Rome day #4 – National Roman Museum, Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore and more

National Roman Museum

The fourth day started with National Roman Museum. Since it’s located close to the Termini station we took the underground. At this point, I have to warn you. You can hear from many people complaining that there are many pickpockets in Rome. I’ve also read that in recent years they increased police presence in touristic spots to fight this phenomenon. But, there is no police presence in the underground. We used it several times and never saw any police officers. I’m mentioning this since at that morning while riding the underground somebody opened the zipper on my wife’s purse (while it was hanging on her shoulder) and stole her phone and kindle. We noticed this only at the museum. So, be careful.

Back to the museum. In the rooms of the ground floor, you can find Greek originals discovered in Rome.  This is one of my favorite, the Boxer at Rest:
רומא - Rome-35It’s done with great detail and you can even see scars. Moreover, scars and other wounded areas are covered with a different type of metal, which is red by nature. Thus, this masterpiece includes not only creating detailed figure but also working with different types of metals to make appropriate colors.

Another masterpiece is the Discobolus (Discus Thrower):
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Executed in the Antonine Age, because of its lack of tridimensionality it is considered one of the closest replicas to the original, generally dated from about 450 BCE.

Sarcophagus of Portonaccio:
רומא - Rome-37This Sarcophagus can leave many speechless.

Info from museum’s site:

The fore part of the grand sarcophagus represents a battle scene staged  on several planes and focused on the haughty advance of a Roman knight depicted in the capacity of universal victor.

The dramatic animation of the combat is emphasized by means of the deep chiaroscuro obtained thanks to a skillful use of intaglios.

The sanguinary scenes are framed by two couples of captive barbarians, whose woebegone expressions convey the torment incumbent on those who rebel against the rule of Rome. The bas-reliefs on the sides of the sarcophagus show events subsequent to the clash: on one side, barbarian prisoners crossing a river led by Roman soldiers along a boat bridge, on the other side the chieftains submitting to the Roman officials.

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On the second floor of the museum, you can find frescoes, mosaics and inlaid works of high value. Here are some mosaics:
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It’s not a big museum (took us around four hours to cover it) and very nice one. Another plus is that there are not many visitors there (no long lines finally 🙂 ). If you are into this, then I’d recommend visiting it.

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

Not far from the museum you can find Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore:
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The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore or church of Santa Maria Maggiore, is a Papal major basilica and the largest Catholic Marian church in Rome, Italy, from whence size it receives the appellation “major”.

And inside we saw this:
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Here is a closeup:
רומא - Rome-45Yep, it looks like the Illuminati sign. This is probably one of the signs that inspired Dan Brown.

Here are several additional photos from inside:
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Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs

Our next stop was Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri (Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs):
רומא - Rome-48It’s a titular basilica and there are two interesting things about it. First of all, it’s build inside frigidarium of the Baths of Diocletian at Piazza Della Repubblica.

The Baths of Diocletian (Thermae Diocletiani) in Rome were the grandest of the public baths, or thermae built by successive emperors. Diocletian’s Baths, dedicated in 306, were the largest and most sumptuous of the imperial baths. The baths were built between the years 298 and 306. The project was originally commissioned by Maximian upon his return to Rome in the autumn of 298 and was continued after his and Diocletian’s abdication under Constantius, father of Constantine. Although many baths in and around Rome had the same elements, the Baths of Diocletian are unique by their size.

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The second interesting thing is Bianchini’s gnomon project:
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At the beginning of the eighteenth century, Pope Clement XI commissioned the astronomer, mathematician, archaeologist, historian and philosopher Francesco Bianchini to build a meridian line, a sort of sundial, within the basilica. Completed in 1702, the object had a threefold purpose: the pope wanted to check the accuracy of the Gregorian reformation of the calendar, to produce a tool to predict Easter exactly, and, not least, to give Rome a meridian line as important as the one Giovanni Domenico Cassini had recently built in Bologna’s cathedral, San Petronio.

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Dell’Aqua Felice Fountain:
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Santa Maria Della Vittoria

Not far from Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs you can find Santa Maria Della Vittoria:
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Most people visit it for the masterpiece of Bernini in the Cornaro Chapel, the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. Unfortunately, it was covered for restoration. Nonetheless, there are many beautiful things to see, like the ceiling, where The Virgin Mary Triumphing over Heresy in the vault:
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The Spanish steps:
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From the Spanish steps, you can see the dome of San Carlo al Corso (on the right). And it was our next stop.

San Carlo al Corso

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Sant’Ambrogio e Carlo al Corso (usually known simply as San Carlo al Corso) is a basilica church in Rome, Italy, facing onto the central part of the Via del Corso. The apse of the church faces across the street, the Mausoleum of Augustus on Via di Ripetta.
This church is dedicated to Saint Ambrose and Saint Charles Borromeo, both natives of Milan.

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Our last stop was Piazza del Popolo.

Piazza del Popolo is a large urban square in Rome. The name in modern Italian literally means “People’s Square”, but historically it derives from the poplars (populus in Latin, pioppo in Italian) after which the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, in the northeast corner of the piazza, takes its name.

The piazza lies inside the northern gate in the Aurelian Walls, once the Porta Flaminia of ancient Rome, and now called the Porta del Popolo. This was the starting point of the Via Flaminia, the road to Ariminum (modern-day Rimini) and the most important route to the north. At the same time, before the age of railroads, it was the traveller’s first view of Rome upon arrival. For centuries, the Piazza del Popolo was a place for public executions, the last of which took place in 1826.

Here is a panorama of the square:
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That’s it for the fourth day and see you on the fifth day!

For a map of all attractions and overview of all days see Five days in Rome.

Stay Tuned! 

Additional Resources

Here are several resources that I created to help travelers:

And if you have any questions then check out Useful Information For Tourists To Israel.

Did not find what you were looking for? Leave a comment below, and I will do my best to answer your questions.

Lev Tsimbler

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