Your Guide to Must-See Museums in Rome

Colosseum arena photography
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Your Guide to Must-See Museums in Rome

Many people think of Rome as a huge open-air museum. Everywhere you look history is evident in the art, architecture, and culture. You may not be interested in spending your vacation museum hopping in Rome, but you will not be disappointed if you do!

With over 80 museums in Rome, you will not be able to visit them all, but you can pick and choose the ones that pique your interest. Aside from visiting the attractions such as the Colosseum, you will find much pleasure in the incredible museums of Rome.

Before heading out to start your journey through time in Rome, drop your bags at a Rome luggage storage locale. The museums you will be visiting do not allow large bags or other belongings inside. 

View works by Michelangelo, Bernini, Canova, and Caravaggio while exploring this historic and romanticized ancient city. Bring your sense of adventure and love of history when visiting Rome.

Museo della Civiltà Romana (Museum of Roman Civilization)

Step back in time and imagine yourself walking through the Rome of old at the Museo della Civiltà Romana. A scale model of ancient Rome is found in the lobby of the museum and reproductions of artifacts are displayed. 

This wonderful space is divided into 59 different sections, giving visitors the ability to pick and choose the collections they want to see. 

Galleria Borghese (Borghese Gallery and Museum)

This could be one of the most prestigious galleries in the world with several sculptures by Canova and Bernini. Located in the Campo Marzio district, the Galleria Borghese is a very impressive art collection and one of the largest in Rome.

With 20 rooms to stroll through, you can sign up for a guided tour or make your way through the museum on your own. Plan your visit before heading to the Galleria Borghese.

Museo Capitolino (Capitoline Museums)

The Museo Capitolino is one museum that encompasses several museums inside the Piazza del Campidoglio in the Colosseo district. Bring your imagination and wander through Roman and Greek artifacts. 

Enjoy the large bronze statue of emperor Marcus Aurelius and the Dying Gaul. You will also have the opportunity to see the famous Lupa Capitolina, the Romulus and Remus sculpture. Purchase your tickets online before being amazed. 

Museo Nazionale Romano (National Museum of Rome)

The National Museum of Rome is divided into four collections located in different palazzos. Tickets are available online and allow you entrance into all four collections. Stroll through each palazzo and enjoy the architecture as well as the collections.

  • Palazzo Massimo alle Terme is filled with jewels, Roman artifacts, and untreated amber mined from the region.
  • Palazzo Altemps is home to marble sculptures by Roman and Greek artists from the 15th century that will leave you breathless.
  • Baths of Diocletian is the site of the largest imperial baths in Rome and has been fully restored into a historic site. 
  • Crypta Balbi is an archaeological site below ground where historians have unearthed many artifacts that are housed in the museum above ground.

Galleria Doria Pamphilj (Doria Pamphili Gallery)

Located in the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj and one of the most renowned private art galleries in Rome, the Galleria Doria Pamphilj is a must-see when here. The gallery dates back to the 15th century and the architecture is as breathtaking as the collection. 

Buy your tickets online, skip long lines, and enjoy over 500 paintings and sculptures. View works by artists such as Titian, Velázquez, and Caravaggio. 

Villa Farnesina

Construction on the mansion began in 1505 and was completed in 1511. Villa Farnesina is a very ornate Renaissance mansion in the Trastevere district. It was built in a U-shape, and you can easily spend the day exploring. 

Some of the walls have frescoes that were painted by Raphael and there is a very impressive trompe-l’oeil in the salon. Join a guided tour and learn more about the history of the villa. 

Palazzo Barberini

Home to the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica or the National Gallery of Antique Art, the Palazzo Barberini is a beautiful building that is worth the time to visit. Take a morning and wander through older, breathtaking Roman artwork. 

The Palazzo Barberini was built during the 17th century by Carlo Maderno, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and Francesco Borromini. The first floor of the palazzo has several of Raphael’s and Caravaggio’s works that must be seen while in Rome.

ceiling art of Sistine Chapel
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Musei Vaticani (Vatican Museums)

When visiting the Eternal City, a trip to the Vatican Museum is an absolute must, but remember to get your tickets online early as the museum is a very popular destination. Check out St. Peter’s Basilica and then head over to the Vatican Museums. 

The Sistine Chapel is a part of the museum; the amazing frescoes painted on the ceiling are truly legendary. The detail Michelangelo gave to each painting is amazing. 

You can only walk in one direction through the museum. Take your time so you can see everything there is to see. Guided tours are available in several languages or you can stroll through on your own. 

Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia (National Etruscan Museum)

An absolute must-see attraction, the Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia is home to some of the most amazing works of art from pre-Roman times. The museum is located in a manor house that was built during the 16th century.

Explore the largest collection of Etruscan art in the world. Sign up for a guided tour or walk through on your own and see amazing art that is over 2,600 years old including the Tita Vendia Vase, Pyrgi Tablets, and the Sarcofago degli Sposi. 

While you may not be visiting Rome with the sole purpose of spending the entire time in museums, you cannot miss visiting at least a few of them. With more than 80 museums to choose from, there are bound to be a few that grab your interest!

When possible, remember to get your tickets early or online so you can skip the long lines, especially at the more popular spots. You do not want to spend your entire time in Rome standing in line!

Resources:

http://www.museociviltaromana.it/

http://www.museicapitolini.org/

https://museonazionaleromano.beniculturali.it/en/

http://www.villafarnesina.it/?lang=en

http://www.museivaticani.va/content/museivaticani/it.html

https://www.museoetru.it/