Our first sight of St Peter's,
Alighting our bus we made our way through the winding streets of the eternal city snapping the architechture as we went.
Our first stop on the tour was The Pantheon
In the middle of the floor of the rotunda is a hole which drains away water coming through the oculus.
Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon's dome is still the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome.The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 43.3 metres (142 ft).
It is one of the best-preserved of all Ancient Roman buildings. It has been in continuous use throughout its history, and since the 7th century, the Pantheon has been used as a church dedicated to "St. Mary and the Martyrs" but informally known as "Santa Maria Rotonda". Two kings of Italy are buried in the Pantheon: Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I, as well as Umberto's Queen, Margherita, also the artist Raphael was buried there at his own request.
Piazza della Rotonda which gets its name from the Pantheon's informal title as the church of Santa Maria Rotonda with it's centrepiece fountain and obelisk.
The ancient Romans went there to watch the agones ("games"), and hence it was known as "Circus Agonalis" ("competition arena"). It is believed that over time the name changed to in avone to navone and eventually to navona. Oval in shape with impressive buidings surrounding a central space.
We continued our tour taking in the Palace of Justice
The Arch of Constantine, a triumphal arch, erected c. 315 CE to commemorate the triumph of Constantine I after his victory over Maxentius in the battle at the Milvian Bridge in 312 CE. The arch is located in the valley of the Colosseum, between the Palatine Hill and the Colosseum, along the road taken by the triumphal processions.
it was restored with alterations by the emperor Maxentius.
All very impressive but the Colosseum is the most impressive of all! The Colosseum could hold, it is estimated, between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators,and was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology. The building ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era. It was later reused for such purposes as housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry, and a Christian shrine.
Basilica is the burial site of its namesake St. Peter, one of the Apostles of Jesus Christ and, also according to tradition, the first Pope and Bishop of Rome. Tradition and strong historical evidence hold that St. Peter's tomb is directly below the high altar of the Basilica. For this reason, many Popes have been interred at St. Peter's since the Early Christian period.
We saw the Papal apartments
where the Pope usually resides. Apparently the present Pope Francis does not reside in the apartments he just uses the offices. Disappointed not to be able to go in the Basilica we made our way to the Vatican City, hoping to see the Sistine Chapel,
The Sistine Chapel (Latin: Sacellum Sixtinum; Italian: Cappella Sistina) is a chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope, in Vatican City. Originally known as the Cappella Magna, the chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV, who restored it between 1477 and 1480. Since that time, the chapel has served as a place of both religious and functionary papal activity. Today it is the site of the Papal conclave, the process by which a new pope is selected. The fame of the Sistine Chapel lies mainly in the frescos that decorate the interior, and most particularly the Sistine Chapel ceiling and The Last Judgment by Michelangelo.
Our last port of call was The Mausoleum of Hadrian, which was close to where we had to meet our coach for the journey home. Usually known as Castel Sant'Angelo (English: Castle of the Holy Angel), is a towering cylindrical building in Parco Adriano. It was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. The building was later used by the popes as a fortress and castle, and is now a museum. The Castel was once the tallest building in Rome.
We didn't have time to go inside but sat for a while people watching and talking about our visit to Rome and what we hadn't been able to see.
I hope you enjoyed our visit to Rome and will join me next time for Part 3 and wine tasting in Chianti, and visiting other places.