As we venture from East to West and from North to South, it’s always nice to just get back home. In this case we do not mean Texas, we are talking about Rome.
The mausoleum is a large tomb built by the Emperor Augustus in 28 BC on the Campus Martius in Rome, Italy. The mausoleum is located on the Piazza Augusto Imperatore, near the corner with Via di Ripetta as it runs along the Tiber.
The grounds cover an area equivalent to a few city blocks, and nestle between the Church of San Carlo al Corso and the Museum of the Ara Pacis. The interior of the mausoleum is not open to tourists.
The mausoleum was one of the original projects initiated by Augustus following his victory at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC. The mausoleum was circular in plan, consisting of several concentric rings of earth and brick, planted with cypress trees on top of the building and capped by a conical roof and a 15 ft-tall bronze statue of Augustus.
Vaults held up the roof and opened up the burial spaces below. The completed mausoleum measured 295 ft in diameter by 137 ft in height.
A corridor ran from the entryway into the heart of the mausoleum. Here there was a chamber with 3 niches to hold the golden urns enshrining the ashes of the Imperial Family.
After the disastrous defeat of the Commune of Rome at the hands of the Count of Tusculum in AD 1167, the Colonna were disgraced and banished, and their fortification in the Campo was dismantled. The area thus became a ruin.
In the early 20th Century the Mausoleum of Augusts was made into a concert hall. It was not until the 1930s that the site was opened as a preserved archaeological landmark along with the newly moved and reconstructed Ara Pacis nearby.
The restoration of the Mausoleum of Augustus to a place of prominence was part of Benito Mussolini‘s ambitious reordering of the city. This stripping away of everything modern upon the ruins and monuments of Rome was his attempt to connect the aspirations of Italian Fascism with the former glories of the Roman Empire.
Mussolini viewed himself especially connected to the achievements of Augustus, seeing himself as a “reborn Augustus” ready to usher in a new age of Italian dominance. We all know Augustus, and that Mussolini was no Augustus.
At the original time of this article (almost a year ago) Rome Commissioner Francesco Paolo Tronca had approved a €6-million preliminary project to complete restoration work at the Mausoleum of Augustus. Funding was to serve to finish structural work on the monumental tomb including covering it, building a circular catwalk around it, and preparing it to open for public visits.
This commitment to restoring Rome’s historical monuments not only benefits tourism, but it also keeps alive remnants from a dominate world culture for future generations. Keeping Rome’s past intact benefits everyone.
With the Telecom Italia’s €6-million for restoration and upgrades, both inside and out, this monument should be a new tourist draw for Rome. Having once been 1 of the key monuments in the history of mankind, the Mausoleum of Augustus is set to reclaim that title.
Tourists will be immersed in the most sensational story of humanity, from imperial Rome to the beginnings of Christianity and the Baroque period,” said Giuseppe Recchi, the president of Telecom Italia.
We hope you enjoyed our trip to the Romani Patriae and look forward to having you back again. Make sure to check us out on Facebook and Twitter as well.
Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!
Dal Maso, Leonardo B. Rome of the Caesars. Bonechi: Florence, 1974.
Lanciani, Rodolfo. Pagan and Christian Rome. 1892. On-line.
Young, Norwood; P. Barrera. Rome and Its Story. J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd: London, 1951.
It was about 2 years to the day that my wife and I had planned out the trip of a lifetime to Paris. We had planned to spend Christmas and New Years in Paris, France not Paris, TX.
It was to be an adventure since neither of us had ever been before. But that trip never happened for not too long after we found out that we were going to have a child, and that the due date of the baby was to be 2 weeks before our vacation.
Since we haven’t yet traveled overseas due to the arrival of our son on 29 November 2015, today we revisit our plan for traveling to Paris!
When we began the planning, after securing our airfare and hotel accommodations, we were about a year away from the trip. Questions were coming hard and fast.
What are we interested in seeing? How do we want to travel? Do we want to get plane tickets own their own, or bundle them together with the hotel?
Do we want to stay in one location the entire trip, or move about? Are we traveling on a budget? The questions can go on and on.
The first question, sites we want to see, was fairly easy to answer. We want to see it all!
These are just obvious. However, we were not against becoming part of the “City of Lights” and strolling off of the tourist path.
To make lasting memories, the plan will be to experience as much as we possibly can. Hopefully this can also be accomplished in the most cost efficient means available.
To do so, the next most important decision is the location in which to stay. This is where some speed bumps will arise.
Paris is a very large city. As most cities of a similar size, like London or New York, the city is broken up into smaller districts.
The Parisians call their smaller areas Arrondissement (neighborhoods). They are divided up into 20 of these municipal areas.
If you imagine a spiral, how it starts in the center and continues to loop clockwise around from there, this is how the Arrondissements are formed.
The River Seine divides Paris almost in half, thus creating a Right (North) Bank and a Left (South) Bank. The Right Bank contains the following Arrondissements: 1-4, 8-12, and 16-20 while the Left Bank contains Arrondissements: 5-7 and 13-15.
One would think that it would not be so challenging to choose which Arrondissements to stay in due to the breakdown. Well that is not the case.
Each neighborhood has its own feel and its own charm. Plus there is at least 1 attraction in each neighborhood that visitors want to see.
From sites that I have gone through, it appears all of the districts are safe. If you have yet to visit “The City of Love” then here are brief descriptions of each.
The Palais-Royal is opposite the Louvre. The larger inner courtyard, the Cour d’Honneur, has since 1986 contained Daniel Buren‘s site-specific art piece Les Deux Plateaux, known as Les Colonnes de Buren.
Primarily a business district, the 2nd, aka the smallest Arrondissement, is also home to a number of historic shopping arcades. What’s here? The Paris Bourse, theBibliothèque nationale de France, lots of cafés and delivery trucks.
The Paris Bourse is the historical Paris stock exchange, known as Euronext Paris from 2000 onward. The Bibliothèque nationale de France is the National Library of France, and is the national repository of all that is published in France.
The Place des Vosges, originally Place Royale, is the oldest planned square in Paris and one of the finest in the city. It is located in the Marais district of Paris, and was a fashionable and expensive square during the 17th and 18th Centuries.
The Musée Picasso is an art gallery located in the Hôtel Salé in rue de Thorigny, dedicated to the work of the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. The Carnavalet Museum is dedicated to the history of the city, and occupies 2 neighboring mansions: the Hôtel Carnavalet and the former Hôtel Le Peletier de Saint Fargeau.
The 4th is the oldest part of Paris. With designer boutiques and fancy cuisine, lots of hipsters have taken to this area.
Notre-Dame de Paris, or simply Notre-Dame, is a medieval Catholiccathedral widely considered to be one of the finest examples of FrenchGothic architecture. It is among the largest and most well-known church buildings in the world.
The Arènes de Lutèce was a Roman amphitheater that could once seat 15,000 people and was used to present gladiatorial combats. The Thermes de Cluny are a Roman Bath complex built by the influential guild of boatmen of 3rd Century Roman Paris (Lutetia), as the consoles on which the barrel ribs rest are carved in the shape of ships’ prows.
The iconic 6th is what Paris’s Left Bank is all about. It is popular with locals and visitors alike, which makes it a popular place to stay.
Les Invalides (The National Residence of the Invalids) is a complex of buildings containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building’s original purpose.
Another Arrondissement loaded with tourist attractions. The 8th is like Oprah-rich.
The Place de la Concorde is the major public squares in Paris, at the eastern end of the Champs-Élysées. The Élysée Palace has been the official residence of the President of France since 1848.
A multifaceted Arrondissement, the 9th holds prestigious boulevards in the south and not so prestigious red light district (Pigalle area) in the north. The Rue Saint-Denis is where senior citizen prostitutes can be found.
The Galeries Lafayette is an upmarket French department store chain, with its flagship store is on Boulevard Haussmann. The Église de la Sainte-Trinité is a Roman Catholic church of the Second Empire period, built as part of the beautification and reorganization of Paris under Baron Haussmann.
The 10th is noted as being very “down to earth”. It is spread out too, so it is no wonder that both of Paris’s main railway stations (the Gare de l’Est and Gare du Nord) are found in the 10th.
A very low profile Arrondissement, known around the city as the Oberkampf, the 11th is mostly residential. This Right Bank district is better known for its nightlife than its landmarks, so it may feel a little too “festive” for a first time visitor to Paris.
The Cirque d’Hiver (Winter Circus) has been a prominent venue for circuses, exhibitions of dressage, musical concerts, and other events, including exhibitions of Turkish wrestling and even fashion shows. The church of Saint-Ambroise was named after its neighborhood, the quartier Saint-Ambroise.
Largely residential, the 13th is more out of the way from the typical tourist sites. It is home to the city’s largest Chinatown, while Butte-aux-Cailles (Quail Hill) boasts a stretch of restaurants, cafés and bars.
Today the Butte-aux-Cailles area assembles a young, trendy and festive Parisian population in its many small bars and restaurants. The Pitié-Salpêtrière University Hospital is a celebrated teaching hospital of Sorbonne University, and is 1 of Europe’s largest hospitals.
The Catacombs of Paris are underground ossuaries which hold the remains of more than 6 million people in a small part of the ancient Mines of Paris tunnel network. The Paris Observatory is the foremost astronomical observatory of France, and 1 of the largest astronomical centers in the world.
As a hit-or-miss district, the 15th is the largest of the 20 Arrondissements in Paris (both in size and population). Filled mostly with concrete 1970s high-rises, the 15th is not very lively unless you go to where it borders the 7th.
Maine-Montparnasse Tower, also commonly named Tour Montparnasse, is a 689 ft office skyscraper located in the Montparnasse area of Paris. Parc André Citroën is a 35 acres public park located on the Left Bank of the river Seine.
The 16th has the reputation of being the richest, with lots of Americans living here with their families. It is also viewed as being very safe, but more quiet and residential.
Batignolles was an independent village outside Paris until 1860, when the EmperorNapoleon III annexed it to the capital. The Palais des congrès de Paris is a concert venue, convention center and shopping mall.
Home of the famous Moulin Rouge, the 18th is like a vintage postcard of Paris. The once bohemian, and still village-like, district is often inundated with tourists.
That being said, avoid any hotel or hostel that is off of the Barbès-Rochechouart or Château Rouge metro stop. This is not the best district for wondering around the desolate side streets at night.
Moulin Rouge (Red Mill) is best known as the spiritual birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré-Cœur Basilica and often simply Sacré-Cœur, is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Another large Arrondissement, the 19th is a bit out of the way for Paris newcomers. The markets here are interesting to do as a day trip. Come night fall in Belleville, an area bordering the 19th and 20thArrondissements, there is a large community of young prostitutes.
The Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is a public park occupying 61 acres, was opened by Emperor Napoleon III. The Parc de la Villette is another public park which houses 1 of the largest concentration of cultural venues in Paris, including the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie (City of Science and Industry, Europe’s largest science museum), 3 major concert venues, and the prestigious Conservatoire de Paris.
The final, and mostly residential, Arrondissement is cosmopolitan and has no real attractions. The 20th still gets its fair share of tourists.
In order to provide you with engaging daily content, due to my newly hectic schedule, I have chosen to revisit some articles from early on in RAE’s history. Maybe I missed something or maybe something new has been shared since the article’s original publishing.
An unknown biographer of EmperorPublius Aelius Hadrianus Augustus (aka Hadrian) wrote that “(Hadrian) was the first to build a wall 80 miles long to separate the Romans from the barbarians“, but the true reason(s) for the construction of the wall vary. What we do know is that The Wall was not to divide Roman England from Barbarian Alba since the entire wall resides in England.
The only ancient source for its provenance is the Augustan History. No sources survive to confirm what the Wall was called in antiquity, and no historical literary source gives it a name.
However, the discovery of the Staffordshire Moorlands Pan in Staffordshire in 2003 has provided a clue. A small enameled bronze Roman trulla (ladle), dating to the 2nd Century AD, is inscribed with a series of names of Roman forts along the western sector of the wall, together with a personal name and phrase: MAIS COGGABATA VXELODVNVM CAMBOGLANNA RIGORE VALI AELI DRACONIS.
These are the 4 of the westernmost forts on Hadrian’s Wall, but excluding Aballava.
RIGORE is the ablative singular form of the Latin word rigor, but can also mean straight line, course or direction. This sense was used by Roman surveyors and appears on several inscriptions to indicate a line between places. So the meaning could be “according to the course”.
Vallum Aelium, aka Hadrian’s Wall, is not only the name of the momumental momument but it is also a blanket term. The term includes 5 distinct elements when viewed in a cross-section from north to south, so from above the big wall to behind it.
There is a Ditch, a Berm with or without obstacles, the Curtain (or Wall itself), the Military Way, and then the Vallum.
Out of the local rock, some limestone some volcanic, the ground was formed into a steep V-shape. In order to keep the integrity of the Wall, a small to moderate depression was created to drain water from low-lying areas near the structure.
This is the narrow portion of ground from the base of the Wall Curtain to the edge of the Ditch. This was approximately a width of 3 meters. In the eastern edge of the Wall, various obstacles have been found on the Berm that would function like stakes.
This is the portion made of stone or turf that folks think of when referring to Harian’s Wall. In stone, the Curtain spans from Wallsend to Birdoswald. From turf and timber the Curtain spans from Birdoswald to Bowness-on-Solway.
The Curtain crosses the River Tyne (at Cilurnum) and River Irthing (at Willowford near Banna). Although the thickness of the stone portion of the Curtain is not agreed upon, the height has been confirmed to be just under 15 feet.
The narrow road immediately behind the Wall Curtain was added in the 2nd Century AD. The Way was the direct connection to the forts, milecastles, and turrium built into the Wall Curtain.
Romans were known for road making and having the travels be as easy as possible. These physical infrastructures vital to the maintenance and development of the Roman state, and were built from about 300 BC through the expansion and consolidation of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire.
This featured a steep, flat-bottomed ditch with an earthern mound on both the north and south sides. The Vallum ran from east (at Newcastle) to west (at Bowness), very close to the Wall Curtain.
There were diviations around the forts and crossings across the ditches and through the mounds.
Hadrian’s Wall is more than just rock and mortar. There’s a lot more to it. Aside from being the most popular tourist attraction in Northern England, in 1987 it was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
Touring Hadrian’s Wall is can be done via Hadrian’s Wall Path. Although one can walk or bike, the Wall is more easily accessed by car, bus or taxi.
A great way to see Hadrian’s Wall is by going to Vindolanda. There are tours and museums of the turrets and mileforts.
If you care to read more about Hadrian’s Wall or the forts/towns along it, please check out these articles:
Built at the end of the 1st Century AD to seat 24,000 spectators, the Arena of Nîmes was one of the biggest Roman amphitheaters in Gallia. During the Middle Ages a fortified palace was built within the amphitheatre.
Later a small neighborhood developed within its confines, complete with 700 inhabitants and 2 chapels. In 1863 the arena was remodeled to serve as a bullring and today it hosts 2 annual bullfights as well as other public events.
We hope you enjoyed today’s adventure. Apologies for the briefness, but sometimes short is sweet.
Since the start of the new year we’ve been trying to provide you the best information and entertainment for your view buck. It’s been a stretch due to my starting a teaching credentialing program (shock, I want to be a History teacher) so we’ve revisited some previous articles.
Recently we came across one of the most ingenious ideas for tourism we have have seen so far, and we knew we had to share. The bigger surprise is that it came out of Serbia.
Today we journey along a path created by Romans and brought to you by tourism as we travel the Roman Emperors Route!
The Roman Emperors Route (Latin: Itinerarium Romanum Serbiae) is a route spanning roughly 373 miles with several Ancient Roman sites, among which are notable cities, estates and birthplaces. The project’s name is derived from the fact that 17 were born within the current borders of Serbia (the Roman provincia of Ilyricum), 2nd only to Italy itself.
The Roman Emperors were the leaders and guardians of a complex political structure which was built on the rule of law and limited autonomy in self-governing colonies and municipalities. The rule of law, after the Emperor Caracalla’s decree of AD 212, included universal citizenship throughout the Imperium Rōmānum.
Local government was stabilized in the various provinces of the Empire by the Emperors’ individual grants semi-autonomous governing powers to local communities with the award of colonial or municipal status (coloniae and municipia). These communities received their governing privileges from the Emperors active in the Danube region who also wanted to encourage the integration of indigenous peoples into Roman citizenship and the governing system.
Far from Rome, along the unpredictable Danube, the Roman Empire established its eastern border, the Limes. A series of military fortifications was set up along the road marched by the Roman Legions in their campaigns against the barbarian tribes across the river.
The troops were followed by traders and craftsmen, and soon towns sprang up along all the major roads. Upper Moesia and Lower Pannonia roughly match Serbia’s territory today. Beginning in the 3rd Century, over a period of some 200 years, these went from being marginal border provinces to occupying a place at the center of events in the Roman Empire.
This cultural route of the Roman Emperors reveals ancient Roman towns, roads, ruins, and artifacts on what was the eastern border of the Roman Empire. Adding to the tourism draw, wine tasting was added along the route.
The appreciation of wine and its consumption is promoted in the wine part of the route, and continues a tradition that stems from the introduction of the beverage by the Romans. Perhaps it is that the spirit of the Latin word convivium (eating/enjoying together) is continued in modern European culture where wine is highly prized and considered a necessary accompaniment to good living.
Sirmium, one of the most important towns of the late Roman Empire, was located by the river Sava, on the site of modern-day Sremska Mitrovica. Originally was founded by Celts in the 3rd Century BC, Sirmium was conquered by the Roman Empire in the 1st Century BC.
Singidunum is the name for the ancient city which became Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. The Roman Empire conquered the area in 75 BC and later garrisoned the Roman Legio IV Flavia Felix in 86 AD.
The Belgrade Fortress was built as a defensive structure on a ridge overlooking the confluence of the Sava and the Danube rivers during the period from the 2nd to the 18th Century. Today the fortress is a unique museum of the history of Belgrade.
It was the birthplace to the Roman Emperor Jovian. Belgrade has arisen from its own ashes 38 times!
Viminacium (VIMINACIVM) was a the provincial capital of Moesia, a Roman military camp, and the capital of Moesia Superior. Today known as Kostolac the town is located near Požarevac, where the Mlava flows into the Danube.
It was one of the most important Roman towns and military encampments from the period from the 1st to the 6th Century. The civilian settlement next to the encampment during the rule of Hadrian (117-138) gained the status of a municipium (a town with a high degree of autonomy).
The Roman castrum of Diana was raised on a high cliff above the Danube called the Karataš archaeological site, close to the town of Kladovo. Construction of the earliest earthen and wooden fortification is connected with the arrival of the initial military formations to the Danube in AD 100–101.
The main buildings were built on a strategic location overlooking the Danube frontier with stone in 100 AD during the reign of Roman Emperor Trajan, who had a military camp located at the vicinity. Further modifications were made at the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th Century when additional towers were added towards the river for extra defense towards the Danube shores.
At the mid-4th Century the fort was damaged by the invading Huns and in 530 AD rebuilt by Roman Emperor Justinian.
Trajan’s Bridge or the Bridge of Apollodorus over the Danube was a Roman segmental arch bridge, the earliest built over the lower Danube. For more than a thousand years, it was the longest arch bridge in the world in terms of both total and span length.
The bridge was constructed by the Greek architect Apollodorus of Damascus for the deployment of Roman troops in the Trajan’s Dacian Wars, in 105 AD.
A Roman memorial plaque (Tabula Traiana), 13 feet in width and around 6 feet in height, commemorating the completion of Trajan’s military road is located on the Serbian side facing Romania near Ogradina. It reads:
IMP. CAESAR. DIVI. NERVAE. F
NERVA TRAIANVS. AVG. GERM
PONTIF MAXIMUS TRIB POT IIII
PATER PATRIAE COS III
MONTIBVUS EXCISI(s) ANCO(ni)BVS
SVBLAT(i)S VIA(m) F(ecit)
Felix Romuliana (FELIX ROMVLIANA) was an imperial palace built on the orders of Galerius Maximianus on the spacious plateau of Gamzigrad, near the city of Zaječar. Galerius, who was born in this area, raised the palace in the 3rd and 4th Centuries in honor of himself and his mother Romula, after whom he named it.
It belongs to a special category of Roman court architecture associated only with the period of the Tetrarchy and is the best-preserved example of this style. Gamzigrad is an archaeological site spanning 10 acres, and is an UNESCO World Heritage Site of Serbia.
Not far from Niš is Mediana, the most famous and prestigious suburb of the classical city of Naissus. It was built near the river and the thermal springs, over an area of more than 99 acres.
Mediana was built in the early 4th Century AD, during the time of Constantine the Great. It served as a residence for use by Roman Emperors when visiting Naissus, and is now an important archeological site from the late Roman period for its highly organized economy.
Excavatations have revealed a villa with a peristyle, thermae, granary and water tower. Although Roman artifacts can be found scattered all over the area of present-day Niš, Mediana represents the best-preserved part of Roman Naissus.
In AD 535, Emperor Justinian I, originally from southern Serbia, decided to raise a city in his area of birth to basically honor himself. The city of Justiniana Prima lies on the gentle slopes which descend from the mountain of Radan towards the Leskovac basin, where key traffic routes pass.
Justiniana Prima served as the seat of an Archbishopric that had jurisdiction of the Central Balkans. In 1979, Justiniana Prima was added to the Archaeological Sites of Exceptional Importance list, protected by Republic of Serbia.
The Arles Amphitheatre is a Roman Amphitheatre in the southern French town of Arles. This 2-tiered Roman Amphitheatre is probably the most prominent tourist attraction in the city of Arles, which thrived in Roman times.
Built in AD 90, the amphitheatre was capable of seating over 20,000 spectators. It was built to provide entertainment in the form of chariot races and bloody hand-to-hand battles.
The building measures 446 ft in length and 358 ft wide, and features 120 arches. It has an oval arena surrounded by terraces,arcades on 2 levels (60 in all), bleachers, a system of galleries, drainage system in many corridors of access and staircases for a quick exit from the crowd.
It was obviously inspired by the Colosseum in Rome, being built slightly later. The amphitheatre was not expected to receive 25,000 spectators, the architect was therefore forced to reduce the size and replace the dual system of galleries outside the Colosseum by a single annular gallery.
This difference is explained by the conformation of the land. This temple of the games housed gladiators and hunting scenes for more than 4 centuries.
With the fall of the Empire in the 5th Century, the amphitheatre became a shelter for the population. It was transformed into a fortress with 4 towers (the southern tower is not restored).
The structure encircled more than 200 houses, becoming a real town, with its public square built in the center of the arena and 2 chapels, 1 in the center of the building, and 1 at the base of the west tower. The pronounced towers jutting out from the top are add-ons from the Middle Ages.
This new residential role continued until the late 18th Century. In 1825, through the initiative of the writer Prosper Mérimée, the change to a national historical monument for the Arles Amphitheatre began.
In 1826, expropriation began of the houses built within the building, which ended by 1830. In that same year the 1st event since Roman times was organized in the arena, a race of the bulls to celebrate the taking of Algiers.
Today, it draws large crowds for bullfighting during the Feria d’Arles as well as plays and concerts in summer. The Romans certainly would have approved of all 3 of these modern events taking place in their arena.
As I continue my teaching certification courses, we will continue to occasionally bring you revisited articles. This time we hope to add something that may have been forgotten, or experience something new with you.
Having said that, it’s time to make your own adventure. Today it’s time to have your own Aeneid!
Is it because he was the court poet for Augustus? Is it because Virgil has become the benchmark for Augustan Literature? Or is it simply because Virgil was born on October 15th just like me somebody else I know?
A strong case can be made for all of these. However, I think he is tops for his writing of The Aeneid.
Virgil has been said to write in the same style as Classic Greek poet, Homer. In fact The Aeneid is said to be the Roman combination of Homer’s Iliadand Odyssey, but that’s neither here nor there.
TheAeneid is about our hero, Aeneas, and his journey from the burning and sacked city of Troy to establish a new home for his people inLatium, Italy. The twist? Italy was the home of those people that initially founded Troy.
Our journey begins in Ancient Troy, in what has become modern day Turkey. The now legendary Trojan Horse was brought inside the city walls allowing Achilles, Ulysses, and other Greeks bring the mighty city to the ground.
Since his present home is being destroyed, and his goddess mother Venus has instructed him to gather the remaining Trojans, Aeneas and his people trek across country to find safety in Antandros, which is still in Turkey. Due to its location on the coast, near the Gulf of Adramyttium, this is where Aeneas chooses to build his fleet before setting off for Italy.
Since this is an epic poem, and nothing is ever direct in ancient adventures, Aeneas and his fleet leave Antandros and sail North into the Aegean Sea where they make landfall in Thrace. The location is not exactly known but it’s believed to be the no-longer-existing Aenos which would be located still in Turkey, near the Greek border.
Here in Thrace the remains of fellow Trojan, Polydorus, are found. All Aeneas wants to do at this point is build a wall and establish a city. Not too much to ask for, right?
While clearing the land in Thrace to create the wall, the plants that are uprooted spout blood and begin speaking to Aeneas. It’s Polydorus not crazy at all to have a dead person speak as a plant explaining what happened to him and to venture on.
More expelled Trojans are found as the group finally leaves Turkey and lands in Delos, Greece. Known as the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, Delos was home to a sacred oracle.
Aeneas believes this is the place they have been searching for only to have Apollo say it’s not quite right for them. The sails are then set again.
Now it’s out into the Mediterranean Sea and the Island of Crete. It’s basically the same story for Aeneas et al on this Greek island.
They think the location is the one for them. Construction gets underway, but then one of the gods tells them to get moving so they do.
As they hug the Greek coast, Aeneas and the fleet are driven to Strophados. This tiny set of twin islands again seems a perfect fit.
Aeneas then encountered the Harpies and found Strophados to be their dwelling place. The Harpies kept stealing all of the Trojan’s food and made life even more difficult for these ex-patriots.
I don’t think Aeneas to be wrong for leaving these female monsters that had the bodies of a bird with the head and face of a human.
After fleeing from the Harpies, Actium is the next place for landfall and to see if this is the right spot. This again is not the right place so the group sets sail. As they head North
the fleet halts at Buthrotum in ancient Northwestern Greece, but the location is now modern Albania.
Aeneas was happy to find Buthrotum the home of Helenus, another son of King Priam of Troy. Unlike his brother Polydorus who was killed after escaping Troy, Helenus was a survivor.
This could be due to the fact that Helenus was a seer. It was Helenus who told Aeneas this was not the place for him and to carry on. Helenus had a vision that Aeneas would go on to found Rome, so they kept moving.
Crossing the Ionian Sea, Aeneas and company make their first landing on Italy at Castrum Minervae. Knowing this is not the place they carry on.
Upon rounding Italy’s boot, the fleet arrives the ancient town of Aetna on Trinacria, or modern day Sicily. This is also the Land of Cyclops.
So the group shoves off hugging the island’s coastline. It is during this time that Anchises, the father of Aeneas, passes away.
They end up at on the western coast at Drepanon. Just like at every other stop before, Aeneas and clan find that as they prepare to end their journey it is not the right spot. So they pack on up and head back out to see once again.
The vengeful Juno takes advantage of this and blows the Aeneas’s fleet off course, yet again. They now land in Carthage and are greeted by Queen Dido.
It is here with Dido that Aeneas, just as Ulysses did on his travels, gets halted. The Carthaginians welcome in their Trojan guests and want Aeneas to be their king (a familiar scene so far in the story).
During a mystical evening alone, Dido and Aeneas are thought to have relations, thus causing Dido to believe Aeneas is now her king too. This is when the messenger god Mercury, sent via Jupiter, reminds Aeneas he is not to stay in Carthage with his new-found love, Dido, but to sail on to Italy and found Rome.
Again landing on the western coast of Sicily, Aenea’s throws funeral games honoring the anniversary of his father’s death. While only the men are partaking in the games some women, under the spell of Juno, burn some of the boats so the men can no longer travel.
The plan is to have Aeneas never reach Italy. This plan does not work and those that can sail on head out.
The fleet lands next at Cumae, where Aeneas is told he must venture into the underworld for guidance.
In the underworld, Aeneas meets his father once again. They discuss the prophetic future that is Rome and how Aeneas is to achieve it.
Upon returning to the land of the living, Aeneas knows what he must do. His people follow him once again to sea.
They then stop briefly at Caeita. It is here that Aeneas buries his wet-nurse prior to pressing on for his final destination.
Aeneas and his Trojans land in Latium. It is here that Aeneas falls in love with and courts Lavinia, daughter of King Latinus and Queen Amata.
Juno once again meddles with the happiness of Aeneas and his people by tricking the Latium Queen into starting trouble for the Trojans. The hatred for Aeneas get Turnus of the Rutuli people to battle The Trojans.
Since the story is meant to be a positive outcome for the survivors of Troy (Spoiler Alert) they are victorious in this outcome. Aeneas goes on to found Lavinium. The prophecy is now complete.
Although he did not found Rome himself, it Aeneas’s Lavinium was the center of the Latin League. It was from here that the people of Rome sprang, thus linking the the royal house of Troy to the newer Roman Republic.
Travel by land, sea or air and you too can now have your own Aeneid. TutusItinerarium (safe travels) and Don’t Stop Rome-ing!
Celsus had been Consul in 92 AD where he was in charge of all public buildings, the Roman Proconsul of Ephesus, the capital of the Roman Province of Asia from AD 105- 107 AD, and a wealthy and popular local citizen. He was a native of nearby Sardis and amongst the earliest men of purely Greek origin to become a Consul in the Roman Empire.
Honored both as a Greek and a Roman (according to an inscription on the library itself), Celsus paid for the construction of the library with his own personal wealth. Construction on the library began in AD 117, in the traditionally Greek territory of Ephesus, and was completed by AD 120.
The building is important as one of the few remaining examples of an ancient Roman-influenced library. It also shows that public libraries were built not only in Rome itself but throughout the Roman Empire.
The library was designed by the Roman architect Vitruvius. To benefit early risers, Vitruvius even advised that the single-hall edifice face east toward the morning sun.
The library was built on a platform leading up to 3 front entrances. In order to reach an entrance one must climb 9 steps that span the full width of the building.
The central entrance is larger than the 2 flanking it, and all are adorned with windows above. Flanking the entrances are 4 pairs of Composite columns elevated on pedestals.
A set of Corinthian columns stands directly above the initial set, thus adding to the height of the building. The pairs of columns on the 2nd level frame the windows as the columns on the 1st level frame the doors, and also create niches that house copies of Sophia (wisdom), Episteme (knowledge), Ennoia (intelligence) and Arete (virtue).
It is thought there may have been a 3rd set of columns, but today there are only 2 registers of columns. This type of façade with inset frames and niches for statues is similar to that found in ancient Greek theatres and is thus characterized as scenographic.
The main entrance is both a crypt containing Celsus’s sarcophagus and a sepulchral monument to him. It was unusual to be buried within a library or even within city limits, so this was a special honor for Celsus.
Celsus was said to have left a legacy of 25,000 denarii to pay for the library’s reading material. Leaving a large monetary gift plus paying for the construction of such a large public building probably helped to grant Celsus that special honor.
The building’s other sides are architecturally irrelevant as the library was flanked by buildings. The interior of the building was a single rectangular room measuring 56×36 ft.
Within this hall was a central apse which was framed by a large arch at the far wall. A statue of Athena, goddess of truth, stood in the apse and Celsus’ tomb lay directly below in a vaulted chamber.
Along the other 3 sides were rectangular recesses that held cupboards and shelves for the 12,000 scrolls. Those niches along with the double walls behind them worked to both control the humidity and to protect the scrolls from the extreme temperature.
The 2nd and 3rd levels could be reached via a set of stairs built into the walls to add support to the building, which also had similar niches for scrolls. The ceiling was flat, and there may have been a central square oculus to provide more light.
The style of the library, with its ornate, balanced, well-planned façade, reflects the Greek influence on Roman architecture. The building materials (brick, concrete, and gypsum mortar) signify the new materials that came into use in the Roman Empire around the 2nd Century AD.
In 262 AD, the interior of the library was supposedly destroyed by an earthquake. Evidence, though, seems to point to a fire during a Gothic invasion during that same year as the cause of destruction.
Whatever the actual cause, only the façade survived. This meant all 12,000 scrolls were destroyed too.
About AD 400, the library was transformed into a Nymphaeum. The façade was completely destroyed by a later earthquake, probably in the 10th or 11th Century AD.
For centuries the façade lay in ruins, until it was re-erected (anastylosis) by archaeologists between 1970 and 1978. This reconstruction campaign was led by the German archaeologist Volker Michael Strocka.
Strocka analyzed the fragments that had been excavated by Austrian archaeologists between 1903 and 1904. In the meantime, some architectural elements had been acquired by museums in Vienna and Istanbul.
In the process of anastylosis, those absent fragments had to be replaced by copies or left missing. Only the façade was rebuilt, the rest of the building remaining in ruin.
Having just finished reading Inferno, one historical item is once again the talk of Florence. At least among tourists.
That is what we are going to explore today, the Porta Romana!
Did you know that Florence used to be surrounded by high defensive walls? From the principal set of walls dating back to 15-30 BC till the last erected in the mid-16th Century, either 5 or 6 different wall designs were built over the centuries to defend the city.
Today, just a small portion of the last walls remains in the Oltrarno area. The walls of the north side of the Arno River were destroyed to create today’s boulevards in the 19th Century, when, for a brief period, Florence was the capital of Italy.
Fortunately, some strong and impressive remnants of the ancient city walls still survive. The doors (porte) and a few towers are what we will examine.
The Porta Romana, once known as the Porta San Pier Gattolino was the southernmost gate in the 13th Century walls of the Oltrarno section of Florence, region of Tuscany, Italy. It stands at the convergence of a number of roads: accessed from north by Via Romana, Via de’ Serragli, and Viale Francesco Petrarca.
In addition, a central road along the Boboli Gardens begins near the gate, and allowed the inhabitants of the Palazzo Pitti to exit and enter Florence with minimal travel on city streets. Beyond the gates are the Via del Poggio Imperiale and Via Senese.
The latter led to Siena and points south such as Rome, hence the name. When the majority of the defensive walls of Florence were razed in the 19th Century, only a few, and sometimes partial gate structures were left standing including Porta San Gallo, Porta San Niccolo, and this gate with a snippet of merlonated wall.
The 13th Century walls and gates of the city were erected with the designs of various builders. Among the main contributors were Arnolfo di Cambio, with contributions by Orcagna, Giotto and others.
A plaque on the external wall claims the gate was erected in 1327. Originally, and as demonstrated on the 1584 map by Stefano Buonsignori, the gate had a lower outer wall with a small courtyard dominated by the larger gate we see today and resembled the Porta Romana of Siena.
The gate had a large central entrance for horse-drawn carriages, and smaller lateral doors for pedestrian entry. The door retains its original massive, iron-clad doors.
The outer arch has a weather-worn 13th Century fresco, depicting the enthroned Virgin and saints. The interior portion of the gate has 2 marble plaques.
One plaque commemorates the 1515 entrance into Florence of the MediciPope Leo X, and the other the 1535 entry of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. This gate still has its original iron doors, with the typical large bolts (for decorative and pragmatic purposes), the old locks, and a marble slab bearing the Medici coat of arms.
When Cosimo I augmented the walls around Florence, he destroyed the church of San Pier Gattolino that had stood at the site since at least 1068. A subsequent church was rebuilt with designs of Giuseppe Castagnoli and Domenico Del Potesta, and was decorated by Giusto Mariani and Romanelli.
It is said the term Gattolino is a corruption of Gattuario, others say it was a corruption of Catelina. Others attribute it to the word gattice a type of white poplar in the region. The church is also called the parish church of Serumido, derived from Ser Umido Grazzino.
Just outside the wall was the 14th Century church and convent of San giusto della Calza of the Knights of Jerusalem.
At the center of a roundabout facing the Porta Romana stands a controversial modern marble statue of 2 women, the Dietro-Front (Turnabout), by artist Michelangelo Pistoletto. The sculpture was presented for the first time in 1984 at the artist’s exhibition at Forte Belvedere, and later permanently installed in the Piazzale diPorta Romana.
One of the female figures (about 20 ft high) points vertically at Via Senese, which leads to Via Cassia and then to Rome. The other figure (about 10 ft high) is placed on the head of the other, and looks towards Via Romana that enters the city walls of Florence.
In 1984, after chaining the 14th Century city gate in front of which Dietro-Front was placed, protesters collected hundreds of signatures demanding that the sculpture be moved to a suburban area of the city. After brief discussion among city members, it was decided that the sculpture was to remain in its place.
Since the symbolic significance of the statue was not immediately understood by the citizens, Pistoletto himself had to explain the meaning of his work of art during an interview. He said that: “The Dietro-Front sculpture has a clear meaning. It’s bi-directional, a figure walks one way while carrying a second figure on its head which walks the other way. From Florence during the Renaissance new ideas were born in artistic, scientific architectural and economic areas. Everything modern starts from this point, from Florence. My sculpture leaves Florence to face the world and at the same time the second figure returns: it is a come-back to modernity from the world to Florence”.
This was the author’s perspective, but everyone can interpret it in her/his own manner. Even if the Florentines have not been particularly taken by Pistoletto’s works of art, he leaves an original artwork that is by now considered an iconic reference to the area of Porta Romana, well-integrated into the city.
However, the Florentines, accustomed to the works of another Michelangelo (Buonarroti), were not particularly grateful. Consequently, the sculpture was immediately renamed “headache” by some, the “unbalanced” by others and referenced as such even today.
In Inferno, Dan Brown describes Porta Romana as one of Florence’s busiest intersections—the gateway to the old city. It is from here that Robert and Sienna start their adventure.
Porta Romana belongs to the ancient walls of Florence and it is the largest and best preserved gate of the city. From this point, one can see the city’s past while also viewing its future.
We hope you enjoyed today’s travels and look forward to having you back again soon. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for special additions.
It was in use as a garrison for approximately 300 years, almost up to 400AD. Today, Segedunum is the most thoroughly excavated fort along Hadrian’s Wall, and is operated as Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum.
The central section of Hadrian’s Wall was erected atop the Whin Sill, a geological formation that offers a natural topographic defense against invaders or immigrants from the north. However at the eastern end of the wall, the main topographic defense was the River Tyne itself, and the very final stretch of the wall ran down from Segedunum fort to the river’s edge.
In the Roman Empire, 5 places named Segedunum were known to have existed (1 each in Britannia and Germania and 3 in Gallia). The first element of the name is attested widely in Gaul, Spain, Germany and Italy, and derives from the Indo-European root segh-, which is reflected in various later European languages with similar meanings (Irishseg-,segh- “strength, vigor”; Welshhy- “daring, bold”; GermanSieg “victory”).
As applied to place names, it appears to have had the meaning of “place of strength” or “place of victory”. The subsequent element, -dunum, is a Celtic term widely attested across Britain and Gaul and typically meant a fort. Thus Segedunum probably had the meaning of “strong fort” or “victory fort”.
The name Wallsend comes from Segedunum being at the easternmost end of Hadrian’s Wall. The westernmost end of the wall is at Bowness-on-Solway.
The name Segedunum is known from the Notitia Dignitatum of the 4th Century, but there is no consensus on its meaning. The various speculations include being derivative of the Celtic words sego (strength) and dunum (fortified place); Romano-British Segedunum (Strong-fort); and Celtic sechdun (dry hill).
Subsequently, in about AD 127, the wall was extended further east. It has been hypothesized that the extension was to protect the river crossing at Pons Aelius, but this is only speculation.
A 4-mile section of the wall east from the fort of Pons Aelius, passing through present-day Byker and ending at the new fort of Segedunum was built. The new section of wall was narrower than the sections previously built, being 7 feet 6 inches on a foundation of 8 feet.
Unlike the rest of the wall, the extension had no vallum. The fort measured 453 feet from north to south and 393 feet from east to west, covering an area of 4.1 acres.
A wide ditch and an earth embankment surrounded the fort on all sides. It had 4 double gates with the east, west and north gates opening outside the wall and only the south gate opening within the wall.
The wall joined to the west wall of the fort just south of the west gate. From the southeast angle of the fort, a 6 feet 6 inches wide wall ran down to the riverbank and extended at least as far as the low water level.
There is evidence that there was an extensive vicus (village surrounding the fort), including the area to the north of the wall.
The original garrison of Segedunum is unknown, but in the 2nd Century the II Nerviorum (2ndCohort of Nervians) was stationed there. In the 3rd and 4th Centuries the part-mounted IV Lingonum Eq (4th Cohort of the Lingones) occupied the fort, as recorded in the Notitia Dignitatum.
Sometime round about AD 400 the fort was abandoned. For centuries the area remained as open farmland.
Then, in the 18th Century, collieries were sunk near the fort and the area gradually became a populous pit village. Eventually, in 1884, the whole fort disappeared under terraced housing.
In 1929 some excavations were carried out which recorded the outline of the fort, and the local authority marked out this outline in white paving stones. In the 1970s the terraced houses covering the site were demolished.
A section of Hadrian’s Wall was excavated and a reconstruction built in the early 1990s. The Segedunum project began in January 1997 with a series of excavations in and around the Fort.
The project then incorporated the construction of the bath house and the conversion of former Swan Hunter shipyard buildings to house the new museum. Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths & Museum opened to the public in June 2000.
The site of the fort now contains the excavated remains of the buildings’ foundation of the original fort, as well as a reconstructed Roman military bathhouse based on excavated examples at Vindolanda and Chesters forts.
A museum contains items of interest that were found when the site was excavated, and a large observation tower overlooks the site. A portion of the original wall is visible across the street from the museum, and a reconstruction of what the whole wall might have looked like.
There may have been a statue or monument to mark the very end of Hadrian’s Wall, but if there ever was, it no longer exists. The North Tyneside Council provided accommodation in the newly built Battle Hill Estate for the owners of all the houses demolished when the site was cleared.
We hope you enjoyed today’s adventure as we completed our journey across the towns and forts that made up Hadrian’s Wall. Check us out again soon and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!
Bruce, J. Collingwood. Handbook to the Roman Wall. Harold Hill & Son, 1863. ISBN 0-85983-140-X.
Chamberlin, R. “Hadrian’s Wallsend”. History Today, Volume: 50 Issue: 8. August 2000.