MAY 03,2014 - MAY 03,2014 (1 DAYS)
From The Pantheon to the Jewish Ghetto and Teatro di Marcello:
Start: Rome is very small and all the sites are within walking distance of each other. There is no metro stop close to the Pantheon. If you get off at the Piazza Barberini stop it is about a 13-15 minute walk. If you get off at the Piazza Barberini you will come to the Trevi Fountain first and then you can continue onto the Pantheon.
From Piazza Barberini head southwest toward Via delle Quattro Fontane, 38 m. Turn right to stay on Piazza Barberini, 9 m. Turn left onto Via del Tritone, 350 m. Turn left onto Via della Panetteria, 11 m. Continue onto Via della Stamperia, 190 m. Turn right onto Piazza di Trevi (WOW, you are facing the Fontana di Trevi !!!), 40 m. Continue onto Via delle Muratte, 200 m. Continue onto Via di Pietra, 53 m. Turn left onto Vicolo Dè Burrò, 65 m. Slight right onto Piazza di Sant Ignazio (we shall explore this square in our trip from Castelo Sant Angelo to the Pantheon), 36 m. Turn left to stay on Piazza di Sant Ignazio, 21 m. Turn right onto Via del Seminario, 200 m. Continue straight onto Piazza della Rotonda and you face the Pantheon. From Piazza Barbarini to the Trevi Fountain is about a 7 minute walk. From there to the Pantheon is about a 10 minute walk. From there to Piazza Navona is less than a 5 minute walk.
End: Teatro di Marcello or Piazza Venezia.
Note: Text and pictures are from May 2014 (the dates on the photos are set, by mistake, to May 2013).
Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon's dome is still the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 43.3 metres. The building commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus (27 BC - 14 AD) as a temple to all the gods of ancient Rome, and rebuilt by the emperor Hadrian about 126 AD. The building is circular with a portico of large granite Corinthian columns (eight in the first rank and two groups of four behind) under a pediment. It is one of the best-preserved of all Ancient Roman buildings. It has been in continuous use throughout its history, and since the 7th century, the Pantheon has been used as a Roman Catholic church dedicated to "St. Mary and the Martyrs" but informally known as "Santa Maria Rotonda.
The Pantheon is one of few sites in Rome with free entrance. It is always crowded and you have to queue up for entrance but it takes no more than a couple of minutes. Open: Mon-Sat 8.30-19.30 Sun 9.00-18.00.
Closed Dec 25, Dec 31, May 1.
On entering the door, the effect you feel is meant to be overwhelming. You suddenly find yourself in this huge empty space which causes vertigo and makes you feel small. The height of the dome is the same as its diameter creating perfect balance and unique harmony.
The Pantheon’s greatness mainly comes from its mighty dome. The interior of the dome was possibly intended to symbolize the arched vault of the heavens. At the centre of the dome, there is a 9 meter diameter hole, the Oculus. The oculus (round big hole in the dome) at the dome's apex and the entry door are the only natural sources of light in the interior. Throughout the day, the light from the oculus moves around this space in a sort of reverse sundial effect. The oculus also serves as a cooling and ventilation method. During rain or torrents, a drainage system below the floor handles the rain that falls through the oculus.
The dome features sunken panels (coffers), in five rings of 28. This evenly spaced layout was difficult to achieve and, it is presumed, had symbolic meaning, either numerical, geometric, or lunar. The checkerboard floor pattern contrasts with the concentric circles of square coffers in the dome. Each zone of the interior, from floor to ceiling, is subdivided according to a different scheme. As a result, the interior decorative zones do not line up.
The Pantheon Interior - anti-clockwise direction (from right to left):
Tomb of King Vittorio Emanuel II (first king of a unified Italy):
Basilica St. Mary of Martyrs:
The Main or High Altar of the church is opposite the entrance, and the original 7th-century icon of the Madonna and Child can be seen above it. This was previously dated to the 13th century, but the 7th-century original was recently recovered under layers of overpainting. It is a rare survival of an icon from a period when they were a common feature in Roman churches. The apse is decorated with a golden mosaic featuring crosses. The drawing is of Alesandro Specchi from early 18th century:
Tomb of the famous painter Raphael (1483-1520):
Madonna del Sasso - Raphael's pupil Lorenzetto (dated 1523-4):
Tomb of King Umberto (Humbert) I (1844-1900) second king of a unified Italy and Margherita Savoia (1851-1926):
The floor is of polychrome Egyptian marble.
The square in front of the Pantheon is called Piazza della Rotonda. The square gets its name from the Pantheon's informal title as the church of Santa Maria Rotonda. In the center of the piazza is a fountain, the Fontana del Pantheon, surmounted by an Egyptian obelisk. The fountain was constructed by Giacomo Della Porta under Pope Gregory XIII in 1575, and the obelisk was added to it in 1711 under Pope Clement XI.
Piazza della Rotonda seen from the north, showing the Pantheon and fountain with obelisk:
"Gladiators" in Piazza della Rotonda:
With your face to the Pantheon, turn left to Via della Minerva. Walk along Via della MInerva and you arrive to the Piazza della MInerva. Its name derives from the existence of a temple built on the site by Pompey dedicated to Minerva Calcidica. You can use (free, with permission) the WC in the Grand Hotel della Minerva.
At the centre of the Piazza della Minerva, backing onto the Inquisition convent, is the 1667 Elephant and Obelisk by Bernini. The elephant was known as "il pulcin della Minerva", or "porcino", from the Roman people's story that - uninspired by elephants - Bernini in fact sculpted a pig.
The Pulcino della Minerva, the famous elephant sculpture by Bernini and Ercole Ferrata, making the base of one of Rome's eleven Egyptian obelisks:
In the square the main building is the Church (Chiesa) of Santa Maria sopra Minerva (1280-1370). The only church built in Rome in Gothic style. Built in the 8th century in a site where stood a temple to the Godess Minerva, rebuilt in the 13th century and restored in the 15th century. To the right of its facade are inscriptions built into the wall commemorating the flooding of the river Tiber between 1422 and 1598 - the area of the Piazza is the lowest in Rome, and so was always the first to suffer in flooding:
Nave of Santa Maria sopra Minerva:
Among several important works of art in the church are Michelangelo's statue Cristo della Minerva (1521) or Jesus de Redemeer. Finished in 1521, located to the left of the main altar:
and the late 15th-century (1488–1493) cycle of frescos in the Carafa Chapel by Filippino Lippi:
The famous early Renaissance painter Fra Angelico died in the adjoining convent and was buried in the church:
Popes Urban VII, Paul IV and the Medici Popes Leo X and Clement VII were also buried in the church.
Tombs of Popes Leo X and Clement VII:
Before the construction of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini Church (see the "From Castelo Sant Angelo to the Pantheon" trip), the Minerva was the church in Rome of the Florentines, and therefore it contains numerous tombs of nobles and citizens coming from that Tuscan city.
To the left of the church is a Convent (or casa profess) of the Dominicans, (little has remained), which held the nearby church from the 13th century. From the 17th century, the convent became the base of the Roman Inquisition or Holy Office, and it housed the trial and recantation of Galileo Galilei. The Convent's cloister (the only relic) now holds the library of the Italian Senate, dedicated to Giovanni Spadolini.
To the right of the church stands the 16th century Palazzo Fonseca, since 1832 the site of one of the historic hotels of Rome, known as the Grand Minerva, whose guests have included Stendhal and José de San Martín, remembered in plaques on the facade (see our note on WC in this square).
From Piazza della Minerva we turn left to Via della Palombulla (the Pantheon on your right), cross Pza. S. Eustuchio and walk along Via degli Stadlrar when this building is on your right:
Do not miss the S. Eustuchio Cafe (see tip sub-ordinate to this trip). The best coffee in Rome (Gran Cafe Speciale). Open: 08.30 - 01.00 at night.
Turn right at the end of the road - arriving to Piazza (Pza.) Madama. On your right Palazzo Madama, seat of the Italian Senate. It was built atop the ruins of the ancient baths of Nero. The new building was begun at the end of the 15th century and completed in 1505, for the Medici family. It housed the Popes Leo X and Clement VII. The palace takes its name from Madama Margherita of Austria, illegitimate daughter of Emperor Charles V, who married another illegitimate son, Alessandro de' Medici and, after his death, Ottavio Farnese. Pope Benedict XIV made it the seat of the Papal Government. In 1849 Pius IX moved here the Ministries of Finances and of the Public Debt, as well as the Papal Post Offices. In 1871, after the conquest of Rome by the newly formed Kingdom of Italy, the Palazzo became the seat of the Senato del Regno.
With your back to Palazzo (Pzo.) Madama go direct (passing the bustling street) to Pza. Navona. Head west on Corsia Agonale toward Corsia Agonale (50 m.) and you face Piazza Navona. A charming, gigantic and lively square for pedestrians only. Contains 3 fountains and surrounded by Baroque palaces. Many think Piazza Navona is the most beautiful attraction in Rome. Often crowded but very spacious and well laid out. It's breathtaking: the fountains' sculptures tell a different story in every step and from every angle. It's packed with tour groups, sellers, artists, jugglers and sightseers resting their weary legs.
I would recommend going in the mornings, as it is much quieter, and the sellers are not about in the mornings! Go into side streets to avoid the high prices. Don't miss an Italian ice cream sitting at the posh "3 Scalini" (3 steps) restaurant or, better, buy Tartufo in 9.5 euros (see Tip below). We shall pass through Piazza Navona in many of our trips in Rome.
It is built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian, built in 1st century AD, and follows the form of the open space of the stadium. The ancient Romans came there to watch the agones ("games"), and hence it was known as "Circus Agonalis" ("competition arena"). It is believed that over time the name changed to in avone to navone and eventually to Navona.
In the Navona Square you find the following important sculptural and architectural creations:
Fontana dei quattro fiumi (four rivers) or Fountain of the Four Rivers (1651) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, topped by the Obelisk of Domitian, brought here in pieces from the Circus of Maxentius. The middle fountain and the biggest in the square. The base of the fountain is a basin from the centre of which rocks rise to support four river gods and above them, an ancient Egyptian obelisk surmounted with the Pamphili family emblem of a dove with an olive twig. Collectively, they represent four major rivers of the four continents through which papal authority had spread: the Nile representing Africa, the Danube representing Europe, the Ganges representing Asia, and the Río de la Plata representing the Americas.
Fontana del Moro (Moor Fountain): The Southern most fountain. It represents a Moor, or African (perhaps originally meant to be Neptune), standing in a conch shell, wrestling with a dolphin, surrounded by four Tritons. The fountain was originally designed by Giacomo della Porta in 1575 with the dolphin and four Tritons. In 1653, the statue of the Moor, by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, was added. In 1874, during a restoration of the fountain, the original statues were moved to the Galleria Borghese and replaced with copies. In September 2011, the fountain was damaged after a vandal attacked it with a hammer. The vandal also damaged the Trevi Fountain that night:
Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune): The Northern most fountain. The basin part of the Fontana del Nettuno, (without the sculptures) was designed in 1574 by Giacomo Della Porta, who also designed the Moor Fountain at the opposite side of the square. For the next 300 years, the fountain survived without statues. The fountain as it exists today was finally completed in 1878 by Antonio della Bitta, who added the imposing sculpture of "Neptune fighting with an octopus" and Gregorio Zappalà, who created the other sculptures, based on the mythological theme of the "Nereids with cupids and walruses". Statuary was added following a competition in 1873, in order to balance the statuary of the Moor Fountain on the south side of the piazza and of the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) at its centre.
Sant Agnese in Agone Church (also called Sant'Agnese) is opposite the Fontana dei quattro fiumi (four rivers) in Piazza Navona. it is dedicated to St. Agnes born around 290. The young girl who according to tradition suffered as a martyr, was beheaded at age 12 by order of Emperor Diocletian. It is a 17th-century Baroque church. It stands on the site where the early Christian Saint Agnes was martyred in the ancient Stadium of Domitian. Construction began in 1652 under the architects Girolamo Rainaldi and his son Carlo Rainaldi. After numerous quarrels, the other main architect involved was Francesco Borromini who was a former student of Bernini and, later, a rival. The interior is breath taking and really worth seeing. Inside, there is a shrine with Saint Agnes' skull. Notice the side altars which are dedicated to martyrs and show how each one died.
Palazzo Pamphilj, also spelled Palazzo Pamphili or Pamphili Palace, is a palace opposite the Fontana del Moro onto the Piazza Navona. It was built between 1644 and 1650. Since 1920 the palace has housed the Brazilian Embassy in Italy, and in 1964 it became the property of the Federative Republic of Brazil:
We exit Piazza Navona from the northern corner. Head north on Piazza Navona and continue onto Via Agonale, 46 m. Turn right onto Piazza delle Cinque Lune, 8 m. Turn left onto Piazza di Sant'Apollinare, 70 m. Here, you face Palazzo Altemps which houses part of the Roman National Museum treasures: important collections of antiquities consisting of Greek and Roman sculptures that in the 16th and 17th centuries belonged to various families of the Roman nobility. There are many displays of everyday items as well as the frescoes and wall friezes, also included is the National Romano Egyptian collection. If you like sculpture, this museum is a must see. Open: Tue-Sun 09.00-19.45. Prices: adult/reduced €7/3.50.
Slight left onto Via dei Gigli D'Oro, 58 m. Turn left onto Vicolo dei Soldati - a charming alley:
You won't believe it BUT we return to the southern most edge of Piazza Navona - crossing this magical piazza AGAIN... We exit the square from its south-east edge. Head south on Piazza Navona, 140 m. Turn right to stay on Piazza Navona, 17 m. Turn left onto Via della Cuccagna, 90 m. Turn right onto Piazza di San Pantaleo, 29 m. Turn left to stay on Piazza di San Pantaleo, 18 m:
After crossing the Piazza Pantaleo, with our faces to the south, we cross Vittorio Emanuele II bustling street and we have two options to arrive to Campo de Fiori (100 m. forward): the left road (via de Baullari) or the right road (Piazza Cancelleria).We opt for the RIGHT (east) street and walk along Piazza Cancelleria. On its right side stands Palazzo della Cancelleria. The Palazzo della Cancelleria (Italian for "Palace of the Chancellery", meaning the Papal Chancellery) is a Renaissance palace situated between the present Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and the Campo de' Fiori. It was built between 1489–1513 by an unknown architect as a palace for Cardinal Raffaele Riario, Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, and is regarded as the earliest Renaissance palace in Rome. The palace is not subject to Italian sovereignty and belongs to the Vatican. It is designated as a World Heritage Site as part of a group of buildings, the Properties of the Holy See. Do not skip it. You'll enjoy its facade and interior courtyard (free entrance to the courtyard). Built 1483-1513. The Leonardo da Vinci Machines Exhibition in Rome – The genius and his inventions takes palce in this aplace until April 2015. From time to time chances arise to enter the palazzo. You might be lucky enough to find tickets for the occasional chamber-music concerts held here; alternatively look out for exhibitions on religious themes mounted in the magnificently frescoed rooms.
In the end of this piazza you arrive to Piazza Campo Dè Fiori (field of Flowers). The name was first given during the Middle Ages when the area was actually a meadow. A colorful market-square surrounded by ancient colored houses and cafe's/tratorias. The food and flowers market operates until the early afternoon hours (closed on Sundays) and is one of the most popular in Rome. The crowded (and dirty) square might be disappointing: a lot of noise, rubbish, high prices and everything is touristic. BUT, from time to time you'll see street-performances (Brazilians making Kapuera, Africans with vibrant dance and music) and a lot of interesting spices, cheeses, pasta packages and even... flowers.
The monument to philosopher Giordano Bruno at the centre of the square. Do not miss the reliefs on the statue.
On Rosh Hashanah, 9 September 1553, the Talmud and many other Jewish books were burnt in the Campo dei Fiori. Throughout the remainder of the sixteenth-century, a complete edition of the Talmud could not be found anywhere in Italy. A plaque, commemorating this event and period, had been placed in the square:
Take the north-east corner of Campo dei Fiori and continue onto Via del Biscione, 25 m. You arrive to Piazza del Biscione - a pretty, tranquile square:
Here I met three smiling Norwegians:
Note, here, the negozio (shop) for selling ice-cream with candies: "Mio Italian Sweety". Turn left to PIazza Pollarola, another charming small square. Turn left to Via Baullari (taste huge selection of ice-cream flavors in Blue Ice) and cross, again, the Campo dei Fiori from north to south - arriving to Piazza Farnese. Here, there are two identical decorative fountains located in the Piazza Farnese, in front of the Palazzo Farnese in Rome, Italy. They were placed in the Piazza in the 16th century. The granite stone basins of the fountains are believed to come from the ancient Roman Baths of Caracalla. The emblems on the upper part of the fountain are those of the Farnese family, and the builder of the Palazzo, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, later Pope Paul III. Palazzo Farnese is one of the most important High Renaissance palaces in Rome. Owned by the Italian state, it was given to the French Government in 1936 for a period of 99 years, and currently serves as the French embassy in Italy. First designed in 1517 for the Farnese family, the building expanded in size and conception when Alessandro Farnese became Pope Paul III in 1534, to designs by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger. Its building history involved some of the most prominent Italian architects of the 16th century, including Michelangelo, Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola and Giacomo della Porta. The palace is closed to the public.
With our face to the Pallzo Farnese - 30 m., on our left stands Palazzo Spada. It is explored, in-depth in our trip "From Castelo Sant Angelo to the Pantheon". We exit the Piazza Farnese from Ristorante Camponeschi - at the eastern side of the square. We head, now, to the Jewish Ghetto. THere are 2 options to arrive to Ponte Sisto (Sisto Bridge on the Tiber river:
1. Passing Palazzo Spada: Head southeast on Vicolo dei Venti toward Via dei Balestrari, 57 m. Continue onto Via Capo di Ferro, 100 m. Turn right onto Via dei Pettinari, 170 m. Continue onto Ponte Sisto.
2. Arriving to POnte Sisto by the pretty, ancient, aristocratic Via Giulia or along the river. Head northwest on Vicolo dei Venti toward Via del Mascherone, 3 m. Turn left onto Via del Mascherone, 130 m. Turn left onto Via Giulia (explored, in-depth in our trip "From Castelo Sant Angelo to the Pantheon"), 110 m. It is a beautiful, atmospheric (a bit neglected) road. Many mansions/palaces with marvelous courtyards and gardens:
Via Giulia - the Hungarian Academy - designed by Michelangelo:
Continue onto Piazza di San Vincenzo Pallotti, 50 m. Turn right onto Via dei Pettinari, 12 m. Continue until Ponte Sisto.
Along the Tiber river near Ponte Sisto:
Ponte Sisto leads to the Trastevere quarter (see our trip to Trastevere) - BUT, we don't cross the river and we continue along the Tiber river, along Lungotevere dei Vallati - until Ponte (bridge) Garibaldi:
Isola Tiberina (Tiber Island) from Ponte Garibaldi (the Tiber Island is explored in the "Trastevere Quarter" Trip):
The street along the Tiber river changes its name to Lungotevere de Cenci. We arrive to Fabricius Bridge - Ponte Fabricio. The Fabricius Bridge leads to the Tiber Island (Isola Tiberina) and, from there, another bridge leads to the Trastevere Quarter. The Fabricius Bridge is populated by young Africans (mainly, from Senegal) selling handicrafts:
Opposite the bridge, on the other side of the bustling Lungotevere dei Cenci - stands the impressive Jewish Sinagoga (no. 9 in the street). It was built in year 1901 and its grandiose dome dominates the whole surroundings. the Museo Ebraico, in the Synagogue premises displays the history of the Jewish community in Rome along 2000 years. Open: Mon-Thu 09.00-18.00, Fri - 09.00-14.00, Sun 09.00-12.30.
The Jewish Ghetto extends from the Jewish Synagogue (south) to Piazza Mattei (north). It is a compact area but tyo explore its flavors, atmosphere, internals and secrets you'll have to devote, at least, 1.5-2 hours. I recommend that you'll visit the Jewish Ghetto, as we did, included in the "Trastevere Quarter" trip (doing the Ghetto in the morning and Trastevere - later). I guess that you'll arrive to this point late in the afternoon - so we head to the Teatro di Marcello.
With our back to the river we head northwest on Lungotevere Dè Cenci toward Via del Portico D'Ottavia, 7 m. Instead of turning left to the Ghetto along Portico D'Ottavia - we turn right onto Via del Portico D'Ottavia, 16 m and turn right onto Via di Monte Savello, 73 m - facing, on our right the spectacular Teatro di Marcello. It is an ancient marvelous open-air theatre, built in the closing years of the Roman Republic. At the theatre, locals and visitors alike were able to watch performances of drama and song. Today its ancient edifice, once again provides one of the city's most popular spectacles or tourist sites.It was named after Marcus Marcellus, Emperor Augustus's nephew, who died five years before its completion. Space for the theatre was cleared by Julius Caesar, who was murdered before it could be begun. It was completed in 13 BC and formally inaugurated in 12 BC by Augustus. It could originally hold between 11,000 and 20,000 spectators. FREE ENTRANCE.
From the Marcello Theatre - it is only 100 m. climb to the most central area of Rome - Piazza Venezia with tens of buses and Metro station:
Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè, Piazza Sant’Eustachio, 82: The best coffee in Rome. Not cheap. One of the best cups of Italian hot Chocolate or Espresso you will have in your life:
3 Scalini" (3 steps) restaurant, Piazza Navona:
Open every day from 9.00 to 02.00. Buy Tartufo in 9.5 euros (ice cream + cream + wafer) or a regular Gelato (ice-cream cup: 12-14 euros with additional 2.50 euros for extra whipped cream). The best (and expensive) way to memorize Piazza Navona while digesting heaps of calories. Once-in-life experience. it is famed for its “Tartufo”, a traditional chocolate ice-cream dessert, still prepared today as it was when first created in 1946. Tre Scalini’s speciality is its “Tartufo”, a chocolate ice-cream truffle made entirely from natural ingredients, including 13 different types of Swiss chocolate, topped by a wafer or a cherry - according to the original 1946 recipe.