Friday, March 1, 2013

Rome and the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri

Rome is a great city to visit but I don't recommend going there on an official holiday. I was never sure what the name of the holiday was but on this trip most if not all the attractions were free because of the holiday. We arrived at St. Peter's square about 0900, just like three years ago(see blog post of 10/09/09). Then we basically walked into St. Peter's with little or no wait and had to wait briefly to get into the Vatican Museum. This time people were lined up all the way out of St.Peter's square and down the street. Having seen the inside before as well as the Vatican Museum, we declined to spend hours in line and went on. Below is the only photo I took of St. Peter's.

Classical old Rome is a relatively small area and is a great walking city. I think we took one cab from St Peter's and then walked where we wanted to go.

The photo below shows the Arch of Constantine with the Coliseum in the background. The Arch was the last of the Roman triumphal arches. It celebrates Constantine's victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge October 28, 312 AD. The Arch was dedicated in 315 AD.

We came on the fountain shown below while strolling along. I like it but have been unable to find out anything about it.

I think the fountain was near the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. This church, built in the 17th century AD, has on it's portico a first century AD sculpture entitled La Voca della Verita, in English the Mouth of Truth. The legend is that if you put your hand in the mouth and lie, your hand will be bitten off. As you can see below, The Old Cowboy must have been telling a little white lie because he apparently got nipped.

The Mouth of Truth is near the Spanish Steps, shown below. These steps are called the Spanish Steps because at the top is the Spanish Embassy.

If you're tired of walking you might try one of these.

Near the Spanish Steps is the Trevi Fountain. It is the largest Baroque fountain in Rome. Designed by Nicola Salvi, construction began in 1732 and was completed in 1762 after Salvi's death(1751). It underwent restoration in 1998 and now has recirculating pumps. A new restoration has just been announced, supposedly the most extensive in the fountain's history. It was difficult to photograph because of the huge crowds and because part of it was covered by scaffolding/screens(not shown) on the left.

While we were walking around, quite by accident we came upon the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e Martiri, or St. Mary and all the Angels and Martyrs. This church was constructed by converting the Baths of Diocletian on Quirinal hill into a church. The baths of Diocletian were dedicated in 306 AD and were the largest and most sumptuous of the imperial baths. Pope Pius IV ordered the baths to be converted into a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary and all the Angels and Martyrs. Michelangelo designed it in 1563-64. He died in 1565 and a pupil of his carried out his design. Michelangelo used the frigidarium(cold room) for his church. Much of the original walls and roof still existed. The church is huge, built like a Greek cross. As big as it is I believe it takes up only about one third of the original baths. Another church is there along with a museum and some other things that were originally part of the baths.The two photos below show the front of the church, including a close-up of the entrance. This is the exit of the baths and utilizes the original walls. No true facade.

  As you can see in the photos below this is a huge church. At the same time it is quite light.

Below is the apse.

This column is original to the baths and is made of rose granite. There are a number of these columns in the church.

Below is the beautiful dome. This church was an amazing, unexpected experience. A tribute to Roman engineering and the genius of Michelangelo.


  1. That basilica must have been a delightful surprise! I also love the picture of the fountain you said was near the mouth of truth -- really nice picture. Ah, Rome. --Carolyn

  2. These are beautiful photos! What an amazing place to visit. As I was watching the Pope be moved to his summer home the other day I was enthralled with the beauty as they flew over Rome. It's now on my bucket list to tour Rome from above!!

  3. Lovely! It's like seeing Audrey Hepburn on her Roman holiday. : )

  4. Hope your nipped hand has healed.