The ashes of Hadrian were the first to take their eternal resting place here when his tomb was completed a year after his death. His remains were moved to Italy from Italica, Baetica, now Spain ... »»»
Over the centuries it has seen its share of changes from the original mausoleum to a fortress, then a castle, to its present day function as a museum.
The ashes of Hadrian were the first to take their eternal resting place here when his tomb was completed a year after his death. His remains were moved to Italy from Italica, Baetica, now Spain, and were cremated by his second son and successor Antoninus Pius. Later, those of his wife Vibia Sabina and first son Lucius Aelius, were also placed there.
Other emperors also reserved their places in the mausoleum with the last recorded being Caracalla in 217. The urns containing these ancient ashes are now all found deep within the structure in a room called the Treasury.
A very interesting architectural aspect of Castel Sant'Angelo is the Ponte or bridge, best noted for its statuary of angles holding elements of the Passion of Christ, added when it was restructured during the Baroque period.
In 401 the mausoleum saw its first radical changes when it was converted into a military fortress. Unfortunately, during the sack of Rome in 410, the urns were ransacked by looters and as recounted by the historical writer Procopius, the original decorative bronze and stone statuary was also destroyed when it was thrown down on the attackers during the siege by the Goths in 537.
Centuries later, the fortress was converted into a castle for the popes when Pope Nicholas III had it connected to Saint Peter's Basilica by a covered corridor named Passetto di Borgo.
During the plunder of Rome in 1527, Pope Clement VII took refuge there. Later still, Pope Paul III had a luxury apartment built there to insure that during any future sieges that a Pope would have a more dignified place to hide.
The grandiose top of the mausoleum is mounted with a statue of the archangel Michael sheathing his sword symbolizing the end of the plague of 590.
Castel Sant'Angelo has been a museum, Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo, since 1901 and can be visited daily.
The name Colosseum, meaning colossal or very big, is the name that was given to it nearly 8 centuries after its creation because of the colossal statue of Nero found near it, but it's original name is ... »»»
The name Colosseum, meaning colossal or very big, is the name that was given to it nearly 8 centuries after its creation because of the colossal statue of Nero found near it, but it's original name is the Flavian Amphitheater named after the Flavian Dynasty of the time ruled by Emperor Vespesian, later followed by his sons Titus and Domitian.
The motivation for the creation of the amphitheater was to restore the pride that was taken from the Roman people under the rule of Nero by giving them a place to unite and improve a lifestyle that was so subdued under Nero. In fact, the Colosseum is built on the site of the artificial lake of Nero in the Domus Aurea between the Palatine and Esquiline hills.
Besides this, the new amphitheater was built to surpass the only other place in Rome where large sporting events could be held, the Circus Maximus, but not sufficiently enough for shows like gladiator combats due to the symmetry of its layout.
The building of the Colosseum dates back to the year 70 A.D. with Emperor Vespasian, and it was dedicated nearly 10 years later by the Vespasian's son Titus, with the completion of it by his youngest son, Domitian in 81 A.D. It measures at 48 meters high, 188 meters long, and 156 meters wide and is estimated to have held up to 50,000 spectators.
The Colosseum was used for numerous events which included the early gladiator and wild animal fights as well as events added later on by emperor Domitian in the early 80's, like the less known, but equally important, mock sea battles on water that was ingeniously brought to the floor of the amphitheater through substructures that included enormous basins, called naumachias, similar to the name of the games themselves called "naumachiae" dug out under the pavement. Tragically the naval war games were games that were fought to the death where many men lost their lives.
Because the Colosseum had no roof, the sun was shaded by a concept known as valerium which consisted of large rope canvases rigged at the top with a hole in the middle curving down to the center, which not only kept out the sun, but captured the wind as well creating a breeze for the spectators.
The events held at the Colosseum lasted up into the mid 400's with the elimination of the gladiator games first to be followed some years later by the animal hunts. The main reason the events came to an end was certainly a question of finances, for it was very expensive to have the animals brought to Rome from Africa, not to mention the cruelty of illness and starvation they underwent before meeting their final destination.
The land of the stadium was paved in the mid 1600's but ruins of Domitian's stadium can still be seen around the area ... »»»
The ancient Pantheon is one of the oldest and best well preserved monuments in Rome ... »»»
It was built as a temple to the seven gods of the seven planets, in fact, Pantheon is a Greek word meaning "to honor all Gods."
It sits in the Piazza della Rotonda, a lively square filled with cafes, bars, and restaurants, the Pantheon we see today, although remarkably preserved, is quite different from the original rectangular shape that was built between 27 and 25 BC by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa with only the inscription on the architrave which attributes the construction to Agrippa during his third office reading "MAGRIPPALFCOSTERTIVMFECIT" and the portico in front of the Pantheon, left to remind us of who its original creator was.
But instead, the majority of credit for this grandiose monument goes to Emperor Hadrian who rebuilt it between 118 and 125 AD.
It contains the largest masonry dome in the world but was surpassed by size when Brunelleschi finished his ingenious realization of the dome on the Florence Cathedral in 1434.
An interesting architectural aspect of the Pantheon is that the distance from the floor to the top of the dome is exactly equal to its diameter. The only natural light source to the Pantheon is from the oculus in the middle of the dome. The open oculus measures at 7.8 meters in diameter but the cleverly designed slanted floors and drains helps to remove what little rain might enter.
The Pantheon was consecrated as a Christian church in the 7th century, when the Byzantine Emperor Phocas donated it to Pope Boniface IV, which later saved it from plundering during years after during the medieval period.
From the time of the Renaissance period, the Pantheon has been used as a mausoleum and holds the tombs of the great painter and sculptor Raphael and Italian kings Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I and his wife Queen Margherita.
BASILICA OF SAINT PETER'S
The Basilica of Saint Peter's in Rome at the Vatican, is by far the most well known Catholic Church in the world. The altar in the basilica is placed directly above the burial ground of Saint Peter himself, who was crucified and died in Rome in 64 AD ... »»»
It has since been the tradition to bury Popes under the church, at least the first ones following Peter. Most Papal ceremonies are held at Saint Peter's but the official ecclesiastical seat of the Pope is Saint John Lateran, one of the four main basilicas of Rome.
The origins of Saint Peter's date back to the 4th century when Emperor Constantine I decided to build the basilica to honor the saint's name but the Basilica we see today, built over the original Constantine basilica, was constructed over a hundred year span from1506 to 1626.
The dome was designed by Michelangelo in 1546, who led the project up until the time of his death in 1564, having finished painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel some 30 years earlier in 1512.
The dome was vaulted and finished by Giacomo della Porta and Domenico Fontana over 20 year later.
Some years later, in the mid 1600's, Saint Peter's Square began to take shape. The exquisite Baroque style square is lined with an elliptical colonnade, designed by Bernini, which includes two pairs of Doric Pillars and a 13th century Egyptian obelisk.
Two fountains also decorate the square; one done by the artist Carlo Maderno, author of the faade as well, and the other by Bernini who contributed tremendously to the entire masterpiece of both the church and square.
Up until 1990, it was the largest church in the world measuring at 23,000 sq. meters, but was surpassed in size by the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro, on the Ivory Coast in West Africa, which measures 30,000 sq. meters.
Nonetheless, no longer the largest, it is still the most famous and admired Christian church in the world with millions of visitors a year who come to admire the history and beauty of it.
Only a short walk away from Hotel Homs enjoy a day or night visit to the Piazza di Spagna and the famous Spanish steps leading up to the Trinit dei Monti Church ... »»»
Without doubt, a must to see when coming to Rome, for the beautiful square, staircase and church have long been a destination to foreigners both political, religious, and non.
The square and steps get their name from the Spanish Embassy that is found in the immediate area but merit is also due, nonetheless, to the French who have much to do with the history of the area starting with the Church, Trinit dei Monti, found at the top. The beautiful double bell towered church dates back to the turn of the 16th century when King Louis XII of France had the church built next to the monastery founded by his father Charles and dedicated to the Minimi Friars, for the French Catholics who were residing in Rome.
Some years later in 1585,the church was consecrated by Pope Sixtus V around the same time that the Spanish Embassy in its exquisite palace were established in the square. It was the beginning of the foundation of Sixtus's ambitious plan for new urban development.
It wasn't until over a century later that the remarkable stairway leading up to the church began to take life. The design was done by architect Francesco De Sanctis with the objective of linking the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See. The 138 steps, on the 3 flights that compose the staircase, were built between 1723 and 1725 and are aligned with a number of characteristic places like the final residence of English poet John Keats (1795 - 1821), now the Keats-Shelley Memorial House, a small museum displaying memorabilia dedicated to his life and fellow colleagues Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley, Lord Byron and other Romantics. Once at the top you will arrive to the area Pincio and the Viale della Trinit dei Monti, the road leading to the Villa Medici. The extravagant Villa was originally built for Cardinal Ricci of Montepulciano in 1540 and later bought by Ferdinando dei Medici in 1576, remaining property of the Medici family until 1801 when it was acquired by Napoleon. The French academy, a branch of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpturein Paris, founded in 1666 to offer programs to provide talented French artists, writers and musicians an opportunity to study, the most significant being the establishment of the Prix de Rome in 1674, an award given to the most promising painters, sculptors, and (after 1720) architects, for a period of three to five years of study in Rome, was transferred to the Villa and can be visited during Spring and Autumn.
In Spring, the steps begin to take color in a frame of thousands of colourful flowers.
Then and now, these steps represent a gathering place for locals and tourists alike where artists gather to display their talents and hope to earn money for their efforts.
The Piazza below the steps holds its share of things to see as well, like the interesting fountain of the little "ugly" boat known in Italian as the "Baraccia". This early Baroque fountain is accredited to Gian Lorenzo Bernini, father of Pietro Bernini.
The creation of the fountain was due to the wishes of Pope Urban VIII who remained impressed with a boat he saw washed up on the Tiber after a flood and wanted a reproduction of it to decorate the piazza.