Rome has a history that spans for more than two and a half thousand years. Roman mythology dates the founding of Rome around 753 BC. But the site has been inhabited for much longer, making it one of the oldest continuously occupied sites in Europe. The city successively became the capital of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire and is regarded as one of the birthplaces of western civilization. It is referred to as “Roma Aeterna” (The Eternal City) and “Caput Mundi” (Capital of the World).
Rome today is one of the most important tourist destinations of the world, due to the incalculable immensity of its archaeological and artistic treasures as well as for the charm of its unique traditions, the beauty of its panoramic views and the majesty of its magnificent parks. The most significant resources are the museums, aqueducts, fountains, churches, palaces, historic buildings, the monuments and ruins of the Roman Forum.
The Arch of Constantine is a triumphal arch in Rome situated between Colosseum and Palatine Hill. It was erected by the Roman Senate to commemorate the victory of Constantine I’s victory over Maxentius. Dedicated in 315 AD, it is the largest Roman Triumphal arch which spans the Via Triumphalis, the way taken by the emperors when they entered the city in triumph. The last of the existing triumphal arches in Rome, it is 21 m high, 26 m wide and 7 m deep. It has three archways.
The Colosseum also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre is an oval Amphitheatre in the center of the city of Rome. Built of concrete and sand it is the largest Amphitheatre ever built. It is situated just east of the Roman Forum. Construction began under the emperor Vespasian in 72 AD and was completed in 80 AD under his successor and heir Titus. The colosseum could hold an estimated 50,000 to 80,000 spectators. It was used for gladiatorial contest and public spectacles such as animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles and dramas. Despite in ruins due to earthquakes and stone robbers the colosseum is still an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome.
The Trevi Fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in the city of Rome and perhaps one of the most famous fountains in the world. Its height is 86 feet and width is 161 feet. The fountain has appeared in many notable movies. Already in the fifteenth century a small Trevi Fountain was built here during the papacy of Nicholas V. In 1732, Pope Clement XII commissioned Nicola Salvi to create a large fountain at the Trevi Square to replace the existing fountain. The fountain, which is designed like a monumental triumphal arch, was built against a wall of the Palazzo Poli. The central figure on the fountain, standing in a large niche, is Neptune, god of the sea. He rides shell shaped chariot that is pulled by two sea horses. Each sea horse is guided by a Triton. One of the horses is calm and obedient, the other one restive. They symbolize the fluctuating moods of the sea. On the left hand side of Neptune is a statue representing abundance and the statue on the right represents health. Above the two allegorical statues are the bas reliefs, one on the left shows Agrippa, the general who built the aqueduct that carries water to the fountain. The bas relief on the right captures the moment the virgin points to the source of the spring. The allegorical statues on the top, in front of the attic, symbolize the four seasons. Crowning the top is the coat of arms of pope Clement XII.
It is believed that you will return to Rome if you throw a coin into the fountain’s water basin. You should toss it with your right hand over your left shoulder with your back to the fountain. You are not supposed to look behind you while you are tossing the coin but the fountain is so large it is basically impossible to miss. An estimated 3000 euro coins were recovered from the fountain every day which is used by the Municipality of Rome to finance a special supermarket that serves the poor in Rome with the help of the Italian Red Cross.
Saints Vincent and Anastasius at Trevi is Baroque church located near the Trevi fountain, built from 1646 to 1650. It is notable as the place where the embalmed hearts of 25 popes from Sixtus V to Leo XIII are preserved. The church was reconstructed on the order of Cardinal Mazarin, whose triumphantly presented coat of arms and cardinal’s hat supported by angels, is focus of the façade composition. It is rumored that Mazarin’s niece, Marie Mancini, a mistress of Louis XIV of France, is also portrayed on the façade, in the central female mascaron.
The Piazza del Quirinale and the Palazzo del Quirinale sit atop Quirinal Hill, the highest of the seven hills of Rome. The major structure in the piazza is the huge obelisk with fountain that sits in the middle. This is known as the Dioscuri Fountain and features the 18 feet tall sculptures of Castor and Pollux as horse tamers. These statues – Roman replicas of Greek originals from the 5th Century BC, once stood at the entrance of the baths of Constantine. The 14 m tall central obelisk once held a place of honor at the entrance to the mausoleum of Augustus. The Statues were placed here in 1588 by pope Sixtus V. The obelisk was added in 1786 and the fountain’s granite basin was added in 1818.
The Salita di Montecavallo, the staircase leading to the entrance of Piazza del Quirinale. See these statues which are installed in 1866.
Trajan’s Column is a Roman triumphal column that commemorates emperor Trajan’s victory in the Dacian Wars. It is located in Trajan’s Forum, built near the Quirinal hill north of the Roman Forum. Completed in 113 AD, the freestanding column is most famous for its spiral bas relief, which artistically describes the epic wars between the Romans and Dacians. The structure is about 98 feet in height and 115 feet including the large pedestal. The structure is made of a series of 20 colossal Carrara marble drums, each weighing about 32 tons with a diameter of 12 feet. Inside the shaft, a spiral staircase of 185 steps, provide access to a viewing platform at the top. The capital block of Trajan’s Column weighs 53 tons. Ancient coins indicate preliminary plans to top the column with a statue of a bird, probably an eagle but after construction, a statue of Trajan was put in place but this statue disappeared in the Middle Ages. On December 4,1587 the top was crowned by Pope Sixtus V with a bronze figure of St Peter which remains to this day.
The Altar of the Fatherland (Altare della Patria) also known as National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II (Monumento Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele II) is a monument built in honor of Victor Emanuel, the first king of unified Italy. It is located between Piazza Venezia and Capitoline Hill. It was completed in 1925 and features stairways, Corinthian columns, fountains, an equestrian statue of Victor Emanuel and two statues fo the goddess Victoria riding quadrigas. The base of the structure houses the museum of Italian Unification.
Few more snaps from Rome….