One of Rome’s seven legendary hills, Caelian Hill was a wealthy residential district under the Roman Republic. Today, this is home to the ancient Basilica of Saints John and Paul, the circular Church of Santo Stefano Rotondo, and the ruins of the Baths of Caracalla. Travelers can tour Caelian Hill on foot, or by bike, scooter, or bus.
Caelian Hill is unique among Rome’s seven historic hills, as its western slope is one of the few tranquil and unpopulated places in Rome. Several ancient churches dating from the fourth and fifth centuries can be visited on Caelian Hill, in addition to Roman ruins and Villa Celimontana, one of Rome’s nicest parks.
The churches and ruins on Caelian Hill are best visited as part of a guided tour to appreciate their historical importance. Consider joining a walking, rickshaw, or Vespa tour of the hills of ancient Rome, or a small-group tour dedicated to the most historic churches in the Eternal City. Many tours of Rome’s seven hills include skip-the-line access to the Colosseum and Roman Forum, which are nearby on Palatine Hill.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Caelian Hill is a must for history buffs, as it is home to some of the city’s most fascinating ancient churches and Roman ruins.
- The Baths of Caracalla are accessible to wheelchairs and strollers, and the site offers restrooms and a bookshop. The ruins are open to the elements, so bring a hat and sunscreen in summer.
- Visitors must wear clothing that covers shoulders and knees to enter the churches. Some churches are not wheelchair accessible.
- The park and gardens of Villa Celimontana are an ideal spot for a stroll with kids.
How to Get There
Caelian Hill is located on the southeast corner of the historic center of Rome, along the Tiber River. The nearest metro stop is Colosseo, on line B.
When to Get There
Most of the Baths of Caracalla ruins are outdoors, so visit on a day with clear skies and mild temperatures. The quiet churches, on the other hand, provide a cool refuge from the midday summer heat.
Rome’s Seven Hills
Caelian Hill is the farthest southeast of Rome’s seven hills, which are all east of the Tiber and form the geographical heart of ancient Rome. The other hills are Aventine Hill, Capitoline Hill, Esquiline Hill, Quirinal Hill, Viminal Hill, and Palatine Hill, where legend tells us that Romulus founded the city and where the most famous archaeological ruins can still be seen.