There no better way to explore the Eternal City than strolling along its ancient streets and admiring its endless treasures at a slow pace? The area around the Pantheon is one of many in Rome that deserve a few hours of your time.
Start from the glorious Roman temple that was dedicated to all the pagan gods. It was built by the emperor Hadrian between 118 and 125 AD and you can see the dates stamped on some bricks. Since antiquity Pantheon’s beauty has inspired many creative minds. Light floods through an opening in the oculus revealing the architectural genius of the unknown architect.
A short distance from the Pantheon you will find one of the most beautiful squares in Rome: Piazza Navona built on the site of a Roman stadium, Stadio Domiziano, which prolonged shape it follows. From the 15th century it became an important market square and was embellished with elegant palaces and fountains designed by the best masters of Roman Baroque architecture. The remains of the Stadio Domiziano dating back to the 1st century AD are still visible, several metres below the street level. Back in its glory days, it could hold about 30,000 spectators who watched the Capitoline Agone, an ancient Roman version of the Olympic Games.
Just around the corner is another architectural gem – the 16th century Church of San Luigi dei Francesi. Inside you will find some of Caravaggio’s most famous works: The Calling of Saint Matthew, St. Matthew and the Angel and the Martyrdom of St. Matthew that are on permanent display here.
|San Luigi dei Francesi|
A few more hundred metres and you are facing yet another treasure: a tiny Baroque piazza with its beautiful Jesuit Church of St. Ignazio. The church is famous for its spectacular bright frescoes playing with perspective. Its ceiling seems to stretch up into the sky and the golden “dome” is nothing more than a masterful tromp l’oeil painted on a flat surface above your head.
To finish off this splendid walk head to the Trevi Fountain, the largest Baroque fountain in the city raising 86 foot into the sky.
Photos via Flickr by: Andrew Wales, Alexander Russy, Holly Hayes