There is a place in Rome where, in place of the monument or archaeological ruin, we find only a moat oblong, covered by a green meadow, where today the Romans are accustomed to jog or take a walk dogs: well this space emptiness is not other than form, "the mold" of what was once the Circus Maximus. The "miracle" of the Circus Maximus is also constitute a tourist attraction just as Rome has preserved space, the area on which stood one of the longest arenas of its history. The huge elliptical shape of the Circus Maximus in the valley extends Murcia, between the Palatine Hill and the Aventine Hill. From the first centuries of Rome, the valley was reclaimed from the original marshes and used the games of the circus, in particular to horse racing. Here would come the famous Rape of the Sabines, and again, in this site, the Etruscan king Tarquinius Priscus organized the first games of the Ludi Magni, dedicated to Jupiter.

The Circus Maximus has colossal dimensions, 621 feet long by 118 wide, and could also contain 250,000 spectators. Augustus made ​​it a spectacular center of attraction inaugurating, with music and shows, races with the chariot and the chariot, racing with the elephants, which also entailed a serious risk for the spectators and diversions, such as games with prizes, thanks to which the lucky viewer could win even the villas or a ship. Even with these gimmicks subsided the popular discontent. As was the viewer of the Colosseum, also those who attended the Circus Maximus could attend the naval battles, or a simulated naval battles that took place through a system of pipes that made possible the merging of the water of the Tiber in the arena. The Circus was embellished by Augustus with the obelisk of Ramses II, was stolen from Egypt, which today can be admired in Piazza del Popolo. Another obelisk and arcs, dolphins and other stone ornaments were set up along the so-called central "backbone", around which the chariots had to make seven laps complete. Walking in the green river bed which stood in the Circus Maximus, you can still see the shape of the original structure, with three floors, of which only a few ruins remain. And it is on these remote ruins of the Circus which is a medieval tower of the twelfth century, the Tower of Moletta. Rome continues to live again on the form and on the ruins of previous eras, readapt the past to the present time.


A Detailed History

The first installations of wood, probably largely furniture, date back time of Tarquinius Priscus, in the first half of the sixth century BC The construction of the first stable implants dates back to 329 BC, when they were built the first carceres. The first masonry structures, especially related to the equipment for the races, there were probably only in the second century BC and was Gaius Julius Caesar to build the first stone seats and give the final shape of the building, starting from 46 BC.

The monument was restored after a fire and probably completed by Augustus, who added you to decorate the plug (as evidenced by a coin of Caracalla) an obelisk of Ramses II brought out of Egypt, the obelisk Flaminio, which in the sixteenth century it was moved by Pope Sixtus V in Piazza del Popolo. In 357 a second obelisk was brought to Rome by Emperor Constantius II and erected by the praefectus urbi Memmio Vitrasio Orfito on the plug, and today is located in front of St. John Lateran.

Other renovations took place under the emperors Tiberius and Nero, and an arc was built by Titus in 81 curved in the middle of the short side: it was a monumental step integrated into the structures of the circus.

After a serious fire under Domitian, reconstruction, you probably already begun under this emperor, was completed by Trajan in 103: date back to this period most of the remains have come down to us. They are still remembered restorations under Antoninus Pius, Caracalla and Constantine I. The circus was in efficiency of up to the last races organized by Totila in 549.


Structure and uses

The size of the circus were exceptional: long 621 m and width 118 could accommodate about 250,000 spectators. The façade had three orders: only the lower one, double height, was arched. The cavea rested on masonry structures, which housed the steps and stairs to reach the different sectors of the seats, service areas and interiors of shops open to the outside. The arena was originally surrounded by a Euripos (channel) almost 3 m wide, later removed to add more seats.

On the south side is currently a medieval tower called "Moletta" belonged to the Frangipane. In the arena, were held chariot races, with twelve chariots (four-horse chariot) who made seven laps around the central spine between the two destinations. The plug was richly decorated with statues, shrines and temples, and there were seven eggs and seven dolphins from which water flowed, used to count the laps of the race.

The twelve carceres, the starting structure that was on the short side straight towards the Tiber, arranged obliquely to allow alignment of the start, were equipped with a mechanism that allowed the simultaneous opening.


Medieval and modern uses of the Circus

In the Middle Ages the area surrounding it was gradually silting and was used for agricultural use.

In the Renaissance we know that the area was reduced to a swamp, where, in 1587, the two obelisks were carved out of the plug by Domenico Fontana, by order of Pope Sixtus V. The work was complex and expensive because of the water that flowed from every part of the valley, making it suitable for cultivating and facilitating the creation of vegetable gardens, which in fact were numerous and contiguous to each other. In the Nolli map of Rome of 1748 they are property of the Convent of Santa Maria in Cosmedin of Sant 'Eligio dei Ferrari, San Silvestrino and the Marquis del Bufalo, whose gardens were neighbors, almost occupied by the Jewish Cemetery, whose history is very strange.

During the long period of seclusion of the Jews in the Ghetto of Rome was forbidden for them to own property, an exception was made ​​only for the Company of Charity and Death, which was to provide for the burial of the dead. It had some land near the Church of San Francesco a Ripa in Trastevere, but in 1587 work on the new walls of Portaportese greatly narrowed their properties, so that Pope Innocent X in 1645, granted to the Company to purchase additional land for the cemetery, which were identified in the area of the Circus Massimo, in a series of vineyards neighboring with each other that they came to achieve the marrana Crabra water, in the long side south of the valley. The cemetery was active until 1894, when it was opened the new Jewish cemetery at the Verano and from then on there were only buried in the graves of deceased family.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the area was still largely agricultural and occupied by several buildings "utility", over a considerable elevation of about 8 meters of ground compared to the share of Rome. The ancient structure is now recognizable only by the persistence of some workshops (a blacksmith, a workshop of plein air curtains, became a tavern restaurant) at the end of Via dei Cerchi, under the Palatine. The work of liberation took place between 1911 and the subsequent thirty years.

In 1934 began the construction of the new route of the Circus Maximus.

During the work on the construction of the new road, the valley of the Circus Maximus was freed of all sheds and industrial buildings that had occupied and became the meadow we see today, while the Torre dei Frangipane was isolated and restored. They were also saved the cypresses of the Jewish Cemetery which, being on the route of the new road, they should be killed and instead were moved by Muííoz in the new square Romulus and Remus and along the edges of the new road, with a daring and successful operation of transplantation, the subject of interest and curiosity of his contemporaries especially for the funny-looking trees hooded with moist cloth to reduce perspiration.

In 1959 here were to take place outdoor shooting of the chariot race in the film Ben Hur, but in the end the Superintendent refused permission to the set, he was forced to move to the Circus of Maxentius on the Appian Way. For the vast availability of open space "is not dulled " in the historical center of the city (the Circus Maximus is still inside the Aurelian Walls but at the center of a huge green area crossed by numerous archaeological and public transport), the Circus Maximus was chosen more and more often as a venue for large scale events: concerts, shows, jubilees, events - here are the ideal space:

• Between the concerts, are those held by Antonello Venditti from which they were derived two live albums: Circus Maximus Circus Maximus in 1983 and 2001.

• In May 2000 and in June 2001 it hosted the celebrations for the victory of the badges of Lazio and Rome, in March 2002 a demonstration against the abolition of Article 18 of the Statute of Workers organized by the CGIL.

• On 10 July 2006, after the victory in the World Cup in Italy, there was organized a party, July 14, 2007 you have played the Genesis at the Telecomcert.

• On the occasion of the 2007 White Night Circus Maximus hosted the installation Maximum Silence by Giancarlo Blacks.

• On April 4, 2009 was the scene of a single manifestation of the CGIL

• At Europride 2011 was held in the Italian capital on June 11, is used as the last stage of the event closed by the Italian-American singer Lady Gaga.




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Italian version of

Imposing monument on the Tiber which represents almost two thousand years of the history of Rome, the Emperor Hadrian unification of Italy. It was Mausoleum, fortress, prison and now papal Museum.

Castle of the Holy Angel (or Mole Adrianorum or "Castellum Crescentii" in X -XII sec.), Also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian, is a monument in Rome, linked to the State of the Vatican through the fortified corridor of the "small step". The castle has been radically changed several times during the Middle Ages and Renaissance situated on the right bank of the Tiber, opposite the pons Aelius (Ponte Sant'Angelo current) are close to the Vatican, in the Borgo district.

Castle of the Holy Angel was started to built by Hadrian as his mausoleum funeral, inspired by the now complete the mausoleum of Augustus, completed by Antoninus Pius, was built in front of the Campus Martius which was joined by a specially constructed bridge, the Ponte Elio.

Today visitors access them from the passage on which the funeral procession passed the same Hadrian.

Up to the eleventh century is called Adrianeum or templum et castellum Adriani, to remember its origin (Imperial Tomb of Emperor Hadrian for himself and successors).

In 403 the Emperor Honorius in the West including the building in the Aurelian Walls: since that time the building lost its original function of tomb becoming a fortress, a bulwark in defense advanced beyond the Tiber in Rome. It was then that the mausoleum was shown for the first time with the name of castellum.

Many Roman families if they fight for possession, which seems to ensure a leading position within the legal system of the City confused: it will be important stronghold of the many senators. It 'just a pope, Nicholas III, to have manufactured the Passetto, the bridge connecting the Vatican to the Castle, in a physical continuity and ideal.

In 974 he seizes Crescentius, the family of Alberico, which further strengthens: therefore was renamed Castrum Crescentii. This name will last until the second half of the fifteenth century, then finally giving way to the current name.

In 1367, the keys to the building are delivered to Pope Urban V, to urge the return of the Curia in Rome from exile. From this moment on, Castle of the Holy Angel inextricably linked its fate to that of the popes, which are easily adapted to residence in which to take refuge in times of danger. Thanks to its solid structure and strengthened and its reputation for impregnability of the castle houses the Archives and the Vatican treasures, but will also be adapted to the court and prison.

The long and varied history of the building, with its many changes seems to have unsettled the complicated maze of underground rooms, balconies, stairways and courtyards that make up the current structure of the Castle.

While all the other Roman monuments are reduced to ruins or quarries counting to be recycled into new modern buildings, the Castle, through an uninterrupted series of developments and transformations, the castle, accompanied by nearly two thousand years the fate and history of Rome.

After the unification of Italy was initially used as a barracks, then a museum.

In its courtyard, formerly garden funeral, there is a statue by Raffaello da Montelupo that represents an Angel who draws his sword.

From the courtyard, with the front of Michelangelo in 1514 leads to the Hall of Apollo with the presence of beautiful frescoes.

Since its establishment in 1925, Castle of the Holy Angel has undergone numerous transformations and interventions, able to catalyze the interest of the millions of visitors each year who flock to its spaces to visit its charming rooms, admire the valuable collections of paintings and artifacts, enjoy the many exhibitions and temporary exhibitions that take place inside the castle during the year.


Architectural history

Built in 130 Mausoleum of Hadrian, was built on a square base, (89 meters on each side)15 meters high with a central cylindrical building 21 meters high (64 feet in diameter) and a mound of earth covered with vegetation, all surrounded by statues of the emperors.

The central cylindrical core corresponds to the Roman, private, however, the original marble cladding in the Middle Ages.

All inside of the central cylindrical tower, leads to a grand foyer with a barrel vault.

Stand outside, travertine, was perhaps decorated at the top by a Doric frieze and metopes in triglife, while all around you develop the courtyard, called "balls" to the piles of balls of marble and granite placed, and were part the ammunition of the castle. (Even today, all inside are visible numerous finds of ancient and medieval weapons).

The studies and research carried out appearance taken from the castle during the Middle Ages, in fact exclude the presence of decorative trappings, favoring the defensive function of the monument. It was necessary to guarantee the impregnability of the structure without regard to its aesthetics. At the bottom of Castle of the Holy Angel played this role to perfection over the centuries.

The interior of the castle, remodeled during the Renaissance has undergone the transformation of the inner rooms, with embellishment typical of frescoes, paintings and furniture.


History of the name

Up to the eleventh century is called Adrianeum and also templum Adriani and templum et castellum Adriani, as nell'ardo Benedictine, in memory of its origin by Emperor Hadrian in 135 because it would serve as a tomb for himself and his imperial successors. The memory of these names is in the diction of modern Hadrian.

In 359, Honorius includes it in the walls of Rome, transforming it into a kind of fortress for the defense of the city date from then the name of castellum.

In 974 he seizes Crescentius, the family of Alberico, which further strengthens: therefore was renamed Castrum Crescentii. This name will last until the second half of the fifteenth century, then finally giving way to the current condition.

In the sixth century the name also appears Castellum Sancti Angeli, in memory of the vision of the Archangel Michael deposed sword on Hadrian had by Pope Gregory the Great in a solemn penitential procession to ward off the plague that was raging in Rome, interpreted as an omen of vision imminent end of the plague, which took place on time.

From the eleventh century papal bulls in using the term mixed nostrum Crescenzii and Castrum Castrum Sancti Angeli.

In the chansons de geste is also known as Tower or Palais Croissant, naming the latter that is the translation of Crescentii but which literally translated means "moon palace" curiously referring to the leavened dough in two tips that typically accompanies the "cappuccino", called precisely in France “croissant".

Before the year one thousand reporters call domus Theodorici and also because carceres Theodorici Theodoric king of Italy (493-526)it into a prison, function maintained even under the popes and the Italian government until 1901.


Prisoners of Castle of the Holy Angel

Castle of the Holy Angel in many environments are intended to prison, can still be visited. The cell 's most infamous was the one called San Sammalò or Morocco, on the back of the bastion of San Marco. The condemned man was lowered from the top and you barely had room to settle in the middle folded, unable neither stand nor lying. The cell was once one of the four air vents that gave the central hall of the Mausoleum of Hadrian, where they were imperial urns, and which overlooked the flight of stairs. In the Middle Ages had been transformed into a secret here was made ​​a drawing of the dark "San Morocco", then spelled as "Sammalò". In the lower floor of the semicircular construction of the Cortile del Pozzo, built by Alexander VI, the cells were reserved for characters in this regard. Here, between 1538 and 1539 was held Benvenuto Cellini. His famous escape: the artist managed to escape an evening of celebration at the castle climbing down from the top of the wall with a rope made ​​with the sheets. In the fall broke his leg but still managed to reach the house of Cardinal Cornaro, his friend. Recaptured, was brought back to Castle of the Holy Angel and locked up in the "secret" cells, escape-proof. Are the prisons historic Castle of the Holy Angel. Cellini stood in particular in that of "a preacher of Foiano", that there had been starved to death, remained there a year, then was pardoned by the pope through the intercession of Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este and the king of France, his great admirers. His cell is famous because of a wall Cellmi designed with a rudimentary charcoal, according to what he says in his Life (I, 120), a risen Christ, of which even today visitors it indicates a trace. In fact, these remnants of charcoal would be merely signs "produced by crevasses of whitewashed wall is not for centuries".

On the so-called Giretto of Pius IV, to the right of the Loggia of Paul III, eleven prisons used for political prisoners. Rooms were originally built for the family of Pope Gregory XVI.

In ancient upper loggia of the pontifical apartment of Paul III is the Cagliostra, so called because in 1789 there was held captive the famous adventurer Giuseppe Balsamo, Count Cagliostro said. It was a luxury prison inmates bound to respect.

In the cells of Castle of the Holy Angel were kept prisoners, among others, humanists Platina and Pomponio Leto, Beatrice Cenci, who was sentenced to death despite his young age and the extenuating circumstances, and Giordano Bruno, in addition to the patriots during the Italian Risorgimento.

Unlike Benvenuto Cellini, many illustrious prisoners of Castle of the Holy Angel lost their lives. Many of these were victims of the Borgias. Among them, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Orsini. This was imprisoned in Castle of the Holy Angel on charges of attempting to poison Pope Alexander VI. Given the seriousness of the accusation, the mother and the lover of the cardinal, fearing for the fate of their loved stood before the pope with an offer: a rare and precious in exchange for the cardinal. Note was the weakness of the Borgias for pearls, it seems that Lucrezia he possessed more than three thousand. The pope accepted the proposal, took the pearl and keeping his word, returned the cardinal died.

The processes were performed in the Hall of Justice, capital punishment generally performed outside the castle, in the square beyond the Ponte Sant'Angelo, although there were numerous summary executions inside the castle and in the same prisons. In the courtyard area in front of the Chapel of the Crucifix in the nineteenth century were sentenced or executed death sentences by firing squad. Each execution of a death sentence sounded in the Bell died of Mercy, on the terrace at the foot of the statue of the Angel.

The prisons make up the scene of the third act of Tosca by Giacomo Puccini, set in Rome in 1800, the painter Cavaradossi, sentenced to death, ends up in the Castel Sant'Angelo, is shot here in the yard and his lover, Tosca, for despair, commits suicide jumping from the battlements of the castle.


The angels of Castle of the Holy Angel

To commemorate the event which gave its name to the current structure, the statue of an angel crowns the building. Originally it was a wooden statue which ended up consuption, the second angel, marble, was destroyed in a siege in 1379 and replaced in 1453 by a marble angel with bronze wings. This angel was destroyed by lightning nel1497 who blew up a powder keg in the castle, and was replaced with a golden bronze in 1527 but was melted down to make cannons. Finally it was the turn of a statue in marble with bronze wings of Raffaello da Montelupo dating from the sixteenth century and is currently visible in the Courtyard of the Angel, and then, in 1753, came the current bronze angel of Pierre van Verschaffelt submitted to restoration between 1983 and 1986.

Works of art

• Lorenzo Lotto, Penitent St. Jerome, around 1509

• Carlo Crivelli, Blessing Christ and Onofrio, 1493


In popular culture

• On the model of Castle of the Holy Angel was built in the Abbey of Neustift in Tyrol, in the fifteenth century, a unique round church conceived as a fortress to defend against the Turks and dedicated to Archangel Michael, that, because of its character fortified, "Engelsburg".

• Giacomo Puccini setting for Castle of the Holy Angel the last act of Tosca.

• The castle is present as the setting in the book Angels and Demons by Dan Brown.

• Even the world of video games dedicated a large page at the castle: to remember the last mission of Assassin 's Creed II and a good part of Assassin 's Creed: Brotherhood almost entirely set in Rome.

• In the Roman dialect, the building is called " The cagliostra ", from the imprisonment of Cagliostro.


A Detailed History


Started by Emperor Hadrian in 125 as his funeral mausoleum, inspired by the now complete mausoleum of Augustus, was completed by Antoninus Pius in 139. It was built in front of the Campus Martius which was joined by a specially constructed bridge, the Ponte Elio. The mausoleum was composed of a cubic base, coated lunense, with a decorative frieze with heads of cattle (Bucrani) and corner pilasters. In the frieze overlooking the river you could read the names of the emperors buried inside. On this side was the ARC entry titled Hadrian, the dromos (step entrance) was entirely covered with antique yellow marble.

Above the base cube lay a drum made ​​of lava stone and cement work (opus caementicium) all covered with travertine and fluted pilasters. On top of it there was a mound of earth planted with trees surrounded by marble statues (there are fragments). The mound was finally topped by a bronze quadriga led by Emperor Hadrian depicted as the sun set on a high basement, or, according to others, on a circular tholos. Around the mausoleum ran a wall with bronze gate decorated with peacocks, two of them are preserved in the Vatican.

In light wells lit up the spiral staircase covered in marble tile that connected the entrance passage to the cell at the center of the mound. The latter, square and is entirely covered with polychrome marble and was surmounted by two other rooms, maybe they used as sepulchral cells.

The mausoleum housed the remains of the Emperor Hadrian and his wife Sabina, the emperor Antoninus Pius, his wife Faustina major and three of their children, Lucio Elio Caesar, Commodus, the Emperor Marcus Aurelius and three other of his sons, the emperor Septimius Severus, his wife Julia Domna and their sons and emperors Geta and Caracalla.

The mausoleum took its current name in 590. That Rome was afflicted by a severe plague, which was organized to stave off a solemn penitential procession which was attended by the same Pope Gregory I. When the procession reached near the Mausoleum of Hadrian, the pope had a vision of the archangel Michael sheathing his sword. The vision was interpreted as a heavenly sign foreboding the imminent end of the epidemic, what actually happened. Since then, the Romans began to call Castle of the Holy Angel Hadrian and in memory of the miracle in the thirteenth century placed on the highest rampart of the castle an angel in the act of sheathing his sword. Even today in the Capitoline Museums is a circular stone with footprints that traditionally would be those left by the Archangel when he stopped to announce the end of the plague.


From the Middle Ages to the present day

In 403 the Emperor Honorius in the West including the building in the Aurelian Walls: since that time the building lost its original function of tomb becoming a fortress, a bulwark in defense advanced beyond the Tiber in Rome.

It was then that the mausoleum was shown for the first time with the name of castellum. He saved the Vatican area from the sack of the Visigoths under Alaric in 410 and 455 of the Vandals of Genseric. Then the Romans to defend themselves on the assailants threw everything they had at hand, even the statues: one of these, the so-called Barberini Faun, will be found later in the ditches of the fort.

At the beginning of the eleventh century, was used as a state prison by Theodoric.

His tenure was disputed by many noble Roman families: in the first half of the tenth century, the mole became the stronghold of Senator Theophylact and his family, his daughter and grandson Marozia Alberico, who used it as a prison, use the castle keep until 1901.

In 932 Marozia, already mistress of Pope Sergius III and wife of the Marquis Alberic I of Spoleto and then Guido of Tuscany, perhaps to the " spiritual " wanted to celebrate his third marriage with Hugh of Provence in the burial chamber of the emperors in Castle of the Holy Angel. But the gesture brought her luck because during the wedding banquet Alberico II, the son of the first bed, suddenly appeared in the Castle of the Holy Angel forcing Hugh to escape and seizing of power. Marozia darkly end his days in a prison of Castle of the Holy Angel.

In the second half of the tenth century the castle passed into the hands of Crescenzi, and remained there for a century, during which the Crescenzi strengthened him enough to impose their name to the building: Castrum Crescentii. Castel Sant'Angelo with this name will be identified for a long time, even after the transfer of ownership to Pierleonis and later the Orsini.

Nicholas III, Pope of this family, given the reputation of impregnability of the castle and its proximity to the Basilica of St. Peter and the Vatican Palace, he decided to transfer you part of the Apostolic See, then in the Lateran Palace, which he judged unsafe. To ensure greater security in the Vatican Palace built the famous passageway, which was the protected passage to the pope from St. Peter's Basilica at the fortress.

In 1367, the keys to the building were delivered to Pope Urban V, to solicit the return from exile in Avignon. From this moment Castle of the Holy Angel inextricably linked its fate to that of the Popes: for its solid structure and fortified the popes will use it as a refuge in times of danger, to accommodate the Archives and the Vatican Treasury, as well as the court and prison.

In 1379 the castle was reduced almost to the ground by the people enraged against the French garrison left to garrison the castle by Urban V. To begin the rebuilding was in 1395 Pope Boniface IX, who commissioned the architect Niccolo Lamberti military to carry out a series of measures to upgrade the defensive structure of the castle. The entrance to the castle became possible only through a single access ramp and a drawbridge. On top of the building was rebuilt the chapel dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel.


A view of the Castle of the Holy Angel in a painting at the end of the seventeenth century

In the next four centuries follow each other interventions and transformations: Nicholas V (1447-1455) endowed the castle of a papal residence - the first inside the building - and released three bastions at the corners of the quadrangle outside. In addition to the provident remake of the Ponte Sant'Angelo, which collapsed on the occasion of the jubilee events. Alexander VI commissioned the architect Antonio da Sangallo the Elder of further fortification works, after which the building took on the character of a real military stronghold according to the latest techniques of "modern fortification": four bastions were built pentagonal, dedicated to the holy Evangelists, that incorporate the previous structures built under Nicholas V. To provide greater control on the access routes to the castle pope Alexander VI had then raise an additional cylindrical tower at the entrance of the bridge and around the walls dug a moat filled with the waters of the Tiber. The work ordered by Alexander VI were not directed only to the strengthening of the defensive structure of the building, the pope gave to the castle for a new apartment, which he frescoed by Pinturicchio and added, gardens and fountains. During his pontificate Alexander transformed the castle, where he loved to reside in a luxurious palace where organized banquets, parties and theatrical performances. The chronicles describe the home as luxurious and opulent but today nothing remains of it, having been demolished by Pope Urban VIII in 1628 to make way for new fortifications.

The fortification works of Alexander VI allowed, 32 years later, Pope Clement VII to withstand seven months siege of the troops of Charles V, the famous Lanzichenecchi, May 6, 1527 that began the sack of Rome.

Clement VII in 1525 built the stove, as it was then called a private bathroom, a small room painted with ornaments uninitiated: dolphins, shells, nymphs, cupids, mythological characters, still be visited today. In the room there was also a tank in which the water was poured from a bronze nude Venus, then lost.

The sack of Rome proved the usefulness of the castle to the popes, who undertook great works of adaptation, setting up a real papal residence. In 1542 Paul III had the castle restored by architects Sinibaldi Raffaello da Montelupo and Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, since 1520 chief architect of the building of St Peter. The room decoration was entrusted to Perino del Vaga and Luzio Luzi from Todi, with the collaboration of Livio Agresti from Forlì. The large pentagonal ramparts surrounding it, the last episode in a long history of fortifications, was begun under Pope Paul IV (1555 - 1559) and completed by his successors by Francesco Laparelli. In 1630 Pope Urban VIII destroyed all the fortifications front, including the Borgia tower between the bridge and the castle, and moved to the right side the front door. In addition, he built a large curtain wall panel.

Between 1667 and 1669 Clement IX, ordered the ten marble angels on the Ponte Elio: since then, the bridge is also called Sant'Angelo.

In the nineteenth century the castle was used exclusively as a political prison, called by the name of Fort St. Angelo.

After the unification of Italy was initially used as a barracks, then for the museum. To this end, it was the object of restoration work by the Italian Army Corps of Engineers, under the leadership of Major Mariano Borgatti, then became the first director of the National Museum of Castle of the Holy Angel opened February 13, 1906. Through the merits recognized his work as superintendent of the restoration Borgatti was promoted to general. In fact the results of the restoration works were judged by many rather questionable because it led to a cancellation of the impression of the two thousand year old castle. The restoration of 1933-34 restored the moats and ramparts and arranged in the garden area between the town square and pentagonal structure.

In 2008 the museum was visited by 734,585 people.




Translated via software



Italian version of

The Pantheon was a Roman sundial?

The mystery has always surrounded what lies behind the unusual design of the Pantheon, a large temple in the heart of Rome, built by Emperor Hadrian.

Now experts have developed an intriguing theory, namely that the temple acted as a colossal sundial, with a beam of light illuminating its enormous entrance at the precise moment when the emperor entered the building.

Completed in 128 AD, the hemispherical dome of the Pantheon is perforated by a circular hole of 9 meters known as ' oculus '. It provides the building the only source of natural light.

Giulio Magli, professor of archaeoastronomy at Milan Polytechnic, and Robert Hannah, a scholar of classical literature at the University of Otago in New Zealand, they discovered that just at midday during the March equinox, a circular beam of light shines through the oculus and illuminates the imposing entrance of the Pantheon.

The two work on this theory since 2009, but recently they released all their research in the journal Numen.

The precise calculations made ​​in the positioning and construction of the Pantheon have made it possible that the size and shape of the light beam correspond perfectly, until the last centimeter, in a semicircular stone arch above the door.

A similar effect is seen on April 21, the day that the Romans celebrated as the date of foundation of the city, at noon when the light beam strikes a metal grille over the door, illuminating the backyard porch.

These effects would be seen by the Romans as elevation of the emperor in the realm of the gods - a cosmological affirmation of his divine power coming into the building, which was used as a courtroom, as well as a place of worship.

In fact, he was "invited" by the sun to enter the Pantheon, which, as the name suggests, it was dedicated to the most important deities of the Roman world.

"The emperor would have been illuminated by lights like in a film studio," says Magli. " The Romans believed that the relationship between the emperor and the celestial spheres reached its peak during the equinoxes. It would be a glorification of the power of the emperor and Rome itself. "

The Sun had a special meaning for the Romans, as he had for the ancient Egyptians. The god Apollo was associated with the Sun, and the Emperor Nero was depicted as the sun god greek helium in a giant statue, the Colossus of Nero.

The conservation of the Pantheon is due to the conversion into the church during the seventh century, when the Byzantine emperor Phocas gave it to Pope.

The building retains its original bronze doors and its marble columns, material partially extracted in the Egyptian desert and transported by ship along the Nile and across the Mediterranean to Rome.

Today, the Pantheon contains the tombs of King Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of Italy, and Raphael.


Other legends and curiosities

• According to popular tradition, the Roman shallow moat that surrounds the building of the Pantheon was not excavated by human hands. It is said that one day the devil was waiting for the pledge of magician Peter Bailardo for his services. Once it leaves the Pantheon paid the devil with only four nuts and then took refuge in the church. So the devil, angry at the indignity suffered sank into the flames in the bowels of the Earth to create furrows called just " moat of the devil."

• Legend has it that it was built after the appearance of Cybele (comparable to the Virgin Mary to Christians), a goddess who asked him to build a temple even providing instructions on how it must have

• The weight of each stone construction Pantheon reaches up to 90 tons. Marble slabs that are more than 2000 years ago come from Egypt for the erection of the new Roman temple.

• The entire building of the Pantheon can be inscribed in a perfect sphere. The building height is equal to its diameter and measuring 43.44 m to 43.44 m. This feature meets the criteria of classical architecture balanced and stable. In the Pantheon these principles are summarized by the harmony of lines and perfect calculation of the geometry of the masses.

• The dome of the Pantheon is built in concrete at the time of building the largest ever built in masonry. It was the work of reconstruction in 128 AD The building suffered under the rule of Emperor Hadrian. Until the completion of Brunelleschi's Dome (1436) the dome of the Pantheon was the largest ever built.

• The dome was so great that it was considered impossible that had been created by human hands for this was also called the Devil's Dome.



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The Baths of Caracalla or Antonine (named after the dynasty of the Antonines), constitute one of the greatest examples of the imperial baths of Rome, being still preserved for a large part of their structure and free of modern buildings (located between Porta Capena and Circus Maximum).

They were constructed by Emperor Caracalla on the Aventine, between 212 and 217, as shown by the brick stamps, in an area near the Circus Maximus. The baths were great, but the intended use of the mass populace of the nearby neighborhoods of Regio XII.

The baths were populated by men and women, old and children, artisans and soldiers, rich and slaves. The Roman baths were a place that united all, without any distinction.

Were used as a place to relax, chat, and take a bath.

The Baths of Caracalla were considered magnificent until the fifth century and in fact offered any kind of comfort to the 6000 - 8000 visitors who spent the day, including libraries, gyms and gardens.

The perfume that you could feel around the whole area of the spa was that of burning wood (just what you can feel in our homes while burning wood in a fireplace). In fact, the large thermal plant boilers were fueled by tons of timber: their fuel.


Description of the structure

Think about 1,500 people, was this capacity, they do sports activities in the gym which in turn opens onto four rooms, plant and sizes, all heated where the large southwest facing windows to get sun until sunset give a 360 degree view of a large garden adorned with fountains.

The access was through four gates, which led into a side room, or in one of the two circles to the left of the large pool, the natatio, divided from it by a portico with four columns. Here began the path to the bathroom, with sportive exercises of various kinds, which could take place both outdoors and indoors. The path could be performed on each of the sides, specularly identical.

From the entrance room, on the opposite side access to natatio, it came in one of two environments with a square base, maybe a apodyterium, the locker room. Continuing towards the side you came to one of the big two gyms, placed symmetrically along the short sides, with a central courtyard (50x20 meters) enclosed on three sides by a portico with columns in ancient yellow and vaulted roof. Beyond the portico of the gyms, on the inside, opened a semicircle divided by six columns, while the opposite side, the one toward fence not colonnade, gave access to five rooms, with the central apse. The large rooms that follow, on the south- west, had various shapes and sizes (rectangular, elliptical, square, apse), equipped with tanks. The rectangular room, in particular, is characterized by small oblique inputs, making it possible to prevent the loss of heat, it was probably the laconicum (turkish bath). From here you came to the caldarium, a large circular room (only partially preserved) of 34 meters in diameter, with a central large circular basin of hot water. The roof was a dome supported by eight piers, of which only four remain standing. Two rows of windows receiving sunlight from late morning until sunset. In addition to the central basin were six other basins along the perimeter, placed between the piers and the other.

The caldarium, as already mentioned, was the central axis, so it was only as a tepidarium, a basilica and natatio. The tepidarium was a smaller environment and temperate, with a circular base and cut the sides with two tanks. The Great Basilica middle measuring 58x24 meters had a shape of a cross, covered by three large vaults resting on eight pillars fronted by granite columns. On the short sides opened niches with elliptical tanks where it was supposed to take place on frigidarium: these granite basins were re-used for the fountains of Piazza Farnese. In the niche to the natatio are now four large figured capitals with divinity.

The bathroom ended in natatio, the outdoor pool, decorated with four huge monolithic granite columns: the only surviving column is from 1563, in Piazza Santa Trinita in Florence. The counter here presented groups of three by three overlapping niches on two floors, which contained statues.

Among fountains with their fountains that decorated the various rooms and the entire area of the garden, baths and swimming pools, the Baths of Caracalla were powered by a special branch of the Acqua Marcia, Aqua Antoniniana specially built to provide water to the structure.

Below the surface of the Baths of Caracalla extended on two floors of the basement where they were service rooms that allowed a practical management of the spa completely hidden from the eyes of visitors. In one of the underground at the portico of the north -west was installed a mithraeum, the largest found in Rome, which is accessed from the outside of the fence.

The outer consisted of a portico, of which very little remains are preserved. Before it a series of two-storey joint rooms supported one side of the embankment on which stood the complex. On both sides of the fence were placed symmetrically in two great exedras and each containing a hall with an apse, preceded by a colonnade, with the two smaller sides of different shapes: one in the shape of a basilica with an apse, and a central plan. On the bottom side, a semicircular crushed, equipped with bleachers, hid the huge tanks, placed in a double row of environments and with a maximum capacity of 80,000 liters. On either side of it there were two rooms with apses used as libraries, of which only retains the right one. An elevated walkway followed the fence on the inside and was probably portico. The space between the fence and the central body was covered with forest.


Works of art

Many works of art were found during the excavations that took place in different times, but especially in the sixteenth century: the three gigantic sculptures Farnese, the Bull, the Flora and Hercules, now in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, polychrome mosaic with twenty-eight figures of athletes, discovered in 1824, now in the Vatican Museums. It also busts of the Antonines, statues of Minerva, Venus, a vestal virgin, a Bacchante, and other minor works.

Besides the above mentioned tanks Piazza Farnese, other tanks retrieved from the complex are now in the courtyard of the Belvedere (Vatican Museums). Florence in the column of Justice comes from natatio of the Baths of Caracalla.



For their implementation was created in 212 a special branch of the Acqua Marcia, one of the aqueducts of ancient Rome, the Aqua Antoniniana, which exceeded the Appian Way Arch of Drusus, and for the realization of the esplanade was also a need to break the bank ' large area towards the Aventine and fill with ground is the opposite side. The complex was to be concluded towards the 216.

The outer work was instead the last two emperors of the dynasty, Elagabalus and Alexander Severus. Several restoration works were carried out by Aurelian, Diocletian and Theodoric. Polemio Silvio, in the fifth century, cited as one of the seven wonders of Rome, famous for the richness of their decoration and the works that once adorned. Following the cutting of the aqueducts by Vitige, king of the Goths, 537 from the hot springs ceased to function as such. Since then and in the following century the central part was used as xenodochio, while the surrounding area was used as a cemetery for burial. Abandoned and reused several times, even for residential purposes, the entire complex was then used as a farming area, vineyard, in particular, for use by owners of neighboring villas or Church entities and organizations. Abandonment in the sixth century was not, however, never the less exploitation of the ruins as a quarry for materials including the honor (marble and metal) and for entire structures (lintels, columns, etc..) To be reused for the construction of quality: the Duomo of Pisa and the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere contain, for example, architectural structures taken from the spa. To note also the long-term presence in the vicinity of limestone into lime for the processing of marble.

The baths were under excavation since the sixteenth century, when, under the pontificate of Pope Paul III made ​​famous statues. Many of these works, enter the Farnese collection, later took the road to Naples, hereditary and dynastic events. In 1800 surfaced the polychrome mosaics of the pavement, partly recovered, the subject of which was represented by athletes in gyms.

Even in the nineteenth century took place there numerous excavations. In 1901 and in 1912 were freed from the underground, work continued in 1938, when it was discovered the mitreo, the largest known example in Rome.

At the Baths of Caracalla were hosted the gymnastics competitions of the Olympic Games in Rome in 1960. Throughout the second half of the twentieth century the central part of the spa has been used for concerts and plays outdoors and in particular for the summer season dell'Opera di Roma. In 2000 the complex was released from the added amenities for the shows.

Due to the earthquake of April 6, 2009, the building suffered some damage.


And now what is left of this beautiful spa?

E ' of December 2012, the news that thanks to a project of restoration and enhancement conceived by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage of Rome, was able to return "to the gaze of humanity", what remains of the "core technology" of the spa in the basement. Two kilometers of tunnels where once there were deposits of timber, a water mill, with the heating furnaces and boilers, up to the water pipes.


As you arrive at the Baths of Caracalla?

One way would be to use urban public transport departing from Termini Station and taking line 714 Express and takes about 7 minutes to reach the spa complex.



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The fire most mentioned by the ancient historians was that of arson that broke out in Rome which has expanded the area of ​​the Palatine and the Colosseum also occurred in 64 AD.

Speaks of this event in his Annals Tacitus, Pliny in his Natural History and Suetonius in his report on the Life of the Caesars.

All reminders that Nero considered if not the author, but perhaps the instigator of such an event, to stop the rumors of the Roman people had to find scapegoats: the Christians.


Rome to ashes

It's the year A.D. 64.

The Roman emperor, Nero, is out of town is spending the summer months at the spa of Anzio. Not expected that his stay will be short: a catastrophic event is about to fall on Rome. On the night between 19 and 20 July the Circus Maximus suddenly catches fire. The area between the Palatine and Caelian full of workshops in wood, full of merchandise fuels; fertile ground for the fire, which, aided by the wind, advancing like a sea compact and impenetrable.

At first, the fire blazes on the ground, then rises devastating to the hills back down to the bottom, prevented any defense and the speed of the flames and the narrow, winding streets especially in irregular neighborhoods, as there were then in old Rome.

These are the words of a medieval writer to describe the wave glow that invests Rome until July 28. Ten days... of fire!


The megalopolis against the megalomaniacal

Once in Rome, Nero is facing a dramatic scenario: of the 14 regions of Augustan:

• 3 are razed to the ground;

• 7 are in ruins;

• 4 are safe in a partial way, along with the Forum, Palatine Hill and Capitoline Hill


The regions affected by the fire of Rome in 64 AD

The Domus Transitional, which joined the former imperial residence palace of Tiberius on the Palatine with the gardens of Maecenas on the Esquiline, was reduced to ashes.

Unspecified number of deaths, especially in the tangle of streets and alleys of the humble neighborhoods, surrounded by fire and difficult to reach because of the collapse of the walls in wood. More than half of the Romans lost home and work: the despair reigns supreme.

But for Nero 's worse: the people, that a few days before the cheering obsequious, now turns against angry and accuses him of being the real culprit of the fire.

It outlines a clash between two titans: the megalopolis on the one hand, the megalomaniacal other.

Surely the exaggerated self-centeredness and paranoid Emperor, always clear and under the eyes of all, does not help to bring agreement in time of need.

But Nero was the architect of the disastrous event ?

And because the people who accuse him ?


Two indications of guilt

Nero understands the difficulties of the people and tries to run for cover: open to displaced the Campus Martius, the buildings of Agrippa and the imperial gardens.


Not only that.

He himself is working to build temporary buildings host and distribute all kinds of food, also sold as a result of very low price.


But good intentions are not enough.

Tacitus, shortly after the historic period, points out: " The infamous opinion that the fire had been commanded by the emperor remained firmly rooted."

Other ancient historians, witnesses do not always objective opinions of the time give a unanimous verdict of guilty.


Why so much rage?

As I mentioned, the emperor suffers from an obvious magnitudinis delirium, a form of megalomania that does not make it sympathetic to this side character that borders on lunacy, add two indications of guilt:

1. desire, often expressed, to found a new Rome and call it Neropoli

2. purchase, a few months before the fire, low cost, a vast area between the Esquiline and Palatine (on which will extend the Domus Aurea).


So much "meat" to put the fire to feed the more gossipy.

But back to ancient historians.

What do you think ?

Suetonius says:

Disgusted by the ugliness of the old buildings and narrow streets, and all curves, [ Nero ] set fire to the city (...) had even planned to build a new Rome and call it Neropoli.

The same opinion is Cassius Dio:

Nero felt the desire to realize what he had always hoped and that is bankrupting the entire city as long as he was alive (...) So secretly commissioned some men who, acting as if they were drunk, hanged outbreaks of fire in more parts of Rome.

Last but not least, the confirmation of the previously mentioned Tacitus:

Nero took advantage of the disaster the city to build a luxurious residence, where they were not so much to admire gems and gold (wealth became even trivial to a man called Nero), as farmland and lakes, with forests, parks, spaces and perspectives: a work of imaginative architects Severus and Celer, whose genius is sbizzarriva boldness in creating the art that is not offered in the cheerful nature and squandering the wealth of the prince.


Fires 217 and 250 AD

In 217, a fire, presumably triggered by lightning, caused the collapse of the upper structures, the restoration of the Colosseum made ​​close to five years old, 217 to 222, during which time they moved the games in the Circus Maximus. The restoration work was begun under Elagabalus (218-222) and carried out by Alexander Severus, who remade the colonnade at the summa cavea. The building was reopened in 222, but only under Gordian III work could be said to be concluded. Another fire caused by lightning was the cause of the repair work ordered by the Emperor Decius in 250.


Fire today

The monument was targeted by a young Dane from an Argentine to quell their insane passion: to create fire. They have already gained some experience in having burned down not long ago the contemporary art museum ARoS in Copenhagen, and they did not even fernati front of the Cathedral of Copenhagen, in fact, also set fire to the Logumkloster. But the atmosphere of northern sparsely populated was not enough and they have continued the work of various buildings on fire in Berlin to Frankfurt and then again in Kiev and arrived in September arrived in Rome with an obsession: set fire to the Colosseum, or at least a part of it. They made it ! Anyone who is found on the night between 17 and 19 September 2010 near the famous monument is left open-mouthed by the spectacle of flames triggered by two talented arsonists who said they had big plans: burn the Altar of the Fatherland, the Pantheon.



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Its construction began in 70 under the Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty. The work was funded as other public works of the period, with the proceeds of provincial taxes and the spoils of the looting of the Temple of Jerusalem (70 AD). The area chosen was a valley between the Velia, the Opium and the Celio hill, where he was an artificial lake (the stagnum mentioned by the poet Martial) dug by Nero for his Domus Aurea. This body of water, fed from sources which welled up from the foundations of the Temple of Divine Claudius on the Caelian, was covered by Vespasian with a gesture of "reparative" against the policy of the "tyrant" Nero, who had usurped the public land, and intended to use own, thus making clear the difference between the old and the new principality. Vespasian made hijack the aqueduct for civilian use, reclaimed the lake and there he lay the foundations, the more resistant the point where it should have been built in the auditorium. Vespasian saw the construction of the first two floors and was able to dedicate the building before his death in 79. The building was the first permanent amphitheater in Rome, after two minor structures or temporary Julio-Claudian era (the Amphiteatrum Tauern and the Amphiteatrum Caligulae) and after 150 years from the early amphitheatres in Campania.

The son and successor of Vespasian, Titus, he added the third and fourth tier of seats and ushered in the amphitheater with a hundred days of games, 80. Shortly after, the second son of Vespasian, the emperor Domitian, worked important changes, completing the work to clipea (probably the shields decorative gilt bronze), adding perhaps the summum maenianum in ligneis and realizing the basement of the arena: after completion of the work was no longer possible to hold in the amphitheater of naval battles (for naval battles), that instead the sources report for the previous era.

At the same time the amphitheater were built some service buildings for the games: the games he (barracks and training venues for the gladiators, including the Magnus are known, the Gallicus, the Matutinuse the Dacicus), the barracks of the detachment of sailors from the Classis Misenensis (the Roman fleet based in Misenum) operate the power of velarium (castrates misenatium), the summum choragium and armamentaria (deposits of weapons and equipment), the sanatorium (place of care for the wounds of the fighting) and the spoliarum a place where they were treated the remains of dead gladiators in combat


The imperial era

Nerva and Trajan did the work, attested by inscriptions, but the first restoration took place under Antoninus Pius. In 217, a fire, presumably triggered by lightning, caused the collapse of the upper structures, the restoration of the Colosseum made ​​close to five years old, 217 to 222, during which time they moved the games in the Circus Maximus. The restoration work was begun under Elagabalus (218-222) and carried out by Alexander Severus, who remade the colonnade at the summa cavea. The building was reopened in 222, but only under Gordian III work could be said to be concluded. Another fire caused by lightning was the cause of the repair work ordered by the Emperor Decius in 250.

After the sack of Rome in 410 by the Visigoths under Alaric, on the podium surrounding the arena was an inscription in honor of the Emperor Honorius, perhaps as a result of restoration. Honorius forbade gladiatorial games and since then it was used to venationes. The registration was later canceled and rewritten to remember major restoration work after an earthquake in 442, by the praefecti urbi Flavio Sinesio Gennadio Paul and Rufio Cecina Happy Lampadio. Constantius II admired him exceedingly. Other restoration following an earthquake there were still in the 470, by the console Messio Phoebus Severus. The restoration continued even after the fall of the empire after an earthquake in 484 or 508 in the praefectus urbi Decius Mario Venancio Basil oversaw the restoration work at their own expense.

Venationes continued until the time of Theodoric. We have the names of the most important senatorial families at the time of Odoacer carried on gradus: this custom is much older, but periodically the names were deleted and replaced with the new occupants (also according to the different degree among Clarissimi spectabilis and illustres), to which only those of the last preparation before the collapse of the empire.


From the Middle Ages to the modern era

After being abandoned in the sixth century it was used as a burial area and shortly after was used as a castle, under Pope Leo IV was severely damaged by an earthquake (about 847). Long used as a source of building materials, in the thirteenth century it was occupied by a building of Frangipane, which was later demolished, but the Coliseum continued to be occupied by other houses. The travertine blocks were systematically removed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to be reused in new buildings, blocks and fallen to the ground were still used in 1634 for the construction of Palazzo Barberini and in 1703, after another earthquake, to the port of Ripetta.

Benvenuto Cellini, in his Autobiography, told of a spooky night of demons summoned in the Colosseum, testifying to the reputation of the place.

During the Jubilee of 1675 assumed the character of sacred site in memory of the many Christian martyrs here condemned to execution (although the tradition that he wants a place of martyrdom of Christians is unfounded). In 1744 Pope Benedict XIV ordered the construction of fifteen Stations of the cross, and in 1749 declared the Colosseum church consecrated to Christ and to the Christian martyrs.


Contemporary era: the nineteenth-century restorations

Released in two great shots, with the excavations directed by Carlo Fea, Commissioner of Antiquities, in 1811 and 1812 with those of Peter Rose (1874-1875), early 800's, as well as being the most imaginative projects reuse up to half of 700, the Colosseum was statically compromise, having been inhabited for centuries, used as a place of Christian worship and used as a quarry for travertine. One of the main and most obvious problems was the abrupt termination of the outer sides in at the present Via di San Giovanni in Laterano and Via dei Fori Imperiali, which were not covered in the case of the most important restorations.


The intervention of Raffaele Stern

After the establishment of a special commission by Pope Pius VII, the first restoration began after 1806, when a violent earthquake compromise the statics of the two sides of the outer. The earthquake was particularly aggravated the situation of the third ring on the western side where, due to unsafe blocks now, it was required an emergency operation. After the shoring of the segments, were immediately mounted the scaffolding for the creation of a spur that would be a buttress. Raffaele Stern came up with two different modes of action to be submitted to the Academy of St. Luke: "taking away", which consisted in the elimination of part of the attic and damaged the arches of the third order, that solution was discarded, and "way to add" hypothesis then actually realized with the addition of a spur brick to the monument. The first two arches with every order were swabbed and the spur was built rustic devoid of architectural forms of the arches due to existing emergency and the need to practice intervention in the economy and speed. Even the segments shored, subsequently loaded with meaning and described as romantic blocked in the act of falling, are really just the result of an emergency. Stern had originally thought of tinting the ledge, then ironically called " rutch" with a travertine -colored plaster to avoid excessive contrast with the authentic parts, but the painting was never realized.


The intervention of Giuseppe Valadier

Giuseppe Valadier, who had already affected the Colosseum in 1815 with a project to close decently deleted by the Flavian Amphitheatre, in 1823 took charge of the recovery of the ring perimeter in the side towards the holes. The substantial difference between the setting of the restoration of Stern and to Valadier is that while the first is made under the danger of an imminent collapse, the other can be practiced throughout calm.

From the static point of view the intervention consisted in a new spur, in this case realized with the arches completely identical to the original. The addition, all brick, was built using a different material than the original for economic reasons and not for a desire for differentiation, with the exception of the bases and capitals of travertine, put into operation is identical to the original and with the same level of definition. Even in this case, not to impact too much with the seniority, the addition of bricks had to be painted with a color scialbatura travertine, never realized.

Ten years of work, the work was celebrated by Giuseppe Valadier like a new architecture works in Architecture and Ornament, where he described and illustrated in detail the construction site by the construction of the scaffolding at the end of the restoration, exalting him as a of his greatest achievements.


The work of Gaspare Salvi and Luigi Canina

From the thirties until the work is completed in mid -century, the work went under the direction of Gaspare Salvi and Luigi Canina.

The first intervention of Salvi involved the most severely compromised the entire building left standing: the third ring on the side of the Via San Gregorio. On the bases of travertine Salvi builds a brick arches with completion of tax travertine arches start from the spurs that connect the new building to the old part, which is thus statically assured. In new bows are indicated by brick bipedal arranged radially. Fills the radial walls are made ​​of travertine and brick to the first order in the superior orders, while the pillars of restoration are made entirely of bricks. On the death of Salvi, Dog picks up the direction of the work solving a problem on the same side of the cliff to the inside of the upper part of the building, which is secured by iron rods foothills brick new construction.

The last major intervention is operated on the north to the present via the Annibaldi, the most preserved except the attic, which had a sheer drop of over 60 inches out from the axis. It was therefore necessary to build a support for the outer part overhanging. Is so constructed inwards a sketch of fourth order in the second ring, in which they are sunk of chains coupled in order to ensure the part of penthouse no longer axis.

The twentieth century and contemporary works

Between 1938 and 1939 were completely excavated the underground structures of the arena, in part altered by reconstructions.

In 2007 the complex was included among the "Seven Wonders of the World." The Colosseum today is the largest tourist source and is the symbol of Rome.

After a long restoration, October 16, 2010 is reopened to the public on the third ring which rises to 33 meters in height and from which you can admire a beautiful view of Rome, opening for the underground, or the galleries where gladiators and animals roamed before the fight



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The building

The building consists of a pronao connected with a wide round cell by means of a rectangular structure intermediate.


The pronaos

The pronaos, ottastilo (with eight columns of gray granite facade), a measure m 34,20 x15, 62 m and was raised by 1.32 m on the level of the square to which it was accessed by means of five steps. The total height is of the order of 14.15 m and 1.48 m in diameter have stems at the base.

On the facade of the frieze bears the inscription of Agrippa in bronze letters, while a second inscription on a restoration under Septimius Severus was later engraved on the lintel. The pediment was to be decorated with figures in bronze, fixed with pins on the bottom: the position of the holes left has assumed the presence of a great eagle with spread wings.

Inside, two rows of four columns divide the interior into three naves, the central one wider leads to the large access door to the cell, while the two side ends of large niches that must have housed the statues of Augustus and Agrippa moved here from Augustan building.

The shafts of the columns were granite gray (eight -sided) or pink (eight, distributed in the two rows behind), from the Egyptian quarries of Aswan, and even the drums were in the arcades of the square gray granite, although smaller in size. The Corinthian capitals, bases and elements of the entablature were white Pentelic marble, from Greece. The last column of the eastern side of the pronaos, missing from the fifteenth century it was replaced by a frame gray granite under Pope Alexander VII and the column at the eastern end of the façade was also replaced under Pope Urban VIII with a stem of red granite: the original alternating colors in the columns was therefore altered over time. The new columns came both from the spa Neroniane.

The eardrum (which is not calibrated according to the proportion canonical Greek) has become smooth for bronze decoration has been lost, but for which you can still see the holes for the media that supported it.

The gabled roof is supported by wooden trusses, supported by block walls with arches resting above the rows of interior columns. The coverage of the bronze wooden truss of the pronaos was removed in 1625 under Pope Urban VIII for the edification of the Canopy of St Peter's, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and for the construction of 80 guns of Castel Sant'Angelo: for this "recycling" was written the famous lampoon " quod non fecerunt barbarians, fecerunt Barberini."

The portico is paved with slabs of colored marble which are arranged in a geometric design of circles and squares. Even the sides of the porch are clad in marble.


The forepart

The intermediate structure that connects the porch to the cell is a stem in brickwork (bricks), consisting of two massive pillars that rest at the roundabout, connected by once went seamlessly suspended when the original bronze of the central part the pronaos. The pillars are inserted access stairs to the top of the rotunda. The wall is covered with slabs of Pentelic marble and decorated on the outside and on the sides of the compartment door by an order of pilasters that continues the order of the pronaos. Between the pilasters are inserted decorative panels with garlands and with sacrificial instruments.

Outside the property has the same height of the cylinder of the round like this and had to have a coating of stucco and plaster, and then disappeared.

On the facade of a brick pediment that repeats at a greater height of the pronaos, and relates to the divisions of the cornices present on the roundabout, which continued without interruption on the outer walls of the rectangular structure above the order of pilasters. The pediment, hidden from the porch, still had to be visible from a great distance.

The difference in level between the two gables did hypothesize that the vestibule of the building had been originally expected larger, with stems of column 50 feet (14.80 m) instead of 40 feet (11.84 m), but that the granite quarries in Egypt, already exploited to the stems of the monumental northern gate of the Forum of Trajan, were not able to provide other monolithic shafts of such exceptional size and that the project had to be reduced and therefore changed.

The bronze door of a different aspect ratio of the opening, comes perhaps from another old building.


The exterior of the round

The exterior of the dome hides round for a third, building a cylindrical body which is nothing more than the continuation of the vertical drum. Between the bubble and the outer wall is so large enclosed space where they were obtained a double system of windowed rooms, arranged on a circular corridor, which also serve to lighten the weight of the time.

The outer body of the rotunda, excluding the dome, was not visible in ancient times, as hidden by the presence of other adjacent buildings, which is why no special decorations, except for three frames with shelves to different heights at the entablature of the first order interior, along the line of tax and on the crown of the dome. To each of these three bands also correspond different materials used in the building, gradually lighter.


The interior of the rotunda

"I wanted that this sanctuary of all the gods represented the terrestrial globe and the celestial sphere, a globe within which are contained the seeds of eternal fire, all contained in the hollow sphere »

(Marguerite Yourcenar, Memoirs of Hadrian)


The internal space of the cell is round consists of a cylinder covered by a hemisphere. The cylinder has a height equal to the radius (21.72 m) and the total height of the interior is equal to the diameter (43.44 m).

On the lower level there are six large niches distile (with two columns on the front), either rectangular in plan (actually trapezoid) and semicircular, and the more the niche of the apse. This first level is framed by an architectural order with columns at the opening of the niches and pilasters in the intermediate wall sections, which support an entablature. Only the apse opposite the entrance is flanked by two columns instead of protruding from the wall, with the entablature which runs inside as set in the apse semi-dome.

Between the pilasters, in the spaces between the niches, there are eight small shrines on a high base, with alternating triangular and curved pediments. The walls are covered with slabs of colored marbles.

The higher order, in opus sectile, had an order of pilasters porphyry which framed windows and a coating of colored marble slabs. The windows overlook the first inner annular corridor relief. The original Roman decoration of this belt was replaced with one made in the eighteenth century (probably in the years 1747-1752), which only partially restored the antique look. In the south- western part of the original Roman appearance of this level was restored later, but not entirely accurate.

The floor of the rotunda is slightly convex toward the sides, with the highest part (moved about 2 meters to the north -west of center) is raised about 30 cm, while it is concave in the center to make the rain that falls to interior of the temple through the oculus placed on top of the dome, from flowing toward the 22 drain holes at the center of the rotunda. There are some legends that from the oculus not enter the rain, because of a system of air currents, but are evidently false. The lining is in slabs with a design of squares in which they are enrolled either circles or squares smaller.


The dome

The dome has a diameter of 43.44 m, is decorated inside by five orders of twenty-eight chests of drawers, a sliding scale upwards, except in the wide smooth band nearest the central oculus, of 8.92 m diameter. The oculus, which gives light to the dome, is surrounded by a frame of large tiles wrapped in bronze fixed to the dome, which perhaps went inside to the top row of drawers. A Roman tradition has it that in the Pantheon does not get into the rain to the so-called "chimney effect": in fact, it is a legend linked to the past when the myriad of candles that were lit in the church, produced a stream of warm air rising toward up and that meeting with the rain nebulized, thereby suppressing the perception of the entry of water.

The realization was made possible thanks to a series of expedients which contribute to lightening of the structure, use of the drawers, the use of materials gradually more and more light upwards: in the layer closer to the cylindrical drum have layers of concrete with slivers of brick, concrete going up there with slivers of tufa, while at the top, near the oculus are concrete made with conventional aggregates, mixed with volcanic lava ground.

Outside, the dome is hidden below by a raising of the wall of the round, so it is divided into seven overlapping rings, the bottom of which still retains the lining slabs of marble. The remainder was covered with gilded bronze tiles, removed by the Byzantine Emperor Constans II, with the exception of those that surrounded the oculus, which is still in situ. The thickness of the wall tapers upwards (from 5.90 m to 1.50 m at the bottom at the part around the central oculus).


The structure

The dome rests on a thick ring of brickwork masonry (concrete with brick facing), on which there are openings on three levels (reported outside the cornices). These openings, in part used for aesthetic purposes, such as indoor exedras, in part blanks with predominantly structural functions, comprising a support structure articulated, incorporated in the ring which appears continuous to the eye. On the outer wall of the rotunda is now visible after the disappearance of the plaster coating, the complex articulation of the arches in the exhaust bipedales (square bricks of two feet from the side) inserted in the walls from side to side, which discharge the weight of the dome on points of greatest resistance ring, lightening the weight in correspondence of the voids.

The special technique of composition of Roman cement allows the dome without reinforcements to stand for nearly twenty centuries. A dome of this size would indeed be difficult with modern building materials, due to the low tensile strength of the concrete modern, without armor. The determining factor appears to be a particular construction technique: the cement was added in small amounts immediately draining excess water. This, in whole or in part by eliminating the air bubbles that are normally formed with the drying, gives the material an exceptional resistance. In addition, materials were used more and more light for caementa mixed with mortar to form the cement: the travertine foundations of the volcanic pumice dome.


The characteristics of the construction

The construction of the Pantheon was a masterpiece of engineering, where the architectural idea was perfectly interpreted with a technical approach empirical (subsidence and cracks occurring shortly after the building were promptly remedied). The spatiality perfectly spherical gives the viewer a feeling of extraordinary harmony, " motionless and enveloping ", thanks to the balanced relationships between the various members, which articulated with effects of light and shade in cassettonature, niches and newsstands.

The insertion of a large round room behind the portico of a classical temple has no precedent in the ancient world, at least judging by the architecture that we have received or that we know from literary sources. There is a precedent in Rome circular building with porch, dating from the late Republican era, though far more modest in scale: the Temples of Largo di Torre Argentina. The merger between a classical model (the columned portico) and a building from the new space typically Roman (the roundabout), was a sort of compromise between the spatiality of Greek architecture (careful essentially outside of buildings) and that of Roman architecture (centered on the interior). This raised a number of criticisms, but it was "an obvious tribute to the dominant classical culture of Rome," which manifested itself permanently in the following centuries.

The model of the circular space and covered by a dome was taken from that of the large spa rooms "imperial" of Baia and Rome, but it was a novelty to use this type of coverage for a temple building.



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Photos: Yumiko Kimura