View of the Forum Romanum from the Capitoline Hill. This was the ancient site of Rome's most sacred temple, dedicated to Jupiter Optimus Maximus, the King of the Gods. Roman travelers would come here to gaze over their beloved city for one last time and make promises to Jupiter in return for a safe journey.
Fragments of a statue of the Emperor Constantine on display at the Museo del Campidoglio (which occupies the site of the temple to Jupiter). Only a fraction of the fabulous imperial city survives today; the ancient streets are buried under thirty feet of debris.
The Colosseum, site of imperial gladiatorial shows. These extravaganzas, which often involved elaborate props, music and scenery, were the Cats and Les Mis of their day, luring thousands of wide-eyed provincials to Rome.
Centurions pose for tourists in front of the Colosseum today, wearing outfits left over from the popular sword-and-sandal epics filmed in Italy.
The Pantheon, or temple to all the godsthe only intact pagan temple to have survived from ancient times (the others were all destroyed by Christians during the Middle Ages, their masonry cannibalized to build cathedrals). In the imperial era, the interior of its dome was covered with silver and lined with dozens of gilded statues.
The Appian WayQueen of HighwaysRome's route to the East. In ancient times, it was lined with tombs and mausoleums, with striking inscriptions for travelers to read: I ADVISE YOU TO ENJOY LIFE MORE THAN I DID! proclaimed one.
Chariot race in the Circus Maximus, from the 1926 silent film, Ben-Hur.