Rome September 1997
Hadrian was a Roman emperor from 117 to 138 a.d. His goal was to consolidate the empire against barbarian invasions. For this to work, he had to travel a lot around his empire. Hadrian's villa in Tivoli was his summer residence. In summer, Rome was humid and ridden with disease, so rich people had villas built in the cooler and healthier hills.
The maritime theatre is an island, with a moat, surrounded by a path and an outer wall. The wall used to be covered in mosaics and wall paintings.
The Canopus reproduces monuments from the Egyptian small town with the same name, trying to recapture its atmosphere.
Villa d' Este in Tivoli
The villa was built by Cardinal Ippolito d' Este in 1550. It has a large garden, decorated with many fountains.
The Este family built it up over the years, until it took the shape we can see today.
In 1918 the Italian government took over the property and restored it.
The villa became a place of inspiration, for artists and writers.
Many of the fountains represent figures from the Roman mythology, such as Diana, the goddess of hunting, Cibele, goddess of nature and fertility, Neptune, the god of the sea, and many others.
Pompeii was a trading center, with ships coming from the African continent and other Mediterranean countries unloading their wares here.
Pompeii amassed great wealth from trade. But all this ceased in 69 a.d. when an earthquake struck the city.
While busy reconstructing the city, the Vesuvius erupted in 72 a.d. and the whole city was engulfed in red hot ash and lava. People died from inhaling the toxic gases. Other people escaped by ship, as there was a fleet at Misenum.
Vulcan was not kind to this city. Pompeii is a city frozen in time. The ash helped to preserve it for 1925 years.
Under the Roman empire, while still persecuted, Christians buried their dead in hidden places.
Catacombs were lit by torches and oil lamps. The tunnels and niches for the tombs were excavated by hand with pickaxes. The Roman underground, consisting mainly of soft volcanic rock, called "tufo", made the work possible.
The catacombs of San Sebastian are 8 km long.
There were some small one person tombs but also family tombs. The tombs are spread over a number of layers.
In the 4th century a basilica was built above the catacombs. It was razed and rebuilt in the 17th century.
Emperor Hadrian's Mausoleum (or tomb) was, during the centuries, transformed into Castel Sant'Angelo. The castle became the popes' fortress, where they sought refuge during sieges and attacks on Rome.
The bronze statue on top of the castle represents an angel, from which the castle takes its name. In 590 Rome was afflicted by a plague epidemic. The Pope Gregory the Great was leading a procession to beg for an end to the plague, when he saw an angel above the castle, putting its sword in its scabbard. That marked the end of the epidemic and the pope had the statue erected to mark his gratitude.
The castle used to be surrounded by the river Tiber, which was its natural moat, until the regulation of the river after WWI.
The Vatican museum is located inside the Vatican State - the smallest state in the world.
The Vatican museum holds works of art and books from around the world, collected over the centuries by popes.
The Sistine chapel is part of it. Some of its frescoes were painted by Michelangelo Buonarroti. Filming and photography are not allowed in the chapel.
Next to the Sistine Chapel is Saint Peter's Basilica, which took 100 years to build. Bramante, Michelangelo and Bernini were some of its architects. The building of the basilica cost the Vatican so much money, that it is thought that the constant demands for funds the pope made from the Christian world, hastened the onset of Protestantism.
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