Virtual Rome

My students in HIST 420 The Renaissance at Northern Illinois University recently discussed the intellectual movement of Humanism in the Renaissance, focusing especially on the Humanists’ fascination with antiquities and their nostalgia for ancient Rome. Students read passages from Poggio Bracciolini, Bartolomeo Platina, and Lorenzo Valla and discussed humanists’ book collecting, the Vatican Library, the rebuilding of Rome under Pope Nicholas V in the mid-fifteenth century.

There are a number of virtual reality platforms for viewing the city of Rome at different points in history. Students may be interested in exploring the city of Rome virtually using one or more of the online platforms.

Virtual Rome project at the University of Reading

All of the virtual reality reconstructions of Rome are intriguing, but they also make choices in historical interpretation. Most of these virtual reality models have been created by commercial computer gaming companies or through partnerships with them. The commercial interests of the computer gaming and tourism industries clearly play a significant role in this form of public history and digital humanities.

There are free platforms and introductory trailers available at the following sites:

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (trailer):

Baroque Rome (Emory):

History 3D: Ancient Rome 320 A.D.:

Rome Reborn:

Virtual Rome (website):

Virtual Rome (trailer):

For a detailed study of city views, print culture, and tourism in Renaissance Rome, see: Rebecca Zorach, ed., The Virtual Tourist in Renaissance Rome: Printing and Collecting the Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2008). A book description is available at the University of Chicago Press website.

This entry was posted in Ancient History, Art History, Cultural History, Digital Humanities, Early Modern Europe, Empires and Imperialism, European History, History in the Media, History of the Book, Humanities Education, Intellectual History, Italian History, Mediterranean World, Museums and Historical Memory, Renaissance Art and History, The Past Alive: Teaching History. Bookmark the permalink.

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