An Italian busker entertains us in the streets of Rome.
The Pantheon is a remarkable building. It was completed by the Emperor Hadrian around 126AD, and has been in continues use ever since.
The dome starts at about 6m thick, and narrow to about 1.5m at the top (that’s 4535 metric tons). The dome is 43m in diameter and staggering to look up at. It is a remarkable piece of engineering, especially considering that it was build almost 2000 years ago.
PS: It’s free to visit.
The Arch of Septimius Severus marks the entrance to the forum in Rome. Completed in AD 203, it is an impressive arch to stand under.
I have been reprocessing some of my Rome photos, probably because I am excited about my upcoming Spanish trip, so I hope you are enjoying them!
I love the old buildings in Europe, especially the Churches with such care put into the lovely architecture.
I don’t know which church this it (if you know please let me know), but it is somewhere on the bus route between the station and Vatican City in Rome (no it is not the Basilica). I particularity love the marble-like clouds framing the dome of the church.
Update: Thanks to Cristina for telling me about the church, it is the Santa Maria di Loreto, built in the 16th century.
Now that we are finally home and (mostly) recovered from our trip, I have managed to get my photos in order, so the next couple of posts are going to be a catch up of the trip. Starting with some of the hotels on the “strip”.
The Strip, or more correctly Las Vegas Boulevard is the main drag in Vegas where everything happens. If you stay in Vegas, you should try to stay on or really close to the strip. Most of the hotels are on the strip, and certainly the big theme hotels are there.
Here are just some of the hotels that I passed on a couple of walks.
Starting with Paris, which contains a scale model of the Eiffel Tower which is approx 1/4 the full height, which is still several stories high. There is a viewing deck on the top level which provides great views of Vegas. Note the traffic at about 10pm on a Sunday night.
Next up is Bally’s, where we stayed. Bally’s is connected to Paris by a short walkway containing a few shops and restaurants. At about $40 per night, Bally’s is one of the cheaper hotels on the strip, but you pay for everything, including $3 per day for the honour of using the hotel safe. But still good value for Vegas.
The Bellagio is across the road from Bally’s, and it contains the famous water fountains, which play in time to music every 1/2 hour or so. The fountains, which shoot higher that the hotel are pretty impressive to watch.
Further down is Caesers palace, which is built to look like ancient Rome, complete with a Colosseum and Pantheon, and “Forum Shops”.
Treasure Island is home to regular evening ship battles as the “Sirens of TI…lure a band of renegade pirates into their cove with powerful and captivating melodies”. The show is a little cheesy, but well it is free.
Last on my list is the Venetian hotel, home to the Blue Man Group, one of my top shows. The entire hotel looks like Venice, complete with St Mark’s Square, the Rialto Bridge, and gondola rides.
Having being in Venice about a year ago, it was remarkable how similar this hotel is to the real thing. Notice how the docking poles are even a little bent, as if they had been in the Grand Canal for a long time.
This is just a selection of the hotels, but you can easily spend day walking around just looking at the hotels.
Here are a couple of old shots that I have been using to play with textures. The first is of the Colosseum in Rome, and the second of the Pantheon. Please let me know which versions you prefer; the “before” or “after” shots (just leave a comment).
Colosseum with texture
Colosseum without texture
And now the Pantheon…
Pantheon with texture
Pantheon without texture
The Temple of Hercules Victor in Forum Boarium was originally thought to have been a temple of Vesta. Although the temple is in the middle of Rome, the marble used to build the temple was from Athens!
The temple is located in the oldest forum in Rome, as was built around 2BC. Driving past the temple is a little strange, because on the one side you have a wonderful garden, and on the other a large and busy freeway. But then I suppose that can be said about many of the sites and places in Rome, whereby you can drive past an archaeological dig right next to an office building.
In case you are wandering, Hercules was the protector of the olive trade.
The Roman Forum was the commercial hub of the ancient Roman world. This was where you would go to do anything from buying a few pigs, to visiting the Senate House to file a legal document. This is where the center of Roman Law was debated, and where citizens could petition Caesar.
The Forum was also the home of many temples paying homage to the various gods, and where the famous Vestal Virgins kept their eternal flame burning (of course they were beaten if they let it go out!).
It is also where Julius Caesar was killed, the spot is marked by a small grave, and to this day is covered with notes and flowers.
The famous Trevi Fountain in Rome. Although the fountain is really beautiful, this is the part of Rome that made me feel most uncomfortable. There were hordes of people in a rather confined area, and far to many shady vendors walking around. It just felt like a ripe place for some pick-pocketing.
Having said all that, we didn’t have any problems. The fountain is very beautiful, made up of water gushing over wonderfully carved marble statues and figures, creating both a soothing and cooling effect.
The popular story has it that if you throw a coin into the fountain, your return to Rome is assured. Although I did not throw a coin into the fountain, I certainly plan to be go back to Rome.
Vatican City (like the rest of Italy) is incredibly accessible and aware. It is also free to disabled people. Lois and I bought tickets online several weeks before our visit, which is the best way to avoid the entrance queues. Anyway when we arrived, they promptly sent us to the front of the queue’s, refunded our tickets, and gave us complimentary tickets. You can easily spend several days in the museum’s alone; there is simply so much too see, from Egyptian mummies, to frescos, artwork and astonishing statues. The highlights of the museum’s themselves being of course the Sistine Chapel. Alas, I do not have any photos of the Chapel because they asked us to refrain from taking pics inside, which I respected.
I was however allowed to take pictures inside St Peter’s Basicalica, so here are a few highlights.
The outside of one of the most beautiful dome’s in the world.
The dome from the inside of St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, designed by Michelangelo. Although he died before it was complete.
Detail of the artwork and architecture. The writing is over 7 feet tall.
Finally, Michelangelo’s Pieta. The Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus.