Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Castel Sant'Angelo, and St. Peters (again). Part 2 of today

 In all my times in Rome, I have never actually been into Castel Sant'Angelo, the big fortress that is part of the Vatican just across the Tiber from "downtown." 
If you've been to Rome, you've seen this
It's a whacking huge imposing structure that started off life as Hadrian's mausoleum, which was eventually acquired by the Vatican and turned into a military fortress to protect the peace and the Pope.
Gun emplacement 
From the outside
Stone cannonballs at the ready
We took probably 400 photos inside the place. Generally though, the insides (while really interesting), aren't the best part of the castle.
Hadrian's floor and other original bits
The inside staircases 
Yours truly in a bastion guard shack
The spiral ramp leading up inside 
Direction sign inside the spiral ramp 
Loved the bees 
Wasn't supposed to take this. Historical armament of the Swiss Guard 
A staircase
It even has an 800 meter long Plus-15 that the Pope can use to get to the castle from the Vatican (and one Pope, Clement VII, used it when the Vatican was being attacked in 1527).
The Pope's personal Plus-15
The interior of the castle, while really interesting, isn't the best part of visiting. It's what you can see from the castle that's cool.
The bridge coming over 
The Typewriter 
The Colosseum 
The madness that is Rome 
The Pantheon 
Cupolas dot the skyline 
The courtyard below 
St. Peter's creeps over the wall 
St. Peters dominates the skyline
Not having much better to do, we decided to wander up to St. Peters, and poke around inside.
Doesn't look much different down low 
One the way up there, we passed this sign.
Did you know the Holy See is a company?
Every time I go into St. Peters, I am hugely disappointed. Great place, don't get me wrong. Full of good stuff. But there are a lot of churches that are a lot better, and this is (a) the biggest church in the world, and (b) home to one of the largest faiths in the world. I have higher expectations. Other Catholic churches are better by far. The Duomo in Florence is better. So is the one in Sienna. So are a bunch of other churches in Florence. Sigh.
From the front door 
Ceiling detail 
One of many sculptures 
More of the ceiling 
Michelangelo's dome (he designed it, but died before it was built) 
13th Century statue of St. Peter 
Michelangelo again. The Pieta, finished in 1499 when he was 25 
A recent Pope's tomb. Very popular.
 More about that ceiling
Great place, sure. It's just missing... something.

On the bright side, it appears that Cirque du Soleil are in town. They were standing outside.
Flashy. I was expecting juggling.
From the trivia department, those Swiss Guard uniforms take 3 fittings, weigh 8 lbs, and are the heaviest uniforms of any army in the world. Apparently, they have been protecting the Pope since the 1400's, getting their start as mercenaries.

Tomorrow, weather permitting: Tivoli.

No comments: