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Interesting to Know

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Rome, the capital of Italy is one of the oldest cities of Europe founded in 753 BC. It is the seat of the Papacy. In 2007 Rome was the 11th most visited city in the world, 3rd most visited city in Europe, and the most visited city in Italy. Its monuments include Colosseum, Roman Forum etc. Vatican Museum is also visited by large number of people. River Tiber flows through the country. There is an archaeological evidence of human settlement in Rome from about 1400 BC. Its story is very interesting.

According to the legend, Rome's history began when the pagan god Mars, enchanted by the beauty of a Vestal Virgin, snuck into her temple in the town of Alba Longa to sleep with her. As a result she gave birth to two twin boys. When the king heard of the birth of these two boys, Romulus and Remus, he ordered to throw those infants into the Tiber River. As soon as they were born the pair were placed in a trough and thrown into the River Tiber, but the trough came ashore and they were found by a she-wolf who fed them with her milk. They were then raised by a shepherd, Faustulus. Reaching adulthood the twins decided to found a town, and chose the place where the wolf had nursed them. Romulus began to build walls on the Palatine Hill, but Remus jeered at the low walls, leaping over them, and the angry Romulus killed Remus at this point of discussion. Thus the legend says that Rome was founded by Romulus in 753 BC in an area surrounded by seven hills. Romulus is alleged not to have died, just disappeared one day in a violent storm. The Romans, believing he had been taken up to Heaven, started worshipping him under the name of Quirinus.

People on this day dressed in old traditional costumes parade in the ancient areas of Colosseum, Circus Maximus and the Roman Forum etc.

History in Brief
Its original settlement is believed to have started as a capital of Roman kingdom ruled by 7 kings in succession. Then it became Roaman Republic (from 510 BC) and Roman Empire (from 27 BC ruled by an Emperor. It became the great Empire and a great city of imagination after the rule of great Augustus (Octavian, 63 BC-14 AD). By the 3rd century BC Rome had become a great city of European peninsula. It won Carthage, and Greece.

Augustus was known for his love of arts, and his court was attended by many poets. His rule established a long lasted peace which lasted for about 200 years.
Then came Nero, Trajan and Hadrian kings. Roman Emperor Nero was known for his extravagance, cruelty, and tyranny. About him Myth is that he fiddled when Rome burnt during the night of 18 and 19 July, 64 AD.
Antonine Plague, 165-180 AD, is believed to have killed as much as 1/3rd population of the country.

Roaman dominance was increasing towards Western Europe and Mediterranean sides. For over 700 years Rome remained the most politically important, richest and largest in the Western world. After that it lost its status to Milan and Ravenna; and was surpassed in prestige by Constantinople whose Greek inhabitants used to call themselves Romans for long time.

Roman Renaissance
Bishop of Rome was important because of the martyrdom of two Apostles, Peter and Paul. He is seen as the successor of Peter who was the first Bishop of Rome, so it became the seat of Catholic Church. After 410 AD, Rome came under Byzantine and German control. Its population decreased to half (500,000) in 273 AD from 210 AD. In 756 AD Pepin the Short gave the Pope temporary jurisdiction over Rome and surrounding areas - thus creating Papal States. In 846, Muslim invaded and managed to loot St Peter's and St Paul's Basilica, both outside the city wall. Rome remained the capital of papal States till 1870. Rome's first Emperor was crowned by the Pope Leo III in 800 AD.

The Renaissance period changed the Rome's drastically with the works like Pieta by Michelangelo during Innocent's reign. Rome reached again at its highest point during the reign of Pope Julius II (1503-1513 AD) and his successors. During the 20 year period Rome became the center of art in the world. The Emperor Constantine the Great rebuilt the St Peter's Basilica. Michelangelo started painting the ceiling of Sistine's Chapel.

Rule of the Popes was interrupted in 1798 by Napoleon. During Napoleon's rule Rome was included in France, but again became independent after Napoleon in 1814. In 1861, Rome was officially declared the capital of Italy.

Pope Pious IX declared himself "the Prisoner in the Vatican", and in 1871, Italy's capital Florence moved to Rome.
It was occupied by Germans till June 4, 1944.
It became a fashionable city in 1950, and in early 1960s, it became the center of sweet life by its films, Ben Hur, Quo Vadis, Roman Holiday etc.
Its population started growing till 1980s to about 3 million residents, when people started moving out to suburbs.



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Created by Sushma Gupta on January 15, 2002
Modified on 06/12/13