Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Rome, A Must Visit In Your Lifetime.

Ever heard of the idiom "Rome was not built in a day"? But of all the cities in this world, why Rome? Here's a little history about Rome.
Rome was believed to have been founded in 753 BC. That would make Rome more than 2700 years old today. Not only is Rome a very old city, it is a city that has basked in the glory of countless achievements. Once upon a time The Roman Empire was among the greatest and most powerful in the world making conquest after conquest that ended in triumphal victories. Great artists, designers, sculptors and architects thrived and arts flourished. Slowly but surely foundations were laid and Rome was painstakingly built inch by inch and foot by foot. The city was born and established over many centuries with refined and ornate architectural skills. 
Much of the Roman ruins, ancient buildings and great works of arts still exist as exhibits in the midst of the bustling and robust city of Rome today. You will need to walk around to fully understand why 'Rome' is chosen in the above idiom and why Rome is a city one must visit at least once in his lifetime.
The Colosseum which was opened in 80AD is Rome's most famous exhibit. This structure is almost 2000 years old but still stands proudly in the heart of the city.
There was scaffolding in a big section of the Colosseum during our visit. Somehow nature has taken its course and many parts are weakening and falling apart. Like many old structures, continuous effort has to be put into strengthening and restoration works.
The Colosseum is a massive amphitheater, 4 storey high, elliptical in shape and built to house 55,000 spectators. 
Many parts have collapsed so it wasn't easy figuring out where the original arena for the performance was, from where the wild animals were released and where the emperor was seated while watching the fierce and cruel combats.
The platform where the gladiators fought has indeed collapsed exposing the cells below it. Walking around did evoke an eery imagination. So many have died fighting in this amphitheater and so much blood has shed. I wonder if it's a haunted place. By the way I did enjoy watching the Hollywood movie "The Gladiator" which I thought was filmed in Rome but which was actually filmed in Morocco.
From the Colosseum we could see The Arch Of Constantine. This 25m high monument was built in 315 AD to commemorate the victory of one of the Roman battles.
Slightly beyond we could also see Palatin Hill and the ruins of Imperial Palace. This is one of the most ancient parts of the city.
The ruins of Imperial Palace on Palatin Hill
Another famous and popular place in Rome is a flight of 135 steps that opens out like a fan. Opened in 1725, these steps are named 'Spanish Steps' after a Spanish ambassador who used to live there. The steps connect two squares, Piazza Spagna (below) and Piazza Trinita Del Monti (above).
I find the steps quite ordinary but Barcaccia Fountain on the square below the steps is unique and quite spectacular. (Yr built: 1627 -1629)
This is no ordinary fountain as its designer, Pietro Bernini is a very famous Italian artist. (the co-designer was Bernini's son)
This photo was taken from the upper steps.
Like many European cities, there are many public squares in Rome. Piazza Del Popolo is a huge square with many interesting buildings and monuments. Very prominent on the edge of the square are two almost identical buildings. Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto, also called The Twin Churches were built in the 1600s.
 Rome's oldest obelisk stands in the middle of the square.
In the vicinity is the church of Santa Maria Del Popolo.
Standing tall and majestic is the northern gate of Piazza del Popolo.
On one side of the square is the beautiful Fountain Of The Goddess Of Rome. All these are amazing historical buildings found around the square.
There are countless churches in the city of Rome. These are very old buildings which were elegantly designed. The external facades and the interior are equally remarkable and admirable.
You can just walk (reverently) into any church and see the adornment on the altars, the walls and the ceilings. They look stunning indeed.
I really looked forward to seeing Trevi Fountain but it was a big letdown as the entire fountain was under extensive renovation. There was scaffolding everwhere, no water in sight and the place looked a mess.
Trevi Fountain measuring 85 feet tall is one of the oldest water sources in Rome. It was created in 1762. 
We could only view the centre portion which was not blocked by the scaffold.
Taking a walk around and admiring beautiful buildings is one thing I love doing. I couldn't figure out what some of these buildings are as all signage are in Italian and all are without  English translation. 

There are a few famous ones which I could figure out though. This majestic white building called Vittoriano was built in honour of Victor Emmanuele , the first king of Italy. It is old but not ancient as it was built just less than a hundred years ago.
Castel Sant'Angelo is a unique cylindrical building built in 135 AD, initially as a mausoleum for the emperor but has now turned into a national museum.
The remains of Marcello Theatre can still be seen in the city. This ancient open-air theatre predates the Colosseum. It was built in 13 BC by Julius Caesar.
Another city square I came across is Piazza Colonna. It features a tall pillar called Column of Marcus Aurelius. The building with a clock is the Italian Council Of Ministers Building.
Palazzo Colonna  is another majestic building built between 1914-1920.
Palazzo Venezia built in 1455 is one of the oldest civil Renaissance building in Rome.
Column of the Immaculate Conception (Colonna dell'Immacolata) is a unique 19th century monument in Piazza Mignanelli.
I can't help but noticed statues everywhere. They grace buildings, churches, columns, and fountains. There must be thousands of them all over the city. Apparently the Romans loved to represent their gods, emperors and people of significance in statues. Many even built statues of their deceased loved ones as a tribute to them.
But Rome is not all ancient and old. Contemporary buildings have sprung up everywhere and are interwoven with the heritage structures of its ancient past.
Rome, the capital city of Italy is congested with heavy traffic. You will be amazed at how cars are parked aong the road. The gaps between them are so narrow it will take an expert to squeeze in or drive out.

I was surprised to see pieces of fresh old coconut being sold as snacks in the city.
A horse cart plying a busy street alongside modern vehicles seems a little misplaced though.

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