The Monti Neighborhood is nowadays mostly popular because of its bars and restaurants. However, the district is just as interesting for those more interested in Roman ruins, ancient churches and historical buildings. A top 10 tourist attractions of the rione Monti would probably dwarf that of many big cities.
Top 10 Tourist Attractions Monti District Rome
1. Saint John in Lateran
The Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano is one of Rome‘s four papal or patriarchal basilicas. The first version of this church was built in the 4th century and Saint John is still the cathedral of the diocese of Rome. The interior was designed by Borromini. (Nearby attractions are the Scala Santa, the Baptistery and the Palazzo Laterano).
2. Basilica of Saint Mary Major
The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is the second one of the papal basilicas in the rione Monti and is also one of the Seven Pilgrim Churches of the city. As such it is one of the churches with a Holy Door, which is only opened during years that there is a Jubilee. The Basilica also has a Sistine Chapel, which is however not as impressive as the one in the Vatican. (Nearby attractions are the Santa Prassede Church and the Santa Pudenziana Church).
3. Fori Imperiali
The Fori Imperiali were constructed because the Roman Forum itself had run out of space. Julius Caesar was the first one and after him the emperors Augustus, Nerva and Trajan each built their own forum. The ruins of the Fori imperiali were unearthed during excavations for the construction of what is the present Via dei Fori Imperiali. (Nearby attractions are Trajan’s Column and Trajan’s Market.)
4. San Clemente Basilica
The San Clemente Basilica is a church built on top of an older church built on top of a temple dedicated to the heathen God Mithras. The ruins of this temple, as well as part of the bottom church, can be visited. The basilica itself is also beautiful, as is the old cloister. (Nearby attractions are the Santi Quattro Coronati Church and the Santo Stefano Rotondo Church.)
5. Domus Aurea
The biggest part of the Domus Aurea, or Nero‘s “Golden House”, is located underneath the Colle Oppio Park. After having been closed for years due to fears that the construction might collapse and the resulting restoration works the monument can be visited again. This is only on Saturdays and Sundays and reservations are mandatory.
6. Sant’Andrea al Quirinale Church
The Chiesa di Sant’Andrea al Quirinale was constructed in the 17th century. It is the third Jesuit church that was built in Rome. Typical of Jesuit designs is that the apses have no chapels, so that the visitor’s attention cannot stray from the altar. The architect was Bernini, who considered this church to be his most satisfactory creation. (Nearby attractions are the San Carlino Church and the Quattro Fontane.)
7. Santa Prassede Basiliek
The Basilica di Santa Prassede is located in a small side street close to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. The biggest attraction of this church, which is named for a saint who wasn’t really a saint, is the Chapel of Zeno. This Chapel is renowned for its extraordinary mosaics. There is also a small crypt.
8. Via Urbana
The Via Urbana is the most interesting street in the Monti district. It is a very narrow street with lots of restaurants, bars and trendy boutiques. The best-known church is the Santa Pudenziana Basilica, built in a spot where Saint Peter himself was once given hospitality. There is also a daily vintage clothes market in the street.
9. Colle Oppio Park
The biggest attraction of the Parco del Colle Oppio is the panorama of the Colosseum. Sights in the park itself are the ruins of the Terms of Titus, the Terms of Trajan and the Domus Aurea. There are also a number of fountains and statues. During daytime it is an excellent spot to have a quiet picnic. At night it might be better to avoid the park.
10. San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane Church
The Chiesa di San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane Kerk is also, because of its diminutive size, called the San Carlino. This “Holy Little Charles” is considered to be one of the greatest masterpieces of the architect Borromini. The good man was not allowed to be buried in the church he designed, since he had committed suicide.