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For the civilization of classical antiquity, see Ancient Rome. For other uses, see Rome (disambiguation).
From top left clockwise: the Colosseum, the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, the Castel Sant'Angelo, an aerial view of the city's historic centre, the dome of St. Peter's Basilica, the Trevi Fountain, the Piazza della Repubblica.
The territory of the comune (Roma Capitale) inside the province of Rome
|• Mayor||Ignazio Marino (PD)|
|• Total||1,285.31 km2 (496.26 sq mi)|
|Elevation||20 m (70 ft)|
|Population (31 December 2013)|
|• Density||2,200/km2 (5,800/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Postal code||00100; 00121 to 00199|
|Patron saint||Saint Peter and Saint Paul|
|Saint day||29 June|
Rome's history spans more than two and a half thousand years, since its legendary founding in 753 BC. Rome is one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in Europe. It is referred to as "The Eternal City" (Latin: Roma Aeterna), a central notion in ancient Roman culture. In the ancient world it was successively the capital city of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, and is regarded as one of the birthplaces of Western civilization. Since the 1st century AD, Rome has been considered the seat of the Papacy and in the 8th century it became the capital of the Papal States, which lasted until 1870. In 1871 Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, and in 1946 that of the Italian Republic.
After the Middle Ages, almost all the popes since Nicholas V (1422-55) pursued coherently along four hundred years an architectonic and urbanistic program aimed to make of the city the world`s artistic and cultural center.  Due to that, Rome became first one of the major centers of the Italian Renaissance along with Florence,  and then the birthplace of Baroque style. Famous artists and architects, such as - to name just a few - Bramante, Michelangelo, Raphael and Bernini, made of the city the center of their activity, creating masterpieces like St Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, Raphael Rooms and St. Peter's Square.
Rome has the status of a global city. In 2011, Rome was the 18th-most-visited city in the world, 3rd most visited in the European Union, and the most popular tourist attraction in Italy. Its historic centre is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Monuments and museums such as the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum are among the world's most visited tourist destinations with both locations receiving millions of tourists a year. Rome hosted the 1960 Summer Olympics and is the seat of United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
EtymologyAbout the origin of the name Roma several hypotheses have been advanced. The most important are the following:
- From Rumon or Rumen, archaic name of the Tiber, which in turn has the same root as the Greek verb ῥέω (rhèo) and the Latin verb ruo, which both mean "flow";
- From the Etruscan word ruma, whose root is *rum- "teat", with possible reference either to the totem wolf that adopted and suckled the cognately named twins Romulus and Remus, or to the shape of the Palatine and Aventine Hills;
- From the Greek word ῤώμη (rhōmē), which means strength.
Main article: Founding of RomeThere is archaeological evidence of human occupation of the Rome area from approximately 14,000 years ago, but the dense layer of much younger debris obscures Palaeolithic and Neolithic sites. Evidence of stone tools, pottery and stone weapons attest to about 10,000 years of human presence. Several excavations support the view that Rome grew from pastoral settlements on the Palatine Hill built above the area of the future Roman Forum. While some archaeologists argue that Rome was indeed founded in the middle of the 8th century BC (the date of the tradition), the date is subject to controversy. However, the power of the well known tale of Rome's legendary foundation tends to deflect attention from its actual, and much more ancient, origins.
Legend of the founding of Romeancient Romans themselves explain the earliest history of their city in terms of legend and myth. The most familiar of these myths, and perhaps the most famous of all Roman myths, is the story of Romulus and Remus, the twins who were suckled by a she-wolf. They decided to build a city, but after an argument, Romulus killed his brother. According to the Roman annalists, this happened on 21 April 753 BC. This legend had to be reconciled with a dual tradition, set earlier in time, that had the Trojan refugee Aeneas escape to Italy and found the line of Romans through his son Iulus, the namesake of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. This was accomplished by the Roman poet Virgil in the first century BC.
Monarchy, republic, empireRomulus, Rome was ruled for a period of 244 years by a monarchical system, initially with sovereigns of Latin and Sabine origin, later by Etruscan kings. The tradition handed down seven kings: Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Tullus Hostilius, Ancus Marcius, Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullius and Tarquin the Proud. 
In 509 BC the Romans expelled from the city the last king and established an oligarchic republic: since then, for Rome began a period characterized by internal struggles between patricians (aristocrats) and plebeians (small landowners), and by constant warfare against the populations of central Italy: Etruscans, Latins, Volsci, Equi.  After becoming master of Latium, Rome led several wars (against the Gauls, Osci-Samnites and the Greek colony of Taranto, allied with Pyrrhus, king of Epirus) whose result was the conquest of the Italian peninsula, from the central area up to Magna Graecia. 
The third and second century BC saw the establishment of the Roman hegemony over the Mediterranean and the East, through the three Punic Wars (264-146 BC) fought against the city of Carthage and the three Macedonian Wars (212-168 BC) against Macedonia.  Then were established the first Roman provinces: Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica, Spain, Macedonia, Greece (Achaia), Africa. 
optimates, representing the conservative part of the Senate, and the populares, which relied on the help of the urban populace to gain the power. In the same period, the bankrupt of the small farmers and the establishment of large slave estates provoked the migration to the city of a large number of people. The continuous warfare made necessary a professional army, which was more loyal to its chiefs than to the republic. Due to that, in the second half of the second century and during the first century BC saw fights abroad and at home: after the failed attempt of social reform of Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus,  and the war against Jugurtha,  there was a first civil war between Gaius Marius and Sulla.  To this followed the slave revolt under Spartacus,  and the establishment of a first Triumvirate with Caesar, Pompey and Crassus.  The conquest of Gaul let rise the star of Caesar, who fought a second civil war against the Senate and Pompey and, after his victory, established a lifelong dictatorship. His assassination led to a second Triumvirate among Octavian (Caesar's nephew and heir), Mark Antony and Lepidus, and to another civil war between the Octavian and Antony.  The former in 27 BC became princeps civitatis and got the title of Augustus, founding the principate, a diarchy between the princeps and the senate.  Established de facto the empire, which reached its greatest expansion in the second century under the Emperor Trajan, Rome was confirmed as caput Mundi, i.e. the capital of the world, an expression which had already been given in the Republican period. During its first two centuries the empire saw as rulers, after Octavian Augustus, the emperors of the Julio-Claudian,  Flavian (who also built eponymous amphitheater, known as the Colosseum)  and Antonine dynasties.  This time was also characterized by the spread of the Christian religion, preached by Jesus Christ in Judea in the first half of the century (under Tiberius) and popularized by his apostles through the empire.  The Antonine age is considered the apogee of the Empire, whose territory ranged from the Atlantic Ocean to the Euphrates, from the central-northern part of Britain to Egypt. 
Antonine dynasty, with the Severan dynasty the principatus was substituted by a military government, which was soon followed by a period of military anarchy, while the economy deteriorated, the inflation rose and the historical enemies of Rome, the Germanic tribes in the West and the Persian Empire in the East, bore a continue pressure on the frontiers. 
Emperor Diocletian (284) fought the economic and military problems introducing the dominate, an absolute monarchy where the emperor was deified, imposing the price control and decentralising the administration: the emperor divided the empire into twelve dioceses, ruling under the title of Augustus the eastern half (with residence in Nicomedia) and naming Maximian Augustus of the western half, where the imperial court was moved to Mediolanum.  The succession was regulated with the creation of the Tetrarchy: each Augustus, in fact, had to appoint a junior emperor, named Caesar, which would rule part of the roman territory on behalf of his Augustus and which would become, at the end, the new emperor. 
After the abdication of Diocletian and Maximian in 305 and many dynastic fights, this system collapsed, and the new ruler, Constantine, centralized power again and, with the Edict of Milan in 313, gave freedom of worship for Christians, pledging himself to give stability to the new religion. He built several churches, gave the civil power of Rome to Pope Sylvester I and founded in the eastern part the new capital, Constantinople. 
Christianity became the official religion of the empire, thanks to an edict issued in 380 by Theodosius, who was the last emperor of a unified empire: after his death, in fact, his sons, Arcadius and Honorius, divided the empire in a western and an eastern part. The capital of the western Roman Empire became Ravenna. 
Rome, who had lost its central role in the administration of the empire, was sacked in 410 by the Visigoths led by Alaric I,  but also embellished by the construction of sacred buildings by the popes (with the collaboration of the emperors). The city, impoverished and depopulated, suffered a new looting in 455, by Genseric, king of the Vandals.  The weak emperors of the fifth century could not stop the decay, until the deposition of Romulus Augustus on August 22, 476 marked the end of the Western Roman Empire and, for many historians, the beginning of the Middle Ages. 
Middle AgesPope, was important since the early days of Christianity because of the martyrdom of both the apostles Peter and Paul there. The Bishops of Rome were also seen (and still are seen by some) as the successors of Peter, he being the first Bishop of Rome. The city thus became of increasing importance in the Catholic Church. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD, Rome was first under the control of Odoacer and then became part of the Ostrogothic Kingdom before returning to East Roman control after the Gothic War, which devastated the city. Its population declined from more than a million in 210 AD to 500,000 in 273 to 35,000 after the Gothic War, reducing the sprawling city to groups of inhabited buildings interspersed among large areas of ruins, vegetation, vineyards and market gardens. Rome remained nominally part of the East Roman (Byzantine) Empire until 751 AD, when the Lombards finally extinguished the Exarchate of Ravenna which was the last holdout of the Byzantines in northern Italy. In 756, Pepin the Short gave the Pope temporal jurisdiction over Rome and surrounding areas, thus creating the Papal States. In 846, Muslim Arabs unsuccessfully stormed the city's walls, but managed to loot St. Peter's and St. Paul's basilica, both outside the city wall.
Rome remained the capital of the Papal States until its annexation by the Kingdom of Italy in 1870; the city became a major pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages and the focus of struggles between the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire starting with Charlemagne, who was crowned its first emperor in Rome in 800 by Pope Leo III. Apart from brief periods as an independent city during the Middle Ages, Rome kept its status as Papal capital and "holy city" for centuries, even when the Papacy briefly relocated to Avignon (1309–1377).
Main article: Roman RenaissanceThe latter half of the 15th century saw the center of the Italian Renaissance move to Rome from Florence. The Papacy wanted to equal and surpass the grandeur of other Italian cities and to this end created ever more extravagant churches, bridges, squares and public spaces: among them, the new Saint Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, Ponte Sisto (the first bridge to be built across the Tiber since antiquity, although on Roman foundation), and Piazza Navona. The Popes were also patrons of the arts, engaging the best artists of the time, including Michelangelo, Perugino, Raphael, Ghirlandaio, Luca Signorelli, Botticelli, and Cosimo Rosselli.
nepotism and simony. The corruption of the Popes and the huge expenses for their building projects led, in part, to the Reformation and, in turn, the Counter-Reformation. Popes, such as Alexander VI, were well known for their decadence, wild parties, extravagance and immoral lives. However, under these extravagant and rich popes, Rome was transformed into a centre of art, poetry, music, literature, education and culture. Rome became able to compete with other major European cities of the time in terms of wealth, grandeur, the arts, learning and architecture.
Renaissance period changed Rome's face dramatically, with works like the Pietà by Michelangelo and the frescoes of the Borgia Apartment, all made during Innocent's reign. Rome reached the highest point of splendour under Pope Julius II (1503–1513) and his successors Leo X and Clement VII, both members of the Medici family. In this twenty-year period, Rome became one of the greatest centres of art in the world. The old St. Peter's Basilica built by Emperor Constantine the Great (which by then was in a terrible state) was demolished and a new one begun. The city hosted artists like Ghirlandaio, Perugino, Botticelli and Bramante, who built the temple of San Pietro in Montorio and planned a great project to renovate the Vatican. Raphael, who in Rome became one of the most famous painters of Italy, created frescoes in the Villa Farnesina, the Raphael's Rooms, plus many other famous paintings. Michelangelo started the decoration of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and executed the famous statue of the Moses for the tomb of Julius II. Rome lost in part its religious character, becoming increasingly a true Renaissance city, with a great number of popular feasts, horse races, parties, intrigues and licentious episodes. Its economy was rich, with the presence of several Tuscan bankers, including Agostino Chigi, who was a friend of Raphael and a patron of arts. Before his early death, Raphael also promoted for the first time the preservation of the ancient ruins. The fight between France and Spain in Europe caused the first plunder of the city in more than one thousand years. In 1527, the Landsknechts of Emperor Charles V sacked the city, putting to an abrupt end the golden age of the Renaissance in Rome.
Beginning with the Council of Trent in 1545, the Church began the Counter-Reformation as an answer to the Reformation, a large-scale questioning of the Church's authority on spiritual matters and governmental affairs. (This loss of confidence then led to major shifts of power away from the Church.) Under the popes from Pius IV to Sixtus V, Rome became the centre of the reformed Catholicism and saw the installment of new monuments which celebrated the papacy's restored greatness. The popes and cardinals of the 17th and early 18th centuries continued the movement by having city's landscape enriched with baroque buildings. During the Age of Enlightenment, new ideas reached also the Eternal City, where the papacy supported archaeological studies and improved the people's welfare. But not everything went well for the Church during the Counter-Reformation.
There were setbacks in the attempts to restrain the anti-Church policies of European powers of the time, the most notable setback perhaps being in 1773 when Pope Clement XIV was forced by secular powers to have the Jesuit order suppressed.
Late modern and contemporaryThe rule of the Popes was interrupted by the short-lived Roman Republic (1798–1800), which was built under the influence of the French Revolution. The Papal States were restored in June 1800, but during Napoleon's reign Rome was annexed as a Département of the French Empire: first as Département du Tibre (1808–10) and then as Département Rome (1810–14). After the fall of Napoleon, the Church State under the pope was reinstated through the Congress of Vienna of 1814.
In 1849 another Roman Republic arose within the framework of the revolutions of 1848. Two of the most influential figures of the Italian unification, Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi, fought for the short-lived republic.
Kingdom of Italy, with a temporary capital at Florence. In 1861 Rome was declared capital of Italy even though it was still under the control of the Pope. During the 1860s, the last vestiges of the Papal States were under French protection, thanks to the foreign policy of Napoleon III. And it was only when this was lifted in 1870, owing to the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, that Italian troops were able to capture Rome entering the city through a breach near Porta Pia. Afterwards, Pope Pius IX declared himself as prisoner in the Vatican, and in 1871 the capital of Italy was finally moved from Florence to Rome.
Soon after World War I, Rome witnessed the rise to power of Italian Fascism, led by Benito Mussolini, who marched on the city in 1922, eventually declaring a new Italian Empire and allying Italy with Nazi Germany. The interwar period saw a rapid growth in the city's population, which surpassed one million inhabitants. In World War II, due to its art treasuries and the presence of Vatican, Rome largely escaped the tragic destiny of other European cities. However, on 19 July 1943 the San Lorenzo district was bombed by Anglo-American forces, resulting in about 3,000 deaths and 11,000 wounded. After the fall of Mussolini and the Italian Armistice on 8 September 1943, the city was occupied by the Germans and declared an open city until its liberation on 4 June 1944.
Rome developed momentously after the war, as one of the driving forces behind the "Italian economic miracle" of post-war reconstruction and modernisation in the 1950s and early 1960s. During this period, the years of la dolce vita ("the sweet life"), Rome became a fashionable city, with popular classic films such as Ben Hur, Quo Vadis, Roman Holiday and La Dolce Vita filmed in the city's iconic Cinecittà film studios. The rising trend in population growth continued until the mid-1980s, when the comune had more than 2.8 million residents; after that, population started to decline slowly as inhabitants began to move to nearby suburbs of Rome.