Rome's Famous Landmarks
by Tommaso Gambino
Becoming familiar with Rome’s famous landmarks is a rite of passage. Unlike most major world cities, many of Rome’s points of interest date back several thousand years, and some are still in use today. An example of this is enjoying opera in the Baths of Caracalla, built in 212 AD.
Opera performance at the Baths of Caracalla
Andiamo! Let us begin our tour at the Colosseum, originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre. It is arguably the most identifiable structure of the world capital. Construction began in 72 AD by Emperor Vespasian and was terminated in 80 AD by his son, the Emperor Titus. Enormous amounts of travertine slabs, tufa blocks and brick made up the building material. The capacity accommodated approximately 50,000-70,000 spectators. Admission was gratis along with food for the events. This was offered as a gift from the emperor to the people of Rome (the famous “panem et circenses” bread and games).
We now leave the Colosseum and cross over to the Arch of Constantine, (315 AD) built to celebrate the famous victory of Ponte Milvio that ushered in Christianity. A few more steps and we cross under the Arch of Titus commemorating the Roman conquest of Jerusalem (70 AD). Once through the arch, we find ourselves entering venerated land, the Roman Forum, the center of the known world. Gazing down over the myriad historic structures along the Via Sacra, one can easily feel a sense of awe. It was here that the Romans met to carry on commercial, religious, political and social activities. It was from this site the Romans conquered the then known world and developed our western civilization. To the left is the House of the Vestal Virgins, the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the Temple of Julius Caesar and to the right the Temple of Romulus, the Basilica of Constantine, and the Temple of Antonius and Faustina. Finally, there is the Curia and the famous rostrum from which one can imagine Mark Antony delivering his famous oration in Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar:
“Friends, Romans and Countryman lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar not to praise him.”
The Roman Forum
It’s all very impressive and moving to relive one’s history in the places where it took place...
To be continued -- see you in 2 weeks at Piazza Navona…