A city whose very name conjures up romantic images of the medieval age is Rome. Invariably, names like Julius Caesar, Augustus, and others spring to mind. If one stretches the imagination a bit further, even the clang of metals as gladiators fight it out to death can be heard. Such is the enigma of Rome that it is one of the most visited cities in the world.
The founding of the city can be traced to 753 BC and it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited regions of Europe. A living museum and a visual treat both for the lay visitor as well as aficionados of art, history, and architecture, it offers so many experiences that one needs to really spend time to absorb and enjoy everything. Here are 5 top things that one must not miss when in Rome.
1. The Colosseum: Travel Back In History
One of the most iconic landmarks of Rome has to be the Colosseum. It is one of the seven wonders of the world and stands as a testimony to the glory of the ancient Roman empire. The colossal Colosseum was built by Emperor Vespasian way back in 72 AD. It is said that the structure came up after a palace named Domus Aurea that had been built by Emperor Nero was demolished at the same site.
The Colosseum was also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre and is said to be the largest ever built.It could accommodate anywhere between 50,000 to 80,000 people. A network of underground chambers led to the arena in the centre. Gladiators and animals would emerge from these chambers to the blood-curdling yells of spectators.
Today the massive Colosseum is in partial ruins but its eroded walls still retain vestiges of its past grandeur. The innumerable arches, arcaded floors, and the Corinthian and other columns tell stories from its ancient history.
2. The Vatican Museums: Marvel At the Exquisite Collections
Rome, apart from its ancient history, is also the home of the Vatican. The Vatican city is where the Pope lives in the Vatican Palace. The Vatican Museums are a series of museums located within the Vatican city. The museums exhibit some of the most beautiful, rare sculptures and artworks from ancient Rome as well as the work of Renaissance artists. These are part of the collection of the Popes across the centuries. The Vatican Museums house more than 70,000 exquisite works of art. There are 54 galleries that make up the Vatican Museum. As you stroll within the galleries, the works of famous artists of the likes of Leonardo Da Vinci, Michael Angelo, Raphael and others would mesmerize you with their timeless beauty.
3. The Sistine Chapel: Feel The Agony and the Ecstasy of Michaelangelo
The Sistine Chapel is perhaps the most important part of Vatican city. It is the venue of the Papal Conclave – a meeting of the College of Cardinals that elects the Pope. The Sistine Chapel lies within the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope. Apart from these important aspects, the exquisite frescoes on its ceiling painted by Michaelangelo give the chapel its distinct character. It is said that Michael Angelo painted the ceiling during a period of 4 years in the mid 16th century and this phenomenal work of art is regarded as an epoch-forming artistic achievement of mankind. The most famous of these frescoes is, “The Creation of Adam”, that graces the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. A hush falls as you enter the Sistine Chapel and sit down to stare at the ceiling, looking at this remarkable achievement of human endeavour, one almost feels the agony and the ecstasy of its creator, Michaelangelo.
4. St. Peter’s Basilica: Be Awed by The Largest Church In The World
St. Peter’s Basilica is said to be the largest church in the world and is renowned for its architectural splendour. It is here that the Pope participates in Liturgical functions, where he blesses the public. The St. Peter’s Basilica is a place of pilgrimage for the Catholic devout. Apart from its religious connotations the place is also of interest to connoisseurs of art and architecture. The interiors of the Basilica will awe you and the perfect symmetry of the exteriors will enthrall you. Along with many other masterpieces, the St. Peter’s Basilica houses the famous sculpture of Michaelangelo, known as the Pieta.
5. Trevi Fountain: Toss a Coin, Make a Wish
Ancient Rome was a city that was embellished with beautiful fountains, gardens, squares, and statues. It is believed that more than a thousand fountains lent their beauty to the city. Many of these fountains exist even today, but the most famous of these is the Fontana di Trevi or Trevi Fountain. The beautiful fountain which is always full of crowds is known for the ritual of people throwing coins into it over their shoulders. The ancient Romans used to throw coins in water for good luck and a safe journey home. Today people believe the myth that throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain will make them return to Rome again. It is said that around 3,000 Euros worth of coins are found in the fountain everyday and these are donated to charity.
Rome was not built in a day and Rome cannot be seen in a day. There are so many interesting and intriguing aspects of Rome that one needs to spend days if not months exploring its treasures. As they say all roads lead to Rome!
Contributed by Voyager – Sandy N Vyjay