Top 5 Sites in Rome for Art History Majors

It is no surprise that Rome is one of the best places in the world to study art history. Every street corner, church, or ancient monument that a student passes on their way to class is covered in layers of history. Instead of studying artifacts from pictures on slide shows, John Cabot University art history students can step outside and use the world around them as a living example of their major. Because Rome and art history go hand in hand, when students choose John Cabot as their university, their studies go beyond the walls of the classroom.

JCU not only offers this area as an undergraduate major, but also has a Master’s program in art history.

The complete list would be nearly infinite, but to get you started, here are 5 sites that every Art History major should visit:

1. The Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums, one of the world’s most incredible and largest museums, displays works collected by popes over the last 500 years. The Vatican is home to over 70,000 works, including some of the most renowned classical sculptures and Renaissance masterpieces of all time. There are 54 galleries, including the breathtaking Sistine Chapel with its frescoes by Michelangelo. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit this incredible museum and see world-famous works by Da Vinci, Raphael, Caravaggio, and Bellini, as well as many artifacts from ancient Rome and ancient Egypt dating back almost three thousand years! Check out their website for more information.

2. Saint Peter’s Basilicaart history majors, studying art history in Rome, John cabot art history students, Vatican museums, saint peter's basilica, piazza navona, the arch of constantine, ara pacis, art history

While you’re at the Vatican, don’t forget to take a walk around Saint Peter’s square with its colonnade and head into the basilica. St. Peter’s is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture, and the largest church in the world, with the dome rising to a total height of 136.57 meters (448.1 feet). Construction of the basilica started in 1506 and was completed in 1626. The mere size of St. Peter’s is breathtaking, but once you realize that every column, every fresco, tomb, mosaic, and sculpture within the basilica was created by the most incredible and talented artists of all time, you will surely be in awe.

3. Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona was originally built in the 1st century AD, as an open stadium. Around the 15th century, however, the piazza was transformed and soon become one of the world’s best examples of Baroque architecture. Many sculptures and architectural creations are featured in Navona, including an obelisk made during the time of Emperor Domitian, which sits atop Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers. The piazza is one of the most beautiful spots in Rome, especially if you are studying the history of the artwork. art history majors, studying art history in Rome, John cabot art history students, Vatican museums, saint peter's basilica, piazza navona, the arch of constantine, ara pacis, art history

4. Ara Pacis

The Ara Pacis is an altar dedicated to Pax, the Roman goddess of Peace. The monument was commissioned in 13 BC and consecrated in 9 BC. For many years, it was buried underground. In 1938, it was dug up and moved to its current location. Detailed depictions can be seen on the reliefs of every face of the altar. The intricate and fine detail of the figures shown is incredible. Today, the Ara Pacis is housed inside the Ara Pacis museum, a controversial, modern structure that was opened in 2006. Many have criticized the controversial museum, claiming it is not fitting with the style of the ancient altar. This is definitely something you should check out and see for yourself!

5. Arch of Constantine

The Arch of Constantine is a triumphal arch from 315 AD, situated between the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill. It was built to commemorate Constantine I’s victory over Maxentius, and is Rome’s largest triumphal arch. The arch has reliefs, several of which were re-used from 2nd century imperial monuments. Next time you pass by the Colosseum or the Forum, make sure to stop and check out the Arch of Constantine. You will be amazed by each tiny detail, and will probably want to sit and study the “layers” of this monument for hours!


Alexa (Shearer) Vujaklija
Class of 2015
Communications Major
Grew up in The United States, Germany, The Republic of Georgia, Russia, and Bulgaria

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