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Il Vittoriano a fine white marble structure built under the auspices of newly installed King Victor Emmanuel and was inaugurated in 1911, a symbol of Italian unity. It has been the centerpiece for many important processions and moments of glory since Italy's reunification, including the parades of Mussolini that took place outside it. The statue of Emmanuel stands tall in front of this magnificent building along with the tomb of the unknown soldier nearby. The whole edifice has a massive and grandiose appearance covered in marble and atop sit two quadrigae of the goddess Victoria. Today, it houses an interesting museum which details the international and domestic intrigue which resulted in the Risorgimento, or the Reunification of the Country. Open hours vary by season. Call before visiting.
Construction of this palace begun in 1455 for the Venetian cardinal, Pietro Barbi, who made it his residence. Construction of the first palace was completed shortly before his election to the Papacy in 1464 when he adopted the name Paul II. He then decided to amplify the palace and make it a dwelling worthy of a pope. The work continued until 20 years after the Pope's death and it underwent architectural transformations on several occasions over the centuries. In 1916 it was confiscated by the state of Italy which decided to make it the Palazzo Venezia museum, a role it still plays, as well as being the library of the National Institute of Archaeology and History of Art. During the Fascist regime, the palace was made famous by newsreels of the time, showing Mussolini speaking to the crowds below from a window in the palace.
Near the Piazza del Popolo, the Church of the Gesù, Frascati, Rome's first Jesuit church, served as a model for later churches. Its appearance was changed in the 17th Century, when its original austerity ceded to Baroque decoration. Designed by Andrea Pozzo, the chapel of Sant' Ignazio, with its columns in lapis lazuli and its gilded friezes, is typical of Baroque taste. Bernini is represented by a statue dedicated to San Roberto Bellarmino, a great theologian of the counter-Reformation. Do not miss the allegorical frescoes of the nave, with stuccoes by Antonio Raggi, designed by Giovan Battista Gaulli, known as Baciccia, and responsible also for the paintings in the vault, the dome and the apse.
Reorganization of Piazza del Campidoglio began in 1539 as part of a plan undertaken by Pope Paul III. It was the first square created as part of a plan conceived by Michelangelo in which a space was created between Palazzo Senatorio and Palazzo dei Conservatori bounded by a new symmetrical building. The square is in the shape of a trapezoid with the Palazzo Senatorio on the longer side (the seat of the city council's administrative offices) and the Capitoline Museums on either side. Michelangelo also designed the monumental flight of steps that leads to the square on either side of which were the Dioscuri designed by Giacomo della Porta. The pavement in the center designed by Michaelangelo on which stands the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, survived the Middle Ages as it was thought, that it represented the Emperor Constantine, the protector of the Christian religion.
The marvelous facade of the Palazzo Senatorio dominates Piazza del Campidoglio, one of the major tourist attractions of the Eternal City. Rising above the Tabularium, the heritage building is made famous by the monumental double stairway that leads to the palace designed my Michelangelo. Originally built between the 13th and 14th centuries, Palazzo Senatorio was where all the important archives, tabulae and official documents of ancient Rome were stored. Many architects have contributed to the design of the structure, notably Martino Longhi the Elder who designed the Bell Tower. From 1870 to present day it has served as Rome's city hall where the City Council convenes.
This is probably the oldest shopping center in the world. Built by the Emperor Trajan in the 2nd Century CE, it consisted of 150 offices and shops selling food, flowers, jewelry and wool. The finest shops were decorated with mosaics depicting the merchandise on sale. Today the shops are intact, but empty, even though, when the wine-shops were rediscovered, they were full of wine. The offices on the floor above organized the distribution of free rations of corn to the citizens of Rome.
Capitoline Hill is located near the Foro Romano and Campus Martius. The hill is one of the seven hills that were located in the ancient city, and was the center of all the activities of the empire. The Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, the most revered temple at that time stood here, and its ruins are still visible. Housed here are the Musei Capitolini and City Hall.
A bygone beacon of the Roman Empire, the Foro Romano was the nucleus of social, political and economic life in this historic city. Located between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills, it was a revered meeting place that witnessed the alpha and omega of a thriving empire. Triumphal processions raked the regal roads of this plaza, while morbid silences hung in the air after trials and executions that were carried out. Among the priceless vestiges that remain today, the most salient ones include the Regia, the royal residence, the Temple of Vesta and the Temple of Saturn. Towards the northwest, the Umbilicus Urbis indicates the symbolic heart of Ancient Rome, and the northern aisle of the Basilica of Maxentius still stands in grandeur. While their transient glory is lost to the ravages of time, what is left behind is not less than awe-inspiring. Worn columns, near-crumbling facades of ancient marble and stoic triumphal arcs still dominate the ruins' antiquated skyline.
Sant'Ignazio Church was built in the first decade of the 17th Century to pay homage to the founder of the Jesuit Order. The magnificent splendor of this chapel is typical of the period. Inside, you can admire the precious stones, gilding, marble and stucco work. For the frescoes they called upon the artist Andrea Pozzo, who designed the trompe l'oeil effect ceiling featuring a cupola. A cupola was designed but never built, due to the proximity of the monastery of Dominican friars, as it would have blocked the light in their living quarters.
The origins of this theater run back to 23 BCE, when Augustus had it built in honor of Marcus Claudius Marcellus, his nephew and adopted son. The theater had space for 20,000 people, and was used for games and celebrations. The construction fell into ruin during the following centuries due to plunder and fire: in fact it became a sort of quarry from which materials were taken for the construction of buildings, churches and so forth. Restoration began in about 1300 when the Savelli family bought the ruins. The same family performed further work two centuries later, and this was continued by the Orsini who acquired the complex in order to enlarge their own building: they restored part of the theater. Today, concerts are organized here, and this is the only way of seeing it from the inside.
The ancient buildings that can be seen here were discovered during excavation work in the 1920s. The four temples from the Republican era were named A, B, C and D. Temple C is the oldest, Temple A is from the 3rd Century BCE, and some of the flooring and mosaics of Temple B are still visible. Though Temple C was built in 100 BCE, the mosaic decorations were added during a later period. Currently, this historic sight is a no-kill cat sanctuary that houses abandoned cats from the area. Stray cats are taken in, given shots, sprayed and given a home at the sanctuary where they now abound. Whether you are a history buff or a cat lover, this is one sight you have to see.
Imperial Forum is located next to the Foro Romano and is considered to be an extension of it. The forums in the ancient city were typically were public squares that were used for administrative purposes. Over time, when the existing squares proved to be insufficient for the growing population, several newer squares came up, collective being called the Imperial Forums.