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June 22: Rome August 3, 2010

Posted by msmith78 in Uncategorized.

Piazza del Popolo

The original shape of the piazza was trapezoidal; it was the beginning of the Via Flaminia dating from 220 BC. This was one of the piazzas connecting in the plans of Sixtus V, and it was designed by Dominica Fontana. Later in the early 1800s it was redesigned and built by Giuseppe Valadier who gave it a neoclassical style and opened it up to the natural beauty surrounding it. There are three streets radiating out from piazza, and twin churches commissioned by Cardinal Gerolamo Gastaldi in the late 1600s frame the streets. They were built in order to create a grand entryway into the city for visitors and pilgrims. The pilgrims would first enter the city through the Porta del Popolo which was redesigned by Bernini for Pope Alexander VII(whose seal is in the center) in 1655 in honor of the arrival of Queen Christina of Sweden’s arrival. The obelisk in the center of the piazza dates from 1300 BC. It was built for Ramses II, and brought to Rome in 10BC by Augustus and placed in the Circus Maximus.

Plan of Sixtus V

  1. Clarify the pilgrim routes (linking obelisks and roads)
  2. Restore the water supply to the hills (using the ancient aquaduct which was out of used since 476 AD
  3. Ascetic unity with a single large construction plan in mind

Pilgrimage Churches in Rome

  1. San Pietro
  2. San Paolo fuori le Mura
  3. San Giovanni in Laterano
  4. Santa Maria Maggiore
  5. Santa Croce in Gerusalemme
  6. San Lorenzo fuori le Mura
  7. San Sebastino fuori le Mura

Santa Maria del Popolo

The church was first built in 1099 by Paschal II to exorcise the area of Nero’s tomb that was haunted by crows. It was enlarged in 1277 when the Romanesque church was built. Its current base structural form was built in 1427, but Bernini added the Baroque features in the 1660s. Raphael was the first of the Renaissance artists commissioned for the church, and his original design was adapted by Bernini for the completion of the Chigi Chapel by Bernini. The most famous works inside the church are the two Caravaggio paintings and the sculptures by Bernini. The amount of family history and wealthy patrons encapsulated by this church reflects the importance of the location of this church. Two families with popes, the Della Roveres(oak tree) and the Chigi’s(six hills and star and later also the oak tree), doted heavily on this church. The most prominent reason for me is its location at the entrance point to the city for pilgrims. It is the first and last church they will see on there way through the city. The Chigi Chapel holds the graves of Agostino and Sigismondo Chigi; Agostino was the Chigi who established the Chigi’s firmly in Rome. This would later lead to the dominates of the family in wealth and politics in Rome with monuments as great as this chapel and the many signatures of Alexander VII on all of his and other pope’s building projects.

Piazza del Campidoglio

This was originally a uneven hill top, and during the Middle Ages the Palazzo dei Conservatori was build over the old site of the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus. The Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus was the model for the corresponding temples to Jupiter added to every forum or every Roman city. The Palazzo Senatorio was originally built in the 13th and 14th centuries but with the new design created by Michelangelo its façade received lots of changes to make it more symmetrical in character. The staircases were moved, but the bell tower was also centered, a feet we still have not explained today. The Palazzo Nuovo was built in 1603 to complete the symmetry of the space and hide the church Santa Maria(6th century). The final design, although according to Michelangelo’s original plans, was not completed until the early 1700s. The facades have many Mannerist elements; including individual faces in the detail work all attributed to Michelangelo’s design. This project was instigated by Pope Sixtus V as a crowing jewel at the center of the city, and therefore the plan was developed to open up the city. The trapezoidal plan was established to connect the facades of the existing buildings and to open the space to the streets leading up to it therefore creating a visual push out to Rome. This space is not only aesthetically sound, but also speaking in terms of engineering as well. The land had to be leveled, a drainage system that is married to the ascetic design was installed, and the bell tower was shifted.

Capitoline Museum


The most startling piece I have seen thus far was a sculpture of Marsysa. Marsysa challenged Apollo to a musical competition. Apollo then flayed him alive. The sculpture uses a red vain marble for the majority of his body to create the effect the torture would have had on his skin.

Epitaph of Ammias

This is from the Jewish catacombs in the late 3rd to early 4th century. The history books only show the major structures or the art and artifacts of the general population. It was very was very powerful to see an familiar image, a menorah, in an unfamiliar setting.

Relief of god of the Fatherland

There was a halo like marking on Jupiter. I would love to trace the history of this type of marking because I know it was used as an underground Christian marking on some Apollo and other god images as code.


The Capitoline hill and the full complex left uncompleted by Michelangelo directed us towards a question of the principle of the second man and how he must act towards completing the project. He can either take a new route or follow the precedent set by the first man. I have been so focused on the ethics of preservation that I forgot about the responsibilities new buildings have to other contemporary buildings in the aspects of design. For a contemporary building that is deemed up fit it is easier to just tear it down because there is to history associated with it, but this principle of the second man makes one take a step back and evaluate your responsibility to respect those before you. This respect does not mean saving the building every time, but its does mean acknowledging the hard work that went before you. Inside the museum, Marsysa sculpture really had an effect on me. To this point, I had been fascinated by the use of different stones to create clothing or other simple features in the sculptures; it made sense to diversify the material to highlight the different components. This time the material helped to give the statue drama and emotion; the material made it more real. I wanted to rush to bandage his body, but there he was frozen in time and in pain.



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