Vittoriano

If there is one building in Rome that divides opinion….this is it.

Begun in 1885 to honour Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy’s first King, you certainly can’t ignore this massive white marble monstrosity. Well worth a visit though and great views from the top:

Vittoriano, Rome, Italy

Vittoriano, Rome, Italy

Vittoriano, Rome, Italy

Vittoriano, Rome, Italy

Vittoriano, Rome, Italy

Vittoriano, Rome, Italy

Vittoriano, Rome, Italy

Vittoriano, Rome, Italy

Vittoriano, Rome, Italy

Vittoriano, Rome, Italy

Vittoriano, Rome, Italy

© Mark Simms Photography (2019)

Pantheon – Interior

The interior of the Pantheon is all about the magnificent roof. At 43.3m in diameter (which exactly matches the interior height, giving the building it’s wonderful balance and symmetry) it is the largest unreinforced concrete dome ever built. In fact until the 15th Century it was the largest dome anywhere in the world, only surpassed by the massive cupola of the Duomo in Florence.

At the centre of the dome is an 8.7m wide oculus, which serves a number of purposes. The most important of which is the vital structural role it plays in re-distributing the huge tensile forces caused by the unsupported dome. Second it creates a symbolic connection between the temple/church and the Gods/heaven. Finally it creates a very physical connection between the worshippers and the elements, most notably by flooding the central rotunda with amazing light (even on a cloudy day) but also of course by letting in the rain…which fortunately we didn’t encounter on the day we visited. 

The interior of the Pantheon is hugely impressive and it is little wonder that it’s considered ancient Rome’s most important architectural achievement and has subsequently proved one of the most influential buildings ever constructed.

Pantheon, Rome, Italy, Europe

Pantheon, Rome, Italy, Europe

Pantheon, Rome, Italy, Europe

Pantheon, Rome, Italy, Europe

Pantheon, Rome, Italy, Europe

Pantheon, Rome, Italy, Europe

Pantheon, Rome, Italy, Europe

© Mark Simms Photography (2019)

Pantheon – Exterior

Built about 2,000 years ago as a temple to all the Gods – hence the name Pantheon from the Greek pan (all) and theos (god) – it was subsequently consecrated as a Christian church in AD 608 and is now officially known as the Basilica di Santa Maria ad Martyres.

I’ve seen images of the Pantheon plenty of times before in books, magazines and on TV, but until I saw it “in the felsh” I didn’t really appreciate how impressive it was. For one thing it’s much bigger than I thought and for another it’s amazingly well preserved considering, in it’s current form, it dates back to AD 125. In fact the Pantheon was my favourite of all the places we visited in Rome……

Pantheon, Rome, Italy, Europe

 

Pantheon, Rome, Italy, Europe

Pantheon, Rome, Italy, Europe

Pantheon, Rome, Italy, Europe

© Mark Simms Photography (2019)

Palazzo del Quirinale

The Palazzo del Quirinale is the official residence of Italy’s head of state, the President of the Italian Republic…..not that we realised this at the time we were walking past, although the police and guards did give us a bit of a clue that this was something official.

From the square outside the palace we also got our first glimpse of St Peter’s Basilica, across the River Tiber in Vatican City, with it’s massive dome rising about the rooftops in the second image below:

Quirinale, Rome, Italy, Europe

Quirinale, Rome, Italy, Europe

Quirinale, Rome, Italy, Europe

Quirinale, Rome, Italy, Europe

Quirinale, Rome, Italy, Europe

© Mark Simms Photography (2019)

The Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps, another of Rome’s famous tourist attractions, are so called because they are situated in the Piazza di Spagna (or Square of Spain) home to the Spanish Embassy. Apart from that they have little or no other connection to Spain, being designed by an Italian and paid-for with French money.

The 135 step staircase, built in 1725, links the piazza to the Trinità dei Monti, the late-Renaissnce Roman Catholic church that stands at the top of the steps and provides some great views of the city.

Unlike the cramped surroundings of the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps are an engaging place to sit and watch the world go by for awhile or to indulge in a spot of people watching.

Spanish Steps, Rome, Italy, Europe

Spanish Steps, Rome, Italy, Europe

Spanish Steps, Rome, Italy, Europe

Spanish Steps, Rome, Italy, Europe

Spanish Steps, Rome, Italy, Europe

© Mark Simms Photography (2019)

Trevi Fountain

The Fontana di Trevi, so called because of the ‘tre via’ (three roads) that lead to it, is one of Rome’s top tourist attractions…..but if I’m being honest, I’m not entirely sure what to make of it.

The fountain itself, completed in 1762, is undeniably impressive, taking up one entire side of the 17th century Palazzo Poli. However it just appears a bit out of place now compared to the more humble buildings that surround it and the fact that it feels a bit too big for the relatively small piazza in which it sits.

Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy, Europe

Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy, Europe

Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy, Europe

Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy, Europe

Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy, Europe

© Mark Simms Photography (2019)

Roman Forum

Dating back some 2,500 years, the Forum developed over-time into the centre of political, commercial and religious life in ancient Rome…..the beating heart of the Roman Republic and subsequent Roman Empire.

To be honest you really need to make sure that your powers of archaelogical interpretation are suitably well tuned (and that ideally you’ve done a little research/reading beforehand) to have any hope of making sense of the jumbled and confusing mass of ruins…..although looking down from the terrace of the Palatine Hill, as in the last two images below, does help a little with understanding the layout.

Having said that, if Roman history is your thing (and with an active imagination) it would be almost impossible not to be impressed by the fact that famous historical figures such as Julius Caesar, Cicero, Pompey and Mark Anthony (to name but a few) once walked these cobbled streets.

The Forum, Rome, Italy, Europe

The Forum, Rome, Italy, Europe

The Forum, Rome, Italy, Europe

The Forum, Rome, Italy, Europe

The Forum, Rome, Italy, Europe

The Forum, Rome, Italy, Europe

The Forum, Rome, Italy, Europe

The Forum, Rome, Italy, Europe

The Forum, Rome, Italy, Europe

© Mark Simms Photography (2019)

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