Rome and the Glory of the Roman Empire

Rome and the Glory of the Roman Empire

This is Rome and this is the centre of the Roman Empire. Walking around Rome is like walking in history, depending on when you want it to be: 2000 years ago or at the Renaissance time; every corner and every breath, you will be surrounded by marvellous history.

Let me first take you to the Roman Forum or Forum Romanum as they say in Roman times. This forum alone serves complex temples and columns dedicated to various Emperors. I found it hard even to identify some of the pictures I have taken. Does this temple belong to Emperor Trajan? Or Emperor Vespasian? Or does it belong to Julius Caesar, the dictator general who demolished the Roman Republic and thus creating the beginning of the mightiest Roman Empire?

Identifying the Column below, for example, I have to ask my husband which Emperor this tall Column belongs to? and how about the column ruins in front of it? This is the Trajan’s Column, he said. And so we assume the ruins in front of it belongs to Trajan’s forum.

Trajan Column and Trajan forum
Trajan Column and Trajan forum

How about this Temple with three pillars below? Which Emperor does this Temple belong to? After doing some research, my husband found that it is the Temple of Venus Genetrix which belongs to Julius Caesar and is dedicated to the Goddess of Venus.

Temple of Venus Genetrix in Julius Ceasar forum
Temple of Venus Genetrix in Julius Ceasar forum

Therefore the columns (brightly shining in rainbow colour) closer to this Temple of Venus, we believe, belong to Caesar’s forum.

Temple of Venus Genetrix and Julius Caesar forum
The Columns in Julius Caesar forum
Columns in Julius Caesar forum
Columns in Julius Caesar forum ~ brightly shine at night
Rome Forum at night
Forum Romanum at night

In the Forum Romanum, there are also Roman arches. The arch below, I believe, is the Arch of Titus.

Arch of Titus
Arch of Titus

And closer to the Colosseum, there is another arch, which belongs to Emperor Constantine.

The Arch of Constantine in Rome
The Arch of Constantine in Rome

It did say on top of the Arch: ‘IMP CAES FL CONSTANTINO MAXIMO’.

Closer look at the Arch of Constantine in Rome
Closer look at the Arch of Constantine in Rome

And then finally the great Colosseum stands firm there not far from the Arch of Constantine.

colosseum in rome italy
The mighty Colosseum

It is amazing to think that there are 230 amphitheatres that have been found across the Roman Empire. When I was a kid and being told of Colosseum as a wonder of the world, I thought it is the one and only amphitheatre of its kind. I am very surprised to find that there are a couple of hundred more amphitheatres in this world. What a mighty powerful Empire, the Roman is!

Rome Colosseum
The Colosseum from the other angle, you can see there are four floors.

Colosseum has three floors of arcades and is being topped by the fourth floor which exists without the arches.

Inside the Colosseum
Inside the Colosseum

Unlike some amphitheatres, the base ground of Colosseum is not flat. I am not sure why, is it just because the flat floor has long gone so what we see now is just the place for them to keep the animals?

Ground Floor of Colosseum in Rome
Ground Floor of Colosseum in Rome
The Colosseum arches
The Colosseum arches

It is quite mesmerising to stand watching the Colosseum at night.

Colosseum at night
Colosseum at night

Don’t forget also to visit the Imperial Palace at the Palatine Hill. Again various Emperors has lived there, for as long as the first Emperor Augustus.

Imperial Palace at Palatine Hill
Imperial Palace at Palatine Hill
Imperial Palaces at the Palatine Hill
Imperial Palaces ruins at the Palatine Hill

One should not miss Pantheon as a great Roman Temple. It is dedicated to all the gods. The word ‘Pantheon’ comes from Greek which means all gods.

Pantheon at Night
Pantheon at Night

The research says that the Pantheon dome is the largest unsupported dome on earth. It is amazing to think at the dome architecture. Would the hole on the top of the dome represents the sun? or would it be translated as: your prayers to gods may be heard as they go to the high sky?

Pantheon dome
Pantheon dome

Now Pantheon is served as a Church. It is the Basilica of St. Mary and the Martyrs. There is a large painting of the Assumption of Our Lady inside the Pantheon.

The Assumption of Our Lady at the Pantheon
The Assumption of Our Lady at the Pantheon
Basilica Santa Maria ad Martyres
Basilica Santa Maria ad Martyres
Inside Pantheon
Inside Pantheon: the main altar

There is also the tomb of King Umberto I of Italy, inside the Pantheon.

Tomb of Umberto I of Italy
Tomb of Umberto I of Italy

Try to see the Pantheon at night. Sometimes you can feel the eery feeling imagining yourself into it in the Roman times.

Horses carriage outside Pantheon
Horses carriage outside Pantheon

On Piazza della Rotonda, the main square of Pantheon, there is a beautiful Pantheon fountain.

Clemens XI Pont Max
Fountain with the obelisk from Clemens XI Pont Max

One should also not miss Castel Sant’ Angelo. It is the burial place of several Roman Emperors. Please correct me if I am wrong: Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Verus, Geta, Septimius Severus, and Caracalla were buried in Castel Sant’ Angelo.

Castle St Angelo with Angel holding cross
Castle St Angelo with statue of Angel holding cross
Castle St Angelo entrance
Castle St Angelo entrance
Castle St Angelo entrance stairs
Castle St Angelo entrance stairs
View from Castle Saint Angelo
View from Castle Saint Angelo

Castle Sant’Angelo is later used as a fortress. You can still see the fortification or the defensive walls of the Castle.

Castle St Angelo in Rome
Castle St. Angelo in Rome
Castel Sant'Angelo fortification walls
Castel Sant’Angelo fortification walls

You can still see the evidence that the Castle is indeed built in Roman times.

The Mausoleum of Hadrian evidence of Roman building
The Mausoleum of Hadrian: evidence of Roman building
The outer building of the Castle
The outer building of the Castle

The Castle is also the residence of some Popes. You can see Pope Paulus III apartment.

Pope Paulus III apartment
Pope Paulus III apartment

I think the ceiling with the words ‘QVAE OLIM INTRA HANC ARCEM COLLAPSA’ belongs to Pope Paul III apartment (please correct me if I am wrong). Not sure what the meaning of ‘QVAE OLIM INTRA HANC ARCEM COLLAPSA’, I think it maybe a dedication to Pope Paul III.

Magnificent ceilings
Magnificent ceilings
FIRMITATEM COMMODAM VTILITATEM
Another ceiling reads ‘FIRMITATEM COMMODAM VTILITATEM’
Italian antique chair
Inside the Papal apartment: an Italian antique chair

Is that an antique piano? Very pretty piano with painting inside.

Italian antiques
Inside the Papal apartment: superb Italian antiques

Another lovely Italian painting inside the Papal apartment.

Superb Italian antiques
Superb Italian antiques
Into the Apartment of Pope III
Into the Apartment of Pope Paulus III
View from Castle St Angelo
View from Castle St Angelo
Castle St Angelo pillars
Castle St Angelo pillars
Castle St Angelo looking at the Vatican
Castle St Angelo looking at the Vatican

On top of Castle St Angelo there is a large bronze statue of St Michael the Archangel.

St Michael the Archangel statue
St Michael the Archangel statue

There is also a famous bridge called the Bridge of Angels or Ponte Sant’Angello which is arguably the prettiest bridge in Rome. There are ten beautiful Angels on this bridge, which were created on the 17th century by various Italian sculptors.

The Bridge of Angels
The Bridge of Angels
The Bridge of Angels
The Bridge of Angels
View of River Tiber in Rome
View of River Tiber in Rome from the top of Castel Sant’Angelo
Ponte Sant'Angelo from the Castel
Ponte Sant’Angelo from the Castel

There are many beautiful piazzas in Rome. One of the famous ones is Piazza Navona. It is created on the arena of Domitian Stadium from around AD 86.

Bernini's Fountain at Piazza Navona
Bernini’s Fountain at Piazza Navona

There lays a famous Bernini’s fountain with Neptune God of River statues.

Neptune or God of River in Piazza Navona
Neptune or God of River in Piazza Navona

The Roman obelisk is present in Piazza Navona. Interestingly the obelisk was made in Domitian time around 81-96 AD. Though it was made in Egypt, it is not an ancient Egyptian obelisk. It was made by the order of Emperor Domitian. The Emperor tries to incorporates Egyptian arts into the Roman arts, according to an article from Wellesley College here.

Obelisk of the Fontana dei Fiumi
Obelisk of the Fontana dei Fiumi

On the other side of Piazza Navona, there is a statue of Poseidon, God of sea.

Statue of Poseidon at Piazza Navona
Statue of Poseidon at Piazza Navona

Not far from Piazza Navona, if you are looking at the back street, you can see the ruins of the old Domitian stadium.

Roman ruins near Piazza Navona
Roman ruins near Piazza Navona

Don’t forget to visit Piazza Colonna too, where you can see the Column of Marcus Aurelius.

Piazza Colonna where the Column of Marcus Aurelius stands
Piazza Colonna where the Column of Marcus Aurelius stands

Column of Marcus Aurelius is beautifully carved with stories of the wars during Marcus Aurelius’ reign.

Column of Marcus Aurelius
Column of Marcus Aurelius
Piazza Colonna
Piazza Colonna
Countless of Piazza
Countless of Piazzas in Rome ~ not sure which Piazza is this

Vatican City

Now you are entering the perimeter of the autonomous State of Vatican City. Whether you want to see the Pope during the Papal audience or you just want to step back in Renaissance time to see the glory of Italian masterpieces, it is recommended to visit this enchanting headquarter of the Roman Catholic church.

St Peter's Square in Vatican
St Peter’s Square in the Vatican

St. Peter’s Basilica is arguably the must-see place in the Vatican City. It is breathtaking to experience the remarkable example of Italian renaissance architecture.

Up and close of st peter basilica
Up and close of St. Peter’s Basilica
in honorem principis apost paulus
It reads ‘IN HONOREM PRINCIPIS APOST PAULUS’

It is mesmerising to be inside St. Peter’s basilica. The dome reads ‘TV ES PETRVS ET SVPER HANC PETRAM AEDIFICABO ECCLESIAM MEAM. TIBI DABO CLAVES REGNI CAELORVM’ meaning ‘You are Peter and on this rock, I will build my Church’.

Inside the St Peter's Basilica
Inside St Peter’s Basilica

On the right hand corner near the entrance of the Basilica, you will find the famous sculpture of Michelangelo: Pietà.

Pietà by Michelangelo
Pietà by Michelangelo

Pietà depicts Mary the Mother holding Jesus after His Crucifixion. It was made by the renaissance artist Michelangelo on 1498-1500. It is one of the best examples of Renaissance art that still exist today.

Pieta in St Peter's Basilica
Pietà in St Peter’s Basilica
Ceiling of Basilica St Peter
Ceiling of Basilica St. Peter

Inside the Basilica, there is St. Sebastian chapel which is dedicated to St Sebastian. The painting reads ‘SEBASTIANVS CHRISTIANVS’. He is a martyr during the reign of Emperor Diocletian when there was a prosecution of Christians. Beneath the St. Sebastian altar, lays the remain of St. Pope John Paul II.

St Sebastian Chapel at St Peter's Basilica
St. Sebastian Chapel at St. Peter’s Basilica

Inside the Basilica, there is also a statue of St. Peter with a writing of Pope Pius IX above it.

Pio IX Pont Max
Pio IX Pont Max inscription above the statue of St. Peter
Swiss Guards of Vatican
Swiss Guards of the Vatican
The colonnade by Bernini
The colonnade by Bernini
Behind the columns of st peter's basilica
Some columns at the St. Peter’s square
Long queue to st peter basilica
Long queue to get inside St. Peter’s Basilica
St Peters square in Vatican
The view of St. Peter’s square from St. Peter’s Basilica
museo tesoro vatican
Museo Tesoro di Basilica di S.Pietro
View from Castel Sant'Angelo towards Vatican
View from Castel Sant’Angelo towards Vatican

Italian Hospitality

After a long day enjoying Rome, remember to enjoy Rome like the Romans do! There are plenty restaurants and cafes serving delicious Italian food.

Yummy Pasta and S Bernardo
Yummy pasta with a glass of wine
Bruschetta in Rome
Bruschetta alla Roma
mascarpone soup and pizza margherita
Mascarpone soup and pizza margherita

Interestingly there is also a local cafe selling (Chinese?) fried rice.

Lovely cafe sell fried rice in Rome
Lovely cafe sells fried rice in Rome
Chips and chicken
Chips and chicken: ehm.. is this Italian?

We stay at Hotel Fontana just across Trevi Fountain.

Hotel Fontana
Hotel Fontana main entrance
Hotel Fontana in Trevi Fountain square
Hotel Fontana at the Trevi Fountain square

Unfortunately when we were there, the Trevi Fountain was undergoing a refurbishment. Therefore we did not see the glory of this marvellous 18th century baroque fountain.

Trevi Fountain under constuction
Trevi Fountain undergoing a construction

The breakfast at Hotel Fontana is so delicious. You can also see the Trevi Fountain from their breakfast room at the top floor.

Breakfast at Hotel Fontana
Breakfast at Hotel Fontana
Don't miss the breakfast at Hotel Fontana
Don’t miss the breakfast at Hotel Fontana

Not far from the Trevi Fountain, there is a lovely pizzeria ristorante with classic Italian atmosphere. Look at the tablecloth! So Italian! When we were there, it was during the festivity season, so the restaurant was beautifully decorated.

Pizzeria Ristorante near Trevi Fountain
Pizzeria Ristorante near Trevi Fountain
Typical Italian buildings
Italian restaurants all the way
Hotel Pantheon
Hotel Pantheon near the Pantheon
Rome Open Tour Bus
Rome Open Tour Bus, anyone?

As with any Italian city, there are typical Italian narrow alleys all over Rome.

Typical Italian street with narrow alley
Typical Italian street with narrow alley
Street near Trevi Fountain
Street I think near the Trevi Fountain

Rome as the Italian capital is also a metropolitan city. Expect traffic and busy street in Rome.

Street near Piazza Navona
Street near Piazza Navona
Busy street in Rome
Busy street in Rome

Please also consider that Italy once one consists of various states of the Italian peninsula: Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia, Kingdom of Sardinia, Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, Duchy of Tuscany, etc. It is thus very interesting to see Italy transformed into a unified Italy with Victor Emmanuel II became the King of the unified Italy in 1861.

It is also interesting to see, from an antiques lover point of view, various types of antique with various coat of arms during the pre-unified Italy. Anyway, ciao now for my writing about Rome, and don’t forget to see more of my writing of other Italian cities on my website mariabristoll.com .

Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II
Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II

 

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