”The Roman Pantheon”

The Pantheon was built as a Roman temple and completed by the emperor Hadrian around 126 A.D. The name “Pantheon” comes from the Greek, meaning “honor all Gods” and this exactly was its purpose. As with most of the ancient monuments in Rome also the Pantheon has more than one story to tell. Most historians believe that Emperor Augustus’ right hand, Agrippa, built the first Pantheon in 27 BC, but the building burned down in the great fire of 80 AD and was rebuilt by Emperor Domitian. But again the temple was struck by lightning and burned down once more in 110 AD. The Pantheon as we know it today was finally built in 120 AD by Emperor Hadrian. In 609 A.D the Pantheon was transformed into a church which might be the reason that it was saved from being destroyed during the Middle Ages. And yes, there are Sunday Masses for everyone to join until today. Truly fascinating are the 16 massive Corinthian columns (12m/39 ft tall) at the entry and the giant dome with its hole in the top, also called “The eye of the Pantheon”, the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world and considered a great architectural achievement. The first king of unified Italy, Vittorio Emmanuelle II is buried in the Pantheon and so is his son, King Umberto I as well as the famous Renaissance painter Raphael. 

[SOURCE:www.wostphoto.com/rome-pantheon]

” Tower of Pisa ”

Angels Statue, Pisa Cathedral (Duomo di Pisa) (forefront), The Leaning Tower of Pisa (background), Piazza dei Miracoli (“Square of Miracles”). Pisa, Tuscany, Central Italy.

Known among Italians as Torre Pendente di Pisa, this piece of architecture is significally different from most medieval architecture. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is located on the city’s main square, Piazza del Duomo.

The construction of the Tower began in 1173. Originally designed to be a bell tower, it stood upright for over 5 years, but when the third floorwas completed in 1178 it began to lean. Italians were shocked by the event, as the tower began to lean ever so slightly.

The thing is the foundation of the tower, which is only 3-meter deep, was built on a dense clay mixture. This mix impacted the soil and furthermore the clay was not  strong enough to hold the tower upright. As a result the weight of the tower began to diffuse downward until it had found the weakest point.

Due to this problem, construction works stopped for 100 years.

Mistake after mistake!

After 100 years, engineer Giovanni di Simone stepped forward and started to add more floors to the tower. He tried to compensate for the original lean by making one side of the upper floors taller than the other. This only caused the tower to lean over even more…

Unconcerned by the leaning, the tower was added a 7th floor in the second part of the 14th century, as well as a bell tower, and then the tower was left on its own until the 19th century.

In 1838 architect Alessandro Della Gherardesca, dug a pathway at the base of the tower to allow people to admire the intricately crafted base. This caused the tower to lean even more, probably due to the digging of its base.

In 1987 the Leaning Tower of Pisa was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site, together with the entire Piazza Del Duomo, but in 1990 it was closed. Its bells were removed and the tower was anchored, only to reopen in 2001.Tourists now can safely visit the leaning tower of Pisa!

[SOURCE: romeprivateguides.com]

” The Acropolis ”

The Acropolis of Athens is one of the most famous ancient archaeological sites in the world. Located on a limestone hill high above Athens, Greece, the Acropolis has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Over the centuries, the Acropolis was many things: a home to kings, a citadel, a mythical home of the gods, a religious center etc.

The Acropolis’ flat top is the result of thousands of years of construction beginning as far back as the Bronze Age.

The term “acropolis” means “high city” in Greek and can refer to one of many natural strongholds constructed on rocky, elevated ground in Greece, but the Acropolis of Athens is the best known.

Today, it is a cultural UNESCO World Heritage site and home to several temples, the most famous of which is the Parthenon.

Source: history.com

” Neuschwanstein Castle ”

Neuschwanstein Castle turns 150. On September 5, 1869, Bavaria’s fairytale king Ludwig II had the cornerstone laid for the most expensive building project of his time: Neuschwanstein Castle.

Name: Neuschwanstein Castle

Location: Hohenschwangau, Germany

Built year: 1886

Construction Started: 5 September 1869

Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival

Without a doubt, Neuschwanstein Castle represents one of the most popular and most visited castles in the Germany. It was built in the German region of Bavaria, near the town Fussen by the commission of the King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who was known by his nickname “Fairytale King”. He has built this castle to be his residence, and to support the lifetime of work of the German composer Richard Wagner who promoted romanticized view on the medieval renaissance fashion.

Construction of Neuschwanstein Castle lasted for 25 years, and during that period King Ludwig II died and he was not able to see it finished. Construction started in 1868 by clearing the rocky perch on which castle would be built. With the finished road to the construction site, work on the foundation building started in 1869, and central throne room in 1872. After that Gateway building was finished and prepared for occupation (1873), topping of Palas was performed in 1880, interior decoration finished in 1884, castle was opened to the public in 1886 (less than 2 months after the death of King Ludwig II) and finally, castle was finished in 1892 with the completion of the Bower and Square tower.

Neuschwanstein Castle was one of the most expensive castles ever made in Europe, with the construction cost reaching 7 million marks. Its incredible luxury and complicated construction technique imediatley captured the attention of the public, and tourists from all around the world came visiting. This popularity naturally led to the apperiance of the castle in many movies and other art mediums, and the castle itself served as one of the most popular inspirations of “medieval fantasy castle”. This can most notably be seen in the Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, which was conceived with the Neuschwanstein Castle as its inspiration.

” Atlas ”

( Atlas holding a celestial sphere over the eastern entrance to the Austrian national library. In the past it was a roof element on the Hofburg Palace at Josefsplatz in 1010 Vienna )

ATLAS was the Titan god who bore the sky aloft. He personified the quality of endurance (atlaô).

Atlas was a leader of the Titanes (Titans) in their war against Zeus and after their defeat he was condemned to carry the heavens upon his shoulders. According to others he was instead appointed guardian of the pillars which held the earth and sky asunder. Atlas was also the god who instructed mankind in the art of astronomy, a tool which was used by sailors in navigation and farmers in measuring the seasons. These roles were often combined and Atlas becomes the god who turns the heaven on their axis, causing the stars to revolve.

[Stonehenge]

Stonehenge is a world-famous stone monument located near the town of Salisbury in Wiltshire County, England. Dating back approximately 3,500 years, these prehistoric statues are one of the most famous and mysterious attractions in the entire world. One of the most popular tourist attractions anywhere on earth, Stonehenge was reportedly built in three stages that totalled more than 30 million hours of work.

Although there are no written records on the construction of or motivation behind the creation of Stonehenge, speculation on the origins and purposes of these rock formations has continued for centuries. One school of thought is that it is a place of death, while others believe it has healing powers. Some theorise its purpose as one of human sacrifice while others surmise it has something to do with astronomy. Further still, many think of it as a place of worship while another widely held belief is that it acted as a solar calendar that was able to predict the sunrise, sunset, eclipse and moon activity.

Despite all the conjecture, Stonehenge continues to remain a mystery and a famous landmark to this day. With little information on how exactly these standing stones were placed there, the circular monument is said to date back as early as 3100 BC. Although the structure wasn’t complete at this time, work on the three phases of building had started and 1500 years later was finally complete. However there is evidence at the site that suggests the structure could date back as far as 6500 years.

Just how Stonehenge was built is equally mysterious with some believing supernatural forces must have contributed to the construction. With the stones being impossibly heavy, it’s hard to see how anyone could carry of move them into place. Archeologists have flocked to the site for centuries, trying to shed some light on how this amazing attraction came into being however the origins of Stonehenge continue to remain a mystery.

A must see on any visit to England, millions of tourists journey from all over the world to take in this mysterious yet mind-blowingly impressive wonder of the world. Depending on the time of day of your visit, you’ll notice the colours of the sarsen and bluestones and you are welcome to walk around the circle and lay on the green land to take in this amazing monument from every angle.

” Louvre Museum ”

The Louvre is the world’s largest museum and houses one of the most impressive art collections in history. The magnificent, baroque-style palace and museum — LeMusée du Louvre in French — sits along the banks of the Seine River in Paris.

The history of the Louvre began toward the end of 1.100 A.D. in the area where there was a fortress, which later was converted into the royal residence and the secondary residence of Charles V in the 14th century. In the Renaissance period the Louvre became the main seat of the kings of France, and was Catherine de’Medici who enlarged and transformed the building. The Louvre lost its function of royal residence at the time of Louis XIV, who moved his court to the new Palace of Versailles. Since 1793 at the Louvre was created the Muséum Central des Arts, renamed in 1803 the Musée Napoléon.

So, originally the building of the Louvre wasn’t a museum, but became a museum only during the Enlightenment, when artists and craftsmen spent their time admiring and copying the works of the ancients. In the late 18th century and right after the French Revolution, began the acquisition of a large number of works that added to the initial and casual collection of the kings of France, to which were added the works of art coming from the most important European art collections and which arrived in France as spoils of the successful military campaigns of Napoleon.

The Louvre Museum is the result of a long work, started two centuries ago, made of collecting and organizing works and finds in order to create the most completed overview ever of what man has created from the Neolithic to nowadays.

” Colosseum ”

Located just east of the Roman Forum, the massive stone amphitheater known as the Colosseum was commissioned around A.D. 70-72 by Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty as a gift to the Roman people. In A.D. 80, Vespasian’s son Titus opened the Colosseum–officially known as the Flavian Amphitheater–with 100 days of games, including gladiatorial combats and wild animal fights. After four centuries of active use, the magnificent arena fell into neglect, and up until the 18th century it was used as a source of building materials. Though two-thirds of the original Colosseum has been destroyed over time, the amphitheater remains a popular tourist destination, as well as an iconic symbol of Rome and its long, tumultuous history.