According to the legendary story of the founding of Rome, the abandoned twin sons of Rea Silvia, a vestal virgin and daughter of a local
king, Numitor, were discovered in the marshes by a she-wolf, who nursed the infants.
These twins, Romulus and Remus, became the founders of the city. A conflict between the brothers,
however, led to the slaying of Remus by Romulus. Images of the twins and the wolf adorn Roman emblems even today.
The traditional date for Romes founding is 753 B.C. It is believed that Rome was begun as a simple marketplace or a fortified village at a spot where the
territories of three ancient peoples-the Latins, the Sabines and the Etruscans met.
Rome was an obvious spot to build a city: the Palatine and Capitoline hills provided
security and its geographical location in the centre of the peninsula, near the sea, contributed to its growth in importance,
as did the bold, adventurous character of its people.
First under the rule of kings and then, from 510B.C., under a republic, Romes
armies steadily expanded the citys territory.
By the time the republic had become an empire in 27 B.C., Rome
ruled much of the known Western world.
Romes maximum expansion was achieved under the Emperor Trajan (A.D. 53?-117), who
ruled from 98 to 117. In that period, Rome governed not only the shores of the Mediterranean but also much of what is now
Austria, the Balkans, Hungary, Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, France, Switzerland, and part of Asia Minor.
In the 5th century barbarian tribes from what is now Germany began invading Rome.
Rome was sacked by people known as the Goths and the Vandals. In 476, Rome
fell as capital of the western part of the empire. ( More than a century earlier, an eastern capital had been established
at Constantinople, now Istanbul, Turkey.)
The glory of ancient Rome was gradually succeeded by the
glory of the Rome of the popes. The pope was based in Rome due
to the fact that St. Peter were martyred here in 64 A.D.
The Catholic Church and its leaders remained in Rome after
its fall, and the pope emerged as the ruler of Rome.
Under the burgeoning power of the pope, the
city began to take on a new aspect: churches were built, the citys pagan monuments rediscovered and preserved, and artists
began to arrive in Rome to work on commissions for the latest pope.
This reached its head during the renaissance; Bramante, Raphael and Michelangelo all worked
in the city. The reigns of Pope Julius II and his successor, Leo X, were something of a golden age. Great works of arts like
Michelangelos frescos in the Sistine Chapel, Raphaels stanze in the Vatican Palace
and great buildings like the Palazzo Farnese and Palazzo Spada.
The 1800th century saw the decline of the papacy as a political force.
In 1798 this was marked by the occupation of Rome by Napoleon.
Napoleon declared another Roman republic with himself as its head which lasted
till 1815 when papal rule was restored.
In the 1800s a movement arose in Italy to unite the peninsula, which at that time still consisted of many separate nations. But the city of Rome
and the area surrounding it resisted unification until 1870 when Garibaldi stormed the walls, ten years after most of Italy had been united. Roma o morte he declared as he declared the city the capital of the new kingdom.
After World war I, Benito Mussolini rose to power. Mussolini ruled from 1922 until 1943.
When the Italian Republic was proclaimed after World War II, Rome, which
was little damaged in the war, continued as capital of the Country.