Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Ruins and the Colosseum...Amazing! (Oct. 26, 2010)

We got up early again and headed to the taxi stand with Joe and Nancy for Round 2 of the Colosseum. There was only one driver there and he wanted 10€ to take us to the tour meeting point. We had only paid 6€ the day before, so we said no and he angrily drove away from the stand. That was great…except once again we had no taxi. We are really getting good at showing these Rome taxi drivers! We waited for a few minutes and a taxi pulled up and we piled in. It was the same driver as the day before! What are the chances of that?

We arrived at the meeting spot and met up with 3 other couples on the same walking tour and we were off. Cloudy skies soon turned to rain…

Here we are at the Forum which is the ruins of ancient government buildings. For centuries is was the center of Roman public life. These are the remains from about 200 BC. Imagine instead of being brown, they were all covered in gleaming white marble.

Our first stop was Basilica Aemilia which was a gathering place. Much of the Forum was demolished to provide building materials (fine marble, etc.) for churches and aristocracy.

This is the original floor and the marble columns from the basilica. You can still see stains on the floor where coins had been dropped and left.

The next building we visited was the Senate. Senators would be seated in rows facing each other and would deliberate on issues of the day. The acoustics in the building were very good. This frieze would have been outside the Senate and shows that the original inhabitants of the hills above the Forum were shepherds.

Although all the buildings were brown brick, they would have been covered in white marble. This shows a section of marble that still exists.

This shows the original floor in the Senate. Are those terra cotta warriors? Yup! What they are doing in the Forum is charging an extra 3€ for temporary exhibits that people may not even want to see, but it’s a way of getting more tourist dollars.

This shows the height of the Senate. Imagine it all covered in white marble!

The dress of the Senators...

This frieze would also have been on display outside the Senate. It depicts the shepherds bringing their tablets of their debts to be destroyed. As a way of gaining popularity, Emperor Hadrian declared all debts to be forgiven.

More ruins…

This was the Sacred Way, the main street of ancient Rome. It began on the outskirts of the city and proceeded to the Forum. People bringing news to the Senate would ride down this way in their chariots, and it was also the daily meeting place for business and pleasure.

Julius Caesar was such a favourite with the people that after he was killed by Brutus, they stole the body and brought it to this pyre to be cremated.

The funeral pyre where people still leave flowers…

This part of the Sacred Way shows the ruts where the chariots were turning the corner. It should have been repaired, but by this time the Roman empire was in decline and things were let go.

This part of the ruins is now City Hall. I drew a circle around the mayor’s office on the far right in the tower.

This was the place where fire burned 24 hours a day guarded by the Vestal Virgins. The Virgins' job was extremely important as others came to this spot to light their torches. The Virgins were chosen at an early age for this position and had to perform it for 30 years. The Virgins were held in high esteem, had beautiful clothes and were the only females were who accepted at the Colosseum.Cool! If the fire went out or if they broke their vows of celibacy, they were buried alive. Not cool...

Just above the umbrellas is the remnants of a platform that leaders used to address and incite the crowds.

The temple of Antonius and Faustina was built in 141 AD by Emperor Antonius Pius to honour his deceased wife, Faustina.

In the 1600s when the excavations of the ruins were ongoing, a door was installed indicating where the ground level was at that time, because the original door would have been buried under the ground.
The grooves in the columns show an attempt to bring the columns down with ropes to use them elsewhere. The building was so well made and the columns so strong, that the ropes burnt into the columns, but they  could not be brought down.

The brickwork on the top is of Roman construction, very exact sizing and mortaring. On the bottom which was done during medieval times, you can see that the workmanship was inferior.

These are the original basalt rocks that were carried and installed by slaves.

The Basilica of Constantine was the largest building in the Roman forum and was completed in 312 AD. A basilica at that time was not a church, but a combination courthouse, meeting hall and council chamber. All that remains of it is the north aisle. It is huge and covered the whole area were were standing in.

The arches show very advanced weight-saving structural skill with octagonal ceiling coffers.

Kim and Jim in front of the basilica...look at the size of this and it's only part of it!

This massive arch celebrated Titus' triumph over the Jews. He is best known for destroying the Great Temple of Jerusalem. The only part of that temple to survive is the Wailing Wall.

Part of the arch shows the return of Titus from his defeat of Solomon with the winged figure of Victory behind him.

From here it was on to the Colosseum where our guide showed us what it would have looked like when it was built covered in marble. Beside the Colosseum was the huge statue of Nero which was 2/3 the height of the Colosseum.

The holes in the columns show where metal strapping was installed to hold the blocks of the columns in place. It was then covered with marble. When the marble was later removed for buildings elsewhere, the strapping was also removed to be reused.

The model shows the elevators used to bring animals and gladiators up to the Colosseum floor.

The Colosseum remains with a section of the floor that has been rebuilt to show the original design. The area below the floor is where the animals and gladiators were held.

The Colosseum could seat 60,000 people and they had a system whereby everyone could be seated in 10 minutes! 

What is left of the original seating…once again, all marble.

The arches with the glass is now where the tourist information and souvenirs are kept.

Outside the Colosseum…a real tourist trap!

The umbrella pine trees that are so popular in Italy. They remove all the lower branches to form tall shade trees.

Once the rain stopped, it was a beautiful sunny day. We had a great lunch and enjoyed the sun with Nancy and Joe.

After a rest, it was off to see the Spanish Steps. This is an area of high-end stores and boutiques. Loved this children’s clothing store window…

The Spanish Steps are the longest and widest staircase in Europe. They are normally filled with people sitting on them, except that it was raining.

Partway up looking at the Piazza di Spagna…

Working our way to the church Trinita dei Monti…

The Piazza at night…

Inside the church…

A service was being held and the acoustics were amazing. The voices are so beautiful.

Back down at the fountain which is in the shape of a boat…

On the way home, we stopped at the Taverna Antonina. The food was great!

Jim’s mixed seafood grill…

Pistachio tiramisu for dessert…

Another wonderful day in Rome! Tomorrow it’s off to the ship to start our cruise!


Nancy said...

I love reading your blog. It brings back wonderful memories. I am totally impressed with your photos and information (some of which I had forgotten). Thanks for sharing this.

Jim-and-Kim said...

I would never remember any of this if I waited until we got home to look at our pics!

Anonymous said...

Kim and Jim...this is Janet, from the january 2010 cruise on princess to cartegena.
Your pics are wonderful....I am green with envy! HA! could you please contact me! would love to connect.
I'm also on FB.
all the best to you both! you look great Janet

Franco said...

Yesterday was inaugurated the Colosseum restoration works