What are the Seven Hills of Rome?

Have you heard of the Seven Hills of Rome?

Part of Rome's founding lore is that it was built on seven hills.

But what is the history of these hills?

palatine-hill-view-roman-forum-middle-smallOne of the best views in Rome is from high on the Palatine Hill - keep reading to find out more about the original seven hills of Rome!

On this page, we'll cover the names and locations of the seven hills and things to do on each one.

And we'll throw in a few bonus tidbits as well!

Facts about the seven hills of Rome and things to see and do there

On this page, you'll find:

What are the seven hills of Rome?

The original seven hills were the Aventine, Palatine, Capitoline, Esquiline, Quirinal, Viminal and Caelian hill.

The hills of Rome were once individually inhabited.

The oldest settlements were founded on the Palatine and Esquiline.

Later, the Sabines settled on the Quirinal Hill.

Archaeological site of Romulus Huts - Palatine hillThe remains of the structures that Romulus supposedly lived in on the Palatine hill are some of the oldest anywhere in Rome!

The hills protected the people living there, and the location by the river Tiber was, of course, a strategic decision.

Now, the seven hills of Rome are the sites of monuments, churches, parks and palaces, and you can still visit all of them today!

All this talk of hills may give you the impression that you will be walking up and down steep slopes during your visit.

However, over the centuries these hills have become a lot less hilly!

Between the construction of ancient and modern buildings, excavations, and changes at the ground level, while there are some higher points, all that remains of some of these hills is their name.

What is the story of the seven hills of Rome?

The Etruscans conquered the area in the 6th century BCE, and united all the hills of Rome while mainly settling on the Capitoline Hill themselves.

The first kings of Rome were Etruscans.

When the last Etruscan king was chased out of the city, the Roman Republic was founded.

She-wolf statue in the Capitoline museumsThe she-wolf statue in the Capitoline museums is the most famous depiction of the Rome foundation story

The legend of the founding of Rome also takes place on these same hills.

Romulus and Remus were found and nursed by the she-wolf (Lupa in Italian) in a cave on the Palatine Hill.

Eventually, Romulus would become the founder of the new city by way of a curious competition, keep reading to learn more!

Aventine Hill | Aventino

The southernmost of Rome's seven hills, the Aventine Hill was once home to a temple to the goddess Diana but sadly nothing remains of the temple today.

The hill features heavily in the Roman mythology of its founding, involving Romulus and Remus.

The twins fought over who would be founder of a new city via an augury, an ancient Roman practice of observing the behaviour of birds and interpreting such as omens.

Remus set his augury site on the Aventine Hill and Romulus on the Palatine Hill, with both of them claiming to have seen omens that meant they each had won.

Romulus and Remus could not agree on who was the winner so they ended up fighting.

Romulus ended up killing his brother and founded Rome, naming the new city after himself.

Piazza where to look through the Malta keyholeThe architecture of the buildings on the Aventine Hill makes it more than worthwhile visiting!

Nowadays people visit the Aventine hill to see the Roseto Comunale, a spectacular rose garden.

They also visit for the Giardino degli Aranci, a garden filled with fragrant orange trees found at the highest point of the hill, with fabulous views.

The churches of Santa Sabina and Sant'Alessio are also well worth visiting, and played an essential part in the Aventine Hill's history. 

Don't forget to take a peek through the Malta keyhole for a spectacular surprise!

view of st peter's basilica through the Knights of Malta keyholeCapturing the view of St Peter's Basilica through the Malta keyhole is more challenging than you might think!

Palatine Hill | Palatino

palatine hill ancient palace ruinsThe ruins of the ancient Roman palace are a great place to learn about the history of Rome

One of the two uninhabited hills, the Palatine Hill is the most central and is at the heart of Rome's founding mythology.

It was here that the Lupa (she-wolf) nursed Romulus and Remus and was where Romulus built his home.

Later in the history of the Roman Empire, it was on the Palatine that the palace of the Roman emperor could be found.

In fact, our modern word 'palace' derives from the word palatino!

views from the palatine hillThe views of the Roman Forum and beyond are worth the climb up to the top of the Palatine!

Today the entire hill is an open-air museum, plus you can be guaranteed some amazing views!

When you buy tickets to visit the Colosseum and Roman Forum, the Palatine hill is also included in the entrance fee and is an unmissable sight, filled with layers of ruins from ancient Rome and beyond.

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Capitoline Hill | Capitolino

Like Palatine Hill, Capitoline Hill is uninhabited.

Once the home of ancient Rome's most important temples, primarily the temple of Jupiter, the Capitoline has been the center of government for centuries.

Having been built on and remodelled in Medieval and then Renaissance times, much of the ancient architecture is now buried beneath the main piazza.

Visiting the Capitoline Museums will give you a glimpse at some of the most impressive relics from the Imperial era.

campidoglio at sunsetWhile the buildings and piazza design are relatively recent, the Capitoline Hill has been at the center of Roman life for millenia

The Roman city council is housed in the spectacular Palazzo Senatorio in the middle building.

To the left and right, the Capitoline Museums are located in the Palazzo dei Conservatori and the Palazzo Nuovo.

Each museum houses important works from ancient and later Roman artists and sculptors.

From the top of Capitoline Hill views of the Roman Forum and beyond are unrivalled.

ara coeli church interiorSanta Maria in Ara Coeli is right on top of the Capitoline Hill

The Basilica of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli is home to important relics from Helen, mother of Emperor Constantine.

It also holds other relics from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which legend holds is the site where Jesus was crucified.

For lots more of the history and other landmarks on this central hill, visit our dedicated page!

Caelian Hill | Celio

Perhaps not the best known, the Caelian Hill is still important in ancient Roman history.

It is home to several important churches, including Santi Quattro Coronati with its stunning interior decorations.

Another beautiful church on the Caelian Hill is the Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, an ancient church halfway up the hill.

exterior of santi giovanni e paolo celian hillThe Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo is close to the Villa Celimontana park

Underneath the church you can visit one of Rome's most fascinating historical attractions, the Roman Houses of Celio.

Dating from the 2nd and 3rd centuries, the houses now form a museum displaying spectacular frescoes that are surprisingly well preserved.

Roman Houses of Celio MuseumThe Roman Houses of Celio allow you to see the ruins of some ancient Roman homes, as well as this excellent small museum filled with finds from the site over the centuries

Also of interest, and a great place to escape the crowds on a hot day, is the Villa Celimontana with its famous and spectacular gardens.

The park comes complete with its very own ancient Roman obelisk!

Obelisk in Viall Celimontana parkThe obelisk in Villa Celimontana is an ancient Egyptian original

Esquiline Hill | Esquilino

Esquiline Hill is often cited as the highest of the hills of Rome, although some sources accord that accolade to the Quirinal Hill.

It overlooks the valley where the Colosseum was built and offers spectacular views today.

Once a posh residential district, Esquiline Hill is home to some important churches.

This includes the spectacular Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, one of the first churches dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and one of the four papal basilicas.

sant maria maggiore front view in summerThe Papal Basilica of St Mary Major is one of the most stunning churches in Rome

On the southern edge of the Esquiline hill, there is a spur known as the Oppian hill.

Here you will find the ruins of the Domus Aurea, or Golden House, a massive palace complex that Emperor Nero built in 64 CE.

fresco ceiling in the domus aureaThe remains of Nero's ancient palace are remarkably well preserved

The Domus Aurea is famous for stunning ancient Roman frescoes and is undoubtedly worth a visit, taking you underground to walk the halls of possibly the grandest villa ever built.

The unexpected discovery of the well-preserved frescoes and decoration in the 15th century inspired Raphael and Michelangelo along with countless other Renaissance artists.

Quirinal Hill | Quirinale

The most northerly of the seven hills is the Quirinal Hill, famous as the site of the Quirinal Palace.

The Palazzo del Quirinale was once home to the Pope, then to the King of Italy, and today is the residence of the President of Italy, housing many important artifacts and artworks.

sunset on the quirinal hillThe Quirinale Hill is one of the best places to enjoy the sunset in Rome

The views from the piazza in front of the Quirinal Palace are superb, and it's a great spot to watch the sunset.

This neighborhood of Rome is known for its important galleries and museums.

This includes the fascinating Scuderie del Quirinale, which organizes exhibitions of both ancient and modern art, and Palazzo Colonna.

You are also only a short walk from the famous Trevi Fountain!

Galleria ColonnaThe art collection in Galleria Colonna is sublime, housed within a Roman Palazzo

Viminal Hill | Viminale

Between the Esquiline and Quirinal hills is Viminal Hill, the smallest of Rome's hills.

It is also the location of Roma Termini, Rome's main train station.

On the Viminal hill you'll find the impressive remains of the Baths of Diocletian, an ancient complex of public baths on which a large monastic complex and church was founded.

termini station front viewYou're guaranteed to come through Termini station during your Rome trip!

The nearby Palazzo Massimo Alle Terme is a fascinating museum that is certainly worthy of a visit.

The perfect 3-day itinerary in Rome

Trying to figure out how to organize your visit to Rome? I've got the perfect 3-day itinerary for first-time visitors (or those who have not been here in a while.) It works for a 2.5 day visit as well.

In my 3-day itinerary, you'll see all the major must-see Rome attractions like the Vatican, Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps, Castel Sant'Angelo, and much more.

And if you have more time, or want suggestions for extra/other things to do, you'll find that there too.

Visit my page with the best 3-day itinerary in Rome for first-timers.

What are some other hills in Rome?

As I mentioned, nowadays there are more than seven hills in Rome.

As the city expanded, more hills were brought inside its boundaries.

These are the most important ones:

Vatican Hill | Vaticano

Located across the Tiber is the Vatican Hill, although today there is no trace of its ancient slopes.

Home to Vatican City, with St Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums, it is an important and holy place, attracting millions of visitors each year.

st peter's square and colonnade in winterThere is no hint of the hill that was once here!

St Peter's Basilica is the largest church dedicated to Saint Peter anywhere in the world, built upon the location of the saint's tomb.

No visit to Rome is complete without viewing this outstanding example of Renaissance architecture and its welcoming entrance of St Peter's Square.

Pincian Hill | Pincio

In my video below, I take you through the Pincian Hill.

To the north of the Quirinal Hill and in the historic center is the Pincian Hill.

While not one of the traditional seven hills in Rome, it lies within the boundary wall built by ancient Roman Emperor Aurelian.

summertime on the Pincio terraceThe Pincio terrace on the edge of the Villa Borghese park is a lovely place to relax and enjoy the spectacular views

The Pincio is home to the Villa Borghese, one of the prettiest parks in the Eternal City.

It also contains the Galleria Borghese, which houses a spectacular art collection.

Nearby are many galleries and museums housing ancient and modern artifacts and artworks, and the famous Pincio terrace is a wonderful place to catch a Roman sunset.

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Janiculum Hill | Gianicolo

view of saint peters from gianicoloAs the Gianicolo is a little outside the city center, the views of St Peter's Basilica and beyond are breathtaking

The Gianicolo Hill is one of the tallest hills in the city but is not among the original seven.

It's beyond the boundaries of the ancient city and lies to the west of the Tiber river.

A popular place for Romans to visit, there are lots of attractions to explore.

You'll find the church of San Pietro in Montorio, where the site of St Peter's crucifixion is marked by Bramante's perfectly round Tempietto.

tempietto bramante frontThe Tempietto is small but perfectly formed

The Janiculum hill is also where visitors can take in a spectacular view of the Eternal City, complete with magnificent architecture and landmarks.

Find out more on our page all about this special hill!

The best way to understand the geography of Rome and how the ancient city intersects with the modern is to take a walking tour at the start of your trip.

This guided tour even includes gelato tasting!

Why does the Bible refer to the 7 hills of Rome?

The seven hills of Rome are believed to be referenced in the New Testament.

The Book of Revelation refers to the 'Whore of Babylon' - an entirely symbolic female figure - sitting on 'seven mountains.'

This is taken as referring to Rome's seven hills and is believed to be a reference to the Roman Catholic Church.

What is the movie The Seven Hills of Rome about?

The Seven Hills of Rome is a movie from 1958.

It stars the great tenor Mario Lanza as a singer searching for his fiance in Italy.

The plot involves him getting a job singing at a club and eventually finding his true love.

The film was a box office hit and was a joint American-Italian production.

Lanza died in Rome in October 1959.

Seven Hills Of Rome Film

This classic 1950's movie was actually filmed in Rome.

So as well as being an entertaining story, the film is a snapshot of Rome and Roman life at the start of the economic boom in Italy - well worth a watch!

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A map of the seven hills in Ancient Rome and today

map of the 7 hills of Rome in ancient times and todayThis map indicates the original hill locations in ancient times and how they correspond to the modern city today

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