Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Vatican and Pantheon

Tuesday night 10 June

My noteworthy accomplishment for today: I climbed up and down the 571 one-person width steps of the Cupola in the Saint Peter Basilica in the Vatican. Who needs a stairmaster? Below is the inside of the Cupola.
From up above you can see unparalleled views of Rome! The Vatican piazza can hold more than 60,000 people.
The Vatican from Via Crescenzio. So many veiled women!
Vatican guards wear funky garb... It's a feast for the eyes and soul (and maybe sensory overkill too); every wall and ceiling is covered in beauty. The picture below is of a small tile I saw in one hallway.
At the Vatican Museum there is one room filled with colorful maps illustrated with appropriate produce and activities:
And here's disturbing art: intricately made tapestries depicting the massacre of babies. Well, let me explain: "the massacre of the innocents" is recorded in the Bible (Matthew 2:16-18) and described as infanticide by Herod the Great. According to Matthew, the only one to record this incident, after the Magi announced that a new "King of the Jews" would be born, King Herod ordered the execution of all young male children in Bethlehem in order to prevent anyone from dethroning him. The numerous tapestries, murals and pictures at the Vatican depicting this supposed event are beyond disturbing.

And of course, I saw the Pieta. Below, the stairs inside the Vatican Museum.
I saw the awesome Sistine Chapel; you can't take pictures, but I bought a postcard and took a picture of the detail showing Adam and god (not that you haven't seen this before!).
It's a constant: in every city the darkest color skin people do the menial jobs; here, right outside the Vatican Museum, men from sub-Saharan countries try to make a living by selling bags, sunglasses, trinkets, cold water... whatever tourists will buy.


The Pantheon is impressive too. It's a huge structure built in 27 BCE and rebuilt in 126 AD. It was built as a house of workship and Christians took it over and turned into a basilica. It's still a church. Below is the altar. What's amazing about it is the size of the dome! And it's open, so that when it rains water enters the building but is quickly detoured through 22 tiny and unobtrusive holes located in strategic places on the floor. But size alone can put any thoughtful human being into her rightful place in the universe.
There's some art on the walls. Below is a mural depiction of the annunciation/"Annunciazione" by Melozzo da Forli, completed at the beginning of the 16th century. And below is Juliet's funeral/"I funerali di Giulietta" done in 1888 by Scipione Vannnutelli.

Too much else to tell/show you, but it'll have to wait until I get home and have a little time.

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