Rome! It’s love at first sight. The Eternal City has it all; art, culture, amazing food, incredible architecture, romance, history. It’s a city that grabs your heart and doesn’t let go. Here are some things you about Rome you don’t know.
1. Rome has more than 900 churches!
If you were to visit just one church per day, it would take you nearly 2.5 years to see them all. This number rises to nearly 1,600 if chapels in palaces, convents, and private residences are taken into account.
2. And, more than 2,000 fountains!
With more than 2,000 fountains, Rome has more fountains than anywhere in the world! Romans have always had a passion for water, actually. These convenient fontanelles or “nasoni” drinking fountains can be found in every part of the city. They are continuously running with fresh, cold drinking water.
Say NO to single-use plastics and remember to bring your reusable water bottle so you can take advantage of this cold, refreshing, free water.
3. The largest Egyptian obelisk is in Rome!
The Lateran Obelisk is the largest standing ancient Egyptian obelisk in the world, and it is also the tallest obelisk in Italy. It originally weighed 413 metric tons, but after collapsing and being re-erected 4 meters shorter, it now weighs about 300 metric tons.
Did you know? There are more obelisks in Rome than anywhere else in the world outside of Egypt; eight are ancient Egyptian, five are Roman and there are a number of modern ones, too.
4. Rome, founded on a murder!
The story of how Rome came to be is that of legends. Twin brothers, Romulus and Remus, were the children of Rhea Silvia and the god Mars. You see, Rhea was a Vestal Virgin which meant she took a vow of chastity. And when she became pregnant, King Amulius imprisoned Rhea and sentenced the twins to death.
The king, fearing recourse from the gods, ordered their fate to be death by the elements instead of death by the sword. He ordered a servant to carry out the sentence. The servant took pity on the boys and placed them into a basket onto the River Timber. The river carried the boys to safety where they were rescued and suckled by a she-wolf until they were later discovered by a shepherd and his wife.
In adulthood, Romulus and Remus had another run-in with King Amulius. Romulus killed the king. Afterward, the twins left the city in search of a location where they could establish a city of their own. After many arguments and fights, Romulus killed Remus and established Rome.
5. But why the “eternal city”?
Romans are proud people- they always have been. This is exactly why Roman poets and writers loved to boast about their city’s greatness. The first explicit reference of Rome as the Eternal City was written in the first century when Poet Albius Tibullus (55 BC – 19 BC) when he wrote
‘Romulus aeternae nondum formaverat urbis moenia, consorti non habitanda Remo’
‘not yet had Romulus drawn up the Eternal City’s walls, where Remus as co-ruler was fated not to live’.
-Tibullus, from Elegies.
At that moment, the Eternal City was born.
6. All roads lead to Rome
Though the Romans didn’t come up with the idea of a roadway, they certainly perfected it! Roman roads can be traced all the way back to 312BC! The first and arguably most famous of the great Roman roads is the Via Appia or Appian Way. This road was 196km or 132 Roman miles long (a Roman mile was measured by 1,000 steps). Parts of this road are still in use today- more than 2,000 years later!
7. Roman concrete is the best!
Roman concrete, Opus caementicium, is believed to have been created in 250BC. Though scholars can not be sure or the exact date, concrete was widely used by 150BC.
Roman concrete was made by mixing with water: 1. An aggregate (pieces of rock, ceramic tile, pieces of brick from previously demolished construction) 2. Volcanic dust (called pozzolana) 3. Gypsum or lime.
Clearly, they had the right formula too because it’s literally stood the test of time.
Fun side fact – When the Roman Empire fell, the know-how to making concrete was lost. It was rediscovered many centuries later in 1710 by a French engineer. His formula remains the basic formula used today to make Portland cement concrete.