There are several magnificent structures that remain standing today which can give us a direct glimpse into the world of Ancient Rome. The architects who dreamed up these spectacular monuments, as well as the workers who toiled to build them, deserve to be remembered for their artistic and historical legacies. Let’s take a look the seven best of these monuments: The Pantheon is an impressive edifice that has been very well preserved. It is a temple that was built to the Roman Gods around 125 AD, and is believed to have been inspired by the Emperor Adrian or Apollodorus. It was laboriously adorned with statues of the Olympian Gods and topped with a 44 meter unreinforced dome. A pediment supported by columns provides the entrance to the Pantheon, and the area in the center is half as big as a modern day football field. If that is not impressive enough, there is an oculus or circular hole thirty feet wide in the dome which allows natural light to shine in from above. The Pantheon can easily be visited by public transit, tour bus, rental car, or rental motorcycle if you're staying in Rome, though you should get motorcycle travel insurance if you choose the latter form of transportation.
Augustus, the first emperor of Rome, thought outside the box with the inspirational Les Ferreres Aqueduct. It is believed to have transferred many gallons of clean water to the residents of ancient Tarraco. It includes 25 upper arches and 11 lower ones intended to carry water from Francoli in the south to modern-day Tarragona, a distance of nine miles in total. It reaches 27 meters in height and is 249 meters in length. It would be an engineering marvel for any time, especially two thousand years ago!
The Aspendos Theater has survived since 155 AD when Marcus Aurelius ruled the Roman Empire. It could hold up to 20,000 spectators and they all could see and hear the performances well because of the deliberate steepness with which the theater was designed. It was well maintained throughout the years because the stage area continued to be used as a roadside inn or caravanserai well after the fall of Rome.
One of the most well-preserved temples of Ancient Rome is the Maison Carrée. It was built by General Marcus Vipanius Agrippa during 16 BC in remembrance of his two sons who had died in their youth. It was converted into a Christian church during the 4th century, then subsequently used as a town hall, a storehouse, a stable, and a museum. This continued usage and upkeep has preserved the building well.
An arena still used today for bullfights and other events is the Arena of Nimes. It was built during the first century AD and could seat 24,000 spectators. The viscounts of Nimes built and fortified a palace within the structure during the Middle Ages, and the town around it only grew thereafter. Currently, it has a heating system and a movable cover.
The remains of many of Rome’s emperors were laid to rest at The Mausoleum of Hadrian. It was originally commissioned in the first century AD by Hadrian for his own family, and his family’s ashes were the first to be laid to rest there. The last known Roman Emperor entombed there was Caracalla in 217. It has since been used as a castle and as a fortress by the popes of Rome. Currently, it is a museum.
The most famous Roman monument still standing is The Colosseum. The emperor Vespasian started the construction in 70 AD and the amphitheater was finished in 80 AD by his son Titus. When it was first opened, there were 100 days of events which basically involved the killing of gladiators and animals. There were 80 entrances to the central theater, which could hold a staggering 50,000 people. The Colosseum was the largest amphitheater ever built in the ancient world. It was originally called the Flavian Amphitheater, and was used for executions and mythological dramas. It has largely survived centuries of earthquakes, fires, robbers, and invading armies.
We are extremely fortunate to still have these architectural marvels in our day and age, and with careful preservation and restoration, people 2000 years from now.