Museo Nazionale Romano ★★

The Sala dell'Ares Ludovisi in the Museo Nazionale Romano's Palazzo Altemps branch
The Sala dell'Ares Ludovisi in the Museo Nazionale Romano's Palazzo Altemps branch. (Photo by Aurelio Candido)

Rome's Museo Nazionale Romano (National Roman Museum) is the world's single greatest collection of Ancient Roman art spread across five amazing spaces: Palazzo Altemps, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, the Baths of Diocletian, the Crypta Balbi, and the Aula Ottagona

Roman sarcofagus from Portonaccio (180–190 AD) in Palazzo Massimo alle Terme
Roman sarcophagus from Portonaccio (180–190 AD) at the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme branch (Photo by Juan Pablo Aparicio Vaquero)

Used to be, I'd tell people looking to get a quick fix of Ancient Roman art to hit the Capitoline Museums and Vatican Museums.

Since the National Roman Museum reopened in 2000, however, I've changed my tune.

The statue of Dionysus and a satyr, an AD 2nd century Roman copy of a Hellenistic original  in Rome's Museo Nazionale Romano - Palazzo Altemps
The statue of Dionysus and a satyr, an AD 2nd century Roman copy of a Hellenistic original at the Palazzo Altemps branch.

Those other two are still great museums, don't get me wrong.

But if you've only the mental energies and interest to make it through one or two collections of ancient Roman statues, frescoes, mosaics, friezes, and sculpture, make a beeline for a branch of the Museo Nazionale Romano.

If you only have time for one, make it the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme near Terminin rail station. If you have time to squeeze it in, though, the Palazzo Altemps branch near Piazza Navona is well worthwhile.

A museum split in five

A museum with branches? Yeah. The Museo Nazionale Romano is, annoyingly, split across five different major collections (including one rather bland excavation called the Crypta Balbi, which I won't bother to detail since it isn't worth the bother of visiting).

See, they took what was once a single museum—one that languished for decades in a quasi-mythical state inside the formally-eternally closed Baths of Diocletian—and split it up across the city in four stellar "Museo Nazionale Romano" collections:

Tips & links

Details
★★
ADDRESS

tel. +39-06-390-8071
archeoroma.beniculturali.it

OPEN

All branches: Tues-Sun 9am–7:45pm

ADMISSION

€10 (sometimes €7, if no special exhibition is on)
Roma Pass: Yes (free, or 35% off)
Tours: from €60

TRANSPORT

Bus: 16, 75, 360, 649, C3, 60L, 64, 82, 85, 170, 175, 910, N2, N1, N15, N7, N8, N9, N12, N15, N18
Metro: Termini (AB) or Repubblica (A)
Hop-on/hop-off: Terminal B or Terminal A

TOURS
How long does Museo Nazionale Romano take?

Planning your day: Each branch varies, and while the Baths of Diocletian and Palazzo Massimo are physically close to each other, the other branches are a good bus ride away. Besides, there's no reason to try and see them all at once.

Book ahead: You might want to book ahead for the Palazzo Massimo branch, since you are assigned an entry time to get into the excellent frescoed rooms upstairs (and if you just show up, you might end up having to wait around for several hours before your entry time).

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Museo Nazionale Romano tours

Take a guided tour of one of the Museo Nazionale Romano branches with one of our partners:

Cumulative tickets

The regular ticket to any one MNR museum includes entry to all branches of the Museo Nazionale Romano for the amazing low price of €7 (you get a week in which to visit them all). However, note that if any branch of the musuem has a special exhibition going (which they almost always do), the ticket price rises to €10.

In other words: Expect admission to be €10, and be pleasantly surprised if they happen to be between exhibitions when you are in town and the price drops to €7.

This is a fantastic deal—though also consider using this as one of the two freebies you get with the Roma Pass (though there are few more expensive sights—the Forum/Colosseum, or the Galleria Borghese—on which you might spend your two "get in free" coupons). » more

I advise against the Archeologia Card, which you will also see offered. This card covers entry to these museums plus the Downtown Ancient Rome group (Roman Forum, the Colosseum, and the Palatine Hill; normally €12), the Museo Nazionale Romano group (Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Palazzo Altemps, Baths of Diocletian, Crypta Balbi, Aula Ottagona; normally €7–€10), and the Appian Way group (Baths of Caracalla, Tomb of Cecilia Metella, Villa of the Quintili; normally €6).

Sounds good, right? Some major-league sights in there, yes? True: But the savings is actually only €2–€5—and you can get more bang for your sightseeing buck by using the Roma Pass instead to cover the Forum/Colosseum (plus either this group or something else major like the Galleria Borghese). » more

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Museo Nazionale Romano
★★
ADDRESS

tel. +39-06-390-8071
archeoroma.beniculturali.it

OPEN

All branches: Tues-Sun 9am–7:45pm

ADMISSION

€10 (sometimes €7, if no special exhibition is on)
Roma Pass: Yes (free, or 35% off)
Tours: from €60

TRANSPORT

Bus: 16, 75, 360, 649, C3, 60L, 64, 82, 85, 170, 175, 910, N2, N1, N15, N7, N8, N9, N12, N15, N18
Metro: Termini (AB) or Repubblica (A)
Hop-on/hop-off: Terminal B or Terminal A

TOURS


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