Sunday Special – The Pantheon, Rome


I decided to round out letter “P” with an ancient landmark in the Eternal City – Rome’s Pantheon. This remarkable building has some interesting details, as one may expect from the best-preserved ancient Roman building within Rome. The current building was completed around 125 CE, during Emperor Hadrian’s reign. Two previous incarnations of the building existed prior, at the very same site. The first one was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa in 25 – 27 BCE yet burnt down in 80 CE.  It was rebuilt during the time of Domitian, was struck by lightning in 110 CE and subsequently burnt down as well. Initially built as a pagan temple it has been used as a Christian church since 608 CE (Saint Mary and the Martyrs). Having been in continuous use since it was built has aided in its ongoing survival.

One of the most striking features of the Pantheon is its incredible dome. It is the largest unsupported dome in the world. A large circular hole or oculus marks the top which is its primary source of natural light. A unique feature of this oculus is that only on a equinox (April 21) during noon does the light enter at such an angle that it hits a metal grille thus bathing the courtyard with light. Another aspect of dome is that the distance from the floor to its top is equal to the dome’s diameter. 

The Pantheon is open to visitors most everyday (closed on several holidays) and there is no fee to visit. Guided tours do have a fee involved. Tours or visits to walk around are not allowed during mass. Although I have walked past and admired the outside of the Pantheon many years ago I regret that I did not go inside. In my defense I was merely 21 years old and did not know much about it. I guess I will have to return to Rome soon.

Pantheon_-_panoramio_(15)

The Pantheon interior and oculus – Photo credit: Tomi Mäkitalo, Pantheon – panoramio (15)CC BY-SA 3.0

Roma-pantheonnotte

Rome’s Pantheon at night – Photo credit: o2maRoma-pantheonnotteCC BY-SA 2.0

Advertisements

Sunday Special – Florence, Italy


Florence, a city full of architecture, art, history, and culture. This capital city of the Tuscany region saw the dawn of the Renaissance period. It grew on the backdrop of trade, wealth, religion and the power of the Medici family. Today it is a tourist mecca and rightly so as many consider it one of the most beautiful cities on the planet. My first and only visit (to date) was a number of years ago. I recall the the incredible Duomo with its famous red dome, taking in the Ponte Vecchio, seeing stunning works of art at the Uffizi Gallery, and finally seeing Michaelangelo’s David at The Academia (arguably the world’s most stunning statue). Along with these world-renown sites Florence provides much more. Food, coffee, shops, street art, and gardens to picnic in are only a few things to take in. As I think about it, aside from the David I don’t think I appreciated what Florence had to offer as I was fairly young then. I think a do-over is on the horizon. 

11_fi_view1

Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (a.k.a. Il Duomo), Florence – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – taken and owned by Warburg 

By Warburg (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

italy_florence_ponte_vecchio_n_2

Ponte Vecchio, Florence – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – taken and owned by Rolf Sussbrich 

By Rolf Süssbrich (Self-photographed) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday Special – Positano, Italy (on the Almalfi Coast)


As the daylight hours here in Vancouver have been reduced due to the sad end of Daylight Savings Time I imagine places that are reknown for their sunkissed beaches. Recently my Instagram feed has seen a number of posts of this small sea-side Italian town. Set upon a hill that is awash with buildings and homes painted in bright hues it was once a busy port city back in the 1700s and 1800s. Now this town is recognized as one of the most picturesque in all of the Almalfi Coast. Author John Steinbeck wrote a magazine article about its charms back in the 1950s. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones were holidaying in Positano when they wrote “Midnight Rambler”. Plenty of beaches, food, and relaxation seem to be what this popular locale is known for.

positano_-_fornillo_beach

nillo Beach, Positing, Italy – Photo from Wikipedia Commons – Michael Grmek

By Mihael Grmek (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

Sunday’s Special – The Colosseum, Rome


As much as I like researching obscure and lesser known whereabouts (at least to me) to feature on Sundays, now and then it is good to post about famous landmarks around the world. Afterall, they are well known for a reason. Rome’s Colosseum is no exception. A truly stunning building that I was able to see a very long time ago and hope to see once again in the foreseeable future.

Started in 72 C.E. by Roman Emperor Vespasian, it took eight years to complete the oval amphitheatre with its eighty arched entryways and an over 50,000 spectator capacity. Under the rule of Emperor Titus the world’s largest amphitheatre was completed in the year 80 C.E. It was in use for centuries as a battleground for Rome’s infamous gladiators as well as used for chariot racing, battle re-enactments, and gruesome events such as executions of both people and animals.

Despite much of the building destroyed due to earthquakes and stone robbers of years past this ancient edifice boasts throngs of tourists and visitors hoping to glimpse a piece of history and stunning age-old architectural design.  Officially built as The Flavian Amphitheatre, it truly is a sight worth seeing.

Photo credit – Wikimedia Commons Public Domain by Kevin Brintnall

Roman Colosseum Rom

The Colosseum, Rome

Photo Credit – Wikimedia Commons – Taken by User Cynageorge

Colloseum

The Colosseum at lit up at night

Photo credit – Wikimedia Commons Public Domain by Fubar Obfusco

Interior of Roman Colosseum

Interior of Roman Colosseum