While Paris is the City of Lights and Los Angeles is the City of Angels, Rome has a nickname that dates back more than two thousand years: The Eternal City. Though the original moniker alluded to the strength of the empire—something that is no longer relevant in our modern society—there is an element of truth to the idea of Rome being an everlasting place. Perhaps, with a rich historical heritage that’s been preserved over the ages and the growth of its own hard-wearing culture, Rome really is eternal.
The History Behind The Epithet
The story of Rome begins with a pair of twins who were abandoned on the banks of the River Tiber. Their names would go on to echo throughout history: Romulus and Remus. Suckled by a she-wolf, the boys eventually grew up and came to disagree about the site of the city they would found together. Romulus won the argument, killing his brother and naming his city after himself.
The epithet of ‘The Eternal City’ or La Città Eterna, as Italians know it, is thought by scholars to have originally been used in the first century by the poet Tibullus. The idea of Rome as an everlasting city came about due to the strength and power of the empire in ancient times. For citizens who witnessed the empire stretch across Europe and parts of Africa, it seemed incomprehensible that Rome could possibly have an end.
Romans believed that their city was the peak of the world, and their views were backed up by other prominent poets who began using the title in their own work. Fast-forward to our modern era and the name still hasn’t lost its touch. Though the days of the Roman Empire are long gone, the city itself really does seem eternal, even after all these centuries.
Time Stands Still In Rome
When you visit Rome, there’s a sense of time standing still. No matter how much the world outside seems to advance, there are parts of Rome that will always stay the same. Perhaps the idea of Rome being eternal still sticks because the great examples of art and architecture from the ancient world have lasted into the modern age. The preservation of the city’s greatest sights makes Rome itself feel endless.
No trip to Rome is complete without a tour of the most famous landmarks, some of which have been standing since the days of Tibullus. One of the world’s most popular destinations, Rome boasts sights that are crawling with tourists, but they’re still worth seeing.
It should come as no surprise that one of the must-see attractions is the Colosseum, the most famous relic from the Flavian Dynasty that dates back to approximately 70 A.D. Take a guided tour of the building during either the day or night to learn about its fascinating history.
Located nearby the Colosseum is another reminder of the formidable heritage of Rome: the Roman Forum. The plaza situated in the center of the city features several remains from prominent buildings that once stood in Ancient Rome.
Those interested in the ancient history of Rome will also want to visit the Pantheon. Once a Roman temple, the church stands on the site of another temple that had its roots in the reign of Augustus. While most of Rome has no doubt progressed with the rest of the world, it’s easy to stand in buildings like the Pantheon and feel as though you’ve been transported back two thousand years.
It isn’t just ancient history that is preserved through Roman landmarks; many of the buildings and works of art serve as a reminder of Rome during later periods, such as the Renaissance. The Vatican Museums are a haven for Renaissance artworks, while the Sistine Chapel displays Michelangelo’s ‘Last Judgment’. In the world-famous chapel, you’ll also find work by other great Renaissance artists such as Sandro Botticelli, Cosimo Rosselli, and Pietro Perugino.
The Gateway To Italy
Rome is by no means the only city in Italy that deserves praise. But you could argue that due to its central location and worldwide popularity that it serves as a gateway of sorts to the rest of the country. Many foreign travelers first fall in love with Italy’s other treasures after heeding the alluring call of Rome.
Every region in Italy is unique when it comes to culture, food, history, and even language. You can’t get a feel for the whole of Italy by visiting Rome, and some would argue that mass tourism has even made the city inauthentic to the Italian experience. But with its vast history and position on the world stage, Rome has developed its own culture—one that will stand the test of time.