The Esquiline Hill is one of the celebrated Seven Hills of Rome. Its southern-most cusp is the Oppius (Oppian Hill).
The origin of the name Esquilino is still under much debate. One view is that the Hill was named after the abundance of holm-oaks, exculi, that resided there. Another view is that, during Rome's infancy, the Capitolium, the Palatium, and the northern fringes of the Caelian were the most-populated areas of the city, whose inhabitants were considered inquilini, in-towners; those that inhabited the external regions - Aurelian, Oppius, Cispius, Fagutal - were considered exquilini, suburbanites.
The Esquiline Hill includes three prominent spurs, which are sometimes called ‘hills’ as well:
- Cispian (Cispius) - northern spur
- Oppian (Oppius) - southern spur
- Fagutal (Fagutalis) - western spur
Rising above the valley in which was later built the Colosseum, the Esquiline was a fashionable residential district.
According to Livy, the settlement on the Esquiline was expanded during the reign of Servius Tullius, Rome' sixth king, in the 6th century BC. The king also moved his residence to the Hill, in order to increase its respectability.
The political advisor and art patron Maecenas (70 BC-8 BC) sited his famous gardens, the first gardens in the Hellenistic-Persian garden style in Rome, on the Esquiline Hill, atop the Servian Wall and its adjoining necropolis, near the gardens of Lamia. It contained terraces, libraries and other aspects of Roman culture. At the Oppius, Nero (37-68) confiscated property to build his extravagant, mile-long Golden House,<ref name=roth>Template:Cite book</ref> and later still Trajan (53-117) constructed his bath complex, both of whose remains are visible today. The 3rd century AD Horti Liciniani, a group of gardens (including the relatively well-preserved nymphaeum formerly identified as the non-extant Temple of Minerva Medica), were probably constructed on the Esquiline Hill. Farther to the northeast, at the summit of the Cispius, is the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.
In 1781, the first known copy of the marble statue of a Discus thrower - the so-called Discobolus of Myron - was discovered on the Roman property of the Massimo family, the Villa Palombara, on the Esquiline Hill. The famous Esquiline Treasure, now in the British Museum, was found on the Esquiline Hill.
- The tiny hamlet of El Esquilinchuche in Honduras is named after the Esquiline Hill.
- The episode "Lisa's Wedding" from the sixth season of The Simpsons refers to an "esquilax", a supposedly mythical creature "with the head of a rabbit and the body...of a rabbit". In reality, it is just a rabbit.