21 May Rome, Past and Present
Rome is said to be the 14th most visited city in the world. So it’s a daunting task to deliver anything that you have not already seen, heard or read about Rome?
Our visit focused on five amazing “attractions”.
St Peter’s Basilica
It is apparent that most people who go to Rome want to visit the Vatican, so it is not surprising that we were there with a large number of tourists. And as expected in this “terrorist aware world” there was a major security contingent. As a result, we incurred long queues to enter St Peters Basilica, but it was certainly worth it!
While the exterior of the Basilica is impressive, the interior is overwhelming. There is so much detail to comprehend … so much beauty to absorb … so much history to reconcile.
While St Peter’s Basilica is the largest of the four major Basilicas in Rome and one of the largest in the world, it is not the “mother” church of the Catholic faith. According to Wikipedia the Archbasilica of St John Lateran is the “mother” church, the seat of the Pope (the Bishop of Rome) and the site of the Papal Cathedra (throne). Surprisingly it is outside the walls of Vatican City, in Italian territory.
We boarded the tour bus for a short trip across the Tiber River to Piazza Navona. On the surface, this Piazza is interesting …
… but below the surface of Piazza Navona is the Roman Stadium of Domitian, completed in 89 AD for competitive athletics, seating up to 20,000 spectators. Piazza Navona is built over the interior area of the ancient stadium.
Just a 6 minute walk away from the piazza is the Pantheon
The Pantheon, meaning “temple of every god”, was a former Roman temple, but since the 7th century AD has been used as a Catholic church dedicated to “St Mary and the Martyrs”. The present building was completed by the emperor Hadrian around 126 AD, as the original burnt down. It includes the inscription from the earlier construction.
Largely due to continual use, the Pantheon is the best preserved of all ancient Roman buildings. It is circular (rotunda), fronted by a rectangular portico and vestibule. The rotunda is covered by a concrete dome, with an opening (oculus) in the centre. Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon’s dome is still the world’s largest un-reinforced concrete dome. The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 43 meters, according to Wikipedia.
Just outside the Pantheon and on the way to Trevi Fountain …
Sorry mate, don’t need a “selfie stick”.
The Trevi Fountain
Were Christians martyred at the Colosseum? Apparently there is a debate about this, including a belief that the martyrdoms all took place at other venues within Rome, such as Circus Maximus.
This plaque (and others on or within the Colosseum) certainly indicate the Roman Catholic Church’s position on this.
This viewing platform partially shows where the original stadium floor (and roof for the subterranean passages and rooms) would have been.
Whether the Colosseum was the site for Christian martyrdoms or not, it is accepted that the Romans did persecute Christians and that martyrdoms did take place in Rome, the once capital of the Roman Empire. So it is such an irony that Rome became the “capital” of the Catholic Church (the largest denomination of the Christian faith).
Voyages to Antiquity packed great value into our one-day Rome visit, but obviously there’s much more to see, if you stay longer.
The next episode of our Voyage to Antiquity is coming to your screen soon … from Palermo, Sicily. Catch up then?