Back in Rome we had a solid breakfast and I'm enjoying the automatic espresso machine. Just outside of the metro station, the Spanish Steps lead up from the Piazza di Spagna. They were there, but closed. Renovation time. We had to buy a postcard.
Right there is also an interesting boat fountain.
Just up the block there was a pretty monument. Threre are so many of these around we forgot to look to see what it was.
From there we walked to the Tiber River past the mausoleum of Augustus. Not much to see as it's fenced off but it's cool to see how they honoured themselves. Good to be the King right? Pyramids or giant tombs. Why not?
We then took a stroll along the Tiber to the Castel Sant’Angelo. On the way we passed some interesting buildings.
Ponte Sant’Angelo – a bridge with swinging arches – built by Hadrian in 134 to give access to his mausoleum, originally called Pons Aelius for his family. Renamed in the 1600’s when Pope Clement IX added 10 figures of angels, all with their backs to the river so they face the pilgrims that cross the bridge.
A view looking back from atop the Castle
We walked across the bridge to get to Castel Sant’Angelo. Originally Hadrian’s mausoleum and the reason he built the bridge. Then a fortified castle in the middle ages, then the residence for the pope during the Renaissance. Busy place but still not done yet. The figure of the archangel Michael with outstretched wings is prominent on the upper terrace. In 590 when the city was threatened with plague, the archangel appeared to pope Gregory the Great and told him the plague would soon end. In gratitude the pope had the castle crowned with the statue sheathing his sword as a sign that the anger of God was appeased.
As I said, the castle has a long, complicated history which resulted in a complex structure with strong contrasts in architecture. From the outside it looks like a massive fortress surrounded by a square wall with battlements and bastions at the corners (complete with cannons, piles of cannon balls and a wooden trebuchet). The cylindrical structure rising from the middle was the original mausoleum for Hadrian. This was then converted to the papal apartments (when the popes were allowed back into Rome) and is now a museum for sculptures, paintings and weapons. Sala Paolina was the pope’s counsel chamber. Wow.
Again, only a panaroma really can do it justice:
It was also used as a prison. Here are some fortress weaponry.
At this point we were hungry. We found a restaurant a couple blocks away that had a hamburger listed. Pretty sure it won't be a highlight for Ryan, but after margarita pizza 2x per day for 2 weeks he ate it all.
Since we bought a day pass it was time to hop a bus to the Pantheon. Every 4 minutes according to Google but we waited about 20 or so till we saw one come. 3 stops on a crowded bus and we are there. Just before then there was the Piazza della Minerva where we snagged a photo of the elephant and obelisk statue.
The Pantheon, built on the site of the Baths of Agrippa, a domed temple built to honor all the Roman gods and goddesses (27 BC), designed by Marcus Agrippa and redone by Hadrian in the 2nd century (118 – 125). Probably originally dedicated to Mars and Venus and other planetary gods (lots of scholars have difficulty believing that it is dedicated to ALL gods). Designed as a round building with a colonnaded porch. When the street level was lower than it is today, a long flight of stairs led up to the porch. With 8 monolithic granite columns with Corinthian capitals. The dome used to be covered with gilded bronze tiles, but they were moved to Constantinople by the emperor in 663. The inside shows symmetry and harmony of proportions – the distance from the floor to the dome equals the diameter of the room. The floor is marble with alternating circular and square slabs. The dome is made of concrete and was the largest dome ever built until the 20th century. 5 concentric circles make up the dome with a round opening in the very middle 27 feet wide. The temple contains the tomb of the painter Raphael.
Out front is an Egyptian obelisk with a cross on top.
Somehow Egyptian hieroglyphics and a Christian cross seem a bit conflicted. Even though when in the temple of Isis we saw Osiris and Isis looking an awful lot like the Mother Mary and Jesus.
And another panorama to show the dome.
Just outside is yet another fountain. Very beautiful.
From the Pantheon we walked over to the Trevi Fountain.
Here is a quick shot of a curved street. Both Kris and I thought it looked cool.
Now I admit I was prepared to be a little underwhelmed. I have seen the Trevi replica at Caesars in Vegas. Let's just say that the original is way bigger and way better. Not sure why I thought that but I did.
We all threw coins and made wishes.
From there it was a few block walk back to Barberini metro and a quick shot of Triton fountain.
Tomorrow we go see the Vatican. Here is a shot from Castel San Angelo of the Vatican. It was so close.