Friday, September 12, 2008

Top Ten Travel Wonders of Rome - Part 3 (Rank 1-3)

This is the final installment of Rome's top ten travel sights, revealing the top three wonders. Read about the other travel wonders of Rome firstly.

3. Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums

Possibly the world’s finest museum, centuries of accumulated art and treasures by the popes are shown in an overwhelming and staggeringly rich collection spread through a labyrinth of more than fifty Vatican rooms and palaces. The journey culminates in Michaelangelo’s extraordinary frescoed walls and ceiling in the pope’s private chapel (though it feels more like Grand Central station at peak-hour than a private chapel). As famous and familiar as the artwork of the Sistine Chapel is, nothing prepares you for the experience and privilege of viewing the luminous colours and artistic detail in the numerous ceiling panels. Even more remarkable is the vivid celestial blue colouring and graphic detail of The Last Judgement painted on the massive altar wall. Other superb elements of the museum, with many also featuring superb wall and ceiling frescoes, include the Raphael rooms, the Map Room (with its collection of 40 painted maps of the time along the walls) and the Tapestry Room. More unusual rooms include the Carriage Room which has a collection of the pope’s cars and horse carriages from the last century and a room showing the many gifts, both typical and bizarre, presented to the pope in receiving guests and in his official visits around the world.

2. St. Peters Basilica and Piazza

The centre of Catholicism, St Peter’s Basilica cavernous interior holds over 60,000 people. It is so large that even despite the teeming crowds, there are areas to escape for moments of quiet reflection. Climbing Michaelangelo’s architecturally majestic dome with its superb frescoes offers a stellar view of Rome. The basilica is packed with glorious sculptures and statues, the most famous being Michaelangelo’s Pietá which now cowers behind bullet-proof glass in the back corner of the basilica. Underneath the main basilica are the Sacred Grottoes, the final resting place of many of the popes with St Peter himself believed to have been buried under the main altar. Note that the attendants carefully enforce a modest dress standard which includes long pants for men. In front of the basilica is St Peter’s Square, enshrined by two semi-circular colonnades, four columns deep and marked with an Egyptian Column in the centre. A dark paving stone marks each of the focal points where the columns of the colonnades perfectly align and hence only appear to be one row deep.

1. Colosseum

The opportunity to being seated among 50,000 Roman baying for blood and thrilling at the ritualistic slaughter of wild animals must have been the prized ticket of the day. Although somewhat in disrepair and with almost permanent scaffolding enveloping parts of it, the Colosseum remains the iconic symbol of Rome to this very day. From inside, you get a great view of the complex two-level underground system of tunnels and cells to allow quick access and exit for the various lions, other animals and gladiators for the various events, battles and shows. Encircling the seats are the sophisticated and well-designed entrances and exits to the various layers and classes of seating. Getting a guided tour or having a detailed guidebook with you will add a lot to unravelling the mysterious details of this seminal amphitheatre.

Whatever your favorite Roman travel wonder, this is a city with something for everyone. Superb food and drink in the elegant piazzas, a rich cultural history, world famous monuments from many ages, the heart of Catholicism, spirited proud people, chaotic traffic and this eternal feeling that you are wandering in a living museum, Rome is a city you'll always want to return to. This top ten only touches on the many pleasures and travel wonders that Rome offers.

Other Top Ten Travel Wonder Posts
South America


Suzanne Perazzini said...

I could kind of guess what the top three would be because of what you had missed out. I just wasn't sure if St Peter's Basilica would be lumped together with the Sistine Chapel.
You've done a great job here. said...

Thank you for sharing the article with us. My wife and I were actually thinking about visiting Italy.

You definately made planning our vacation a lot more easier and we will be looking forward to visiting those destinationas!

Mark H said...

@suzanne: Thank you. As you know, there are many more than ten great things to see in Rome.

@thegreatstone: Rome and Florence (my preferred Italian city) are superb cities to visit and experience. Enjoy yourselves.

eunice said...

I prefer the Roman Forum and Palestine Hil$l to Colosseum! =D And I like the Vatican City best! =D

I think you inserted the wrong image for St. Peters Basilica and Piazza..the misplaced image should be Roman Forum. Am I right?

Very nice articles for the Top 10 of Rome! I enjoy reading them all! Thanks for sharing!

Mark H said...

@eunice: The Vatican is special but not #1 in my eyes. I have corrected the image of St Peters - thak you for finding the error. All up, a fantastic city.

Anonymous said...

Good list. I think the Roman Forum and the Vatican may rate above the Colosseum but I liked them all.

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