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I had been looking forward to our visit to Rome. While I have been through Rome a number of times, I hadn't ever stopped to have a look. And there is a lot to look at! As you wander through Rome, you alternate between narrow alleys, lined with crumbling stone-colored three and four story buildings, piazzas big and small each with some interesting, usually ancient, central feature: a fountain, an obelisk, a statue, and life threateningly busy many-laned roads.
The coliseum was built by the emperor Trajan for the entertainment of the masses in about 72 AD. As originally built, there was not wodden floor, and no tunnels underneath. Originally, the intent was to stage naval battles within the Coliseum as well as other battles. It was once flooded for a 6 month period! The naval battles proved to be a bad idea, afterwhich the labyrinth of tunnels was contructed and capped with a wooden floor, which was spread with sand.
The Coliseum as seen from the Roman Forum
Anika was very impressed with the sights...
The Coliseum was repaired many times over the course of its long life, and this time by Pope Pius VII! Interestingly, each level of the Coliseum sports a different variety of column. The lowest level are simple doric, the second level are ionic and the top level are Corinthian! One of the things I found most interesting about the Coliseum and actually Rome in general, is that all of this history, all 2000 years worth is just sitting our there for all to see.
The Roman Forum
This was the center of Roman life in the time of the great Roman Empire. Much of the ancient architecture was pilfered in order to build grand palazzo and great churches. Thus, a good imagination and some knowledge of history is required to appreciate the Forum.
A little snooze was in order ... The rebuilt senate
Capitoline Hill and the Piazza del Campidoglio
The Capitoline Hill is at one end of the Roman Forum, the end with senate building and the Rostrum. The Piazza on the top of the hill was designed by Michelangelo in 1536 at the behest of Pope Paul III. He did not design the buildings, only the building facades. He also placed the statues and designed the staircase.
Anika works hard to get just the right photo!
The famous statue of Remus and Romulus and the she-wolf. This statue is very well hidden. It sits next to the Piazza on a walkway that leads to an overlook of the Roman Forum. We found it just by chance.
The Pantheon was erected in 118 AD by the emperor Hadrian, who was also famous for building Hadrian's Wall across Britain. It was built as a temple to all gods. Within the huge dome is a hole, which on the day of our visit was wet inside due to the rain! The hole allows all of the bad demons to escape. Apparently, for more than 1000 years starting in the middle ages, this temple was a visible example of what could no longer be done - no one could understand how such a large dome could be supported.
It is interesting to note that this structure stands in glory, even today, when the rest of ancient Rome sits in fallen decay just around the corner. The temple was taken over by the Catholic church, and maintained. Imagine how much fun a visit to Rome would be if all the buildings around the Roman Forum had been maintained! Imagine how lavishly the patrician Romans lived two millennia ago! When all we have to look at are a few marble blocks, it is easy to suppose that their lifestyle was simplistic, when clearly nothing could be further from the truth.
The Spanish Steps
On the Piazza di Spagna sit the Spanish Steps. This was the center of tourism in Rome in the 18th century, and is still surrounded by tea rooms, hotels and the American Express office.
Yet another occurrence of the "European History Behind Scaffolding."
The Trevi Fountain
This amazing fountain is squished into a piazza hemmed in on all sides. We approached from the back and were astounded by the shear size and shape of the fountain! It was built in 1762, and portrays Neptune. Anika was struck by the fact that Romans tended to feel the need to have fountains represent the water gods and water entities.
Legend holds that throwing a coin into this fountain, right hand over left shoulder will ensure that the thrower can return to Rome one day.
The Vatican Museums
IT takes patience to visit the Vatican Museums. The day we went, the line was almost 2 hours long.
Behind us... In front of us.... After we left the museum, there was no line, only vendors.
The handicapped entrance lookes a little like a marble run! The double helix staircase now only used as an exit originally allowed those entering and those leaving the museum to each have one way paths!
The Vatican Museum is really a combination of museums. Here is a quick rundown of the parts we looked at:
Some famous Romans. :-)
St. Peters Basilica
On the inside
On the Outside
Climbing to the top of the dome
From the dome - inside
From the top
From Rome we went to Florence for a few days.
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