12 of Italy’s Must See Ancient Ruins

With the Romans being arguably the biggest and most important empire in the entire world, it comes as no surprise that Italy is home to many amazing relics of their past. Rome, the capital city of the empire has heaps of incredible sights and artefacts to be seen, however they are allso spread around the rest of the country. The Roman Empire was pretty huge after all. Not only that, but the Greek empire was just next door with parts also spreading into Italy. As a result, modern day Italy is littered with both Greek and Roman ruins, many of which are well preserved. Here are just 12 of the best examples.

Ruins of Aosta

Roman Ruins of Aosta
Photo by tm-tm
Roman Ruins of Aosta
Photo by Dominicus Johannes Bergsma

The Roman ruins in Aosta are probably in the most picturesque setting. Nestled down in a valley, these ruins have an incredible backdrop of the Italian Alps. Here you can find remains of a theatre and the city wall from the Augustus era as well as many remains from ancient roads in the Aosta Valley.

Valle Dei Templi, Sicily

Valle Dei Templi Roman Ruins
Photo by CucombreLibre
Roman Ruins of Valle Dei Templi
Photo by Ania Mendrek

The Valle Dei Templi, or the Valley of the Temples, is home to some of the best examples of temples and architecture from the Greek empire. Within the valley are the remains of seven different temples, with the Temple of Concordia still standing and mostly intact. Due to the amount of temples and the incredible preservation of the COncordia temple, the Valle dei Templi is one of the best sights for ancient Greek architecture in the world.

Baths of Caracalla, Rome

Baths of Caracalla Roman Ruins
Photo by Ethan_Doyle_White
Baths of Caracalla Roman Ruins
Photo by teldridge+keldridge

Now a UNESCO world heritage sight, the Baths of Caracalla were the second largest public baths in Ancient Rome. The baths covered an impressive 62 hectares at their prime, but most of this is now off limits to protect from any further damage and erosion.

Ruins of Pompeii

Pompeii Roman Ruins

Pompeii Roman Ruins
Photo by Paul Kelley

Pompeii is one of the most famous ancient landmarks in the entire world. The town and much of the surrounding area was mostly destroyed by the infamous eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The ancient roman ruins today give an exceptional insight into what life was like back then. Along with the extensive ruins and exhibits, you can also see the famed plaster bodies. During excavations, plaster was filled into holes, made by the ash clouds, that once held the bodies of the Pompeii citizens, showing the positions they were in when they met their demise.

Ruins of Paestum

paestum roman ruins
Photo by simonov
Paestum Roman Ruins
Photo by Oliver Bonjoch

Found in the south of Italy, Paestum has some of the best preserved ancient Greek temples. Having been built somewhere between 600 and 450 BC, these are some incredible examples of ancient Greek architecture. Also in the area are the remains of the ancient city’s walls, amphitheatre and various paved roads, which definitely makes these some of the best preserved Greek ruins in Italy.

Roman Forum, Rome

Roman Forum Roman RUins Roman Forum Roman RUins

The Roman Forum was once the centre of the public life in Ancient Rome. It was in this space that markets thrived, gladiators battled, criminals were trialled and many speeches were made. Because it was once the heart of one of the greatest empires, it is today home to some of the best preserved pieces of history in the world. There are heaps of incredible relics and roman ruins to be discovered here, as well as many statues and artefacts.

Ruins of Capua

Ruins of Capoa Roman Ruins
Photo by Jimmyweee
Ruins of Capoa Roman Ruins
Photo by Jimmyweee

Along with the rest of the Campania district, Capua was once the home of gladiatorial battles. In Capua you will find the remains of a gladiator school, where gladiators would learn and practice to fight. Also in Capua is a plethora of ancient tombs and graves, some dating as early back as the 5-7th centuries.

Tharros, Sardinia

tharros Roman Ruins
Photo by bh_one_3000
tharros Roman Ruins
Photo by CdePaz
tharros Roman Ruins
Photo by larrywkoester

Though they may not be the most impressive Roman ruins, they are believed to be the remains of one of the most important cities on the island of Sardinia. The town was believed to be used moslty as a quarry and was first established as early as the 8th century BC. There are also remains of a sea port submerged under the surrounding waters.

Herculaneum, Naples

Herculaneum Roman Ruins
Photo by S J Pinkney
Herculaneum Roman Ruins
Photo by S J Pinkney

Pompeii wasn’t the only town destroyed by Mount Vesuvius but it seems to be the only one that most people have heard of. Also falling to the same fate was the town of Herculaneum. Despite both being destroyed at the same time by the same Volcano, Herculaneum has quite a few differences. The pyroclastic material that covered the town, managed to preserve many interesting objects that were destroyed in Pompeii including beds, food, paintings and even skeletons. Herculaneum was also a wealthier town than Pompeii, which is made apparent by the more lavish houses and extensive use of marble.

Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli

Hadrian's Villa Roman Ruins
Photo by Tango 7174
Hadrian's Villa Roman Ruins
Photo by Jastrow

Just as the name suggests, Hadrian’s Villa was built as a retreat for the Roman Emperor Hadrian. The villa has the remains of many sculptures, baths, pools and fountains as well as showing evidence of there being expansive gardens and farm land. Thousands of people were said to have inhabited the villa, most of them likely being workers and servants for the emperor.

Theatre of Marcellus, Rome

Theatre of Marcellus Roman Ruins
Photo by Rabax63
Theatre of Marcellus Roman Ruins
Photo by Jensens

The Theatre of Marcellus is one of the most impressive ancient theatres in the area of the Ancient Roman empire. Ordered to be constructed by Julius Ceasar, the building is the largest and most important known theatre of the empire, holding between 11-20,000 spectators. Now the theatre is one of the more impressive tourist sights in the city of Rome.

Colosseum, Rome

Colosseum Roman Ruins
Photo by Diliff
Colosseum Roman Ruins
Photo by Alex Proimos

Without a doubt, the Colosseum is the most noteworthy and most visited Roman ruin in the world. Today, the ampitheatre is still the largest ever built, once able to seat between 50-80,000 spectators. The Colosseum is just a short ways from the Roman Forum, meaning it was basically in the heart of Ancient Rome. Due to it’s incredible size, preservation and location, the Colosseum is consequently one of the most famous Roman ruins in all of Italy and the world.


What are your favourite Roman ruins? Let me know below…

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