As a history major, the beauty and mystique that shrouds the past of a particular culture always fascinates me; none more so than that of the roman civilization. Roman mythology of gods and goddesses, roman technology, roman engineering and architecture, and the Roman way of life are just some of the things that make Rome a very mesmerizing place to someone like me. So, to truly experience firsthand the radiance and magnificence of this historic society, I travelled thousands of miles to the heart of roman culture – Rome, Italy.
Traversing the streets of Rome, I saw remnants and ruins from past engineering breakthroughs. Very old buildings and other infrastructures such as fountains and plazas decorate the city. I also got a chance to visit the Vatican City, the center of the Catholic faith.
Vatican City, housing the highest leader of the Roman Catholic Church, is a walled city within Rome. I got the opportunity to visit this place and take part in a mass at St. Peter Basilica, presided by Pope Francis, the new pope from Argentina. Together with the thousands of people gathering in the St. Peter’s Square, I was there during the election of the newest pope, anxiously waiting for the white smoke that would signify the new pope’s selection. The sensations you get when that white smoke actually appears is just incomparable. The feelings of elation and jubilation, along with the cheers of everyone in the city made for an unforgettable experience.
The Vatican is a refuge and a sanctuary for devotees and non-devotees alike. Just that sense of standing amidst such magnificence and divinity would move anybody.
Rome is a blend of the modern age and its ancient heritage. Millennia have come and gone and yet this city stands a testament to its unwavering resilience. The majesty of the reign of the Roman Empire may have been long lost to the world, but its great legacy remains in its buildings and infrastructures.
One of the greatest temples of Rome is the Pantheon or the “Home of the Gods”. The inside of this great structure is shaped like a dome, housing several altars for worshipping the gods/goddesses. The Pantheon is designed as such for a more engaging interaction between people. I felt the connection with the past when I entered this great temple. I could imagine how the people of the past would go there and worship Zeus, Athena and all the other gods and goddesses. The oculus or the hole at the top and centermost point of the dome was made to be the viewpoint for the gods.
Another great old structure is the Colosseum of Rome, a large amphitheatre built by the Emperors of the Flavian Dynasty. The name was mostly derived from the colossal statue of Nero. At its heyday, it could accommodate 70,000 screaming spectators. Standing in the middle of the coliseum, I could almost imagine myself at the heart of the fighting gladiators that would have no doubt been the spectacle of the Colosseum.
According to ancient history the Romans where the inventors of fountains, wells, etc. So to see the aqueducts with my own eyes is quite a treat for a history geek. When I drank the water in Rome, I felt like I was drinking from those ancient aqueducts. A fountain I found really fascinating is the Trevi Fountain. It has so many cool ornaments and articulations in its design.
I find it astonishing to have seen the different architectural designs in Rome. I saw Classical and Imperial, Renaissance, Baroque, Romanesque and fascist designs. Rome has evolved so many times and it’s so evident in its architecture. It is just so intriguing to imagine how the ancient people used primitive tools to come up with such magnificent works of art.
Rome is without a doubt a city with a rich past and a promising future.
Photo by gaspars on Flickr