Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Colosseum

We took a guided tour of the Colosseum, or at least part of one.
About halfway into the tour we decided this was way more detail than we ever needed or wanted to know about the Colosseum so we ditched the tour and took off to see the rest of it on our own.
It's easy to see where the reconstruction is taking place.
This is looking down at the bottom.  Since the entire floor hasn't been reconstructed, the tunnels that run underneath for the animals or gladiator are exposed.
The size and structure of the Colosseum is pretty impressive in person. Even the statues are amazing.
A video tour inside the Colosseum:
video
Our day in Rome was a successful one and we made it to all of the major sights that we had wanted to see and arrived back at the boat with an hour and a half to spare this time! The train ride back gave us a bit of time to read and relax.
I’m glad that we decided to explore the city on our own. A tour offered by the cruise line that went to the exact same locations would have cost $800 for the two of us. Our trip, transportation, entrance tickets, and all cost $100.

Rome, Italy

We continued on our self-guided tour through Rome, Italy.
As we were walking, we came across what appeared to be a peaceful protest.  Steven thought it would be fun to join, at least long enough for me to take a picture.  I told him that he had better be careful because I would not know how to bail him out of a European jail!
The next stop on our self-guided tour of Rome was Trevi Fountain.   It is quite a bit more unique than just any old fountain. It is the largest Baroque fountain in the city.
I followed the tradition and threw in a coin for good luck.
Steven spotted a man strolling around the fountain, trying to blend in with the tourists. He would scout out the fountain for higher value coins and then extend a stick out of his pocket that would grab the coins quickly. From the fountain we set off walking toward the Colosseum. We just happened upon this massive monument, which we learned was the Monument to the Unknown Soldier.
We continued to the Roman Forum, which dates back to a period before Christ and before the Roman Empire was established.
It includes ruins of arches, cathedrals, and temples. This is located next to the Colosseum.
Even Rome has its share of street performers..here's the silver cowboy.

The Pantheon

After our long walk and detour, we found a public bus that would take us farther into Rome. 
Our next stop was to the Pantheon. We walked up a small street and saw this large building.  It looked like something significant from the back, but we weren't sure what it was. 
Once we walked around it, we realized that it was something significant, it was indeed the Pantheon, the building that we were looking for.
The front of it is currently undergoing some reconstruction work, which I guess is understandable considering it was built 18 centuries ago.
The Pantheon is still the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome.
The Pantheon wa built with a hole in the top of the ceiling to allow the prayers to go up to God.  This was the first pagan temple in Rome to be Christianized.

Sistine Chapel

A lady working in the gift shop pointed us toward the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel.
We bought tickets to get inside and were surprised at how huge the Vatican Museum is; it seemed to stretch the entire length of the city.
The museum was room after room of tapestries, statues, artifacts, and paintings covering the walls and ceilings.
We kept thinking the Sistine Chapel would be around the next corner and were surprised by more rooms. Seriously, this place seemed like the neverending museum!
It was really neat to see the Sistine Chapel in person, especially the famous portion of the painting located in the center of the ceiling that is of the hand of God reaching out to give touch Adam's hand and give him life.
There were no pictures allowed in the Sistine Chapel, as we were constantly reminded by the security guard yelling "No pictures!"  It was pretty dark in there, but I snapped a few pictures on the sly.
 We apparently turned the wrong way as we exited the Sistine Chapel and ended up walking a long way around the huge walls that surround Vatican City. There's no shortcut back through the city, just the main exit and entrance.  At least we can say that we’ve walked most of the way around an entire country!

St. Peter's Basilica

We toured St. Peter’s Basilica, a large ornate structure. It is not a cathedral since it is not the seat of a bishop.  It is termed a papal basilica.
It has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world, holding 60,000 people.

A lot of people believe that the Apostle Peter's tomb is located below the altar built in the basilica.
The basilica is cruciform in shape, meaning it is built in the shape of a cross.