Rome - Part 2
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Next morning, time to hit one of the timeless wonders of the world â€“ The Colosseum â€“ perhaps the most famous and enduring monuments of the culture and cruelty of the ancient Romans.
The construction started in 72 AD under the rule of the Emperor Vespasian of the Favian dynasty and hence was originally named Flavian Amphitheater. The construction was finally completed in 80 AD under Emperor Titus. It got the name Colosseum thanx to the colossal statue of Emperor Nero next to it - Statuas del Gigante Nerone. (The reconstruction of Colosseum with the Nero's Statue).
This huge amphitheater could hold about 60000 people who could enter through any of the 80 doors and occupy seats according to their social status. The inauguration of the Colosseum was marked with 100 days of games. The fights took place in the sandy arena. (Arena is the latin word for sand). It was used until 6th century after which it was abandoned till the middle ages. Amongst the beast fights and jugglers and magicians the most popular event was the the gladiatorial events (munera). â€™Ave Caesar, morituri te salutantâ€™ â€“ (Hail Ceaser, We who are about to die salute you.) thatâ€™s what the gladiators used to say before starting the fight. The gladiators who fought were not only slaves and prisoners of wars but also free men who fought for wealth and fame. In view of their popularity these games were often supported by politicians seeking public support. The last gladiatorial game in the Colosseum is recorded in AD 438, when the games were abolished by the Emperor Valentinian III.
For â‚¬11 you can get an be a witness to this great historical wonder. Be there preferably early coz the crowds tend to swell with time.
Just outside the Colosseum is the Arco di Constantino. This arch was built after Emperor Constantin's victory on October 28 in 312AD against Massenzio in the Milvio Bridge battle.
From Colosseum we moved on next to the Roman Forum. The Forum is located in a valley that is between the Palatine hill and the Capitoline hill. It originally was a marsh, but the Romans drained the area and turned it into a center of political and social activity. The Forum was the marketplace of Rome and also the business district and civic center. It was expanded to include temples, a senate house and law courts. Much of the forum has been destroyed. Columns and stone blocks are all that remain of some temples.
triumphal arch that commemorates the victory of the emperors Vespasian and Titus in Judea in 70 AD, which lead to the conquest of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Jewish temple there. The inscription in Roman square capitals reads:
The Arch of Titus (Arcus Titi) is a
SENATVS POPVLVSQVEÂ·ROMANVS DIVOÂ·TITOÂ·DIVIÂ·VESPASIANIÂ·F(ILIO) VESPASIANOÂ·AVGVSTO
which means - "The Senate and People of Rome (dedicate this) to the divine Titus Vespasianus Augustus, son of the divine Vespasian."
The Basilica of Constantine (Basilica Constantini) was begun by Maxentius in 306-310 and completed by Constantine in 312-337. Today we can see three huge vaults from the original building. The basilica design later became a model for Christian architecture. For the Romans it was a center of justice and civic affairs.
Temple of Antoninus and Faustina (Templum Antonini et Faustinae). When the wife of emperor Antoninus Pius died in A.D. 141, he had this temple constructed in her honor, and twenty years later at his own death, the temple was rededicated to them both.
Temple of Castor and Pollux (Templum Castoris) was erected in honor of Castor and Pollux, the twin sons of Jupiter. Only three massive columns remain.
Temple of Saturn (Templum Saturni) - Legend has it that an altar was built at the foot of the Capitoline Hill for Saturn and that a temple was erected on the same site. In early times, the grateful inhabitants brought their wealth, grain, wool, and oil, to offer the first fruits to the god who had blest them, and to have him guard the remainder of their treasure.
Arch of Septimius Severus (Arcus Septimii Serveri)- This triumphal arch was erected in 203 A.D. to commemorate the Roman victory over the Parthians in honor of the Emperor Septimius Severus and his sons, Caracalla and Geta. Reportedly Napolean was so impressed by the Arch of Septimius Severus and the Arch of Titus, that he ordered his architects to reproduce these in Paris; the result is the Arc du Triomphe de Carrousel (a life-size imitation of the Arch of Septimius Severus) and the more famous Arc du Triomphe, which maintains the exact proportions of the Arch of Titus, though several times larger.
On top of the capitole hills after a long flight of steps is the La Lupa Capitolina. The legend says that Romulus and Remus were nursed by a She-Wolf. Romulus becoming the first king and founder of Rome!!
To be continued....
Italy has been a place which has captured the imagination of many a people. Some of the world's most famous monuments. (If u haven't heard about the Colosseum, u've probably been living under a rock...go n watch Gladiator for God sake). There were many things in my mind when I was planning the trip and along with those a secret fearâ€¦ Will it be as beautiful as I expect it to be?? It would be a shame to come out of it thinking 'it's good but I expected more' (I will enlist one such experience in Italy later).
Now, u might have heard many people say that Italy is a lot like India. We knew how right they were when the flight landed in Milan without the check-in luggage. I as a thumb rule travel light when on vacation and don't check-in anything for intra Europe travels. But the rest of the people weren't so lucky. What resulted was an awefully long wait for the luggage and an even longer in the line to register missing bags. Apparently half the flight's luggage was missing. The next thing we did was catch a shuttle to reach the city center using the shuttle bus which plies every 20 mins or so (This is the cheapest way to reach the city center. Ticket â‚¬5). Malpensa airport is a mere 48 kms from the city center so the shuttle took another hour. All this ensured that we just had time to grab a bite at the Milan central railway station and board the train for Rome. All the plans to see the Duomo di Milano went down the drain. Ah, what a beginning!!!
The better part of the journey was spent sleeping so I won't comment on how beautiful the countryside was. 4 hrs and 45 mins later we were in Rome Central station. The delay can be attributed to Tren Italia. Did I hear someone say another similarity? :) Anyways we decided to cool off our heels that night and attack Rome the following morning. The missing baggage, the wait n the effort to explain the Italian lady at the reception, who spoke no english, that we were expecting luggage the next day took its toll I guess.
The Vatican Museums displays work from the extensive collection of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Julius II founded the museums in the 16th century. It consists of the Gregorian Egyptian Museum, Gregorian Etruscan Museum, Sistine Chapel, Raphael's Rooms, Pinacoteca and the Ethnological Missionary Museum, the most famous being of course the Sistine Chapel. Tickets cost â‚¬12 per head. The Sistine Chapel is such an important and popular historic place that it has a swarm of people in it. Its fame rests on its architecture, which evokes the Temple of the Old Testament, its decoration, frescoed throughout by the greatest Renaissance artists, including Michelangelo whose ceiling is legendary, and its purpose as a site of papal religious and functionary activity, notably the conclave, at which a new Pope is selected.
Dr. Frank Lynn Meshberger of St. John's Medical Center in Anderson, Indiana believes that the famous 'Creation of Adam' panel contains an image that has been misunderstood for half a millenium - a brain that symbolizes God bestowing intellect on man.(more...)
More than 20 years later he was asked to paint The Last Judgement. The Last Judgment is a depiction of the second coming of Christ and the apocalypse. It took 5 years to complete. The work is massive and spans the entire wall behind the altar of the Sistine Chapel. When it was unveiled in 1541, the Pope Paul IIIâ€™s MC, Biagio da Cesena, was upset to see a caricature of himself in the painting. During the five years of work this guy had bothered Michelangelo so much that he decided to paint him in the caricature of Minos ï¿½ï¿½" Judge of the underworld. (The guy with the snake around him in the bottom right corner). In the painting Michelangelo shows himself as a limp skin held by St Bartholomew near the cloud (The saint is just near the left foot of Christ).
From 1981-94 the Chapel was restored. This work was sponsored by a Japanese TV channel, Nippon TV, in return for the exclusive media rights for the ceiling.
IN HONOREM PRINCIPIS APOST PAVLVS V BVRGHESIVS ROMANVS PONT MAX AN MDCXII PONT VII (In honor of the prince of apostles; Paul V Borghese, pope, in the year 1612 and the seventh year of his pontificate).
St. Peter's has a strict dress code: no shorts, no skirts above the knee, and no bare shoulders. You will not be let in if you don't come dressed appropriately. And ladies if you find the Swiss guards cute then donâ€™t bother coz they have to be single, devout Christians to qualify for the job.
The Basilicaâ€™s Dome is also a dominant feature of the Roman skyline. The paraboloid dome is a double layered structure with a spiral stair case between the outside and inside layers of the dome is 42.3 metres in interior diameter, rising to 120 metres (394 ft) above the floor.
For a fees of â‚¬7 you can take an elevator and then climb to the top of the dome. Def worth a visit believe me. I especially enjoyed the part where u walk between the narrow space between the outer and inner shell of the dome. The space is very less, hardly 2 feet at some of the narrowest points and almost claustrophobic.
From the dome you get a magnificient view of the Piazza di San Pietro (St Peters Square). The open space before the basilica was redesigned by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, from 1656 to 1667, under the direction of Pope Alexander VII, as an appropriate forecourt, designed so that the greatest number of people could see the Pope give his blessing. At the center of the oval stands an Egyptian obelisk of red granite, forty meters tall to the cross on its top and the surrounding Colonnade which has 284 columns made in classic Baroque style.
From Vatican we started walking towards out next destination, the Spanish Steps. En route we came across Castel Sant'Angelo. The Mausoleum of Hadrian, popularly known as Castel Sant'Angelo, initially was commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. The building spent over a thousand years as a fortress and castle, and is now a museum.
It was in the late 16th century that the French king comissioned the building of the steps to reach the TrinitÃ dei Monti church, which is one of the two french national churches in rome(other one being San Luigi dei Francesi). However the steps were finally built between the 1723 -1726. Now the square below was called Piazza di Spangna hence the steps got the name Spanish Steps. In the early 19th century Keats & Shelley lived and worked here. During that time so many English were there that it was nicknamed â€˜The English Ghettoâ€™. The house right to the steps where Keats died in 1821 now houses the Keats Shelley Museum.
On the steps and around the fountain a lot of people assemble just to laze around, catch a breath or just do nothing. You may also see a lot of locals there. At the top of the steps you will find the church and lots of artists displaying their work. The street which leads you to the steps is lined on both sides by some of the best names in fashion - D&G, Versace, Gucci et al and you may also find a line outside each such shop for entry.
From Spanish Steps we headed to Fontana di Trevi. Probably one of the most famous fountains in the world. Some of you readers might recall the famous scene from Federico Felliniâ€™s movie La Dolce Vita, with Swedish actress Anita Ekberg in the fountain. One of the most celebrated images from cinema.
The fountain is located at the intersection of three roads hence namedtre-vi(a). Work started in 1732 under architect Nicola Salvi and got completed in 1762. Giuseppe Pannini finished the work after Salviâ€™s death in 1751.
On top of the fountain is the coat of arms of Pope Clement XII, who began work on the fountain. In the center is the magnificent figure of Oceanus(Neptune), son of the Sky and the Earth, which dominates everything in its regality. He is the power of water, impressive in his capacity to give life and at the samer time destroy it. He advaces in a chariot in the form of a shell. His chariot is pulled to two sea horses accompanied by tritons. The horse on the left advances violently symbolizing the sea in tempest, indicative of its violent, destructive nature. While the horse on the right advances calmly representing the calm state of the waters, useful and life giving. The two niches at the sides of Oceanus are the allegoric statues of Fertility(left) and Healthiness(right).
The foutain looks most impressive during night when the sculptures n the water is floodlit. A traditional legend says that if a visitor throws a coin into the fountain, he is ensured a return to Rome. Two coins will ensure a marriage will occur soon, while three coins leads to a divorce. However you need to throw the coins in a special way. Turn your back to the fountain n throw the coin with your right hand over your left shoulder.