One thing that's very evident in Rome is the sense that you're walking through a living history lesson. In England it's a relatively common occurrence to find churches that are several centuries old but some of the Roman architecture makes them look young!
This morning we walked down to the Pantheon. Originally a temple, the Pantheon is now a church and has been in use constantly since it was built nearly two thousand years ago. The exterior looks somewhat pock marked (and shrouded in much scaffolding - that's why I didn't bother photographing the outside!) but inside it still looks remarkably fresh.
The Pantheon's most astonishing feature is its 43 metre dome. The Romans were early large scale adopters of concrete and this dome is a tour de force example of its use. Even now, it's the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world - an unbelievable achievement for a building that's nearly two millennia old. The centre of the dome features an eight metre oculus, which lets in both light and rain water. At the time we visited, it was throwing a pool of light onto the interior of the dome, which proved somewhat challenging to photograph successfully.
I spent an hour or so exploring every detail of this amazing building and determined to return one day, much earlier in the day to avoid the crowds and armed with a seriously wide angle lens too!
From there we continued our meandering, taking in Piazza Navona, various churches and a number of interesting characters en-route, eventually ending up at the Roman Forum.
The enormous collection of buildings; some fairly complete, others just a collection of rubble, were once the heart of ancient Rome. It was fascinating to compare the styles of construction - a mixture of ornate stonework and structures built from millions of small terracotta bricks. Finally we ended up on top of Palatine Hill, looking straight across to the Colosseum, where we'd spent so much time yesterday.
2 November 2017