Rome, Past and Present

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.

St Peter’s Basilica altar, with St Peter’s Cathdra (throne) behind it
St Peter’s Main Dome
Left Transept with Altar of St Joseph (husband of the Virgin Mary)
Monument to Pius VII
Statue of Gregory XVI
What can be said about such magnificent architecture and adornments?

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.

Piazza Navona
We boarded the tour bus for a short trip across the Tiber River to Piazza Navona. On the surface, this Piazza is interesting …

Piazza Navona – one of three fountains in the piazza and Sant’Agnese church in background
Sant’Agnese Church facing an Egyptian obelisk, positioned on top of the piazza’s central fountain
Tourists everywhere in the piazza
… and those selling roasted chestnuts

… 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.

The Pantheon
Just a 6 minute walk away from the piazza is the Pantheon

The Pantheon in Piazza della Rotonda

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 …

A trumpet and guitar “concerto”
A Dog Act
… and some “horsing” around

Sorry mate, don’t need a “selfie stick”.

The Trevi Fountain

Wow, look at the crowd
… plenty of security and police around
The Trevi Fountain – finally found a space to take a photo
See, we didn’t need a “selfie stick”. Our friend Ron obliged
“Okay people, it’s time to go to the Colosseum.” – Imagine shouting over the top of that crowd.

The Colosseum


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.

Entering the Colosseum via the western gate
Recently constructed viewing platform, primarily accessed from the western gate

This viewing platform partially shows where the original stadium floor (and roof for the subterranean passages and rooms) would have been.

Subterranean spaces viewed from recently constructed platform

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).

Il Tempio di Venere e Roma (Temple of Venus & Rome), viewed from the Colosseum

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?

  • Patrick
    Posted at 16:12h, 21 May Reply

    Not only thr photos are great (as we are used to). I also think that you are getting better at processing the RAW.

    • alistairstravel
      Posted at 16:55h, 21 May Reply

      I think you are right Patrick. I am still learning and hopefully will continue to do so. Although the subjects of the photos are so tantalising on this visit I felt encouraged to spend even more time to bring out a better result.

  • Heidi Pauly
    Posted at 16:35h, 21 May Reply

    Great photos Al, brings back memories……

    • alistairstravel
      Posted at 16:56h, 21 May Reply

      Thanks Heidi. Rome is an amazing place ….

  • Kevin @ Bev G.
    Posted at 12:47h, 22 May Reply

    Hi, Al and Maggie. Congratulations on the selection, presentation and scope of your
    Rome photos. Tourism is bloody hard work, and I reckon touring Rome, would be close to the hardest!
    I spent some time with a magnifying glass combing the crowd scenes, Maggie, looking for that white hat Scored a possible 3!
    Love, K’n’B.

  • alistairstravel
    Posted at 05:39h, 23 May Reply

    Thanks for your comment Kevin,
    Our day in Rome was definitely tiring, yet immensely rewarding.
    And Maggie did make three appearances in this blog, including one wearing her white hat.

  • John (Woodsy) Wood
    Posted at 15:42h, 24 May Reply

    “A funny thing happened on the way to the Colosseum….”

    Christians: Nil
    Lions: ?????

  • Barbara Wood
    Posted at 05:04h, 25 May Reply

    Hi Al, great photos. Was nice to remember our trip to Rome, we loved it.

  • alistairstravel
    Posted at 07:29h, 25 May Reply

    Thanks Barbara,
    With so many wonderful sites I think Rome is an easy place to love.

  • Margy
    Posted at 18:12h, 28 May Reply

    The eternal city – never tired of enjoying your experiences with your super photos

  • alistairstravel
    Posted at 19:30h, 28 May Reply

    Thank you for this comment Margy. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to see and photograph such wonderful places.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: