Colosseum

Colosseum

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Looking at the Circus Maximus from an emperor's palace

Looking at the Circus Maximus from an emperor’s palace

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Looking out from the Colosseum to Constantine's Arch

Looking out from the Colosseum to Constantine’s Arch

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Circus for chariot races

Circus for chariot races

One of the statues found in the Palatine Hill that used to adorn an emperor's palace.

One of the statues found in the Palatine Hill that used to adorn an emperor’s palace.

Part of the Palatine Hill

Part of the Palatine Hill

Looking back at the Colosseum from the Palatine Hill

Looking back at the Colosseum from the Palatine Hill

St. Peter's in the background from the Palatine Hill

St. Peter’s in the background from the Palatine Hill

Palatine

Palatine

Palatine Hill

Palatine Hill

Foundations of  a temple dating back several hundred B.C.

Foundations of a temple dating back several hundred B.C.

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Arch of Titus

Arch of Titus

Basilica of Constantine - A.D. 312.  Huge building and only one-third of the original still standing.

Basilica of Constantine – A.D. 312. Huge building and only one-third of the original still standing.

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Temple of Antoninius Pius and Faustina - A.D. 138-161

Temple of Antoninius Pius and Faustina – A.D. 138-161

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Temple of Vesta

Temple of Vesta

Temple of Julius Caesar - he was burned on this spot - under that metal roof

Temple of Julius Caesar – he was burned on this spot – under that metal roof

The mound of dirt under the metal roof identifying the spot of Caesar's burning and funeral

The mound of dirt under the metal roof identifying the spot of Caesar’s burning and funeral

Forum Main Square

Forum Main Square

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Forum

Forum

The Curia - Senate house -A.D. 283.  Rome's official center of government

The Curia – Senate house -A.D. 283. Rome’s official center of government

The outside ruins of Basilica Aemilia

The outside ruins of Basilica Aemilia

Arch of Septimus Severus - emperor A.D. 203

Arch of Septimus Severus – emperor A.D. 203

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Caligula's Palace - A.D. 37

Caligula’s Palace – A.D. 37

Basilica Aemilia - Stubby columns all in a row form one long, central hall flanked by two side aisles

Basilica Aemilia – Stubby columns all in a row form one long, central hall flanked by two side aisles

House of the Vestal Virgins

House of the Vestal Virgins

The House of the Vestal Virgins

The House of the Vestal Virgins

Used to be a garden path to walk or for horses

Used to be a garden path to walk or for horses

The garden with remains of fountains at both ends

The garden with remains of fountains at both ends

View of the Palatine Hill

View of the Palatine Hill

DSC05236We were mired in antiquity today.  And did we ever pick a good day to see the Colosseum, Forum, and Palatine Hill.  It was clear blue sky and the first day in months I could go without my coat!  Ancient Rome spanned 1,000 years (500 B.C. to A.D. 500)500 years of growth, 200 years of peak power, and 300 years of gradual decay.  This area is ancient Rome’s birthplace and civic center, and the common ground between Rome’s famous seven hills. As just about anything important that happened in ancient Rome happened here.   We got off the Metro right across the street from the Colosseum so we started there.  It is surprisingly very crowded in Rome this week and they all seemed to be here at the Colosseum.  But we had purchased a Rome pass and were able to go right up to the entrance.  The Colosseum was built when the Roman Empire was at it’s peak in A.D. 80.  It could accommodate 50,000 people.  From there we climbed up tot he Palatine Hill which overlooks the Forum and is jam=packed with history.  We get our word “palace” from this hill, where the emperors chose to live.  On the far side you can look down from an emperor’s private stadium and then beyond at the grassy Circus Maximus where you can envision Ben-Hur and Masala racing their chariots.  Some of the ruins we saw date back hundreds of years B.C.  Hard to comprehend.  Coming down from the Palatine Hill drops you right in the Forum and at the Arch of Titus.  This arch commemorated the Roman victory over the province of Judea in A.D. 70.  The Romans took Jerusalem and brought 50,000 Jewish slaves back and forced them to build this arch and the Colosseum.  We took Rick Steves pages and were able to walk through the Forum and get quite a bit of history on most of the sites.  A couple of noteworthy laces:  The house and temple of the Vestal Virgins where some “lucky” girls are picked at age 10 to serve a 30 year term, taking a vow of chastity and living like nuns.  The girls are chosen from noble families (Cicero’s sister-in-law was one) and were honored and revered.  It was their job to tend to the flame in the Temple of the Vesta.  Also noteworthy is the Temple of Julius Caesar.  His body was burned on this spot after his assassination in 44 B.C.  His house was right behind this temple.  The funeral was held right there facing the main Forum square.  Citizens gathered and speeches were given – Mark Anthony being one of those giving a speech at Caesar’s funeral.  Rome was born in this main Forum Square.  It is now rubble, but at one time it had brilliant marble buildings with 40-foot high columns and shining metal roofs; rows of statues painted in realistic colors; processional chariots rattling down Via Sacra.  We figured after over 4 hours we had done justice to Roman antiquity so we headed for a well-deserved gelato.  Back to our hotel to put our feet up and then we will go out later for a Valentine’s dinner(in the city of love -as my daughter pointed out)!  (Side-note: the pictures may be out of order because of this hotels crapy wifi!)

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