Italy is one of the top destinations for travelers who visit Europe as it offers a plethora of historic buildings and structures in its cities. Rome, Milan and many other locations feature landmarks that can’t be found in other parts of Europe.
With so many historic structures dotting the landscape of the country, it’s difficult for those who visit Italy to take in all of the historic sites and architectural wonders on one trip.
In this article, we’ll examine 10 of the most famous landmarks in Italy and discuss the architects behind each work, as well as the overall purpose of the structure.
Famous Landmarks in Italy
Visitors to the city of Rome, Italy can hardly miss one of the capital’s largest landmarks, the Colosseum.
This massive arena spans more than 250,000 square feet of space and was once the most significant building in the Roman Empire in terms of public interest and sport.
The Colosseum is located in the middle of the city of Rome near other ancient ruins dating back to the earliest centuries A.D.
The Colosseum was designed and built under the supervision of the emperor Vespasian, but it would be completed decades later under the reign of his successor, Titus.
The Colosseum was opened around 80 A.D. and it immediately became a central landmark to those living in the empire’s capital.
In the centuries since the fall of Rome, the Colosseum has remained one of the most notable structures in Italy, as well as one of the greatest historic buildings from this era that is still standing.
The upper half of the Colosseum’s southern portion collapsed in a massive earthquake that struck the city in 1349, however.
2. Cinque Terre
One of the most picturesque views in all of Italy is also a site found on countless postcards sent from those visiting the country.
The hillside park district known as Cinque Terre is a coastal city in Liguria, which is located in the northwestern section of Italy. The steep hillsides are broken up with lush, beautiful terraces and an interconnected complex of houses that somehow manage to defy the rugged landscape as it joins the Mediterranean Sea.
This city’s history dates back to the 11th century and has long been one of the most sought-after destinations for those visiting Italy.
The area known as Cinque Terre actually comprises five specific villages whose residents can often trace their roots back several centuries into the past.
These villages are part of La Spezia Province and have been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These five villages are relatively small and tourism is often limited on certain holidays to avoid overfilling the small shops and cafes on the oceanside hills.
Those visiting Rome often seek out some of the most historic and intriguing sites the city has to offer. Of these sites, the Pantheon is usually considered to be one of the most famous landmarks in Rome if not the entire country of Italy.
It is one of the most ancient structures in Italy and still remains in remarkably-good condition compared to many of the other buildings that date back to the early years of the Roman Empire.
The building features one of the most distinct exterior designs of any structure found in present-day Rome.
The large stone facade in front of the Pantheon often draws the attention of visitors, but it is the front-facing columns at the building’s entrance that attracts the most attention.
The Pantheon is believed to have been constructed in 125 A.D. under the emperor Hadrian and has served as a church and various other functions in the centuries since that time.
4. Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain is a majestic, intricately-designed site within Rome, Italy that many consider to be among the most famous landmarks in the country.
It is not as ancient as some of the structures dating back to the days of the Roman Empire, but the Trevi Fountain has been a central feature of the city.
It’s located in front of the Palazzo Poli and is often described as the most famous fountain in the world due to the elaborate work that went into its design and execution in creating this important Italian landmark.
The Trevi Fountain was designed by Nicola Salvi, a well-known Italian architect who often worked in the Baroque architectural style throughout much of his career.
The fountain itself features a scene that includes tritons that can be seen guiding the chariot of Oceanus, the father of Roman river gods and the force that was said to encircle the Earth in water.
The Trevi Fountain is one of the many historic fountains that are fed by Roman aqueducts, which still function much as they did during the early centuries of the empire.
5. Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
There is no shortage of churches and cathedrals scattered throughout Italy as the country is home to the leadership of the Roman Catholic religion and has remained as such since its inception at the end of the 6th century.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, which is often referred to as the Florence Cathedral, is among the most famous landmarks for those visiting Rome to view the many places of worship.
The cathedral draws many millions of visitors each year and boasts a distinct impression on anyone traveling to Florence due to its dark red coloration and elegant design.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore actually remains the world’s largest masonry domed structure and the interior of the building is made up of many breathtaking sculptures, paintings and architectural masterpieces from the builders of the cathedral.
6. Uffizi Gallery
Another major Italian landmark is also located in the city of Florence. The Uffizi Gallery is one of the country’s most prominent art museums that boasts a massive collection of classical and modern art pieces from some of the world’s greatest sculptors, painters and other artists.
This building is located along the Arno River, which splits the city in half and was once a major route for travelers to access Florence.
The Uffizi Gallery’s building is made up of a simple, well-designed structure that features an interior courtyard set between two wings of the palace that offers a view of the slow-moving waters of the river.
The building was designed and built by Giorgio Vasari, a prominent Italian architect who worked under a commission from Cosimo I de’ Medici of the powerful and wealthy Medici family.
It was originally intended to be used as “uffizi” or “offices,” but has since been converted into a museum in recent years. The Uffizi Gallery was completed in 1581 and remains one of the most-visited sites in Florence today.
7. Roman Forum
Italy has a slew of ancient landmarks that date back to the Roman Empire, but there are few that draw the interest of visitors in the same way that the Roman Forum does.
This large expanse of ancient ruins was once home to a sprawling, bustling marketplace during the height of the Roman empire.
The forum is believed to be one of the oldest structures in Italy that may have been in existence before the establishment of the Roman Empire, or at the earliest centuries.
During the height of its use the Roman Forum was a place that held public speeches, criminal trials and gladiator contests. It has changed much over the centuries, but today, the Roman Forum attracts many millions of visitors that flock to the city to see the remnants of Rome’s ancient past.
8. Duomo di Milano
The largest cathedral in Italy is the Milan Cathedral, a giant, expansive building that dates back to the 14th century when the Italian Renaissance was nearing its height.
Known to local residents as the Duomo di Milano, this extravagant cathedral is a prime example of a building done according to the Lombard Gothic style.
Construction on the Duomo di Milano began in 1386 and it would take more than 500 years before it was finally completed in 1965.
9. Leaning Tower of Pisa
There are few ancient landmarks in Italy that are more well-known than the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
This unusual structure is one that draws countless visitors each year who come to marvel at the building that still somehow manages to defy gravity.
Work began on the tower in 1173, but it didn’t take long for builders to notice that the foundation had serious flaws as it was built on shifting and sinking Earth beneath.
It was finished in 1372 and great efforts have been made since to keep it upright.
10. St. Mark’s Square
The island-city of Venice is teeming with historic buildings, but it is the Piazza San Marco, known in English as St. Mark’s Square, which remains the city’s most famous landmark.
The St. Mark’s Square is a large, open area in the middle of Venice which is surrounded by immaculate buildings.
The Piazza San Marco is full of masterful sculptures and reliefs that date back to the Italian Renaissance era and the space remains a popular gathering site.