Find out everything you need to know about Rome's birthday, the anniversary of the Eternal City’s foundation - the history and importance of this day, and what happens during the celebrations!
Did you know that the city of Rome has an official birthday?
Known in Italian typically as ‘Natale di Roma’ or (occasionally) ‘Compleanno di Roma’, the city’s founding is marked on April 21 every year.
There are an array of events that take place across Rome to celebrate its birthday.
On this page, discover everything you need to know about Romes birthday, including:
Rome's birthday is officially April 21 every year (more on WHY this is the official date below!) but typically the main events take place on the Sunday after April 21, to make the most of Romes birthday celebrations!
Rome's birthday celebrates the foundation of the city, which was a major event in history - this marked the start of what would go on to become one of the greatest empires ever, with the legacy of the Roman Empire still impacting many aspects of our lives today.
According to legend (and then later affirmed by ancient Roman scholar Marcus Terentius Varro), it was on April 21 753 BCE that the famous brothers Romulus and Remus founded the settlement that would later become known as Rome.
They chose the area near the Tiber river because it was in this part of the country that they had been raised from babies by a she-wolf (again, according to the legend) after being abandoned by their mother at the banks of the river.
This is why you will see representations of Romulus and Remus with the she-wolf all around Rome.
On this basis, that would make Rome 2700+ years young! However it should be noted that there is evidence of human settlement in the Rome area as far back as 12,0000 BCE.
According to the legend, Romulus and Remus could not agree where to found the city specifically - Romulus wanted it on the Palatine Hill, whereas Remus argued for the Aventine hill.
They faced off in what is now the Circus Maximus, where Romulus or one of his followers (depending on the version of the legend you read) killed Remus, settling the debate forever and named the city after himself.
Romulus as a result became Rome’s first king, ruling until 716 BCE.
Romes birthday is marked officially in Rome with a series of events around the city - typically most of these take place on the Sunday following April 21 to minimize disruption in the city, and to allow people to enjoy them to their fullest!
Want to learn more about the Circus Maximus and its long history?
Take this in-depth tour to really understand what it was like in the time of the ancient Romans!
You’ll also find many more events around the city to celebrate Rome’s birthday - for complete details of all the events taking place this year, check out my April events page.
April 21 Free Museum Entry - Confirmed for 2023
On April 21 some of Rome's civic museums generally are open with free entry, including the archeological area of the Circus Maximus, the Capitoline Museums, the Ara Pacis, the museum of Trajan's Market and Imperial Forums and many more.
There are also various events, walks and talks that you can attend to celebrate the day and learn more about the importance of Romes birthday - take a look at the Musei in Comune's website here for the full listings of all of the free entry locations and events.
*This product is produced in, and dispatched from the United States. Please consider that delivery timeframes may fluctuate based on where you are in the world, particularly while COVID-related disruptions persist. Deliveries outside of the United States may be subject to custom or import fees, which Romewise bears no responsibility for - if you are unsure, please check with your national authorities before ordering.
Rome's birthday was one of the biggest dates in the ancient Roman calendar - akin to Christmas in the modern western world.
The date the city was founded on was so significant to ancient Romans that their calendar was based off of it, with year one being what we now register as 753 BCE.
In Latin, this is referred to as ab urbe condita (which translates as ‘since the founding [of the city]’), and is now abbreviated to AUC.
Based on this, if you were to still follow the ancient Roman calendar today, we are living in the 2700s AUC.
During Rome’s early history, April 21 saw the festival of Parilia celebrated, where shepherds would pay their respects to the god Pales.
As Rome grew from a small village to the capital of a vast empire, new celebrations were added in honor of the city’s founding.
While the Parilia festival was still marked, the date became the dies natalis Romae - which in Latin means ‘Birth date of Rome’.
It is from the word natalis that the modern Italian word ‘natale’ comes from, hence the term widely used today for April 21 in Rome - Natale di Roma.
During the time of the emperors, the dies natalis Romae was expanded to include celebratory games at the Colosseum, Circus Maximus and most other entertainment venues.
Parades and processions were also held throughout the city, giving the emperor and other notable members of society an opportunity to show themselves to the people of Rome on the occasion of Romes birthday.
Explore other sites from Ancient Rome
If you find yourself in the Eternal City the week of Romes birthday, try to check out one of the official events talked about above (for specific details of this year’s events, click here).
For the parades on the via dei Fori Imperiali and at the Circus Maximus I’d recommend arriving in plenty of time, well ahead of the advertised start time - the timings can be flexible, and being a little early means you can get a great spot!
If you are in Rome at a different time of the year but still want to celebrate Rome's birthday and pay respects to the founding of the city, here are my top three recommendations on how to do this:
Visiting the Pantheon by yourself?
This audio guide is the perfect accompaniment!
While widely celebrated in ancient times with much of the population taking a day off, Romes birthday is not an official holiday now.
There will not be any official closures or unexpected travel restrictions therefore.
Rome's birthday is widely celebrated in the city however so you can expect to see a lot more happening than just the events outlined on this page!
Want to save this to Pinterest? Pin it here!
Get your free Rome trip planner!
Comments? Questions? Suggestions?
Please come over to the private Romewise Facebook group and join in the conversation.
You will often find me there, happy to answer your questions / comments!
You will also meet other Rome lovers and experts, too.
What are you waiting for?