Rome, which once was the capital of the world, in the times of the Ancient Romans, has tourist attractions aplenty, and having already discussed some spectacular historical sites in two previous articles, you’ll be impressed to hear that the city has even more to offer. In comparison to those discussed so far, these sites may not be quite so world famous, but still stand out in the modern city landscape of today’s Rome, where the old is constantly merged with the new.
The Pantheon has achieved some fame across the world. A large circular church, this building makes quite an impact, packed into a small square amongst a variety of other buildings including hotels and quaint café’s. Its huge dome roof, with a hole at the centre to let light in is a marvel to behold from the inside, where one feels almost overwhelmed by the huge space they find themselves in. The hole does not even have a window, so that when it rains, water falls directly into the church, which must be quite distracting during a service. From the front, the building has a series of large Roman columns in a similar fashion to those of many other buildings around the city, but once inside, you realise that this building is something altogether rather different. Across the whole city, the Pantheon is in fact the best preserved of all the Ancient Roman monuments and it is something of a mystery how this building has remained so intact. The material from which it is primarily composed has not yet been identified, but it appears to be very similar to modern day concrete. The age of this building too is not precisely known, since the only sources which really suggest its creation are Ancient Roman legends.
A few streets from here, you’ll find the Trevi fountain, also of some renown. This fountain is semi-circular with a very large statue at the centre. It is one of the oldest water sources in the city, and is named for its placement at a junction between three roads, being literally called the ‘Three streets fountain’. The fountain was designed by Salvi, a Roman architect, who won the rights to design the fountain in a competition, and the building of his design was funded by the Ancient Roman version of the lottery. It is made mostly from Travertine stone, the same material as the Colosseum and releases about 2,824,800 cubic feet of water every day, though luckily this is recycled. Many tourists throw a coin over their shoulder into the fountain because of the legend that this will ensure they return to Rome in the future. This is in fact based on the Roman legend that it would ensure you return home safely. The coins thrown into the fountain are in fact cleared up every night and given to charity, so whether or not you believe in the legends, this may be a nice activity to take part in during your visit. Unfortunately, the fountain is currently closed for restoration work, so if you’re visiting in the next year, you may see the monument in a slightly different light, but this work means that the fountain will be around for many more years, so thousands more can enjoy it. What’s perhaps hardest is to resist the temptation of collapsing into the cool blue water on a hot summer’s day.
These two sites are both found to the East of the river, near the Quirinal Palace which is the home of the Italian President, a little like 10 Downing Street in the UK, and there are also some pretty little parks around the area. This part of the capital is slightly more relaxed for sightseeing than the much more tourist packed areas of the Vatican and the Colosseum, and it is a nice place to spend a day when you don’t want to be rushing around trying to see everything.
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