Monday, June 13, 2011

Day Three - I Fori Imperiali

Temple of Saturn - trust me, these columns are monumental. The entire scale of the fora (and yes, I insist on using the Latin plural of forum because it hurts my brain to type "forums") is meant to impress on the viewer the might of Rome and its rulers.

I return to the tour and it is midafternoon of Day Three. Following the restorative lunch on the terazzo of the Palazzo dei Conservatori and the conclusion of our museum tour we climbed the steep and sloping steps to the Chiesa di Santa Maria in Aracoeli. I wanted to take photos but it was forbidden to do so and, unlike most of the tourists with cameras inside, I behaved. The church dates from the sixth century and is situated on the Capitoline peak where a temple of Juno Moneta once stood. The following photos are taken from Wikimedia Commons.

Interior of Sta Maria in Aracoeli

Fresco of Madonna and Child by Pietro Cavallini

Central fresco by Pinturicchio
in the S. Bernardino Chapel (1486).

There are some nice bits in the church, as shown above, but I was not kind in journal comments:
... a horrid clash of too much with an excess of chandeliers - source of immigrant bad taste. Ugh. And the Santo Bambino of olive wood from near Gethsemane in Jerusalem allegedly carved by a Franciscan and painted by an angel is one of those fat ugly babies like so many Gothic & Renaissance Madonna and Child paintings where the baby is butt ugly.
My attitude is most uncharitable but there you have it. There is also a factor that truly puzzles me. Why are so many of the babies in late Gothic and Renaissance paintings lumpy and homely? Seriously. With all the painterly skills of the artists and some lovely women in the role of Mary, were there no pretty babies to be found? I really do wonder and would be interested in any theories.

For now I will pass over our visit to the Mamertine Prison in silence.

Looking down on the eight surviving columns of the Temple of Saturn and the three columns of the Temple of Vespasian. The Capitoline Hill (Campidoglio) is on the right.

Detail from the Arch of Septimius Severus

Massive inscribed stones

Remnants of the Basilica Aemilia. This vast area housed law courts.

Looking up toward the Palatine Hill where the
imperial palaces were located

There is a reason many of our formal typefaces are based on the carvings from imperial Rome. The letters are beautiful.

Would you care to guess the significance of this spot where folks leave flowers and other offerings to this day? You cannot see these unless you walk behind a wall to look.

It is the Altar of Caesar in the ruin of the Temple of Julius Caesar. This is the spot where his body was cremated after his assassination in 44 BCE.

Temple of Saturn and Arch of Septimius Severus

Arch of Septimius Severus

The lone Column of Phocas is the last monument placed in the Fora. It was dedicated on 1 August 608 to honor the Eastern Roman Emperor Phocas who had visited Rome and donated the Pantheon to the Pope.

The Arch of Septimius Severus (yet again) viewed from near its base.

The Temple of Saturn. I wish I could convey the scale. Wait, I believe I can. A photo taken from the Campidoglio overlooking the Fora:

The large columns to the right of center are the Temple of Saturn viewed from their side. Note the people in comparison to the monuments.

Some interesting floral scroll work on a stone fragment.

Remnants of the Temple of Castor and Pollux. There was a temple here from the fifth century BCE but these "modern" bits are from a rebuilding in AD 6.

Some wildflowers growing amid all the stone.

Foundations and retaining walls of palaces as you look from the Fora to the Palatine Hill.

Remnants (with lots of restoration) of the Temple of Vesta where the Vestal Virgins tended the sacred flame.

The Basilica of Constantine and Maxentius with Bill standing in front of it so you can grasp the immensity.

Chiesa di Santa Francesca Romana

The Arch of Titus (19th century reconstruction)

Domitian built the arch in AD 81 to honor the victories of his brother Titus and his father Vespasian. In this panel you can see a menorah being carried forth from looting the Temple in Jerusalem when the Jewish rebellion was put down.

The emperor in his chariot attended by the winged Nike, goddess of victory.

The Senate and the Roman People (SPQR) to the divine Titus son of the divine Vespasian, to Vespasian Augustus.
Looking down the Via Sacra toward the Colosseum

One of the cats of Rome viewing us with indifference

Arch of Constantine


The Colosseum

Our visit to the Fora was rushed as the sun was close to setting and the area was closing as we departed. We returned to our hotel and had snacks and a bottle of wine, quite sufficient at the end of a tiring day.

And that concludes Day Three.

--the BB


Fran said...

Oh this is wonderful, thank you for all of this.

Good point about those babies - I had not thought of that! I have no theories for you though.

Padre Mickey said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing these photos.

Grandmère Mimi said...

I wanted to take photos but it was forbidden to do so and, unlike most of the tourists with cameras inside, I behaved.

Paul, I behave, too, as others are snapping away. Are we stupid?

I've seen a good many of the places in your wonderful pictures, but they tend to run together in my memory, except, of course, for the Colosseum, which is unique and doesn't resemble anything else in Rome - so far as I remember.

Thanks for posting your pictures.

Paul said...

Not stupid, Mimi, we are cooperative citizens who try to be good guests.

I still have a week and a half to post but it is slow going. I have enjoyed your tour of Scotland and enjoy returning the favor.