When in Rome, there’s no escaping the ubiquitous Number 7. The pattern dates back to the Eternal City’s earliest days, when Romulus founded the city on April 21st the day itself a multiple of seven. Rome was constructed on seven hills (namely, the Palatine, Capitoline, Aventine, Caelian, Esquiline, Quirinal, and Viminal) and was ruled by seven kings before the advent of the Republic (Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Tullus Hostilius, Ancus Marcius, Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullius, and Tarquinius Superbus). Since then, the number has continued to be a recurring motif in the city’s history.
In Ancient Rome, for example, a pagan festival called Septimontium celebrated the city’s seven hills. Throughout the city, the number seven frequently appears on imperial monuments. The Arch of Titus, also known as the Arch of the Seven Lamps, located in the southeast end of the Roman Forum, was erected in 81 AD to commemorate the capture of Jerusalem. The arch has a sculpted relief that depicts Titus’ army carrying o the temple’s spoils, including a seven-branched candlestick, or menorah. A century later, Emperor Septimius Severus built the Septizodium, a glorious white marble monument (now, sadly destroyed) on the Palatine Hill dedicated to the seven planetary deities, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, the sun, and the moon which also happen to be the roots of the seven days of the Italian week.
The number seven is also important in Christian Rome: seven are the principal basilicas that Pope Boniface VIII declared during the first Jubilee in the year 1300: San Pietro, San Giovanni in Laterano, San Paolo Fuori le Mur , Santa Maria Maggiore, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura and San Sebastiano. The seven basilicas make up the holy route that pilgrims still follow in this year’s Jubilee of Mercy. Another church that ts Rome’s number seven pattern is Santa Maria dei Sette Dolori (St. Mary of the Seven Sorrows), a tiny jewel of a church designed by Borromini and located on
the slopes of the Janiculum Hill. The suburban Roman neighborhoods of Settebagni (seven baths) and Settecamini (seven chimneys) also t into this theme. In addition, you’ve come to Rome at the perfect time to explore Rome’s seven-themed sites: the ancient Latin calendar began in March, so September was originally the seventh month of the year (hence its name)!