There is archaeological evidence of human occupation of the Rome area from at least 14,000 years, but the dense layer of much younger debris obscures Palaeolithic and Neolithic sites. Evidence of stone tools, pottery and stone weapons attest to at least 10,000 years of human presence. The power of the well known tale of Rome’s legendary foundation tends also to deflect attention from its actual, and much more ancient, origins.
This is an amazing city! City that shook the world and continues to shake world by own architecture and history.
In the aftermath of the Battle of Actium (31 BC), Marcus Agrippa built and dedicated the original Pantheon during his third consulship (27 BC). The form of Agrippa’s Pantheon is debated. Augustus’s Pantheon was destroyed along with other buildings in a huge fire in 80 AD. Domitian rebuilt the Pantheon, which burned again in 110 AD. Not long after this second fire, construction started again, according to a recent re-evaluation of the bricks dated with manufacturer stamps. Therefore, the design of the building should not be credited to Hadrian or his architects. Instead, the design of the extant building might belong to Trajan’s architect Apollodorus of Damascus. The degree to which the decorative scheme should be credited to Hadrian’s architects is uncertain. Finished by Hadrian but not claimed as one of his works, it used the text of the original inscription on the new facade, a common practice in Hadrian’s rebuilding projects all over Rome. How the building was actually used is not known. The Pantheon dome. The coffers for the concrete dome were poured in molds, probably on the temporary scaffolding; the oculus admits the only light. Cassius Dio, a Graeco-Roman senator, consul and author of a comprehensive History of Rome, writing approximately 75 years after the Pantheon’s reconstruction, mistakenly attributed the domed building to Agrippa rather than Hadrian. Dio appears to be the only near contemporaneous writer to mention the Pantheon. Even by the year 200 there was uncertainty about the origin of the building and its purpose: Agrippa finished the construction of the building called the Pantheon. It has this name, perhaps because it received among the images which decorated it the statues of many gods, including Mars and Venus; but my own opinion of the name is that, because of its vaulted roof, it resembles the heavens. (Cassius Dio History of Rome 53.27.2) The building was repaired by Septimius Severus and Caracalla in 202 AD, for which there is another, smaller inscription. This inscription reads ‘pantheum vetustate corruptum cum omni cultu restituerunt’ (‘with every refinement they restored the Pantheon worn by age’).
- Basilica of St.Paul
The basilica was founded by the Roman Emperor Constantine I over the burial place of Saint Paul, where it was said that, after the Apostle’s execution, his followers erected a memorial, called a cella memoriae. This first edifice was expanded under Valentinian I, in the 370s. In 386, Emperor Theodosius I began the erection of a much larger and more beautiful basilica with a nave and four aisles with a transept; the work including the mosaics was not completed till the pontificate of Leo I (440-461). In the 5th century it was even larger than the Old St. Peter’s Basilica. The Christian poet Prudentius, who saw it at the time of emperor Honorius (395–423), describes the splendours of the monument in a few expressive lines. As it was dedicated also to Saints Taurinus and Herculanus, martyrs of Ostia in the 5th century, it was called the basilica trium Dominorum (‘basilica of Three Lords’). Under Gregory the Great (590-604) the basilica was again extensively modified: the pavement was raised, in order to place the altar directly over Paul’s tomb. A confession permitted the access to the Apostle’s sepulcher. As it lay outside the Aurelian Walls, the basilica was damaged during the Saracen invasions in the 9th century. In consequence of this Pope John VIII (872-882) fortified the basilica, the monastery, and the dwellings of the peasantry, forming the town of Joannispolis (Italian: Giovannipoli) which existed until 1348, when an earthquake totally destroyed it. In 937, when Saint Odo of Cluny came to Rome, Alberic II of Spoleto, Patrician of Rome, entrusted the monastery and basilica to his congregation and Odo placed Balduino of Monte Cassino in charge. Pope Gregory VII was abbot of the monastery and in his time Pantaleone of Amalfi presented the bronze doors of the basilica maior, which were executed by Constantinopolitan artists. Pope Martin V entrusted it to the monks of the Congregation of Monte Cassino. It was then made an abbey nullius. The jurisdiction of the abbot extended over the districts of Civitella San Paolo, Leprignano and Nazzano, all of which formed parishes; the parish of San Paolo in Rome, however, is under the jurisdiction of the cardinal vicar. Cloister of the monastery of San Paolo fuori le mura. The graceful cloister of the monastery was erected between 1220 and 1241. From 1215 until 1964 it was the seat of the Latin Patriarch of Alexandria. The Holy Door. Interior of the church. Arnolfo di Cambio’s tabernacle. On July 15, 1823 a fire, started through the negligence of a workman who was repairing the lead of the roof, resulted in the almost total destruction of the basilica which, alone of all the churches of Rome, had preserved its primitive character for 1435 years. It was re-opened in 1840, and reconsecrated 1855 with the presence of Pope Pius IX and fifty cardinals. Completing the works of reconstruction took longer, however, and many countries made their contributions. The Viceroy of Egypt sent pillars of alabaster, the Emperor of Russia the precious malachite and lapis lazuli of the tabernacle. The work on the principal facade, looking toward the Tiber, was completed by the Italian Government, which declared the church a national monument. On April 23, 1891 an explosion at Porta Portese destroyed the stained glasses. On 31 May 2005 Pope Benedict XVI ordered the Basilica to come under the control of an Archpriest. That same day he named Archbishop Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo as its first archpriest.
Occupying a site just east of the Roman Forum, its construction started between 70 and 72 AD under the emperor Vespasian and was completed in 80 AD under Titus, with further modifications being made during Domitian’s reign (81–96). The name ‘Amphitheatrum Flavium’ derives from both Vespasian’s and Titus’s family name (Flavius, from the gens Flavia).
Pictures added to Rome photo gallery on 10-11 of October, 2008.