Rome was not built in a day…..so goes the proverb and I am sure you will agree with me by the time you go through this blog! An ancient city with ruins dating back hundreds of years and testimony to the hard work and architectural expertise of the Romans.
A heady mix of ancient ruins, beautiful art and vibrant street life, Rome is one of Europe’s most charismatic cities. Ancient icons like the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Pantheon are a testimony to the city’s golden age while the monumental basilicas are a stamp of it being the seat of the Catholic Church. Ornate squares and fountains add a baroque flavour to the city’s streets. Rome is generally considered the “cradle of Western civilisation and Christian culture.” The Vatican which is an independent country lies within the city boundaries and is the only country that lies within a city.
Rome’s history spans 28 centuries and is one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in Europe. Roman mythology dates the founding of Rome at around 753 BC but it has been inhabited from much earlier. Beginning with the Renaissance, the city saw a very vibrant architectural and urban programme making Rome the artistic and cultural capital of the world. This further led to it becoming the birthplace of Baroque and Neoclassical styles of architecture.
Its historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Several United Nations special programmes have their offices located here. In addition to the ancient, one finds the latest and most modern day attributes here too. The presence of several fashion brands has made it an important centre of fashion and design.
One of Rome’s most famous land marks is the Colosseum. It is an oval amphitheatre built with limestone , volcanic rock and concrete in ,central Rome and is still the largest amphitheatre in the world despite its age. It has 4 floors; the first 3 having 80 arches each and decorated with huge statues. It was built in less than 10 years….an amazing feat for such a large structure in those times.
It was the Roman Empire’s entertainment arena for over 500 years. It had room for more than 50000 spectators to watch gladiator fights, public executions, exotic animals and other spectacles. In the medieval era, it was stopped to be used for entertainment and was used or housing, workshops, religious orders and shrines.
What we see today is just a skeleton of the original structure. It has been substantially ruined by earthquakes and stone robbers. During the medieval period iron and lead was extracted to build other structures and the holes we see today are the holes used for this.
Approaching the Colosseum
At The Colosseum
The pattern of repetitive arches
Note the holes on the walls
Renovation work in progress…. unrenovated part seen on the right
An enactment of a scene in Roman history by locals….for tourists to pose for a price!
Inside the Colosseum
On entering, we see the arena ahead of us. The main stage has disappeared and what is seen are cellars used for storing equipment for the shows.
Inside of the colosseum….whatever remains now!
Arch of Constantine
This triumphal arch next to the Colosseum dedicated to Emperor Constantine, was used by victorious leaders to enter the city in triumphal procession.
Arch of Constantine
Originally a small temple dedicated to Roman Gods, the name means “everything divine”. What is unique about this structure is that it was the first temple built for the common man. All other temples were meant for priests and forbidden to the common man. Its architecture and external beauty are a unique combination of Roman and Greek architecture. The dome of the Pantheon is unique.
The concept of a temple being a place of worship and communication with God started from here.
The Roman Forum
Is a rectangular plaza surrounded by ruins of several important ancient government buildings which was originally a marketplace. For many years ,the forum was the centre of all activities in Rome like processions, public speeches, criminal trials etc. Today , it is a ruin of architectural fragments
The ruins of the Roman Forum
Monument to the First King
Also called the monument of Victor Emmanuel II , this is a national monument made in white marble in contrast to the ruins of earth coloured buildings seen all over Rome. The focal point of the monument is the statue of a horseman representing Victor Emmanuel II. Just below this is the statue of Goddess Roma and below that is the tomb of the unknown soldier dedicated to all the unknown soldiers of Italy.
An external flight of 243 steps is an additional feature of this monument which also houses the Italian museum of unification.
Monument of the First King and the tomb of the unknown soldier
The External Steps
As one drives through the city, ruins of Aqueducts are seen everywhere. The Romans constructed aqueducts throughout their territory to bring water to cities and towns. This water supplied public baths, fountains, households and farms. These aqueducts were designed to move water according to gravity gradient within passages of stone, brick , concrete or lead. The ruins of their complex aqueduct systems can be seen all over Rome today and stands testimony to their planning and architectural skills.
Ruins of Roman Aqueducts
An 18th century fountain, it is the largest baroque fountain and one of the most famous fountains . Famous for its intricate artwork decorated in the Baroque style.
The myth about the Trevi Fountain originating in 1954 with the movie “Three Coins in the Fountain,” goes like this: If you throw one coin: you will return to Rome. If you throw two coins: you will fall in love with an attractive Italian. If you throw three coins: you will marry the person that you met.
Wonder how many have tested this out?
The Trevi Fountain
The Circus Maximus is one of the largest sports arenas ever built. It was a popular chariot racing stadium. It is now in ruins and all that can be seen is an open area with some ruins. Many movies have been shot here with the background of the ruins, the most popular among them being Benhur.
The ruins of Circus Maximus
Well, I can almost see you agree to what we said when we started out …..it had taken a lot of time, effort and expertise to make a city like Rome. That most of the work of the ancient Romans is now in ruins is also testimony to the fact that nothing is permanent here and everything and everyone has to see a day of downfall. However, we have to accept the architectural skill of the ancient Romans.
As if this was not enough, we have a visit to The Vatican next week. This country within in a city is another amazing creation. See you next week at The Vatican. Till then, keep your comments and feedback coming and of course do subscribe…