12 Beautiful Main Squares In Rome You Need To See!

A woman posing in front of a fountain.

As someone who’s wandered through almost all the main squares in Rome’s city center, I’ve got some serious street cred when it comes to recommending which piazzas are must-sees. My top picks? Piazza della Rotonda, Piazza San Pietro, and Piazza Navona.

But here’s the catch, I haven’t seen every single square. Rome has over 200 piazzas, making it a strenuous task to visit them all. So, I roped in a few of my travel-savvy friends to share their favorites, making sure you get a well-rounded view of where to spend your precious time in the Eternal City. So these are the best main squares in Rome!

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Best Main Squares In Rome

1. Piazza della Rotonda

Piazza della Rotonda is one of the most popular main squares in Rome, with history at every corner. The main star of the show is the Pantheon. A stunning ancient temple turned church, that’s been standing since around 126 AD.

The Pantheon’s dome is the 1st of its kind in architecture. It’s made from an unreinforced concrete structure that inspired buildings with domes all over the world. And because of the hole (oculus) at the top, it actually rains inside, which is pretty magical when you’re there during a storm. Today, not only is it a must-see for tourists, but it’s also a working church where they hold masses and even weddings, mixing its ancient history with today’s life.

This square is filled with other things too like cafes, performers, and an energy you’ll want to soak up. Right at the center, you’ll find a beautiful fountain topped with an obelisk straight from Egypt. The fountain was commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII and designed by Giacomo Della Porta, this masterpiece has been wowing visitors and locals alike since the 1570s. Make sure to snap a photo or just sit by and enjoy the view.

Also see: 3 Days In Rome Budget Breakdown That’s Actually Affordable!

2. Piazza San Pietro

Piazza San Pietro or Saint Peter’s Square is one the most renowned and iconic squares in the world. The area where Piazza San Pietro stands today was once a simple circus built by Emperor Caligula in the 1st century AD. According to tradition, Saint Peter, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ and considered the first Pope, was martyred here.

One of the notable landmarks in Piazza San Pietro is the Egyptian obelisk. It was originally brought to Rome by Emperor Caligula and later placed in the center of the square by Pope Sixtus V. Admiring the grandness of St. Peter’s Basilica is a must, both from the outside in the square and within its interior.

Visitors can also climb to the top of the basilica’s dome for breathtaking views of Vatican City and Rome. Many also go inside the museum to see the Sistine Chapel painted by Michelangelo and the Raphael Rooms. Piazza San Pietro’s unique blend of religious significance, architectural beauty, and cultural heritage sets it apart as an extraordinary destination unlike any other.

Also see: 10 Interesting Vatican City Fun Facts You Need To Know!

3. Piazza di Spagna

Piazza di Spagna is one of the main squares in Rome and is a top destination in the city. It was given its name, “Spanish Square,” because the Spanish Embassy has been located in the ‘Palazzo di Spagna’ since the 17th century. The square is most known for the iconic Spanish Steps, the 135 steps that gracefully ascend to the Trinità dei Monti church. They are also the longest and widest set of staircases in all of Europe.

At the base of these steps lies the beautiful Fontana della Barcaccia, a striking fountain that dates back to the early Baroque period. You can grab some gelato from one of the many gelaterias and find a spot to people-watch. Just make sure it’s not on the steps as it’s illegal to eat on them!

If you’re seeking a dash of romance in Rome, pop into the Keats-Shelley House at the right foot of the Spanish Steps. Learn all about the poets of the Romantic era in this underrated tiny Rome museum. Finish a day of sightseeing by watching the sunset from the top of the steps, as it casts a golden glow over the rooftops.

  • Best Restaurant Here: Imàgo
  • Location: Google Maps link
  • Recommended by: Kaz The Honeymoon Guide

Also see: Tips For Your First Trip To Rome!

4. Piazza Navona

With its Baroque architecture, lively atmosphere, and fascinating history, Piazza Navona makes for a must-visit main square in Rome. Formerly an Ancient Roman stadium, this oblong piazza, which you can envision as a racetrack, is filled with impressive Baroque architecture.

Circle around and view the magnificent palaces as the backdrop to three famous fountains, including the most iconic—the Fountain of the Four Rivers by Bernini.  While here, visit galleries like the Museum of Rome, go inside the Sant’Agnese in Agone- a stunning catholic church or simply people-watch in the square. You can soak it all in by getting a seat at one of the several cafes lining the piazza.

You can also visit the nearby cobblestone street of Via del Governo Vecchio and the streets that radiate off it for trattorias (Italian restaurants), and gelato. To avoid the worst of the summer high-season crowds, consider visiting Rome and this piazza as part of a spring trip to Europe.

  • Best Restaurant Here: Caffè Domiziano
  • Location: Google Maps link
  • Recommended by: Janice of Gather And Go Travel

Uncover what was lost by Emperor Hadrian on this captivating self-guided audio tour!

5. Piazza del Colosseo

Home to the most iconic landmark of Rome – the Colosseum Square is probably the most famous square in Rome. The Piazza del Colosseo is anchored by the Colosseum, a lasting symbol of Rome’s imperial power and architectural ingenuity.

Built between 70-80 A.D. under the Flavian emperors, this amphitheater could host upwards of 50,000 spectators, who gathered to watch gladiatorial contests, mock sea battles, and other public spectacles. The square itself has evolved over the centuries, reflecting the layers of Rome’s rich history. It has witnessed the rise and fall of empires, medieval skirmishes, and the Renaissance revival.

Today, the piazza is a lively spot surrounded by quaint cafes, excellent hotels overlooking the Colosseum, and restaurants where you can enjoy Italian delicacies. Apart from Colloseum, the square also houses the Arch of Constantine, commemorating his victory at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 AD, and The Roman Forum – once the center of Roman public and political life. Make sure to also check out Palatine Hill which will give you a great view over the square!

  • Best Restaurant Here: Contrario. Vineria con Cucina
  • Location: Google Maps link
  • Recommended by: Gosia of Where To Stay In Italy 101

Also see: The Best Way To See The Colosseum In Rome!

6. Piazza Venezia

Piazza Venezia is a significant square in Rome because it has been home to a number of important political events and speeches over the years, such as those of Benito Mussolini. Aside from the political aspect, the square is beautiful.

The first thing you will see in the square is the huge National Museum of Palazzo Venezia. It’s one of the most beautiful buildings in Rome outside of the typical touristy sights like the Colosseum or Trevi Fountain. There is also a monument dedicated to King Vittorio Emanuele II for the unification of Italy, which is another key part of the square. 

In terms of things to do, the best thing to do, apart from taking a load of photos, is to check out the museum’s rooftop where you can get a beautiful view over the square. And while you’re at it, the museum is worth a visit too. An added bonus is that if you visit Rome in December, it’s home to one of the biggest Christmas trees you will ever see and it’s stunning. 

  • Best Restaurant Here: La Cabana
  • Location: Google Maps link
  • Recommended by: Josh of A Backpacker’s World

Make your trip fun with this 2-hour self-guided Scavenger Hunt!

7. Piazza di Trevi

Piazza di Trevi is anchored in ancient Roman times, this spot and its iconic fountain have seen countless artistic and architectural wonders over the years. Stepping into Piazza di Trevi, you’re instantly wowed by the Trevi Fountain. With Oceanus, the sea god, standing front and center.

But it’s not all about the big fountain; don’t miss the smaller details like the cool carvings that share bits of Rome’s fascinating history. Piazza di Trevi is the heart of Rome’s magic, a place where you can chuck a coin over your shoulder into the fountain to make sure you come back to Rome. Not saying it’s true but I did it and went back 3 years later!

Behind the Trevi Fountain lies the Palazzo Poli. This palace, known for its stunning façade, houses the National Institute for Graphics. The Palazzo Poli, with its historical significance and artistic beauty, provides a breathtaking backdrop to one of Rome’s most famous attractions.

Also see: Rome Bucket List: 50+ Ultimate Things To Do

8. Piazza del Popolo

One of Rome’s most appreciated and frequented squares is Piazza del Popolo. Here you won’t find crowds of tourists like in other spots of the eternal city. Stop by and marvel at the square’s sensational architecture. The square has always been the northern entrance to the city.

The present appearance reflects an early 19th-century aesthetic, characterized by a neoclassical style. This era saw the restoration of the renowned Twin Churches, the construction of the central fountain and the Pincio Terrace, as well as the installation of eight sculptures and two additional fountains.

The Twin Churches catch your eye, thanks to the square’s unique double semi-circle shape. But they’re not who this main square was named after. It’s the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo, dating back to the 13th century that gives the square its name. It’s called this because its construction was funded with the savings of the Roman people (populus in Latin). 

In the center of the square, you’ll find the Egyptian Obelisk, brought to Rome following the military victories of Augustus in the 1st century BC. The obelisk rests on a marble base at whose corners sit four lions carved in Egyptian style but from the 19th century, spouting water in a fan shape into as many basins. 

  • Best Restaurant Here: Le Jardin de Russie
  • Location: Google Maps link
  • Recommended by: Lisa of Rome Travelogues

Also see: 4 Best Places To Stay In Rome For All Types Of Travelers!

9. Piazza Campo de’ Fiori

Central Rome’s Campo de’ Fiori (translation: field of flowers) is one of the city’s most colorful locations – from morning to night.  Home to a fruit, vegetable, and souvenir market during the day, then transforms into lively cafes and restaurants that blossom for aperitivo (happy hour) and dinner.

While Campo de’ Fiori has a cheerful and festive vibe, the statue of Giordano Bruno in the center of the square represents a darker past.  Bruno was burned to death on the site of the statue in 1600 for heresy.  Since this was Rome’s only main piazza without a church, Campo de’ Fiori was the site of many public executions.  

Nowadays, the only fires you’ll see are the small flames of heating lamps keeping diners warm on chilly evenings. If you’re looking for a food souvenir, grab some pecorino romano (cheese), or pick up supplies for a picnic at Villa Borghese.  

  • Best Restaurant Here: Antica Hostaria Romanesca
  • Location: Google Maps link
  • Recommended by: Candice of Mom in Italy

Also see: The Best Things To Buy In Rome!

10. Piazza del Campidoglio

Piazza del Campidoglio is the first modern square in Rome. This iconic piazza was designed by Michelangelo himself and sits in the center of Capitoline Hill. The smallest of the Seven Hills of Rome. This square used to be the religious and political center of ancient Rome.

Today, it’s where you can see the famous statue of Marcus Aurelius and visit the three palaces that now house museums – the Palazzo Senatorio, Palazzo dei Conservatori, and Palazzo Nuovo, all home to an extensive range of art and artifacts. These were actually the world’s first public museums opened, in 1734 and you can walk around this area in Rome for free and enjoy the statues displayed.  

From Piazza del Campidoglio, you can enjoy panoramic views of Rome. And behind the square, you have amazing views of the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, and beyond. It’s also super close to the Altar of the Fatherland if you want to combine these visits on your Rome itinerary. 

  • Best Restaurant Here: La Nuova Piazzetta
  • Location: Google Maps link
  • Recommended by: Carine from We Did It Our Way

Also see: The Best Rome DIY walking tour!

11. Piazza del Quirinale

Perched atop Quirinal Hill, the highest among Rome’s celebrated seven hills, Piazza del Quirinale offers unparalleled views of the Eternal City. Making it a must-visit for those seeking to immerse themselves in Rome’s architectural beauty and historical depth.

Visitors to the square are greeted by the stunning sight of an imposing obelisk and statues that guard it, alongside the majestic Quirinal Palace itself. Originally constructed in 1583 as the Pope’s summer residence by Pope Gregory XIII (before the Vatican became the Pope’s residence today). The palace has transitioned through various periods, serving as a focal point of power and elegance.

Today, it stands as the official residence of the President of Italy, encapsulating centuries of political and cultural evolution. Piazza del Quirinale is a good choice for visitors who want to experience a piece of Rome’s historic and current importance, with the added bonus of excellent views of the city.

  • Best Restaurant Here: Piccolo Arancio
  • Location: Google Maps link
  • Recommended by: Goya Galeotta

Check out this Evening Walking Tour that shows you the palace at night for only $6!

12. Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere

Piazza Santa Maria in Rome is a must-visit destination known for its stunning Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere. The square is vibrant and lively, offering a beautiful fountain and charming cafes where you can soak in the local atmosphere.

This historical site dates back to the 3rd century and holds the title of one of Rome’s oldest churches. Don’t miss the opportunity to admire the intricate mosaics inside the basilica, depicting scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary.

Here’s a walking tour of the Jewish Ghetto and Trastevere in Rome for only $6

What are Piazzas or Main Squares in Italy?

In Italy, “piazzas” are the heart and soul of a city’s social life, equivalent to what many would call main squares. Historically, these spaces served as multifunctional hubs where locals would gather for markets, political rallies, and even as stages for cultural performances.

The architectural buildings surrounding these squares, often include a mix of grand cathedrals, government palaces, and a lot of cafes. They highlight Italy’s rich history and its deep-rooted appreciation for art, politics, and community life.

Since the days of ancient Rome, where piazzas were key to city life, to their transformation in the Renaissance as hotspots for art and architecture, these squares have always been more than just spaces. They’re the spots where the heart of Italian culture beats the strongest.

Where To Stay In Rome!

Your stay should feel like a part of your Roman adventure, cozy, full of comforts, and unforgettable moments. Here’s where to crash in Rome, no matter your needs.

Best Modern Hostel: A social vibe with a modern design, affordable, and lively experience ideal for solo travelers, friends, and digital nomads. Great communal spaces like a garden, bar, and rooftop. Its central location in Rome makes exploring the city’s beauty easy.

Best Hotel with View: A luxurious stay with breathtaking views of Rome. Located near the Spanish Steps, it’s perfect for those seeking a picturesque stay surrounded by historical landmarks, exquisite eateries, and chic boutiques. Right in the city center.

Best Family Vacation Home: A cozy homey stay with spacious, modern rooms perfect for families or large groups. Known for privacy, comfort, and space, including kitchens for simple meals. Is located close to public transport and major sights.

Map of Main Squares

Final Thoughts-

Exploring the main squares in Rome is a great experience, with each offering being unique. Among the top 3 I recommend to see are Piazza della Rotonda, Piazza San Pietro, and Piazza Navona. Having explored Rome many times, I’ve developed a deep affection for its piazzas.

The memories made while people-watching, hanging at cafes, and seeing the stunning architecture are truly unforgettable. Every visit to these squares is a journey through time and beauty, encapsulating Rome’s magic and charm. Share in the comments if you have been to any and which are your favs!

Happy exploring!

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What Are My Recommended Resources For Planning A Trip?

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