The Eternal City's timeless appeal: Fascinating COLOUR images of Rome in 1890 show the Italian capital on the cusp of change

  • This breathtaking collection has been colourised by the complex Photochrom process invented in the 1880s
  • The prints, of street scenes, architecture and landmarks, were sold as souvenirs and often collected in albums
  • Images show individuals in horse-drawn carriages exploring famous sights like the picturesque Piazza di Minerva

Rome is like a living museum with its rich history evident at every piazza and iconic landmark and as such it has long drawn visitors to its heart.

A striking collection of images dating back to 1890 shows a vibrant capital on the cusp of change with the first signs of the modern world starting to make their mark. But while transport and engineering were both showing hints of their future in the collection, the centre of Rome still nods back to its captivating past.

These incredible images, remarkably brought back to life in colour, depict horse drawn carriages near the Pantheon and popular attractions such as the Roman Forum and the Trevi Fountain devoid of tourists.

From a distance, the prints look deceptively like colour photographs but by using the complex Photochrom process, artificial colour has been added to black-and-white images.

The process was invented in the 1880s by Hans Jakob Schmid, an employee of Swiss printing company Orell Gessner Füssli. 

The collection, which is a treasure trove of street scenes, popular landmarks and architecture, was originally sold as prints for souvenirs or for display. This breathtaking snapshot in time, courtesy of the Library of Congress, highlights that the appeal of the Eternal City is timeless and enduring.

Piazza di Minerva is a piazza - or town square - located close to the Pantheon. Its name comes from a temple built on the site that was created in honour of pagan goddess Minerva Calcidica

Piazza di Minerva is a piazza - or town square - located close to the Pantheon. Its name comes from a temple built on the site that was created in honour of pagan goddess Minerva Calcidica

Colour prints show life in 1890 at the tomb of Victor Emmanuel
The impressive Garibaldi's Monument with a horse-drawn carriage in front

 Colour prints show at the tomb of Victor Emmanuel in 1890 (left) and day trippers passing by the impressive Garibaldi's Monument (right)

This image shows the Piazza del Campidoglio on Capitol Hill. It was originally the citadel of Rome for the earliest Romans and was still a popular visiting point for citizens in 1890. Nowadays it is the headquarters of the Italian Government

This image shows the Piazza del Campidoglio on Capitol Hill. It was originally the citadel of Rome for the earliest Romans and was still a popular visiting point for citizens in 1890. Nowadays it is the headquarters of the Italian Government

A print of the bridge and castle of St. Angelo
A woman balances goods on her head in front of the Triumphal Arch of Titus

A woman balances goods on her head in front of the Triumphal Arch of Titus (right) and a print of the bridge and castle of St. Angelo (left) 

The Fountain of Trevi debuted in 1762, and is a popular place for tourists to toss coins into its waters. Tradition has it that those who do will ensure a return to Rome, with an average of €3,000 being thrown in every day. Its design features the sea-god Oceanus's chariot being led by Tritons with seahorses

The Fountain of Trevi debuted in 1762, and is a popular place for tourists to toss coins into its waters. Tradition has it that those who do will ensure a return to Rome, with an average of €3,000 being thrown in every day. Its design features the sea-god Oceanus's chariot being led by Tritons with seahorses

The Forum Romano can be seen here as a sprawl of ruins, but was once the centrepiece of ancient Rome, featuring public spaces, temples and government buildings

The Forum Romano can be seen here as a sprawl of ruins, but was once the centrepiece of ancient Rome, featuring public spaces, temples and government buildings

A view inside of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls. This ornate Unesco World Heritage site was originally built in the fourth century BC but has undergone a number of changes over the years, including being reconstructed after a fire in 1823

A view inside of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls. This ornate Unesco World Heritage site was originally built in the fourth century BC but has undergone a number of changes over the years, including being reconstructed after a fire in 1823

On the left of this print is the Lateran Obelisk which is seen at the Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano. The structure is said to be the tallest standing ancient obelisk in the world

On the left of this print is the Lateran Obelisk which is seen at the Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano. The structure is said to be the tallest standing ancient obelisk in the world

The Colosseum in Rome (pictured) is the largest amphitheatre ever built, and it is clear to see why it has lured visitors for centuries with its grand structure. It was originally used for gladiatorial events, public spectacles and even mock sea battles

The Colosseum in Rome (pictured) is the largest amphitheatre ever built, and it is clear to see why it has lured visitors for centuries with its grand structure. It was originally used for gladiatorial events, public spectacles and even mock sea battles

The Pyramid of Cestius at St. Paul's Gate was constructed around 12BC as a tomb for magistrate Gaius Cestius. It stands at 97ft tall and is one of the best-preserved ancient buildings in Rome thanks to its incorporation into the city's fortifications

The Pyramid of Cestius at St. Paul's Gate was constructed around 12BC as a tomb for magistrate Gaius Cestius. It stands at 97ft tall and is one of the best-preserved ancient buildings in Rome thanks to its incorporation into the city's fortifications

A view over the city from the Palace of the Caesars on the Palatine Hill, which has been colourised by the Photochrom process

A view over the city from the Palace of the Caesars on the Palatine Hill, which has been colourised by the Photochrom process

Two men pass time outside Piazza di Spagna, which sits at the base of the Spanish Steps which lead to St. Trinita dei Monti

Two men pass time outside Piazza di Spagna, which sits at the base of the Spanish Steps which lead to St. Trinita dei Monti

A number of carriages and individuals explore the vast and picturesque Piazza del Popolo, which features the Egyptian obelisk of Ramesses II

A number of carriages and individuals explore the vast and picturesque Piazza del Popolo, which features the Egyptian obelisk of Ramesses II

People in long coats and hats wander past the impressive Acqua Felice fountain which was built in 1585-88 after being designed by Italian architect Domenico Fontana

People in long coats and hats wander past the impressive Acqua Felice fountain which was built in 1585-88 after being designed by Italian architect Domenico Fontana

The towering Trajan's Column, which was built to commemorate the Roman emperor Trajan's victory in the Dacian Wars
The ruins of the Temple of Castor and Pollux look majestic after the Photochrom process

The towering Trajan's Column (left) was built to commemorate the Roman emperor Trajan's victory in the Dacian Wars. Pictured right are the ruins of the Temple of Castor and Pollux

Two small children and a lady in hats take a moment to relax in the sun at the Temple of Diana in the Villa Borghese Park, which is the third largest public park in Rome

Two small children and a lady in hats take a moment to relax in the sun at the Temple of Diana in the Villa Borghese Park, which is the third largest public park in Rome

A group of individuals gaze into The Fountain of the Naiads in Piazza della Repubblica, which was commissioned to this site by Pope Pius IX in 1870

A group of individuals gaze into The Fountain of the Naiads in Piazza della Repubblica, which was commissioned to this site by Pope Pius IX in 1870

A street scene in Rome shows citizens shopping and exploring the city, transported by horse-drawn carriages

A street scene in Rome shows citizens shopping and exploring the city, transported by horse-drawn carriages

Santa Maria Maggiore is located on the site of a temple to the goddess Cybele. Legand has it the church was first built here around 352-66 by Pope Liberius. The actual Basilica visible in this print, however, was built under Sisto III who had it erected in the early 400s

Santa Maria Maggiore is located on the site of a temple to the goddess Cybele. Legand has it the church was first built here around 352-66 by Pope Liberius. The actual Basilica visible in this print, however, was built under Sisto III who had it erected in the early 400s

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