The Seven Hills of Rome mark the ancient boundaries of the city. It was on these seven hills that the first settlements of Rome began and these seven hills were the ones protected within the Servian Walls.
The seven original hills of Rome are:
Aventine / Aventino
Caelian / Celio
Capitoline / Capitolino
Esquiline / Esquilino
Palatine / Palatino
Quirinal / Quirinale
Viminal / Viminale
The foundations, gates, and ruins of the 4th century-BC Servian Walls can still be seen in some parts of the city.
Subsequent builds of fortifications in Rome, such as the Aurelian Walls (3rd century AD) and the Leonine City (9th century AD) included other hills whose names may be familiar: the Janiculum (Gianicolo), Vatican, and Pincian hills, among several others.
The 7 Hills of Rome: What Can You See?
Now that you’ve had a short history lesson, you may be wondering what you can see today on Rome’s Seven Hills. Below are descriptions of each of the original seven hills of Rome with links to handy Google street view maps.
The Aventine Hill is one of the most tranquil areas of the city. Romans like to visit its leafy Giardino degli Aranci, the Orange Garden, which has a panoramic view of St. Peter’s Basilica. On the same street is the headquarters of the Knights of Malta, famous for its keyhole view of St. Peter’s Basilica. The ancient Santa Sabina Basilica is also located on the Aventine Hill.
The Baths of Caracalla are one of the highlights of the Caelian (pronounced “Chellian”) Hill, which lies south of the Colosseum. The Villa Celimontana (Caelian Mountain Villa), is a 16th century villa and gardens that many Romans frequent in warmer weather for its nature and tranquility. The villa grounds also serve as the site for an annual jazz festival. Nearby are several lesser known but beautiful churches, including Santo Stefano Rotondo, San Gregorio, and Santi Giovanni e Paolo, a popular wedding church.
The Capitoline Museums and the seat of the Roman government can be found on the Capitoline Hill. On the higher ridge of the hill stands the church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli.
The Esquiline Hill was where Nero built his “Golden House” (Domus Aurea). Today, much of the Esquiline is crowded with shops and apartment blocks, especially in the area near the Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, which occupies the summit of the Esquiline Hill. On the southwestern spur of the Esquilino is the Colle Oppio (the smaller Oppian Hill) from which you can admire the Colosseum.
The Palatine, where Romulus and Remus were supposedly born, is the original hill of all of Rome’s hills. Rome’s main archeological area is here. Travel tip: You can visit the Palatine Hill on a combined ticket with the Colosseum and Roman Forum.
The Quirinal Palace, where the President of Italy resides, is the main landmark of this hill. Winding staircases and alleys from the pinnacle lead down to the Trevi Fountain [directions].
When Romans talk about the Viminale, they are referring to the Ministry of the Interior, the largest government office located on this, the smallest of Rome’s Seven Hills. The Viminiale is also the site of the Baths of Diocletian, now part of the National Roman Museum. It’s all a short walk from Termini, Rome’s main train station.
This month’s Italy Blogging Roundtable topic was “Hills and Mountains.” I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the Seven Hills of Rome. Please have a look at the other entries from our fabulous Italy blogging crew:
- Jessica – Italy Roundtable: Why Do We Love Italian Hill Towns?
- Alexandra – Abetone: The Closest Ski Resort to Florence
- Rebecca – Italy Roundtable: The Colfiorito Marshlands