On April 21st, both Queen Elizabeth II and Rome celebrate their birthdays. While there’s no doubt the monarch has done much in 90 years, Rome has done far more in 2,769.
Since the city’s legendary founder, Romulus, killed brother Remus in 753 BC Rome has been, and still is, responsible for great things.
Here are seven reasons why it’s worth raising a glass to the Eternal City today.
Rome was the world’s first millionaire city
Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP
In the second century BC, Rome’s population swelled to over one million people.
It is the only known city to have surpassed one million residents in the ancient world, a milestone which was not repeated until London’s population swelled to seven digits in 1810.
Rome gave us the calendar
We couldn’t celebrate Rome’s birthday without our current calendar – which is largely a Roman invention.
We still measure a year as the amount of time it takes the earth to go around the sun – an idea that was implemented in 46 BC, when Julius Ceasar got together with the astronomer Sosigenes to establish a 12 month, 365-day year.
Our calendars have barely changed since, although in 1582 a new ‘Gregorian’ calendar was adopted – which added a leap year every four years.
Rome gave us concrete
The 42-metre concrete dome of the Pantheon. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP
As well as having heads for days and dates – the ancient Romans were also excellent builders, responsible for inventing the mortar which we call concrete today.
Thanks to its ingredient of volcanic ash, the concrete is extremely hard-wearing, which is why visitors to Rome can still see so many Roman structures.
Attesting to the brilliance of Roman concrete is the 42-metre wide dome of the Pantheon, which is still the largest un-reinforced concrete dome in the world, 1812 years after being built!
Rome gave us words
Latin is the main root of all today’s romance languages and grew out of the dialect spoken in the region of Lazio in which Rome is situated. The ancient language was developed and diffused on the streets of city.
Fun fact: The word fascinating comes from the Latin ‘fascinum’, meaning ‘charm’.
In ancient Rome, a fascinum was a small (and often graphic) phallic trinket, which was carried around to ward off evil spirits. Fascinating.
Rome gave us newspapers
Where would The Local be without Rome?
The ancient city invented a precursor to the modern newspaper, known as the Acta Diurna.
The Acta Diuna or ‘daily acts’ were etched on a stone tablets and left in public squares so the population could keep up to date with what was going on in the city.
Rome gave us iconic cuisine
Photo: Jay Cross/Flickr
Not all of Rome’s glories are in the distant past. The city has given birth to some of Italy’s most iconic cuisine.
For example, the delicious spaghetti alla carbonara (made with raw egg, pecorino cheese and fried pancetta) was born in 19th century Rome.
That’s not to mention the many other lesser-known dishes the city is famous for like l’amatriciana – made with pancetta and rich tomato passata – or cacio e pepe, made with pecorino romano cheese and pepper.
Rome has inspired great minds
Thanks to its 2,769 year history, the city of Rome is an open-air museum, stuffed full of historical and cultural treasures and home to mouth-watering gastronomy.
This killer combination has left its indelible mark on some of the greatest minds from around the globe from Renaissance philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli to one-time resident, Jame’s Joyce.
After nearly three millenia, it continues to inspire.
Happy birthday to you Rome!