In this section of Architecture Through the Ages you will learn how Rome looked a long time ago and how it looks now. These series of pictures show the original plan for that area of Rome (left), and how it looks now (right). I hope that you enjoy these pictures and you learn how time can destroy even the most wonderful buildings.
Probably the best known structure in all of Rome is the Colosseum. In this building, long ago, the Romans played all types of games and held many shows. Some of these games included gladiatorial combats and wild beast hunts.
In this huge building, there were numerous entrances, broad corridors, stairways, carefully planned passages of access, and six tiers of seats where the audience could watch comfortably. Underneath the Colosseum, there were huge rooms so they could place all of their storage in a well guarded area.
But alas, the great Colosseum went down during the 13th and 14th century because of violent earthquakes. These earthquakes shook a considerable part of the outer arcade and there was a great heap of fallen material for many years. But earthquakes are not the only things that helped to ruin the Colosseum. Pollution and human mistreatment have also had a role in breaking apart this architectural wonder. If you would like to learn more about the Colosseum, try this page.
Inside the Colosseum, it is in worse shape than the outside. The once great inside which housed games and shows had rows and rows of seats, a roof, and many doorways. All are now all but a fond memory. You cannot even see the original floor where all of the fighting and shows took place. However, not all of those things are gone but they are hard to find. Most of it has disappeared because of the earthquakes, pollution, and human mistreatment.
The great square of the Colosseum had everything from statues, parks, gardens, various subsidiary buildings and even a small lake. The Temple of Venus and Rome were also built in the square. Other great buildings and structures that were built here were the Colossus of Nero, the Meta Sudans, which is a giant fountain, and the Arch of Constantine. The Meta Sudans looks like one of the metae of turning points in the Circus maximus round which the racing chariots had to drive around. This consisted of statues cone standing in a large round basin, veneered in marble and was richly adorned with niches and statues. This is just one little area of the Great Square of the Colosseum; the other buildings were much more detailed and elaborate. This was the place where the people gathered and talked before they entered the Colosseum.
In the Forum of Caesar, it was Caesar who decided to construct a new Forum beside the old, in order to extend the political cement of Rome. In this section of Rome, you can see that in the past, there were great temples with columns of all sorts. There were arches, and many other fascinating architectural aspects. But all that remains now is a part of a column and a little of a smaller temple and a lot of rubble.
The area in front of both Forums, this was the gathering place and "recreation area" for the old and Cesar Forum. There is not much information on this part of Rome. We do know that it was located between the Temple of Juno and the Temple of Jupiter. It is a rectangular area which was 103X46 m. and was raised above the level of the Forum on a stepped platform. In the central nave, sat the Tribunal of 180 judges. In front of the basilica, there are several large bases on which stood honorary columns dedicated to famous people.
This very interesting area of Rome is where horse races were held. As seen in many movies, competition was very fierce here.
This monstrous building contained 300,000 seats, was famous throughout the ancient world, and was occasionally given hunts and mock battles. Down the center of the track, there were many columns, pillars, and a few little arches. In addition, there were a few fountains and two small temples. These temples were equipped respectively with seven large eggs and several dolphins. There were removed one by one, during the course of the race to keep the charioteers and the public informed of the number of laps already run. But, the thing that even made the Egyptians envious was the huge obelisks located in the center of the small stretch of land.
This splendid temple was erected to honor the Olympian gods, especially Mars and Venus, who were protectors of the Julian House. The name, Pantheon, *means of all gods*.
The product that you see today is the reconstructed Pantheon, perhaps undertaken after a fire. The great circular hall, roofed by a hemispherical vault with an opening at the center 9 m. in diameter, is due entirely to the reconstruction. The inside has a diameter of 42.75 m., equal to the greatest height of the building.
All sixteen columns of the Pronaos are monoliths of Egyptian granite. There were inscriptions which were made in bronze letters on the architrave records the foundation with its writing. The pediment was decorated with reliefs in gilt bronze as also was the internal trabeations of the Pronaos.
The interior is in better condition. It is still in its original form and in this respect is unique among the monuments of antiquity. They only changes in addition of altars and the modern statues. Lets hope that the interior can still maintain its form in the future.
The Circular Temple located in the left of the picture is a building in the Corinthian style (capitals with acanthus leaves) has survived almost complete in its Augustan form. The plan is circular like that of Vesta in the Forum Romanum (no pictures available). The name of the divinity to whom it was dedicated cannot be determined with any certainty. The traditional attribution to Vesta is certainly mistaken.
The Rectangular Temple on the right is Ionic in style (capitals with characteristic volutes) and is built of tufa and travertine with a superficial coating of stucco( bonding material). It stands on a lofty podium in the Republican manner. It may have been built between 100 and 80 B. C. and dedicated to the Portunus, the patron divinity of the port.
Take a look at the Arch of Titus, or the structure of a Roman House.
1. Staccioli, Prof. R. A., Rome: Past and Present, Italy, Visions, 1962