Rome’s Unique Sculptures and Monuments: Discover the Hidden Gems of the Eternal City

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Rome, the Eternal City, is known for its incredible history, magnificent architecture, and world-famous landmarks. However, beyond the well-trodden tourist sites, Rome boasts numerous hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Venture off the beaten path to explore the city’s unique sculptures and monuments that embody the rich tapestry of Rome’s artistic and cultural heritage.

The Turtle Fountain

Nestled in the picturesque Piazza Mattei, the Turtle Fountain, or Fontana delle Tartarughe, is a charming hidden gem in Rome’s historic Jewish Ghetto. Designed by Giacomo della Porta and completed in 1588, the fountain features four bronze youths and dolphins, with turtles added in the 17th century. This delightful Renaissance fountain is an elegant oasis amidst the bustling city streets.

The Mouth of Truth

Located in the portico of the Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, the Mouth of Truth, or Bocca della Verità, is an intriguing marble mask dating back to the 1st century AD. The ancient Roman artifact, believed to be a drain cover or manhole, is famous for its legend that if a liar places their hand inside the mask’s mouth, it will be bitten off. While the Mouth of Truth is relatively well known, it remains a unique and captivating part of Rome’s history.

Quartiere Coppedè

Quartiere Coppedè, a hidden architectural gem in Rome, is an enchanting neighborhood designed by Italian architect Gino Coppedè in the early 20th century. With its fairytale-like mix of Art Nouveau, Baroque, and medieval styles, Quartiere Coppedè is a fascinating and whimsical area that transports visitors to another world. Notable sculptures and monuments within the neighborhood include the whimsical Fountain of the Frogs and the intricate archways adorning the streets.

The Garden of the Oranges

Perched atop the Aventine Hill, the Garden of the Oranges, or Parco Savello, is a serene and picturesque park that offers stunning panoramic views of Rome. The park is home to the medieval Basilica of Santa Sabina, as well as a unique monument: a sculpture of a face embedded in the wall, which is said to have inspired the Mouth of Truth. The Garden of the Oranges is a delightful hidden gem that allows visitors to escape the bustling city below.

The Pyramid of Cestius

The Pyramid of Cestius, a lesser-known monument in Rome, is an ancient pyramid-shaped tomb constructed between 18 and 12 BC for the Roman magistrate Gaius Cestius. Standing 36.4 meters tall and made of brick-faced concrete, the pyramid is an impressive and unexpected sight in Rome. Located near the Protestant Cemetery, the Pyramid of Cestius is a striking testament to Rome’s diverse architectural influences.

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The Keyhole of the Knights of Malta

On the Aventine Hill, you’ll find the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, home to the embassy of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Here, visitors can peek through the famous keyhole of the gate, revealing a perfectly aligned view of St. Peter’s Basilica in the distance. This unique and enchanting hidden gem offers a glimpse into the magical and mysterious side of Rome.

The Statue of Pasquino

Located in Piazza di Pasquino, the statue of Pasquino is one of Rome’s “talking statues,” where citizens have historically posted anonymous messages, criticisms, and satirical poems. The tradition dates back to the 16th century and continues to this day, with messages occasionally appearing on the statue. The statue itself, a damaged torso of a male figure, is believed to be a Hellenistic sculpture from the 3rd century BC. The unique history and cultural significance of Pasquino make it an intriguing and lesser-known monument in Rome.

The Capuchin Crypt

The Capuchin Crypt, tucked away beneath the Church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini, is a haunting and extraordinary hidden gem. The crypt contains the skeletal remains of approximately 4,000 Capuchin friars, artistically arranged into ornate patterns and decorations. While macabre, the Capuchin Crypt is an unusual and thought-provoking monument that showcases Rome’s rich and diverse history.

The Sculpture of Saint Bartholomew at St. John Lateran

Within the Basilica of St. John Lateran, one of Rome’s four papal basilicas, visitors can find a remarkable sculpture of Saint Bartholomew. Created by French sculptor Pierre Le Gros, the statue depicts Saint Bartholomew carrying his own skin, a reference to the gruesome way in which he was martyred. The intricately detailed sculpture is a striking and evocative example of Rome’s artistic prowess.

The Appian Way

The Appian Way, or Via Appia Antica, is one of Rome’s oldest and most significant roads, built in 312 BC. Stretching over 600 kilometers, the ancient road is lined with impressive monuments, tombs, and archaeological sites. Wandering along the Appian Way, visitors can discover lesser-known treasures such as the tomb of Cecilia Metella, the Catacombs of San Callisto, and the Villa of the Quintilii, among others.


Rome’s unique sculptures and monuments provide a captivating glimpse into the city’s diverse history and artistic heritage. These hidden gems, often overlooked in favor of more famous landmarks, offer a chance to delve deeper into the rich tapestry of the Eternal City. Whether you’re a history buff or simply seeking a different perspective on Rome, these lesser-known attractions are sure to leave a lasting impression.

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