A tour through 10 of Rome’s majestic Palazzi

Rome’s museums, renowned for their exquisite art collections, are only part of the city’s charm. The real hidden gems are its grand palazzi. From opulent aristocratic residences to embassies, these palaces are rich in history, art, and stunning architecture. For a truly unique and often overlooked experience, here are the best palaces in Rome to add to your itinerary on your next trip to the Eternal City.

1. Galleria Doria Pamphilj

The Galleria Doria Pamphilj is more than just a gallery; it’s the living residence of the Doria Pamphilj prince. Stepping into this palazzo, you’ll find yourself in the Hall of Mirrors, a dazzling spectacle of reflective grandeur, complete with gold-framed venetian mirrors and statutes. The gallery is home to one of the finest private art collections in the world – with works by Velázquez, Caravaggio, and others adorning the walls. You can also visit the private apartments for an extra fee.

📍 Via del Corso, 305
🕒 Mon-Thu 9am-6pm, Fri-Sun 10am-7pm
💰 €16 (+ €1 for online reservation)
🌐 doriapamphilj.it

2. Galleria Colonna

This Baroque palace is not just a gallery; it’s a historical journey through the eyes of the Colonna family, one of Rome’s most ancient lineages. The highlight is the Grand Hall, a testament to the Colonna family’s opulence. Additionally, Princess Isabelle’s apartments showcase the personal and intimate side of this noble family. Palazzo Colonna is a journey through time, where every room, every piece of art, narrates a story of Rome’s illustrious past, making it one of the must-see palaces in Rome.

📍 Via della Pilotta, 17
🕒 Sat 9.30am-1.15pm. Private tours on Friday
💰 €15 (short itinerary) or €25 (full itinerary)
🌐 galleriacolonna.it

3. Palazzo Lateranense (Lateran Palace)

The Palazzo Lateranense was the papal residence and center of the Catholic church for thousands of years before the Vatican. Located right next to the Basilica of St. John Lateran, this palace was originally a gift from Constantine to the Pope, serving as the epicenter of Christianity for centuries. After the Avignon exile, where the papacy briefly moved to France, this historic palace was abandoned and the Pope moved to the Vatican. Among its most significant moments is the signing of the Lateran Pacts in 1929, a historic accord between Italy and the Vatican facilitated by Mussolini and Cardinal Gasparri, establishing Vatican City’s sovereignty. The palace’s frescoes are masterpieces showcasing the artistry of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, making it a monument to the intertwined narratives of faith, art, and diplomacy.

📍 Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano
🕒 Tuesday – Saturday
💰 €9 for accompanied entrance, €18 for guided tour
🌐 palazzolateranense.com

4. Palazzo Farnese

Palazzo Farnese, the seat of the French Embassy in Rome, is a masterpiece of the Renaissance era. Beyond its political significance, it’s an art haven, housing “The Love of the Gods” by Carracci – a stunning fresco that adorns the ceiling of the main hall. The palace’s architecture, credited to Sangallo and Michelangelo, is equally majestic, showcasing a blend of French and Italian design sensibilities.

📍 Piazza Farnese, 67
🕒 Mon at 2.30pm/3.30pm/4.30pm or Wed & Fri at 2.30pm/3.30pm (reservations only, at least 5 days in advance)
💰 from €15
🌐 visite-palazzofarnese.it

photo by MIRABILIA Art Wonders

5. Palazzo Spada

Palazzo Spada will enchant you with its ingenious architecture. Home to the Borromini Gallery, it presents an illusion of depth that defies belief, where a 37-metre corridor appears much longer than its actual 8.8 metres. Besides this architectural marvel, the palazzo houses a rich collection of Renaissance art, making it a must-visit for art and architecture enthusiasts in Rome.

📍 Piazza Capo di Ferro, 13
🕒 Mon-Sun 8.30am-7.30pm (closed Tue)
💰 €2/€6, Free on first Sunday of the month
🌐 galleriaspada.cultura.gov.it

Di Livioandronico2013 – Opera propria, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45202596

6. Palazzo Altemps

Palazzo Altemps is more than just an art museum; it’s an architectural masterpiece. Frescoed ceilings and wooden beams set the stage for treasures like the Ludovisi Sarcophagus and the sculpture “Gaul killing himself and his wife”. This palace is a peaceful retreat into the world of ancient art, nestled footsteps from Piazza Navona.

📍 Piazza di Sant’Apollinare, 46
🕒 Tue-Sun 9.30am-7pm
💰 €2/€8, Free on first Sunday of the month and for under 18
🌐 coopculture.it

7. Villa Farnesina

Villa Farnesina, commissioned by the affluent banker Agostino Chigi, was more than a residence; it was a love letter to his mistress. This Renaissance villa, adorned with Raphael’s frescoes like the “Galatea,” captures the essence of a passionate love story set against the backdrop of Rome’s artistic golden age.

📍 Via della Lungara, 230
🕒 Mon-Sat 9am-2pm
💰 €7/€12
🌐 villafarnesina.it

Photo by Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei

8. Palazzo del Quirinale

Palazzo del Quirinale, the official residence of the Italian President, epitomizes architectural grandeur. Initially built as a summer retreat by Pope Gregory XIII, it showcases the work of renowned architects and artists, including Domenico Fontana and Carlo Maderno. Its lavish interiors and historical significance make it a symbol of Italian heritage.

📍 Piazza del Quirinale
🕒 Tue-Sun (except Thur) 9.30am- 4pm (reservation required)
💰 €1.50 various itineraries
🌐 palazzo.quirinale.it

photo by Franco Vannini

9. Palazzo Barberini

Palazzo Barberini, a striking example of Roman Baroque architecture, now houses the National Gallery of Ancient Art. With masterpieces by Raphael, Caravaggio, and Holbein, it’s a treasure trove for art enthusiasts. The palace’s art collection and its historical ambiance provide an immersive cultural experience.

📍 Via delle Quattro Fontane, 13
🕒 Tue-Sun 10am-7pm
💰 €12
🌐 barberinicorsini.org

Photo by Barberini Corsini Gallerie

10. Palazzo Venezia

Once the home of popes and the notorious Mussolini, Palazzo Venezia is a Renaissance masterpiece. Its gardens, fountains, and reception rooms are breathtaking, and the National Museum is a treasure trove of history.

📍 Via del Plebiscito, 118
🕒 Mon-Sun 9.30am-7.30pm
💰 €15
🌐 vive.cultura.gov.it

photo by VIVE Vittoriano Palazzo Venezia

11. Villa Medici

Villa Medici, nestled on the Pincian Hill, is not just a villa but a cultural haven. Once home to Ferdinando I de’ Medici, it now hosts the French Academy in Rome. This Renaissance palace, surrounded by lush gardens, offers breathtaking views of the city. Its halls, adorned with historical art and architecture, provide a serene escape from the urban bustle, embodying the spirit of the Renaissance in the heart of modern Rome.

📍 Viale della Trinità dei Monti, 1
🕒 Daily 10am – 7pm
💰 €11/€14
🌐 villamedici.it

Di Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France – La villa Médicis (Rome)Uploaded by Szczebrzeszynski, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15674867
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I'm the daughter of an Italian family of diplomats, the second of three children, and a global citizen. I've lived in 7 cities around the world, I have a gigantic crush on Italy and my name has been mispronounced more times than I can remember.

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