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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Rome 2012

As we drove into Rome from the airport along a somewhat decrepit motorway, I could not help musing that the roads that were built by the ancient Romans were a by word for effective, well engineered, long lived construction. I suspected that the Romans of Augustus's era would not have been impressed with this road we were traveling on.
Rome has many direct and indirect reminders of its long history.

We could see the Circus Maximus from our hotel room. See here and here for more information.

In ancient and Imperial times it was used for games, particularly chariot races. Of cause the chariot race in Ben Hur was set in the Circus Maximus.

When we visited there was a large celebration of ancient Rome with many people dressed for the occasion. Naturally Margaret joined in firstly with some "Roman Soldiers" ...


... and then a "barbarian" ...

(As always with my photos click to open then in a new window.)

At the front of our hotel was the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum

The Forum

... was for centuries the center of Roman public life: the site of triumphal processions and elections, venue for public speeches, criminal trials, and gladiatorial matches, and nucleus of commercial affairs. Here statues and monuments commemorated the city's great men. The teeming heart of ancient Rome, it has been called the most celebrated meeting place in the world, and in all history.[1] Located in the small valley between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills, the Forum today is a sprawling ruin of architectural fragments and intermittent archeological excavations attracting numerous sightseers.
Source: here.

The photo below shows Margaret and Philip (her son) and Beverley (Phil's partner) resting in the Forum. (Phil lives in England and we have now met him in three of the great cities of Europe - Madrid, Paris and of cause Rome.



The photograph of the Forurm, below, includes the Arch of Titus (top left corner) which was built to commemorate the capture of Jerusalem by an army led by Titus in AD 70. Titus became emperor in AD 79.



Other nearby landmarks can be seen from the Forum ...



In the foreground of the photograph, can be seen the Arch of Constantine. Constantine was the "first Christian Emperor". He was hailed Emperor by his legions in York. We saw the statue commemorating this event outside York Minster last year

In the background, is the Colosseum, which was completed, incidentally, by Emperor Titus. (Click on the "play" button in the centre of the video - below - to view it.)



More shots of the Colosseum ...
(Remember: click to embiggen.)

All of the attractions that I have so far described are confined to a small area in Rome, but there are many others. Often we would walk down a fairly narrow pedestrian road like the one below ...



... and then come to a square with a view like the one below, the Piazza della Rotonda and the Pantheon ...



The Pantheon was originally a temple for all the pagan gods, but it was converted into a Christian church in 609, which saved it from the damage and destruction that many other ancient Roman buildings suffered.
The Pantheon is famous for its huge dome, with a large hole in the middle, called the oculus. It inspired many other buildings including Brunelleschi's 42-meter dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, which we saw later in the tour.



Another wonderful surprise is turning a corner and finding Trevi Fountain. Some famous places are surprisingly unimpressive when viewed live, but Trevi is not one of them...




A short walk from Trevi is the Piazza Navona, which in Roman Imperial times was a sports stadium. (It was another of Titus's projects.) The Piazza contains the Fountain of the Four Rivers, by Bernini.



This is a great location for an evening meal ...



... or to browse the paintings on sale ...

Lastly, a night shot of the most famous building in Rome ...



... and here a day shot ...



... St Peters ...



the sale indulgences used to fund St Peters was one of the causes of the Reformation, but in its splendor it was part of the Roman Catholic response to the Reformation - power and beauty ...

The leftmost photo is of Bernini's Baldacchino, a canopy of bronze beneath the Dome. The bronze for the canopy was obtained from the Pantheon.

The other photo is of a mosaic about the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira the details fo which can be found in Acts 5:1-11.


The most beautiful artwork in the whole of the Basilica is undoubtedly Michaelangelo's Pieta. This is a beautiful and moving sculpture. Unfortunately it can only now be seen behind bullet proof glass as in 1972 a mentally disturbed man took to it with a geologist's hammer. I was looking forward to seeing everything I have described so far, but the Peita was my number one priority in coming to Rome.

Naturally we saw Michaelangelo's other masterpiece in the Vatican - the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. That was as wonderful as expected. Photographs were not allowed ...

... but there are many reproductions on the net so here is one of them ...



Of all the many scenes my favourite is the Lybian Sibyl. It is a masterful piece of art:

"The complex, almost serpentine, rotation of the young sibyl, ... gives prominence to the remarkable richness, elegance, and delicacy of the juxtapositions of colour..."

... but I like the ambiguity: is she twisting to take the book down and pronounce a prophecy or is she putting the book away, and looking towards better ways to spend her time?


For all of my Rome pictures, follow this link .

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From Rome we traveled to Florence via Sienna.

5 comments:

TARNEIT PETE said...

Very good job Stephen.

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