The squares of Rome are what many visitors associate with the city. In essence, they are a part of what gives the modern capital city its character. The inhabitants of Rome use the Piazzas as meet up points, entertainment, general socialising, parties and festivals or the daily ‘happy hour’. Situated on Capitol Hill, Piazza del Campidoglio is where the Government sits. Meanwhile, Piazza Venezia is considered the heart of Rome, while Piazza Navona is famous for its magnificent Baroque buildings, and Piazza di Spagna is known for being the home of the Spanish Steps. Those visiting St Peter’s Basilica first pass through St Peter’s Square. In all, the Piazzas tell the story of Rome that spans over a millennia of history.
Over 200 chapels and 19 basilicas are encircled by the ancient Aurelian Walls. The most notable of the basilicas are St Peter’s, the biggest on earth; St John in Lateran, the world’s oldest church, where the bishop used to live; and Santa Maria Maggiore. A number of the chapels date from early Christianity, when they originated as centres of protection for believers who were escaping persecution. These religious refugees met in buildings which were termed domus ecclesiae. As the years wore on, churches grew up around these buildings which were over the centuries altered, renovated or in some cases completely rebuilt.