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The magnanimous proportions of the Colosseum have long been a source of wonder. Originally envisioned in 70 CE, the construction of this grand structure was completed in 80 CE. At that time, it is believed that this vast amphitheater could seat upwards of 50,000 spectators at once. The Colosseum also features on the Italian version of the five-cent Euro. Deemed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Colosseum was designed to be a horse racing circuit and arena for animal fighting and gladiatorial battles, although it has also hosted significant religious ceremonies in its early days. It is a symmetrical wonder set in the historic landscape of Rome's heart. The enormous ruin is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered by many to be an iconic symbol of Italy.
A visit to Basilica di San Clemente al Laterano is a fascinating journey through time. From the upper basilica, which dates from the beginning of the 12th Century and whose apse boasts the mosaic The Triumph of the Cross, one passes into the 4th-century lower basilica, and, via a stairway, down to the Roman constructions and the mitreo, a 3rd-century temple dedicated to the God Mithra. Of particular interest are the frescoes in the chapel of St Catherine, painted between 1428 and 1431 by Masolino da Panicale, possibly with the collaboration of Masaccio.
Float on River Tiber and capture the various inspiring sights of Rome from Battelli di Roma. With two boarding points of Sant' Angelo and Isola Tiberina, jump into this cruise and enjoy the view of inspiring architecture of Rome as the soothing river of Tiber passes by. A restaurant offering Italian fare along with a well-chosen list of spirits also features.
Archbasilica of St. John Lateran is one of the oldest churches in the world which was founded by Pope Melchiade at the start of the 4th Century on the ruins of the villa of the Roman family, the Laterani. The church's current architecture is credited to Borromini in preparation of the 1650 jubilee. Although he retained the 16th-century ceiling and floor, the architect altered the appearance by joining pairs of columns in the central nave to make a single pillar inside. Colored marble niches and statues of apostles were hereby placed. In 1735, Alessandro Galilei renewed the facade entirely in travertine stone and crowned it with 15 statues. Subsequently, by the end of the 19th Century, the apse was also rebuilt.
Some of the world's foremost examples of Renaissance art grace the ceiling of the spectacular Sistine Chapel. Originally built in 1479 under the direction of Pope Sixtus IV, the chapel forms a part of the Vatican City's Apostolic Palace. It is here that the College of Cardinals gather to elect a new Pope and has been the host of such gatherings and other Papal functions since it was first conceived of. At the time of its construction, while the walls of the chapel were painted with frescoes by artists like Sandro Botticelli, Pinturicchio and Cosimo Roselli, the ceiling was rendered a simple, solid blue with stars. It was not until 1508 that Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Many considered this an odd choice as Michelangelo, at that time, was not known as a skilled painter. This led to speculations that Michelangelo's lofty commission was a ploy devised by rival artists Raphael and Bramante to ensure his fall from grace. Not to be deterred, Michelangelo envisioned and achieved a series of frescoes that depict scenes from the Old Testament, beginning with Creation and ending at Noah's voyage aboard his ark. Each a masterpiece in its own right, together they form a vision of unmatched artistry that draws millions of visitors to the Pope's residence each year.
Designed by some of Italy's most infamous master artists, St. Peter's Basilica is not only the world's largest church but is also one of its most spectacular. Originally built at the site of St. Peter's grave around 349 CE by Emperor Constantine, the basilica, as it stands today, was consecrated in 1626 at the culmination of over 120 years of construction. The original designs were laid out by Bramante in 1506, however, over the following years, the ambitious designs were altered by several renown architects including Michelangelo, Giacomo Della Porta and Carlo Maderno, each adding their own personal touch to the magnanimous design. St. Peter's Basilica now enshrines some of the world's most famed artworks including Michelangelo's Pieta and Bernini's Baldachin. The splendid facade and riches that lie within are crowned by an intricately adorned dome that is revered as Michelangelo's most grand architectural legacy. The Pope delivers the Urbi et Orbi blessing each year on the occasion of Christmas and Easter from the basilica's central balcony, attracting millions of devout pilgrims to the threshold of St. Peter's each year. He remains the only one who can serve at the high altar of St. Peter's Basilica.
Vatican City is amongst the most important historical and religious sites in the world; it is the seat of the Roman Catholic Church and the home of the Pope. The smallest state in the world, it occupies only about 0.44 square kilometers (0.17 square miles) near the center of Rome and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Vatican has figured in key events throughout history and is further significant because of its superlative architectural, religious, and artistic attractions. It was Pope Julius II della Rovere in the 16th Century who commissioned Michelangelo to paint the history of creation on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel - just one of the Vatican's world-renown cultural and artistic jewels. Others include St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums. Among countless other notable events, the Vatican also hosts the convening of the College of Cardinals upon the death of a reigning Pontiff, to elect a new Pope. No visit to Rome is complete without an excursion to this magnificent location, a place steeped in history and tradition.
Ostia Antica Archeological Cruise begins its journey from Marconi bridge while giving you a panoramic view of ancient Rome, the river Tiber and the natural flora in the less traveled parts of the city. This archeological cruise operates on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Children and older citizens receive special discounts and the cruise is also handicapped-accessible.
Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, all but the apse, totally destroyed by fire, has been reconstructed to look exactly as it did in the 4th Century. The Roman artist Pietro Cavallini helped with the 13th-century restoration of some frescoes and the mosaic decorating the facade, which unfortunately have not survived. The library and gallery annexed to the basilica complex are well worth visiting. The library holds an extremely rich collection of original manuscripts, including the Bible that belonged to Charles the Bald, a magnificent original illuminated manuscript from the 9th Century. The gallery has precious 15th-century panels and two frescoes transferred onto canvas by Giovanni Lanfranco. This church is also one of the jubilee basilicas.