The Splendor of Rome

So much has been said about Rome, but until you visit Rome, none of those observations seem valid. We found Rome to not only be incredibly rich with history, but it is also vibrant. As a crossroads of the world, this is a true shopping paradise, if you can afford Chanel, Gucci, Lamborghini, and Ferrari. But we also found many "around-the-corner" and "off-street" boutiques that were more within our wallet. The city was friendly (to us) and incredibly beautiful (for a big city).

First stop- the Colosseum, also know as the Flavian Amphitheatre. Perhaps one of the best preserved elements of the Roman Forum, and a very good story. Built of concrete and sand, it is the largest amphitheatre ever built. The Colosseum is situated just east of the Roman Forum. Construction began under the emperor Vespasian in AD 72, and was completed in AD 80 under his successor and heir Titus.

The Colosseum was used to host gladiatorial shows as well as a variety of other events. The shows, called munera, were always given by private individuals rather than the state. They had a strong religious element but were also demonstrations of power and family prestige, and were immensely popular with the population. Another popular type of show was the animal hunt, or venatio. This utilized a great variety of wild beasts, mainly imported from Africa and the Middle East, and included creatures such as rhinoceros, hippopotamuses, elephants, giraffes, aurochs, wisents, Barbary lions, panthers, leopards, bears, Caspian tigers, crocodiles and ostriches. Battles and hunts were often staged amid elaborate sets with movable trees and buildings. Such events were occasionally on a huge scale; Trajan is said to have celebrated his victories in Dacia in 107 with contests involving 11,000 animals and 10,000 gladiators over the course of 123 days. During lunch intervals, executions ad bestias would be staged. Those condemned to death would be sent into the arena, naked and unarmed, to face the beasts of death which would literally tear them to pieces. Other performances would also take place by acrobats and magicians, typically during the intervals.

The Colosseum is a model for modern stadiums. It was designed so that once the doors opened, it could be completely filled with 80,000 spectators in only 20 minutes, and similarly be emptied in another 20 minutes, using only stairways.
the Hypogeum
the Forum

The Colosseum was, for centuries, the center of Roman public life: the site of triumphal processions and elections; the venue for public speeches, criminal trials, and gladiatorial matches; and the nucleus of commercial affairs. Here statues and monuments commemorated the city's great men. The heart of ancient Rome, it has been called the most celebrated meeting place in the world, and in all history. Located in the small valley between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills, the Forum today is a sprawling ruin of architectural fragments and intermittent archaeological excavations attracting 4.5 million sightseers yearly.

Temples of Venus and Rome

Many of the oldest and most important structures of the ancient city were located on or near the Forum. The Roman kingdom's earliest shrines and temples were located on the southeastern edge. These included the ancient former royal residence, the Regia (8th century BC), and the Temple of Vesta (7th century BC), as well as the surrounding complex of the Vestal Virgins, all of which were rebuilt after the rise of imperial Rome.

Arch of Constantine

Other archaic shrines to the northwest, such as the Umbilicus Urbis and the Vulcanal (Shrine of Vulcan), developed into the Republic's formal Comitium (assembly area). This is where the Senate—as well as Republican government itself—began. The Senate House, government offices, tribunals, temples, memorials and statues gradually cluttered the area.

Arch of Titus
Left- the Arch of Constantine; Right- Circus Maximus
Some of the most famous landmarks in Rome— Can you name them? Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, Piazza Navona
Vatican City

Our visit to the Vatican came after a busy day of touring the antiquities of Rome. We took a taxi along with another couple from the Piazza de Navona to Vatican Square. There were many long lines to tour within the St. Peter's Basilica so we chose to take in the incredible views and atmosphere of the square.

Arrivederci Roma
Created By
Gregg & Patty Gunkel
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Gregg & Patty

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