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Italy

Rome

Florence

Venice

Colosseum
Temple of Saturn
Trajan's Column
Trevi Fountain
Pantheon
Fountain of Neptune
Vittorio Emaneule II
Main 4 Basilicas
Basilica Santa Maria del Fiore
Ponte Vecchio
Piazza Signoria
Michelangelo's David (Copy)
Giambologna's Sabine
Cellini's Perseum
Basilica of Santa Croce
Leonardo DaVinci
St. Mark's Square
St. Mark's Basilica
Doges Palace
Bridge of Sighs
Belltower of St. Mark's
Glass-Blowing
Vivaldi's Church
Rialto Bridge

 


Rome


Colosseum

The Colosseum was built around 80AD for the Emperor Vespasian and his son Titus of the Flavian family. It was built as a gift to the Romans in amends for Emperor Nero's ruthlessness, on the site close to Nero's Golden House. At first, it was called the Flavian Ampitheater after it's builders, but later received the name "Colosseum" from the nearby 115-foot tall statue of Nero, called the Colossus. The statue was later destroyed by Pope Gregory the Great.

The Colosseum is four stories tall and could fit 50,000 spectators. It was constructed of concrete, brick, a soft rock and then covered in travertine marble. It was the first amphitheater not constructed of wood. It was used regularly for about 400 years until the last gladiator match in 523. After the fall of Rome, marble from the Colosseum was looted and used to build palaces until 1749 when Pope Benedict XIV declared it a protected area.


Temple of Saturn

(Aedes Saturnus)

Temple of Saturn with the Arch of Septimius Severus visible in the lower left

This is the oldest temple in the forum, dating to near 500BC and used as a temple dedicated to Saturn and also a state treasury. According to legend it was built on an altar originally dedicated by Hercules. An altar for Saturn was placed in front, and a statue of Saturn stood inside the temple to be carried in processions. The feast of Saturnalia on December 17th started with a sacrifice here.

It is the third Saturn temple on this spot. The first was torn down in 42 BC. The second was built in stone and wrecked by fire in 283AD. The temple still standing today was reconstructed after that fire, from red and grey granite scavenged from other places. The inscription reads "The Roman senate and people restored what fire had consumed". In 1440 part of the walls were torn down by the Romans to recycle for new buildings. By the 16th century it was buried in debris, then excavated partially in 1811.


Arch of Septimius Severus

(Arcus Septimii Severi)

This 21 meter tall triumphal arch was built in 203CE to celebrate Emperor Septimius Severus and his sons Caracalla and Geta. Originally, inscriptions on the arch mentioned Geta. But in 212CE, Geta was killed by Caracalla, who then removed all mentions of his brother from public buildings. The arch was built in brick and travertine marble. It may have had a chariot with four horses mounted on the top, but that has disappeared. At one point the arch was part of a church and a fortress. It is now one of only three surviving arches.


Arch of Constantine

Arch of Constantine
Inscription reads "Constantine overcame his enemies by divine inspiration"

The Arch was erected around 315 AD to honor Emperor Constantine I for his victory over Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge. The materials were stripped from earlier monuments dedicated to Trajan, Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius and then changed to make the former emperors look like Constantine. It is close to the Colosseum. This is the largest of the three surviving arches in Rome today. It is about 21 meters in height and almost 26 meters across.


Trajan's Column

Trajan's column was built around 106-113AD by Apollodoro from 20 blocks of Carrara marble and reaches nearly 30 meters in height. The many carvings show the story of Emperor Trajan's two Dacian Wars. The base holds some small rooms and the inner chamber were meant to hold the ashes of Trajan and his wife.


Trevi Fountain

(Fontana di Trevi)

At one time the Romans had a custom to build a fountain at the end of an aqueduct. The name "Trevi Fountain" comes from the meeting point of three roads, "tre vie". Bernini and Pietro da Cortona started this project, then it was completed by Nicola Salvi between 1732-1751. It shows the Palace of Neptune from above with Neptune in the middle taming the waters, on a chariot drawn by sea horses and surrounded with tritons. The Dukes of Poli's building is in the background.


Obelisk near St. John's Basilica

(In Piazza San Giovanni)

Carved in 1500BC and 105 feet tall, this is the oldest and tallest obelisk in Rome. Pharaoh Thutmose III (Great-uncle of Tutankhamen) had it carved and placed in front of the Temple of Amon (Karnak) in Thebes. In 357 AD, the son of Constantine the Great brought it to Rome for the Circus Maximus.


Pantheon

The Pantheon was originally built in 27BC by the son-in-law of Emperor Augustus and dedicated to Mars and Venus. After it burned in 80AD the Emperor Domitian rebuilt it. After it was struck by lightning and burned again in 110AD, the Emperor Hadrian rebuilt it and dedicated it to all the gods. The 142-foot diameter dome was the largest built until the Florence cathedral was built in 1436. The 60 ton weighing columns were brought to Rome from Egypt. Originally the temple honored many pagan gods, but in 609AD it was dedicated as a Catholic church. Today it contains the tombs for Raphael and several Italian kings.


Fountain of Neptune

Piazza Navona

This piazza is built on what used to be the Circus Domitianus. The Fountain of Neptune (Fontana di Nettuno) has a basin designed by Giacomo della Porta in 1576, though the statues of Neptune and the sea nymphs inside it were added in the 1800s.


Vittorio Emanuele II Monument

This monument was built from glowing white marble between 1885-1911. It honors King Victor Emmanuel II who was the first monarch of Italy after it was unified in 1870, and houses Italy's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was built by the French architect Giuseppe Sacconi.


St. Peter's Basilica

The Vatican

St. Peter's Basilica is the largest cathedral in the world. The first Basilica was built in 400AD then replaced with the current one in the 1500s. It is supposedly built over St. Peter's grave. St. Peter's Square was built by Bernini between 1656-1667 and is also one of the largest in the world. St. Peter's contains Michelangelo's famous La Pietà and Sistine Chapel, plus extensive museums.

Raphael's fresco in the Vatican "The School of Athens" 1510-11

St. Mary Major Basilica

(Santa Maria Maggiore)

The 14.8 meter tall Egyptian column (shown in the lower right) is made of a marble that was completely mined out by 300 BC. It was taken from the Mausoleum of Augustus and placed here in 1587.

St. Mary Major was originally built here between 432-440AD. The nave's ceiling is gilded with gold supposedly donated by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella that was brought back from the New World. It is the only church in Rome where mass has been held every day since the 5th century.


St. Paul's Basilica

Altar of the Conversion of St. Paul - Inside St. Paul's Basilica
Made by Camuccini in the 1800s with malachite and lapis lazuli

The site for St. Paul's Basilica in 100AD was originally the "Gardens of Agrippina", then a circus of Caligula where Nero had St. Peter crucified. Construction of the Basilica started in 323 under Constantine the Great. The Saracens pillaged the Basilica in 847. It was again reconstructed between 1450-1626. The colonnades in the courtyard, the Piazza di S. Pietro were constructed by Bernini in 1667 and include 162 figures of saints. The obelisk of Heliopolis (which has no hieroglyphics on it) is located here, supposedly containing a fragment of the True Cross. The inside high altar has the slab of porphyry that German emperors were crowned on.


Florence


Basilica Santa Maria del Fiore

This church was built to hold 30,000 people, making it the second largest in Italy and fourth largest in the world! is almost entirely covered with marble plates. The white marble is from Carrara, the green marble is from Prato and the red marble is from Siena. Cambio started construction in 1296, and it was continued by Giotto, Pisano and Talenti and then finished by Brunelleschi's dome in 1436. St. Zenobi and Brunelleschi is buried here. The current neo-Gothic façade is from the 1800s.

The Duomo - Interior done with artists Vasari, Zuccari, Donatello, Uccello and Ghiberti. The dome is larger than the one at St. Peter's in the Vatican, and was constructed without scaffolding!

Giotto's Belltower - Giotto started the 84 meter tower in 1334 and it was finished at the end of the century. Giotto was nominated overseer for the cathedral to continue work interrupted 30 years earlier. He worked on it from 1334 until his death in 1337 and only saw the entrance finished. Andrea Pisano (who did the awesome Baptistry doors) continued, then Francesco Talenti who finished it in 1359.


Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio is a 14th century bridge - the only bridge in Florence not destroyed in WWII.


Piazza Signoria

A copy of Michaelangelo's David
Compare the size to the man standing at the lower right!

Piazza Signoria has been Florence's town hall since 1322 with an outdoor sculpture garden. Michelangelo's original David stood here originally - now a copy stands there. Outdoor sculpture includes Cellini's statue of Perseus and Giambologna's Rape of a Sabine. Nearby is a copy of Michelangelo's David, which was the original statue’s location. The tower has been redecorated by Vasari.

Michelangelo's original David stood here until moved inside to a museum

Giambologna's Rape of a Sabine

Cellini's Perseum


Basilica of Santa Croce

Outside of Santa Croce

Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Rossini, Foscolo and Galileo are buried here. Construction began in 1294, between the medieval and Renaissance with Gothic architecture. Frescoes are by Cimabue, Giotto, Taddeo Gaddi, paintings by Brunelleschi, Michelozzo, and Andrea della Robbia.

Statue of Machiavelli with a bird sitting on his head

Leonardo DaVinci

Leonardo DaVinci lived in Florence, reportedly in the building pictured below.


Venice

View of Venice


About Venice

Venice (Venezia) is a city encompassing a number of small islands along the Adriatic sea in northern Italy. Today, it has a population of about 275,000. The canals are built between islands in the lagoon and function as roads. Most transportation is done by motorized waterbuses, private boats and the gondola is still in some use. It is the largest area in Europe that does not use cars.

Streets and canals of Venice

Venetian building foundations rest on poles or pilings with alternate layers of clay and sand. The brick or stone building foundations sit on top of the foundations. Flooding from the Adriatic can cause problems between fall and spring; as a result many of the ground floors of buildings are not used.

Streets and canals of Venice

Venice was founded about 452 as a refuge from the Teutonic tribes led by Attila the Hun invaded northern Italy. In 697 Venice was established as a Republic with the election of leaders called "Doges". The city grew in power; commercially as a trade route, politically within Europe, and militarily due to it's location on the Adriatic. In the early 1200s the Venetian invasion of Constantinople gave them even more power. The city became an oligarchy, ruled by the Viscontis. The city began to decline in the mid-1400s following Turkish invasions and the development of alternate trade routes. The Venetian city-state fell under the rule of Austria when invaded by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1797. It was under Napoleon's rule between 1805-1814. After that the rule returned to Austria. Venice rejoined the Italian kingdom in 1866.


St. Mark's Square

St. Mark's Square

Saint Mark's Square is the center of the city. The east end has Saint Mark’s Cathedral (known for Byzantine architecture) and Doges Palace (Palazzo Ducale).  Nearby are 2 granite columns from 1180 – one a winged lion of Saint Mark and the other Saint Theodor on a crocodile. Northern end is Procuratie Vecchie (built 1496) and southern end is Procuratie Nuove (1584) in the Renaissance style. Along the palaces are cafes and shops.


St. Mark's Basilica

(Basilica di San Marco)

St. Mark's Basilica

The Basilica di San Marco is one of the most valuable churches in the world, containing over 4,000 feet of mosaics covered in rubies, emeralds, marble and gold. The first church was built to celebrate the arrival of the body of Saint Mark the Evangelist in Venice from Egypt in 828. The 2nd was rebuilt after a fire in 976, then rebuilt entirely and finished just before 1100. It is the resting place for St. Mark’s body.


Doges Palace

(Palazzo Ducale)

Palazzo Ducale

The Palace was the living quarters of the Doges - the elected officials of the Venetian Republic. It also has offices, meeting rooms, law courts and prison cells. The prison is connected to the Palace by the Bridge of Sighs.


Bridge of Sighs

Venetian Bridge of Sighs

The Bridge of Sighs got it's name in the 17th century. The prisoners passing through from the place of sentencing to the prison cells would probably see Venice for the last time.


Belltower of St. Mark's

(Campanile di San Marco)

Campanile di San Marco

Originally built as a military watchtower in the 900s, then later covered in bronze and used as a beacon for mariners. It was rebuilt in the 1500s after an earthquake, and then rebuilt again in the early 1900s.


Vecchia Murano

Glass Blowing

Vecchia Murano

A Benedict monk in Venice referred to manufactured glass phials in documents before the first millennium. Venetians had trade with glass blowing cultures such as the Syrians and Egyptians, and so became more focused on it than other Italian cities.


Vivaldi's Church

(Chiesa della Pieta)

Vivaldi Church Exhibit

Vivaldi was born in Venice in 1678. He was introduced to the violin by his father, who was a violin player at St. Mark's chapel. Vivaldi became a master of concerts and composer in charge. He spent many years teaching at and composing for the church. He eventually died in poverty in Vienna in 1741.


Rialto Bridge

Rialto Bridge

The Rialto Bridge of 1591 was the only way to cross the grand canal until 1854. It is 28 meters long, 7.5 meters high with one arch and a stone portico.


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Copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and beyond! By Molly Kalafut