The Colosseum is one of the iconic symbols of Rome, the "Eternal City." The region has been home to villages, kingdoms, republics, empires (during which the Colosseum was constructed) and a series of tumultuous modern governments.

Photograph by O. Louis Mazzatenta, National Geographic
  • On April 21, 753 BCE, the “Eternal City” of Rome, Italy, was founded. The real origin of Rome is entangled in legend—according to mythological sources, the city was founded by Romulus and his brother Remus, descendants of the Roman god of war, Mars. The twins were sent off in a basket down the Tiber River, but survived after being nursed by a wolf. Eventually, Romulus and Remus founded Rome on Palatine Hill, the site where they were rescued by this wolf. The date of April 21 was originally set forth in the first century BCE by the Roman scholar Marcus Terentius Varro.

    Nicknamed the "Eternal City" more than 1,000 years ago, Rome became the capital of a united Italy in 1870. The city still straddles the Tiber River and comprises seven hills. Rome is a religious destination, center for the arts, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for historical sites such as the Colosseum. In addition to its 2.6 million citizens, the city attracts millions of tourists and travelers each year. 

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    capital Noun

    city where a region's government is located.

    Encyclopedic Entry: capital
    city Noun

    large settlement with a high population density.

    entangle Noun

    to tangle or twist together.

    god Noun

    one of many spiritual deities or supreme beings.

    hill Noun

    land that rises above its surroundings and has a rounded summit, usually less than 300 meters (1,000 feet).

    Encyclopedic Entry: hill
    imperial Adjective

    having to do with an empire.

    legend Noun

    explanation of symbols and abbreviations used on a map, also known as a key.

    scholar Noun

    educated person.

    situate Verb

    to place or arrange.

    tourist Noun

    person who travels for pleasure.

    UNESCO Noun

    the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.

    Encyclopedic Entry: UNESCO
    World Heritage Site Noun

    location recognized by the United Nations as important to the cultural or natural heritage of humanity.