The Trevi fountain was built by the architect Salvi in 1735 and decorated by several artists of Bernini’s school. It is the front of a large palace decorated with statues and bas-reliefs on heaps of rocks. The fountain is not only celebrated for its excellent water but for the legend that whoever throws a coin in the fountain, will return to Rome.
One of the most spectacular urban settings of the Baroque period, the stairway was built at the wishes of Pope Innocent XIII by Francesco De Sanctis in 1723 – 1726. When flowers bloom in the spring, it is bedecked with large vases of azaleas.
Built over 900 years, the Roman Forum (Foro Romano) was the commercial, political and religious centre of ancient Rome from the Republican era until the 4th century AD. The Forum is entered from the piazza leading from the Colosseum. You immediately enter another world: the past. Columns rise from grassy hillocks, and repositioned pediments and columns aid the work of the imagination.
The Flavian Amphitheatre was built in 72 A.D. by the Roman emperor Vespasian and it was finished by his son Titus in 80 A.D. The Flavian amphitheatre took the name Colosseum from the huge statue of Nero stood at the entrance of the Golden house. The Colosseum was damaged by many earthquakes and was transformed into a fortress by Frangipane family which then passed to the Annibaldi family. In the 1312 Henry VII gave it to the Senate and the Roman people. The Colosseum became a quarry and the blocks of travertine were taken for the construction of the Palazzo Venezia, and then thanks to the pope Benedict XIV the building became a sacred place in memory of all the blood poured from the Christian martyrs.
The Vatican City is situated entirely within the city of Rome, sprawling over a hill west of the River Tiber, and separated from the rest of the city by a wall. Vatican City comprises St Peter’s Church, St Peter’s Square, the Vatican and the Vatican Gardens. The Vatican City is best known to tourists and students of architecture for the magnificent St Peter’s Basilica. Leading up to it is the 17th-century St Peter’s Square, a superb creation by Bernini. On either side are semi-circular colonnades, and in the centre of the square is an Egyptian obelisk hewn in the reign of Caligula. The Vatican Gardens can be visited only by those on guided tours or bus tours. Tickets are available from the Tourist Information Office in St Peter’s Square; it is advisable to apply 2 days in advance. To the right of St Peter’s stands the Vatican Palace, the Pope’s residence. Among the principal features of the Palace are the Stanze, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Collections, containing major works of art and valuable pictures. There is a restaurant in the museum and a bar and cafe on the roof of St Peter’s.
Basilica di San Pietro
The largest church in the world, built over the tomb of St. Peter, is also the most imposing and breathtaking architectural achievement of the Renaissance. Its history goes back to AD 349, when the emperor Constantine completed a basilica over the site of the tomb of St. Peter, the Church’s first pope.
The chapel where important papal ceremonies are held is Michelangelo’s masterpiece, a milestone in the history of Western art. In 1508, the redoubtable Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to fresco the more than 10,000 square ft of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling, a task that took four years. Michelangelo’s subject was the story of humanity before the coming of Christ, depicted in nine main panels. The ceiling was cleaned and restored in the early 1990s and is now vibrantly colored, a startling contrast to the dark and veiled tones known for so many years.
Mouth of Truth
It is a marble mask called Mouth of Truth (Bocca della Verità). According to popular belief it was said that any one putting his hand in this mouth and swearing falsely, could not withdraw it. The mask is situated in the atrium of St. Mary’s in Cosmedin church.
Castel Sant’ Angelo
Reached by one of the world’s most beautiful bridges – Bernini’s billowing, angel-clad Pont Sant’ Angelo – this strange, circular tank of a building was originally constructed as the mausoleum of Emperor Hadrian.
This ‘queen of all private collections’ was formed by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the most passionate and knowledgeable connoisseur of his day. The collection and the mansion were acquired by the Italian state in 1902; a lengthy restoration took place in the 1990s.
Marcus Agrippa’s Pantheon is one of the world’s most sublime architectural creations: a perfectly proportioned floating dome resting on an elegant drum of columns and pediments. It was built in 27 BC, and rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in 120 AD.