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The result of 3 millenia of ad hoc urban planning and development, Rome is an exhilarating spectacle. The iconic Colosseum, Roman Forum and Pantheon hark back to Rome's time as the fearsome caput mundi (capital of the world), while catacombs and clandestine churches date back to the early days of Christianity. Looming over the Vatican, St Peter's Basilica is a towering masterpiece of Renaissance architecture. In other parts of the city, ornate piazzas and decorative churches add a flourish to the city's historic avenues.