Three Thousand Years in Nine Days – Day Three

Another warm and sunny day in Rome. Perfect weather for roaming among the ruins.

The Colosseum or Flavian Amphitheatre

I remember the first time seeing the interior of the Colosseum and being disappointed, I think because I had already seen the amphitheatre in Nimes which is in better condition. Nothing much has changed, of course, but they did have a great little exhibit on literacy in the Roman world, called La Biblioteca Infinita inside.

Interior of Colosseum

Interior of Colosseum

Altar of Scribes Detail from Exhibit

Altar of Scribes (1st c.) from Exhibit

Detail from a Sarcophagus from Exhibit

Philosopher and Muse from a 3rd/4th c. Sarcophagus from Exhibit

Circus Maximus

Site of chariot races, gladiator games, wild animal hunts and other spectacles, the Circus Maximus is Rome’s oldest public space dating from C6 BC. It could hold 250,000 spectators by C1 AD. In 10 BC Augustus took an obelisk dating from 1280 BC from Egypt and placed it in the circus. This was later moved (in AD 1587) and placed in the Piazza del Popolo where it is today.

Circus Maximus

Circus Maximus

Aswan Obelisk (1280 BC) from Circus Maximus now in Piazza del Popolo

Aswan Obelisk (1280 BC) from Circus Maximus now in Piazza del Popolo

Round Temple

This temple dates from the late C2/early C1 BC. Sometimes called a temple of Vesta, it is not known to which god or goddess this temple was dedicated. It may have been to Hercules. It survived because it was converted to a church known as St. Stephens in AD 1132.

Round Temple

Round Temple

Temple of Portunus

This temple replaced an earlier one on the site and dates from 80-70 BC. It survived almost intact because it was converted to the church of St. Mary in AD 872. This temple was located near the ancient Tiber port and is thought to have been dedicated to the harbour god Portunus.

Temple of Portunus

Temple of Portunus

Theatre of Marcellus

Julius Caesar planned this theatre to rival the one built by Pompey but was killed before it was completed. Augustus built it and named it for his nephew Marcellus who died in 23 BC. It once held 20,500 people and inspired theatre building around the empire. Now it contains a modern apartment building.

Theatre of Marcellus

Theatre of Marcellus

The Pantheon

This was the most impressive building to me the first time I came to Rome. It is almost 1900 years old (dates from AD 125) and still has its luxurious marble interior intact. Its dome held the world record for a concrete span until 1958, according to the Oxford Archaeological Guide to Rome. It is the third Pantheon (temple to all the gods) on this site and was built by Emperor Hadrian but was rededicated in the name of the first Pantheon builder, Marcus Agrippa. It was converted to the church of St. Mary of the Martyrs in AD 608.

Pantheon

Pantheon

Pantheon Dome and Oculus

Pantheon Dome and Oculus

Yellow Numidian Marble Columns and Pilasters

Yellow Numidian Marble Columns and Pilasters

Behind the Pantheon in the Piazza della Minerva in front of the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva is an Aswan Egyptian Obelisk from the 6C BC, held up by a little elephant carved by Bernini in AD 1667. The obelisk was found at this site where a Temple of Isis once stood.

Bernini's Elephant beneath Egyptian Obelisk

Bernini’s Elephant beneath Egyptian Obelisk

Piazza Navona

This famous piazza was once the Stadium of Domitian built in AD 86 and held athletic and gladiatorial games. It still has the same shape as the stadium, curved at the north end and straight at the south. Seating for 30,000 would have been in the same place the surrounding buildings are in.

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona – Egyptian Obelisk not from the Stadium

Bernini's Four Rivers Fountain

Piazza Navona – Bernini’s Four Rivers Fountain – Ganges, Asia

Piazza Navona - Bernini's Four Rivers Fountain

Piazza Navona – Bernini’s Four Rivers Fountain (Rio de la Plata, South America)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s