Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Colosseum, the Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum

John and I have always avoided the classic Roman tourist sites -- the Colosseum, the Palatine Hill and the Forum. This year we went to all three.
If you visit only one monument in Rome -- please don't let it be the Colosseum --
a monument best appreciated from the outside.
Don't waste a precious morning in Rome in this uninspiring skeleton.
On the other hand, we were thrilled by the Palatine Hill and the Forum. If you come out of the Colosseo metro stop, walk to the left past the Colosseum -- it really is magnificent from the outside -- and go around past the Arch of Titus (81 AD).
Carry on up the Via San Gregorio to the entrance to the Palatine Hill -- no line-ups.
 We arrived on a blessedly overcast day so that our visit did not roast us alive.
The pine covered Palatine Hill is lovely to the eye.
In May the potentially large and barren remains of the Baths and Palace of Septimius Severus (193-211 AD) were enhanced by wild flowers.
The Stadium -- a public stadium for races, a private track for exercising horses or just a large garden?
The Domus Augustana was a private residence. Geometric foundations of a fountain in a courtyard suggest the grandeur of the huge original building.
Domus Flavia, a "new" palace built in 81 AD had public areas like this broad courtyard,
and a private area with an oval fountain, the centre of a banquet hall.
The view from the 16th century Farnese garden provides a stunning view of the Roman Forum below.
John loved the huge Basilica of Constantine and Maxentius. The Romans liked it big.
An arcade under the Farnese Garden pavilions offered John and I a chance to take a selfie.
Steps lead us down into the Forum where we joined the throngs wandering along the Via Sacra.
The 4th century AD Temple of Romulus, now incorporated as a vestibule into the Church of Cosma and Damiano.
Behind the Porch of the Temple of Antoninus and Fasutina (141 AD) is the Baroque facade of the church of San Lorenzo in Miranda. The Romans love to reuse old monuments.
In the foreground, the Temple of Vesta which held the Sacred Flame of Vesta. In the background, three columns of the Temple of Castor and Pollux (5th century BC), nicknamed "The Three Sisters".
Visitors enter the courtyard of the House of the Vestal Virgins below the crowded belvedere of the Palatine Hill.
 The Vestal Virgins were six daughters of Roman nobility
 who served the Sacred flame of Vesta for 40 years
before retiring in honoured comfort.
The "Three Sisters," the sparse remains of the immense Basilica Julia -- the seat of Rome's law courts, and in the distance the Arch of Septimius Severus (203 AD).
The last monument erected in the Forum -- the Column of Phocas -- erected in 608 AD to commemorate the visit of the Byzantine Emperor.
Exhausted, and in need of lunch we had a tense moment unable to find the exit. We found it with joy  beside the church of San Lorenzo in Miranda

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