunity for entertainment, sometimes featuring music, dancing, and poetry readings. Plebeians sometimes enjoyed similar parties through clubs or associations, although recreational dining usually meant patronizing taverns. Children entertained themselves with toys and such games as leapfrog.

A popular form of entertainment was gladiatorial combats. Gladiators fought either to the death, or to "first blood" with a variety of weapons and in a variety of different scenarios. These fights achieved their height of popularity under the emperor Claudius, who placed the final outcome of the combat firmly in the hands of the emperor with a hand gesture. Contrary to popular representations in film, several experts believe the gesture for death was not "thumbs down". Although no one is certain as to what the gestures were, some experts conclude that the emperor would signify "death" by holding a raised fist to the winning combatant and then extending his thumb upwards, while "mercy" was indicated by a raised fist with no extended thumb. Animal shows were also popular with the Romans, where foreign animals were either displayed for the public or combined with gladiatorial combat. A prisoner or gladiator, armed or unarmed, was thrown into the arena and an animal was released.

The Circus Maximus, another popular site in Rome, was primarily used for horse and chariot racing, and when the Circus was flooded, there could be sea battles. It was also used for many other events. The Circus could hold up to 385,000 people; people all over Rome would visit it. Two temples, one with seven large eggs and one with seven dolphins, lay in the middle of the track of Circus Maximus, and whenever the racers made a lap, one of each would be removed. This was done to keep the spectators and the racers informed of the race statistics. Other than for sports, the Circus Maximus was also an area of marketing and gambling. Higher authorities, such as the emperor, also attended games in the Circus Maximus, as it was considered rude to avoid attendance. The higher authorities, knights, and many other people who were involved with the race, sat in reserved seats located above everyone else. It was also considered inappropriate for emperors to favour a particular team. The Circus Maximus was created in 600 BC and hosted the last horse-racing game in 549 AD, after a custom enduring over a millennium.

Ancient Rome boasted the most impressive technological feats of its day, using many advancements that would be lost in the Middle Ages and not be rivaled again until the 19th and 20th centuries. But though adept at adopting and synthesizing other cultures' technologies, the Roman civilization was not especially innovative or progressive. Many practical Roman innovations were adopted from earlier Greek designs. New ideas were rarely developed. Roman society considered the articulate soldier who could wisely govern a large household the ideal, and Roman law made no provisions for intellectual property nor the promotion of invention. The concept of "scientists" and "engineers" did not yet exist, and advancements were often divided and based on craft, as groups of artisans jealously guarded new technologies as trade secrets. Nevertheless, a number of vital technological breakthroughs were spread and thoroughly used by Rome, contributing to an enormous degree to Rome's dominance and lasting influence in Europe.

Roman engineering as well as Roman military engineering constituted a large portion of Rome's technological superiority and legacy, and contributed to the construction of hundreds of roads, bridges, aqueducts, baths, theaters and arenas. Many monuments, such as the Colosseum, Pont du Gard, and Pantheon, still remain as testaments to Roman engineering and culture.

The Romans were particularly renowned for their architecture, which is grouped with Greek traditions into "Classical architecture". During the Roman Republic, it remained stylistically almost identical to Greek architecture. Although there were many differences from Greek architecture, Rome borrowed heavily from Greece in adhering to strict, formulaic building designs and proportions. Aside from two new orders of columns, composite and Tuscan, and from the dome, which was derived from the Etruscan arch, Rome had relatively few architectural innovations until the end of the Republic.

Concrete made possible the paved, durable Roman roads, many of which were still in use a thousand years after the fall of Rome. The construction of a vast and efficient travel network throughout the Empire dramatically increased Rome's power and influence. It was originally constructed to allow Roman legions to be rapidly deployed. But these highways also had enormous economic significance, solidifying Rome's role as a trading crossroads—the origin of the saying "all roads lead to Rome". The Roman government maintained way stations which provided refreshments to travelers at regular intervals along the roads, constructed bridges where necessary, and established a system of horse relays for couriers that allowed a dispatch to travel up to 800 kilometers (500 mi) in 24 hours.

The Romans constructed numerous aqueducts to supply water to cities and industrial sites and to assist in their agriculture. The city of Rome was supplied by 11 aqueducts with a combined length of 350 kilometres (220 mi). Most aqueducts were constructed below the surface, with only small portions above ground supported by arches. Sometimes, where depressions deeper than 50 metres (165 ft) had to be crossed, inverted siphons were used to force water uphill. The Romans also made major advancements in sanitation. Romans were particularly famous for their public baths, called thermae, which were used for both hygienic and social purposes. Many Roman houses came to have flush toilets and indoor plumbing, and a complex sewer system, the Cloaca Maxima, was used to drain the local marshes and carry waste into the Tiber river. Some historians have speculated that the use of lead pipes in the sewer and plumbing systems led to widespread lead poisoning which contributed to the decline in birth rate and general decay of Roman society leading up to the fall of Rome. However, lead content would have been minimized because the flow of water from aqueducts could not be shut off; it ran continuously through public and private outlets into the drains, and only a small number of taps were in use.

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Source : Wikipedia