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?
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!
On this page, you'll find:
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.
The hills protected the people living there, and the location by the river Tiber was, of course, a strategic decision.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Dating from the 2nd and 3rd centuries, the houses now form a museum displaying spectacular frescoes that are surprisingly well preserved.
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!
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.
On the southern edge of the Esquiline hill, there is a spur known as the Oppian hill.
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.
The most northerly of the seven hills is the Quirinal Hill, famous as the site of the Quirinal Palace.
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!
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.
The nearby Palazzo Massimo Alle Terme is a fascinating museum that is certainly worthy of a visit.
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:
Located across the Tiber is the Vatican Hill, although today there is no trace of its ancient slopes.
No visit to Rome is complete without viewing this outstanding example of Renaissance architecture and its welcoming entrance of St Peter's Square.
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.
The Pincio is home to the Villa Borghese, one of the prettiest parks in the Eternal City.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.