5 Impressive Palaces to Visit in Rome

Rome has a variety of attractions that attract millions of tourists annually, including stunning palaces once owned by ruling families. However, these palaces are often overlooked by typical visitors. The true highlight of Rome lies in its elegant palazzos, many of which are hidden gems. To fully appreciate the richness of the Eternal City, it is essential to visit some of these palaces and villas.10 barberini thesanetravel.comP1121722

Palace or Villa?

In Italian, villa refers to a large private house with a garden, also known as an estate, rather than its common usage in English. The term only refers to a park with a specific proper name, such as Villa Borghese or Villa Doria Pamphilj. Meanwhile, palazzo is typically used to describe the building itself. For example, the Doria Pamphilj family had a city palace and a countryside villa, with the latter now serving as a large park on the city's outskirts.  While both locations offer unique attractions – a museum and a park – the similar names can sometimes confuse visitors.

Palazzo Barberini

The Palazzo Barberini, a 17th-century palace in Rome near Piazza Barberini, currently houses the National Gallery of Ancient Art, which boasts Rome's most significant collection of older paintings. Maffeo Barberini (1568–1644), who later became Pope Urban VIII, acquired the original villa from the Sforza family and converted it into a magnificent palace. 10 barberini thesanetravel.comP1121722Barberini recruited top artists of the time for the work, including Bernini and Borromini, who designed the squared and oval spiral staircase. 11 barberini thesanetravel.comP1121738The palace now has 187 rooms and an area of 12,000 m2, with the Barberini family crest – a bee – prominently displayed. The museum has two galleries: Palazzo Barberini and the lesser-known Galleria Corsini on Via della Lungara. It houses over 5,000 paintings, sculptures and frescoes, predominantly from the 16th and 17th centuries. Noteworthy pieces in the collection include works by artists like Rafael, Filippo Lippi, Caravaggio, Tintoretto, El Greco and Bronzino. 12 barberini thesanetravel.comP1121745The palace also features remarkable ceiling paintings, such as those by Pietro da Cortona in the Great Hall. It is a must-visit for those interested in older artwork.14 barberini thesanetravel.comP112175515 barberini thesanetravel.comP112176517 barberini thesanetravel.comP1121771

Address: Via delle Quattro Fontane, 13

Palazzo Colonna

The Palazzo Colonna is a historic, grand private palace with a rich history dating back to the 12th century. Its construction spanned five centuries, resulting in a blend of different architectural styles and periods. 39 colon thesanetravel.comP138459841 colon thesanetravel.comP138439944 colon thesanetravel.comP1384410The Palazzo Colonna, particularly the impressive Sala Grande, showcases the Roman Baroque style and is open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays.51 colon thesanetravel.comP138446848 colon thesanetravel.comP1384437 The palace also houses valuable art collections featuring works by renowned Italian and foreign artists from the 15th and 16th centuries. 55 colon thesanetravel.comP138449059 colon thesanetravel.comP1384527The palace garden offers breathtaking views of Rome. 53 colon thesanetravel.comP138447858 colon thesanetravel.comP1384515Access to the Palazzo Colonna is from via della Pilotta, 17.

NB. It is advisable to show courtesy to the individuals welcoming you at the entrance, as the owner may be present among them. I suggest visiting the palace on Fridays when guided tours are available.

Villa Farnesina

If you want to view the impressive artworks of Rome's High Renaissance without dealing with the crowds at the Sistine Chapel and Raphael Rooms in the Vatican Museums, consider visiting the lesser-known Villa Farnesina in Trastevere. 80 farnesina thesanetravel.comP1121918Despite its unremarkable size and exterior, the villa boasts rich interior decoration with frescoes by renowned artists such as Raphael, Sebastiano del Piombo and Peruzzi.83 farnesina thesanetravel.comP112193585 farnesina thesanetravel.comP112193886 farnesina thesanetravel.comP1121940 Built in the early 16th century, the Villa Farnesina is considered one of the finest examples of Italian Renaissance architecture. Originally owned by Agostino Chigi, a prominent art patron, the Farnese family later acquired the villa in 1579. Despite its complicated history and changing ownership, the Villa Farnesina remains a testament to the beauty and elegance of the Italian Renaissance.

Address: Via della Lungara, 230

NB. Villa Farnesina is not the same as Palazzo Farnese, which currently houses the French Embassy in Italy. Palazzo Farnese is only open for guided tours during limited hours.

Palazzo Doria Pamphilj

The Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, situated near the main artistic and historical attractions in central Rome, remains largely undiscovered by tourists.68 phampilj thesanetravel.comP127442369 phampilj thesanetravel.comP1274419 This gallery is a must-see for art enthusiasts as it houses one of the largest and most impressive private art collections in Rome. Originally built in the 16th century, the palace is one of the many residences belonging to papal families in Rome and boasts a fantastic collection of paintings and sculptures. The gallery, along with the palace itself, showcases a rich heritage of furnishings and artworks.70 phampilj thesanetravel.comP1274352 Over the centuries, the palace has undergone numerous additions and expansions, reflecting the history and grandeur of Italian noble families such as the Della Rovere, Aldobrandini, Pamphilj, Doria, Facchinetti, Colonna, Borghese, Savoia and more.71 phampilj thesanetravel.comP1274372 The Galleria Doria Pamphilj features masterpieces by renowned artists like Raphael, Titian, Velasquez and Caravaggio. Visitors can explore the opulent apartments and halls still inhabited by descendants of the Doria Pamphilj family today.72 phampilj thesanetravel.comP127437674 phampilj thesanetravel.comP1274385

Address: Via del Corso, 305

Borghese Gallery

The Borghese Gallery is a well-known art museum located in an elegant palace with an exceptional collection of artworks.20 borghrse thesanetravel.comP1121795 It is a popular destination for tourists visiting the city, showcasing a variety of sculptures, paintings and other pieces from the 16th and 17th centuries. The collection includes works by renowned artists such as Raphael, Titian and Caravaggio, as well as sculptures by Bernini and Canova. The museum dates back to the 17th century when Cardinal Scipio Borghese began collecting art because of his love for history and art. Now owned by the Italian state, the gallery is considered one of Rome's most prized attractions. 22 borghrse thesanetravel.comP112181327 borghrse thesanetravel.comP112184231 borghrse thesanetravel.comP112187926 borghrse thesanetravel.comP1121841Visitors must book tickets in advance as only a limited number of people are allowed inside the gallery at a time and must adhere to a two-hour visit schedule. Items such as bags and cameras must be left in the cloakroom, and animals are not allowed in the museum. It is not possible to deposit suitcases and trolleys. 

Address: Piazzale Scipione Borghese, 5

Practical information

I have visited all five palaces and would advise you to see them all if you have the time. If you are running out of time and want to enjoy a palace ambience, choose the impressive Palazzo Colonna, but if you want to visit a gallery, go to Galleria Borghese. I have provided links to the official websites of these palaces. Please check the current opening hours before your visit. Booking in advance is essential to visit Palazzo Colonna and Villa Borghese. For Villa Borghese, make sure to book as soon as you know the time of your visit.

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What did you think? Have you visited palaces in Rome? I would love to hear from you, so please add your comment below.

  • Published by Anita on May 24, 2024
  • Author: Anita Sane

    Anita 03 18

    About the author
    Anita is a part-time traveller, passionate photographer and a retired career woman from Latvia, 
    travelling mostly solo for more than 15 years. She is a skilled travel planner who plans and executes her travels by herself. Anita wants to show you how to travel the world and open your mind to new experiences. Follow her on FacebookInstagramPinterestTwitter and Bloglovin.


    I was interested to read about the distinction between villa and palace as often I have seen them interchanged. We sure do love visiting the inside of palaces to see how people lived in another time. And they are generally so beautifully designed. After many visits to Rome we have only seen the Borghese Gallery. Definitely need to add the other 4 palaces in Rome to our list for a return trip.
    Wow, the photos are beautiful, Rome is on my travel list, and after this it's going higher on the list.
    Thank you for a wonderful read, showcasing the majestic richness of an incredible time in history and its immaculate preservation. Exquisite. Another reason to visit Rome.
    Wow, very impressive. Your photos are beautiful and make me want to go back to Rome asap.
    Thank you for the great ideas on Palazzos to visit next time in Rome. These would make for a great weekend of exploration.
    italy will forever be my favorite country in Europe - and Rome is a city I will never tire of visiting! absolutely stunning pictures, I cant believe i have been to rome 3 times and never visited a single one of these breathtaking palaces! pinning for my next visit!

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