Ancient Rome

Villa Adriana Tivoli

villa AdrianaVilla Adriana, a UNESCO Heritage Site since 1999, continues to marvel generations that come to pass 20 centuries after it was built. On return from Egypt & Greece, Emperor Hadrian decided to make a retreat villa (from the chaotic city of Rome) similar to the architecture and worship that he learnt in the eastern section of his empire.

At the end of his reign, Hadrian had his quarters in this impressive villa of 1 sq km. There were various edifices including theatres, Greek and Latin libraries, two bathhouses, formal gardens with fountains, statues, pools, underground for servants, extensive housing for guests and the palace staff.

Today, the villa located 25 km north east of Rome, is nothing but ruins of what was once the glamour of its time.

Little remains of the original villa, because materials were reused to make Villa D’Este in the area, looted by barbarians or civilians and neglected for centuries. Though,16th century excavations brought to life parts of the villa, still large section remains unearthed.

The various sections of the complex recovered in part are: Hall of Doric Pillars (basilica), Temple of Venus, Greek Theatre, Maritime Theatre (Hadrian’s small favorite island), Hall of Philosophers (library), Heliocaminus (baths), Nymphaeum Stadium, Poecile (large garden with swimming pool), Canopus (god Serapis sanctuary with 119 m long canal decorated with statues), Large and Small Thermae (hot & cold baths) and Piazza d’Oro (formal dinning room).



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Trinità Dei Monti (Spanish Steps)

imagesThe Trinità Dei Monti (French church) with the beautiful Scalinata (staircase) beneath it, is a magnificent Roman Baroque style. The design of the staircase opens like a receptacle round the church’s square.

Ideas and efforts to give Trinità Dei Monti a better look by changing the ragged slope below, started in the1580s and continued for almost 140 years.

Initially a French diplomat, Etienne Gueffier, financed the works of Scalinata. Innocent XII finalized the unfinished job under Francesco De Sanctis and Alessandro Spechi (1723-25).

The Scalinata is also called Spanish steps -after a Spanish ambassador living in the area. It has 138 stairs and is the widest of its kind in Europe.

The Barcaccia Fountain, is another attraction at the foot of the Scalinata. Pietro and his son Gian Lorenzo Bernini made this sinking boat (1627-29) to overcome a technical problem due to low water pressure. The boat was meant to be in memory of Tiber river victims in 1598 and the legend is a fisher’s boat was carried by the flood to the exact site, where the Barcaccia Fountain now sits.

This particular site is provided by a metro stop beneath, a parking lot behind and Rome’s expensive shopping street infront.



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St John in Lateran Basilica

sjl1A member of the Laterani family was said to have conspired against Emperor Nero, the emperor in retaliation confiscated and redistributed what belonged to the family. The Lateran Palace was among them. In the 4th century, Emperor Constantine, gave the palace to the Roman Catholics.

As it is officially called, Papal Archbasilica of Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist in Lateran, was restored from its original look by Pope Sixtus V in the 16th century. He demolished the existing building and made a completely new basilica.

In the 10th century, the basilica was first dedicated to St John the Baptist and in the 12th century to St John the Evangelist. These two saints are regarded as co-patrons. But the inscription on the facade shows, Christo Salvatori, Christ the Saviour.

At present, St John, is the oldest and number one of the main four basilicas in Rome. This is a seat to the bishop of Rome, which is the Pope. But due to the workload, this basilica is run by Cardinal Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome.

Roman Catholics are convinced, this church is the mother of all churches, infact the inscription at the facade reads: Most Holy Lateran Church, of all the churches in the city and the world, the mother and head.

In St John square, stands the largest obelisk in the world, which is brought from the Karnak temple of Thebes in Egypt.

St Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine I, brought Scala Sancta to Rome. Roman Catholic church tradition tells, Jesus Christ walked the staircase before Pilate in the city of Jerusalem.



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Precautions In Rome

As any other city on earth, Rome has good and bad sides. Here are some precautions to avoid bad lucks.

pickpockets1. Get clear info of the areas you plan to visit either from the hotel you are staying or Tourist Information kiosks.

2. Ask your hotel reception where you can leave your valuables secure. In any case bring with you photocopy of your documents.

3. Get full info (telephone & address) or business card of the hotel you are staying. This info is helpful in case you get lost.

4. Be equipped with a map (preferably with your hotel indicated clearly).

5. Watch out where you leave your phones, notebooks or cameras.

6. Pull your backpack on the front, especially on public transportation.

7. Don’t, for any reason board a bus or train with out a ticket or unvalidated ticket. Anyone caught with unvalidated ticket is regarded as ‘with out a ticket’. If you don’t find the obliterator machine, either consult the bus driver or write the date & time (h,mm) of boarding with a pen.

8. Getting drunk in a city that you don’t know well might be a snare, and if one does it is friends’ responsibility to accompany him/her back to hotel.

9. Don’t put credit card, wallet, money, cell phones or else on side or back pockets. Advisable to keep’em in the front pocket. If your are pick-pocketed go to the nearest Police Station and they will release you a compliant paper. And call your bank.

10. Better not to leave your friend alone, especially girls, with some one you just met.

11. Late at night,  it is always advisable to roam the city in two or more.

12. To avoid long queues in museums or sites, buy Skip line tickets or reserve a visit via phone or internet.

13. Ask your hotel to order you a cab. If you got cheated by a driver or lost something on the car, your hotel knows who to contact.



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Villa Doria Pamphilj

vdpPope Innocent X (originally Cardinal Giambattista Pamphili), in addition to changing the look of Piazza Navona in remembrance to his Pamphili family, also started renovating the old villa atop Gianicolo hill, bought in 1630 by Pamfilio Pamphili.

The renovated and enlarged villa, then came to be known as Villa Pamphili. A dispute erupted following the death of Girolamo Pamphili’s (last male heir) in 1760. Soon after the last heir died, the dispute continued until 1763.

The dispute was settled down by Pope Clement XIII, who granted the Pamphili heritage to Prince Giovanni Andrea IV Doria based on the marriage between Giovanni Andrea III Doria and Anna Pamphili. After the pope’s ruling, the villa vdp1became Villa Doria Pamphili.

Inside Villa Doria Pamphili there are: gardens, one Casino, one theatre, one chapel, two villas, small lake and fountains. The total area of the park is almost 2 square km. This is an ideal park for jogging, biking, picnic, bird watching, walking and so on.


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The ABCs about Rome

Tips: All roads conduct to Rome. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Rome wasn’t bulupailt in one day.

1. Rome’s would-be founders, Romulus & Remus, were conceived by Rhea Silvia from god Mars or demi-god Hericules. They were abondoned in the Tiber River by Amulius to die, saved by miracles and suckled by a female-wolf.

2. Pantheon means ‘of all gods’. Legend tells, an eagle took the carcass of Romulus (founder of Rome) to heaven from this area.

3. Rome is made up of seven hills east of the Tiber river with in the ancient city. The hills are: Aventine, Caelian, Capitoline, Esquiline, Palatine, Quirinal and Viminal.

4. Augustus established the first Roman Empire in 44 B.C. and Romulus Augustulus was the last emperor.

5. Rome is located on the banks of the Tiber river, which is an important outlet to the sea through Ostia port.

6. Ancient and modern Rome have one important thing in common, large number of gods or modern day saints.

7. Rome is a seat to Roman Catholic church and Vatican city.

8. Vatican city, might mean ‘the hill of prophecy’.

9. SPQR: stands for Senātus Populusque Rōmānus  (literally meaning “The Senate and People of Rome“).

10. Rome is full of beautiful architectures, sculptures and paintings.



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Villa Borghese

vb1The flourishing of Piazza del Popolo beneath the Pincian Hill attracted an investor born with silver spoon in the mouth, a Roman Catholic cardinal and nephew of Pope Paul V. In 1605, Cardinal Scipione Borghese, patron of Bernini, started building a villa comprising a number of buildings, fountains, gardens and museums. In the 19th C much of the old garden was remade with English style landscape. Four centuries later his desire paid off. Today, Villa Borghese is one of the main tourist attractions in Rome.

Villa Borghese is a perfect refuge for tourists and locals alike in its splendid gardens, fountains, villas and museums. It is a large public park with great museum, the Borghese Galleria. It hosts artworks by Bernini, Caravagio, Raphael, Titian, Canova etc. The museum lost almost 700 artworks after one of the villa’s heirs sold them on pressure to Napoleon, now the masterpieces are in exhibition in Louvre. In 1903 the commune of Rome bought the Villa and started opening to public thereof.

To the south the Villa is surrounded by Pincian Hill , Piazza del Popolo gate to its south western entrance, Borghese Museum on its eastern section and Bioparco Zoo to the north east. The villa hosted 1960 Summer Olympics horse jumping, equestrian event and individual jumping in Piazza Siena with in its premises.

The museum allows limited number of visitors, 360 every two hours. Thus booking either by telephone or online is always advisable at least one day prior to visit.

For more info contact: www.galleriaborghese.it



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Piazza Del Popolo

images1People’s Square, located between the Pincio hill and Tiber River is embellished with churches, monuments and fountains. The Via Flaminia highway constructed in 220 BC to connect Rome to the north starts from this square. In 1562 Pope Pius IV made enhancements to the old gate in order to improve the look and impress visitors.

Piazza del Popolo is featured by twin churches (St Mary of Miracles and St Mary in Montesanto), an Egyptian obelisk and three streets projecting from the square into the city center.

The similar churches, that lead to the heart of the city past Via del Corso, were commissioned by Pope Alexander VII in 1658. Though they look identical, one is slightly bigger than the other.

In 1589, Pope Sixtus V erected 23,2m high obelisk at the center of the square which was originally brought to Rome from the sun temple in Heliopolis (Egypt); by Emperor Augustus around 10 BC.

Giuseppe Valadier (1811-1822) once more did the necessary restyling of the old square made in 1572. Bernini again redesigned the massive gate to the north (opening to Via Flaminia), as a sign of gratitude by Pope Alexander VII to Queen Christina’s of Sweden conversion to Roman Catholicism.

The square is close to Villa Borghese, easily accessible by metro, walking distance from the Spanish Steps and Via del Corso (not-cheap shopping street).


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Our Lady Of The Snows

smm‘Virgin Mary’ – as the legend goes – indicated a rich couple to build a temple for her memory by covering an acre of land with snow in the middle of summer. The area indicated by the alleged miracle is on the Esquillian Hill. But the alleged miracle is only reported 1000 years late. The fall of snow is celebrated by throwing white petals atop of the church on August 5.

Led by Pope Liberius (350’s), the couple agreed to finance a temple in Mary’s honour. The couple then dedicated all their fortune to ‘Our Lady of the Snows’ – aka Santa Maria Maggiore/Santa Maria Liberiana or Liberian Basilica (after Pope Liberius).

In 431 the Council of Ephesus proclaimed Mary ‘Mother of God’ and Pope Sixtus III commissioned to make church on the site where ‘Our Lady of the Snows’ had already ordered a temple in her glory.

Since its first start by Liberius in 350’s, Santa Maria Maggiore went through various remodeling works. The apse was restored in 1200. The bell tower was built in the 1300’s. The back was replaced in 1600 and the facade in 1700.

There are many Santa Maria temples in Rome but the largest and important of all is Santa Maria Maggiore . This is one of the four Roman basilicas (St Paul outside the wall, St Peter’s and St John Laterine).



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St Paul Outside The Walls

st paulOnce upon a time, Saul (desired) who was born in Tarsus went to live in Israel. He was trained to be a hardliner, who would defend Jewish religion at any cost.

In the early ministry of Jesus’ disciples in Jerusalem, Saul unconsciously became anti-Christ. He persecuted those who believed on Jesus.

Saul decided to go to Damascus (Syria) to persecute disciples of Jesus. On the way to Damascus Jesus revealed himself to Saul, Saul fell on the earth.

Saul was led to Damascus – for the Splendor of Christ blinded him. Jesus used Hananiah to baptize and give his sight back.

Saul humbled himself before God, testified the death and Resurrection of Jesus for forgiveness of sins to everyone without favor (Jews, Greeks or Gentiles). In the years to follow, Saul was persecuted for his firm faith on Lord Jesus Christ.

Saul ministered in Asia minor, Greece and Rome. He wrote many powerfull books in the New Testament. He spoke fluent Greek and Hebrew. Eventually he was called Paul (small/little).

Paul was beheaded by Nero (67 A.D.) in Rome. It is said Paul’s pupils erected a memorial for him. This memorial eventually became a church (St Paul Outside The Walls) for it is outside the Aurelian walls.

St Paul complex is one of the four main basilicas in Rome: St John Lateran, St Maria Maggiore and St Peter. Paul’s tomb is believed to be right below the altar in the church.



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