Roma – where Gods still linger to create history

This is a city where the past is the present, where Gods still linger and monarchs are worshipped , where myths and legends merge to create history , where romance is about wars fought and won, where art is a way of life , where stones speak and the silence of the scultures speak of a glorious past, where winged creatures are not birds , but Gods , where the spirit of Renaissance still lives on the streets , celebrating the exuberance of life. Its the root of civilisation and ironically, you run away from civilisation the moment you set foot here , as you step into the bygone eras .

This trip for me was personal and special. I ‘ve poured over the stories from classical mythology , learnt by rote the names of all the Gods and Goddesses, dreamt of Zeus and Venus, got intoxicated by Bachchus and smitten by Cupid and read all the exploits of the Ceasars and imagined Nero fiddling … and I completely got lost amidst the art and architecture . It was hot and humid and extremely crowded .

There was art in every nook and corner. Statues and sculptures screamed for attention as pretty fountains dotted every street . Each piazza has a history behind it, be it Piazza Navona or Piazza Venezia or Piazza Di Spagna . In Piazza Navona are three fountains: Fontana del Moro, Fontana di Nettuno and in the centre of the square Bernini’s magnificent Fontana dei Fiumi. Four allegorical statues portray the Nile, the Ganges, the Danube and the Rio de la Plata, symbolizing the four corners of the world.

As we passed through the city, we came upon The Area Sacra . It has temples and remains of Pompey’s theatre complex . Adjacent to the same is the Curia of Pompey, which was used as a temporary assembly for senators .It is widely believed that Julius Ceasar was stabbed to death amidst these ruins here on the Ides of March .

The Pantheon was one of the temples that was first on my priority .In Latin , it means the temple of all the Gods and it was dedicated to the ancient Gods of Rome. Rebuilt in 27 BC by Agrippa, it was destroyed , only to be built again by Emperor Hadrian in 125 AD ..ironically this was my last stop over in Rome as we were late to catch our train to Zurich. It became a tomb and painters like Raphael are buried here . Today its a church and even weddings are celebrated here . This temple to me is the definition of the word ancient .

We went to the Vatican ( it deserves a separate post ) and Castel Sant’Angelo , s a beautiful mausoleum built on the banks of the river Tiber, by Emperor Hadrian (2nd century AD), who wished to have a tomb for himself and his successors. According to the legend, it was not yet completed by the time of Hadrian’s death and the emperor being buried in another place until the mausoleum was ready. It was at first a fortress , then a prison and finally a magnificent papal residence. The magnificent bridge , the calm river and the imposing structure and the serene surroundings uplifts you to a completely different world

The Colosseum …one of the ancient seven wonders, this gem is a beauty ..We walked in the sweltering heat and waited in the long queque and sweated as the sea of humanity gathered around us …but it was breathtaking . The Colosseum owes its name to a colossal bronze statue, representing the Emperor Nero,(no, the sculpture is Ganymede and not Nero) that used to stand in this area.

Symbol of Rome worldwide, the Colosseum was built between 72-80 A.D. andthis amphitheatre could hold more than 70,000 spectators who could watch the fights between gladiators, the hunting of animals . Legend has it that the architect who designed the Colosseum is said to have been thrown alive to the wild beasts “as a reward for his own work”, thus inaugurating the long story of blood and cruelties of the building he himself had conceived.

Next to the Colosseum is the temple of Venus and Roma designed by emperor Hadrian. It was dedicated to the patron goddesses of Rome – Roma, the divine personifaction of the city, and Venus, the mother of the ancestor of Romulus and Remus.It was this temple which caused the rift between Hadrian and Apollodorus, the brilliant court architect of emperor Trajan. Apollodorus had remarked that the seated statues of the godesses were too large for the temple. For if they would stand up, they would actually knock their heads on the ceiling.Those comments should eventually cost Apollodorus his life.

We walked down to The Roman Forum, which is the most important archaeological area in Rome. It extends from the Capitol Hill to the Palatine. In the 7th century B.C., the Forum was the very nerve of Rome’s political, commercial and religious life. Later on, the Imperial Forums were added to the Roman Forum – Foro di Cesare, Foro di Augusto, Foro di Nerva, Foro di Vespasiano and the most imposing one, the Foro di Traiano, of which one can still admire the huge Column of the Markets.

Today the remains of the Forum Romanum seem like a pile of rubble and rocks that are scattered around.- but this is the layout of ancient Rome’s town centre , the very foundation of the ancient city where columns and pillars speak of battles won and lost , where statues of queens and goddesses vied for attention , where temples and palaces once stood majestically against the hills .

As we walked towards Piazza Venezia,we were greeted by a majestic white monument. The Vittoriano built to honour Victor Emanuel II, the first king of Italy, offer some breathtaking views of Rome . Built of white marble, the monument invited controversy for destroying a large portion of the Capitoline Hill . It also has the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The Roman Holiday was over . As we stepped out into the present, the voices of the past still echoed in our ears . History just came alive as we relived the ambitions of emperors and the conspiracies of the senates . Amidst the rubble and ruins , lies buried a Rome which still breathes …

If I have to sum up Rome in a couplet, I am reminded of a poem by Keats and though the Ode is to a Grecian Urn, it will not be misplaced here

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty
that is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know ”


  1. Smita 18 October, 2007 at 12:02 Reply

    Majestic! I wish I could have gone there this time – but I hear it is quite unsafe to travel alone in Italy. How were the people? Italian waiters are famed to be quite ‘impolite’ 🙂

  2. dintoons 18 October, 2007 at 15:10 Reply

    breathtaking pics as always… roma! rules the world now with its fantastic beauty and rich culture… as it has been doing throughout the centuries…
    thanks for the beauty! :o)

  3. Cathy 18 October, 2007 at 20:03 Reply

    What a fantastic post! I haven’t been to Rome for years, but your photos capture the spirit of the place so perfectly that it brought loads of memories.

    Funnily enough, I was thinking about Marforio and Pasquino the other day. Why don’t we have talking statues in the UK?

  4. Caroline B 18 October, 2007 at 22:49 Reply

    We ‘did’ Rome a couple of years ago – isn’t it amazing? Your pictures brought back some great memories – we just loved Italy, the sights, the food, the people, all good!

  5. backpakker 19 October, 2007 at 10:58 Reply

    Smita – We were warned about Rome and yes, its unsafe and you need to be very careful . We were almost mugged in the metro there around 7 pm and hence did not venture out late at nights..but otherwise its for waiters, I wont call them rude but they have loads of attitude and are loud ..but we had our best meals in Italy

    David – I am a great fan of Keats….one of my cherished possessions is his complete works…you may want to check my blog-my favourite things ..I try to keep my literary interest alive there

    dintoons- thank you..rome is one of the oldest civilisations and Im amazed how it has been preserved within the heart of the city

    Cathy -thank my short visit , I tried to capture as much as possible .I think most countries in Europe preserve art and literature..would be great to have these talking statues everywhere ..

    Caroline – memories are always beautiful and Im happy that my post made you feel nostalgic ..

    Reeta – Welcome to backpakker and thanks ..history and art can be very interesting..its just that text books make them boring

  6. indicaspecies 22 October, 2007 at 02:12 Reply

    Superb pictures here. Brought back memories of my trip to Rome. Did you visit the Trevi Fountain and throw coins in there?

    I hope you are posting more pictures of the Vatican. Did you go to the Sistine Chapel? 🙂

  7. Merisi 22 October, 2007 at 13:49 Reply

    Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving the kind messages!

    So nice to come over here and see Rome! I have lived in Rome almost a decade, as a young girl into my twenties and been back many times. I havenever had any unpleasant encounter, even though I always walked into the night, went to theaters and concerts in the parks, getting home around midnight.

  8. Stephanie 23 October, 2007 at 00:35 Reply

    Thank for this wonderful trip to Rome!! How long are you travelling for? I need to read back through your blog to get more info…what a wonderful way to document what seems to be an incredible journey!!

    x…x (spanish kisses on both cheeks!)

  9. GMG 23 October, 2007 at 03:14 Reply

    Beautiful travelogue! Of course, with so many beautiful monuments and an incredible history, Rome helps a lot, but the pictures and the text are excellent.
    Compared with my several trips there, I found that the Pantheon is still superb; the Forum Romano is getting improved with some works there; and you pictured but did’nt mention neither the Fontana del Tritone nor the impressive Justice Palace. But what I found amazing is that you accepted to name Vittoriano the incredible Typewriter standing at the end of the Via del Corso… ;))

  10. bendtherulz 23 October, 2007 at 17:17 Reply

    superb pics- especially the first taken in all its glory.
    Narration was so fluid- I loved hearing about all those fancies of your…lol….

    Now to think of I can kick myself for letting go of opportunity to travel some years back when my sis invited me….*sad*

    I see that you have done Murano…as well…so will check that post as well.

  11. backpakker 24 October, 2007 at 12:50 Reply

    Indicaspecies – Vatican will be a separate post -though more of pictures . We didnt stop by at Trevi Fountain , but just went drove past it, enroute to the wish would have been to return !

    Ken – welcome to backpakker and thank you so much..hope you get to visit Rome soon

    Merisi -welcome to backpakker . i guess there was a bit of paranoia as most tourists complain of mugging in Rome and we met quite a few who had stories to tell..and we were stalked in one of the metro stations late night as we were alone and suddenly some fellow passengers came in and the stalker disappeared

    Kalyan – Thank you..yes, Rome is beautiful and we walked quite a bit-took the bus where we couldnt and its a trip down in history

    Standley – Welcome to backpakker and thank you

    Mark -thanks..Im very happy with the pictures themselves..speaks volumes of the architecture even amidst ruins

    Stephanie -Thanks ..Im back and it was a very short let me know what information you need ..And your Spanish posts are amazing

    GMG- Didnt spend too much time there – just drove past in a bus as it was late . And oops- did I make a mistake regarding the Vittoriano ?

    Bendtherulz – Rome is a dream come true ..whats life without fancies ?

  12. Nandan 25 October, 2007 at 18:33 Reply

    Last night only I read about Venice (and some bits of Italy) in the weekly Brunch (a mag which comes with delhi sunday edition of Hindustan Times) and it said similar things.

    Great story and lovely pics.

    Probably you would be better off using a template where you get some more width. Thanks for sharing all this.

    Visit in free time , some real ghumakkars are trying to setup a platform there 🙂


  13. Cuckoo 26 October, 2007 at 17:27 Reply

    Excellent pictures here. I too have been to Italy but yet to make a post.

    This is what happens when you travel more and time is less for blogging. 🙁

  14. backpakker 26 October, 2007 at 17:29 Reply

    GMG – Agreed 🙂 Was just wondering if I had mixed up some info 🙂

    Nandan- welcome to backpakker and thanks for your comment and suggestion.. Did go through your site and I think its a great idea to have a platform like this..all the best and let me know how I can help .

  15. backpakker 26 October, 2007 at 20:12 Reply

    Cuckoo – would be great to see your post on Italy ..I wouldnt say travel less , but I sure do envy you as I dont get to travel that much and I can drag on with my posts reliving the journey ..

    Eternal Search – Thanks .. Rome was my best set of pics …

  16. Bhuvana 29 October, 2007 at 07:35 Reply

    hey.. this was just great…………. waaah! I want to go to Rome too!!can see you got to soak in the arts and architecture in a brief visit…………keep travelling….keep writing…..

  17. Pijush 29 October, 2007 at 17:27 Reply

    Woowww.. that’s the ultimate beauty. Your pics are really bright and vibrant and some of the angles are unique. Wonderful capture of the historic Rome. Do you know how Keats died? Sorry for being late, I was in vacation.

  18. Jayanti 7 October, 2010 at 09:07 Reply

    aisa des hai mera….lol. Italy is my second home…..I love reading any post on it…..

    your pix are brilliant. Remember, if ever u want to explore Italy, one Raju guide ( read: yours truly) is always available 🙂

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