In ancient times, the Caelian Hill was completely covIn ancient times, the Caelian Hill was completely covered in oak trees and was called mons Querquetulanus. Later, it derived its current name from Celius Vibenna, the Etruscan leader.
During the Augustan Age, the hill became the second regio or district of the city, but the fire of 64 AD destroyed the urban fabric of the area, which was then largely claimed by Nero.
During the Flavian dynasty, the Colosseum as well as service structures for the events held at the amphitheatre were built at the foot of the hill. The area became more densely developed with magnificent luxury buildings and Septimius Severus restored Nero's aqueducts, the remaining arches of which currently characterise the area.
The wealthy residences on the Caelian suffered immense damage during plundering by the Goths of Alarico, which took place from 24 to 27 August 410. The devastated lands were later acquired by the Church to build sanctuaries, convents and hospices, which used the pagan remains for their foundations.
During the 6th century, the grand San Gregorio convent was built, whereas the diaconate of Santa Maria in Domnica and the Santi Quattro Coronati church were both built during the 9th century.
With the devastating fire of 1084, caused by the invasion of Robert Guiscard, the religious and devotional structures located on the hill and its surroundings suffered immensely.
The area only began to experience a revival with the construction of noble villas and numerous vineyards at the beginning of the 16th century. One of the most outstanding villas, currently known as Villa Celimontana, belonged to the Mattei family.
However, it was during the 1950s that the monastic complex of Santi Giovanni e Paolo al Celio (St. John and St. Paul on Caelian) and the adjacent Romanesque bell tower were restored.
Be sure not to miss: San Clemente, Santi Quattro Coronati, Santo Stefano Rotondo, Santa Maria in Domenica, Santi Giovanni e Paolo al Celio (St. John and St. Paul on Caelian), and San Gregorio al Celio (San Gregorio Magno).