8 Dec 2015

Rome: the historic centre (2)

Continuing with the walk around Rome's historic centre we made our way from the Quirinal area to the Forums.  The Via dei Fori Imperiali is a long one with Roman ruins on either side of this main street and the Colosseum looms large at the end of it.

 
The above photo was taken a few years ago and it has reminded me that work on the Colosseum to stabilise this most famous buildings of Rome's Imperial past has been going on for many years.  At the moment there's a major construction work taking place in the Metro near the Colosseum and some areas of the main Forum are closed for repairs to some of the monuments.  I noticed metal bands had been clamped around columns in the Forum presumably to strengthen them.   On the right as you walk towards the Colosseum there's a high fence surrounding the building site. However, a visitor can take a tour and the ticket can be purchased and used to enter both sites.





The Colosseum was commissioned by the Emperor Vespasian in AD 72 and it's an amazing building
because of its design and engineering features.  Eighty arched entrances allowed easy access to 55,000 spectators who came to the amphitheatre.  It was built in the form of an ellipse with tiers of seats around the arena that had a wooden floor covered in sand.  The 19th century excavations exposed the network of underground passages and rooms.

                                                                   

Above is a view of the walk leading up into the Imperial Forum with the Arch of Titus and colonnades of a temple built in AD 121 by the Emperor Hadrian (The Temple of Venus and Rome) and behind that is the church of Santa Francesca Romana. In the 15th century Francesca cared for the city's poor and after her canonisation this ancient church, originally called Santa Maria Nova, was renamed.


The Arch of Constantine is next to the Colosseum.
This triumphal arch was built to mark the victory of  Emperor Constantine over his co-emperor Maxentius. Some of the statues and reliefs that decorate this huge construction were taken from Trajan's Forum. These were probably by the artist who worked on Trajan's Column at the other end of Via dei Fori Imperiali.





It would be tempting to take a ride along the road from the Colosseum to Piazza Venezia, but there's plenty to see on foot.



Reliefs on the Temple of Minerva in the Forum of  Nerva.   A frieze of young girls shows some learning to sew and weave. Excavations have been going on for some time and Renaissance shops and taverns have been found.



The Forum of Augustus can be viewed from wooden platforms with seating along this stretch of the road. It's a good place to take a rest and appreciate what has been uncovered during the excavations of the site.



The Trajan Markets


Trajan's Column


There's a complete set of casts of the scenes that are depicted in relief on the column in one of the Museums of Roman Antiquity.


Small windows can be seen as there's a spiral staircase inside the column although this is not usually open to the public.



On the other side of Via Fori Imperiali is the Forum of Julius Caesar.
The church on the left of the photo with the pink walls is San Giuseppe dei Falegnami (St. Joseph of the Carpenters). Underneath the church visitors can go down into a dungeon which was part of the Mamertine Prison also known as the Tullianum. This was an old cistern with access to the city's main sewer.  I visited the church many years ago as the dungeon is the cell where St. Peter was imprisoned according to Christian tradition.  The two chains (vincoli) that were used to shackle him, again according to legend, were taken to Constantinople.  In the 5th century the Empress Eudoxia had one placed in a church in Constantinople and the other was sent to her daughter in Rome.  The daughter gave them to Pope Leo who built the church of San Pietro in Vincoli to house it. Later the other chain was returned to Rome and both chains can be seen together below the high altar of this church. I will continue with our walk from Piazza Venezia to Piazza della Rotonda where we visited the Pantheon another time.

I'm thinking of all those whose homes and business premises have been damaged due to unprecedented heavy rainfall which led to flooding in Cumbria and elsewhere over the weekend. My sister-in-law phoned from Italy as the news must have been featured on the national news and the family were anxious to know if we were well.  Thankfully we are fine, but we feel sorry for those who are not. Communities and the search and rescue services work together at such times, but it's a distressing time nevertheless for those who have been affected and are homeless once again.


30 comments:

  1. Incredible! It is so hard to believe that these structures were constructed so long ago and are yet still standing. What a rich history you've witnessed. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. I would love to visit other cities around the world that have examples of ancient civilisations still standing. The only other place I've been to is Israel (twice in the 1980s travelling independently) and that was memorable, but I've been fortunate to have some knowledge of Rome firsthand and enjoy sharing.

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  2. It must be amazing to wander around a city where many of the buildings have been stood for so many years, it's incredible that they're still there. I'm pleased that work is being undertaken to ensure these buildings go on standing for many years to come. The floods have been terrible again, haven't they? My heart goes out to all those who are affected, many of them just recovering from the last time.

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    1. It's amazing that the buildings and monuments of the Roman era still stand and it's good that the projects to maintain them in good order are taking place on these important archaeological sites.
      It must be heartbreaking for the people who've experienced the recent flooding. I'm sure they hoped that the flood defences put in place after the last time would be effective, but the surge of water was so sudden and powerful.

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  3. How wonderful to walk close to these buildings and feel their ancient history as you go. I enjoyed all your photos and seeing the buildings and their features close up:)

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    1. Thank you Rosie. I'm glad you found this post with the photos interesting.

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  4. there are 2 things that are amazing to me, that they could build it so many years ago and that is is still standing, even needing repairs, it is unbelievable. the art work on the walls is wonderful. we saw on TV all the flooding all over Western Europe and a few bloggers have mentioned the storms. i am glad to hear you are safe, and i feel for all those that were flooded.

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    1. The Romans were certainly good engineers, builders and artists.
      It has been devastating for those who live in areas that are vulnerable to flooding during periods of heavy rainfall.

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  5. The Colosseum really is impressive. Seeing the people inside it gives a clue to the scale.

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    1. A tour inside the Colosseum is well worth it to appreciate the scale of the building and aspects of its design and engineering.

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  6. It really is incredible that such beautiful and ancient buildings are still there today for us to see and enjoy. I hope that you stay safe in this weather. xx

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    1. I'm very grateful that ancient buildings still stand, are being protected as heritage sites and we can learn more about our past from ongoing archaeological work.
      Thank you Amy. Our last experience of flooding in low-lying areas around Sheffield was in 2009 and although we were without electricity and cut off we were all right because we live on a hill. Stay safe and well yourself.

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  7. The historic cenre of Rome, I can spend there days, weeks, may be even months. So interesting and impressive.

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    1. I feel the same, Janneke. I know the centre of Rome fairly well and there are places I like to revisit when I can, but there's always more to see and appreciate.

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  8. Okay, I want to go back to Rome. When I visited 19 years ago, I truly enjoyed it. More than I ever thought I would. Hard for me to imagine it was that long ago. Thanks for this vicarious return trip.

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    1. Hello Julie. It's good to hear from you. I hope you can go back to Rome some day. There's always more to see!

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  9. Thank you for letting me back into Rome...I often think of the very hot day I spent under a parasol on the day we toured the ancient parts of the city...indelible, the images that I carry in memory.

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    1. A parasol is certainly a good idea when walking around on a hot, sunny day as is sitting under a sun umbrella or in the shade of the pine trees with a cool drink in one's hand!

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  10. There is so much to see and do in Rome - a place that you can return to again and again. You have given a great overhall impression here, and made me realise that I must return sometime soon. I recall it being a tiring city walking up and down those seven hills, but at the time we were anxious to see as much as possible.
    My heart goes out to the people of Cumbria - on the news today I saw a shop that had been cleaned up with the help of the community only to be flooded again within hours. We live on top of a high hill, and I would rather risk a few tiles being blown off our roof than water coming in under the door.

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    1. Walking in Rome is tiring, but I prefer walking as much as possible with stops for refreshments along the way. Fortunately I know shortcuts to get to the main sites which is what those who stay with us usually want to see. This last time our grandson planned the route on his tablet according to what he wanted to see and when he got tired we took the bus back to the train station.
      More days of flooding must be so disheartening. Little settlements and towns that have been there for centuries are now so vulnerable when there's continuous heavy rainfall.

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  11. I did enjoy this post. I can't wait to visit Rome, this has whetted my appetite. Such culture and history, the architecture is astonishing as are the reliefs and friezes. Oh....how I feel for those who have suffered flooding yet again, what an awful time too!xxx

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    1. You mentioned before that you were wanting to go to Rome so I hope that you get there soon. I know you often go to Cumbria for a holiday break. We do feel for the people that are having such a miserable time in these flooded areas.

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  12. I am loving the tour of your city Rome. Such a lovely and amazing place. I do wonder if the original architects of those ancient buildings had any thoughts that their creations would still be standing hundreds, even thousands of years later. Personally, I don't think there is anything we build today with all our technology that would stand up to the same test of time. I hope that by now the floodwaters have receded and and all those who have been flooded out have been able to return safely to their homes.

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  13. Thought-provoking. Over time Rome's antiquities were pillaged. Material was taken to be used elsewhere. Mussolini built the wide Via dei Fori Imperiali straight through the Roman Forums and, therefore, destroyed much of this ancient site. We can marvel at what's left and remember that the Romans were influenced by Greek and Etruscan architecture and then used innovative engineering and new materials such as concrete in their construction work all over the Roman Empire.
    It will take a while for the flooded area and the people there to recover as road, bridges etc have been damaged and communities have been cut off. It's the mud and sewage that is another unpleasant aspect. We hope everyone will stay safe and well.

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    1. That's a tragedy. What a short-sighted and arrogant man he must have been. I guess we must be thankful there is anything left to see at all.

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    2. Archaeologists would like to excavate what is beneath the road as the Roman level would be under the medieval one . Archaeological work is going on all the time in the area - fascinating for anyone interested in the practical aspects of these projects.

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  14. I did not hear about the floods in Cumbria.
    I love how detailed these posts are with the history behind them.
    Gosh, I need to return to Rome. It was so hot, but there is no way of avoiding it, because that's when we are able to go due to my daughter's studies. I think with the humidity it was almost as bad as our summers here, which I love to avoid. xoxo Su

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    1. Thank you Su. It's a shame that the Summer heat makes a visit to Rome quite tiring, but it's very special that your musical daughter can study in Italy.

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  15. Great places in Rome. I was there walking around. Regards.

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    1. Thank you Giga for popping by and leaving a comment. Happy Christmas and best wishes for the new year.

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