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Walking through Rome

Home -> Europe -> Italy -> Travelogue Italy -> 26 May 2004

Wednesday 26 May, walking through Rome

Today we make our first walk through Rome, the old capital of the immense Roman empire, two thousand years ago. We have seen so much, that we probably have forgotten half of it, already. For art lovers (baroque, renessaince) and admirers of old cultures Rome is a must! We like the remains of the Roman empire best, but after one exhausting day we are very tired now. Therefore we won't show you all the pictures we made and tell just a few things since there are superb books and travel guides about this impressive city.
View from the Colosseum Nowadays gladiatorsWe have bought a day ticket for the public transport and go by bus to a subway station and get out at Termini, the place where the two subway lines of Rome cross. From there we first walk to the Colosseum. Obviously there are many tourists (Rome is the best visited city by tourists, we read), but since the city is quite big, it doesn't bother us as much as at Florence.
The ColosseumThe entrance fee of the Colosseum is normally € 8 per person, but they probably want us to speak well about this attraction, since today the entrance is free... Or is it maybe a sort of penance, for all the people and animals who died here over a period of hundreds of years, for the entertainment of the people and probably especially for the emperor.
Rome is an grand city, considering all the immense buildings and the crowds. It must have been the same in the old days, when Rome was the center of the world. What is this urgency to build these big, sometimes beautifully adorned, monuments? A sort of display of power, a statement to make clear how much better they are compared to the barbarians, the others? Or an attempt to make one (or the city, or the whole empire) immortal, copied from the Egyptian culture. As far as we are concerned, the monuments could have been a bit smaller and more sublime; quantity and largeness seem to be more important here than quality.
Triomph arch of ConstantineThe longest time we spend on the old Roman forum, now a collection of ruins of temples and palaces that emporors once build for themselves. The grandeur of an empire, the pride of men who were after each other's lifes and didn't hesitate to murder each other when they got the chance to become the next emperor.
The Roman forum The Roman forumDe meeste tijd brengen we door op het oude Romeinse forum dat nu een verzameling is van ruins van tempels and andere aandenkens die keizers voor zichzelf lieten bouwen. De grandeur van een volk, de trots van mannen die elkaar naar het leven stonden and niet nalieten de kans te grijpen elkaar te vermoorden om de ander te kunnen opvolgen.
And yet, despite all the violence and powerlusting people, the history which is assembled here in this spot fascinates us; frozen in time the temples still give an idea how lively and grand those times must have been and the many tourists make the place as lively as it must have been 15 to 25 centuries ago. In later times, when Rome was still the most important city, the oldest buildings had already become ruins. That is the nice thing about timemachines, to see how a place is like in a certain time, but we forgot ours... Still it is easy to imagine how things must have been and how Caesar himself once walked on the forum. We wonder if he, or any other emperor, ever saw so many people like there are now tourists.
Christian paintingOn our walk through the city, from the forum to the south, we see dozens of churches, palaces and other imposing monuments, too much to name them all here. And now and then we see a, probably very old but colourful, painting, just along the street.
The pyramid of Caius SestiusAt the end of the day we take the subway to the south to visit a pyramid, build around 30 BC, when Rome was strongly interested in anything Egyptian, inspired by Cleopatra who had allured two leading persons, first Julius Caesar, later Antonius, and the pomp and circumstance which Egypt still radiated. Especially the cult of the Egyptian goddess Isis survived a long time in the Roman empire.
Except all the impressive monuments we have seen, we have also enjoyed watching the people, whether they are tourists or Italian natives. There are so many people here that we started to look at them as a mass (to which we didn't belong, of course...) and it is curious to watch the individual behaviour of people within the mass, it really looks as if all people together are adapting and becoming one big organism, exactly what a big empire as the Roman once and maybe the European empire now can use best. In a metropolis like Rome it gets more and more difficult to stand out as an individual, whatever efforts they do for it (tattoos, piercings, different hair styles, you name it) and we all seem to grow together into one big mass. And we all know how the Roman empire ended, don't we...


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