Monday, December 04, 2006

November 2006 - Rome, Italy - Fountains & Churches

This week we went for a tour of some of the most beautiful churches in Rome. We sat down at the Fontana delle Naiadi in the Piazza della Republica (built when Rome became the capital of the unified Republic of Italy) to plot our course. The fountain pictured behind us was designed by Mario Rutelli and was quite controversial when unveiled in 1901. The fountain depicts 4 naked bronze nymphs each reclining on a sea creature gently splashed by water. The figure in the middle added in 1911 is of the sea god Glaucus.

Then we walked from the Piazza della Republic to the Fontana dell'Acqua Felice.

It's popular name is the Moses fountain because of the large Moses behind us. The fountain was designed by Domenica Fontana to mark the terminal of the Acqua Felice aqueduct completed in 1587.
Across the street from the Moses fountain is the Santa Maria della Vittoria. This is an intimate baroque church with a lavishly decorated and candle-lit interior.

Santa Maria della Vittoria's claim to fame is this sculpture by Bernini called the Ecstasy of Santa Theresa. The sculpture located on the left side of the church appears to be in a miniature theater with an audience sitting in boxes watching and discussing the scene in front of them (all carved from white marble). The sculpture was scandalous when unveiled in 1646. This is considered one of Bernini's most ambitious works.

Next we visited the church San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (a/k/a San Carlino b/c it's so small it fits in one of the piers of St. Peter's) designed by Borromini (as one of his last works) and built for the Spanish order of the Trinitarians in 1634. It's name is derived from the 4 fountains (Le Quattro Fontane) sitting outside of the church. In each of the fountains is a reclining Roman god representing a major river of Italy.

From outside San Carlo we can see the intersection framed by the 4 fountains and from the center of this intersection we can see 3 different obelisks. The obelisks which still stand in many piazzas in Rome were taken from Egypt when this ancient state was conquered by the Romans. The 3 obelisks seen are 1 in front of Santa Maria in Maggiore, 1 in front of Trinita dei Monti and 1 in Piazza del Quirinale pictured below.

Next, we visited Sant'Andrea al Quirinale known as the "Pearl of the Baroque" because of its roseate marble interior. This high baroque church was designed by Bernini and built in 1670 for the Jesuits. The pieces of art work together to depict the crucified Sant'Andrea of the alter piece looking up at a stucco version of himself, who in turn ascends to the latern of the dome and the holy spirit.

The church has no nave, instead it is a complete oval with a gold, oval, domed ceiling.

Finally, we visited to seemingly twin churches located on either side of Trajan's Column in the Piazza Venezia area. The churches are actually quite diverse in their level of elaborate decoration as they were designed and built by different artists. Pictured above is Chiesa Santissimo Nome di Maria (built in 1736 on the right side of the Column) with its elaborate gold alter decorated in the Baroque style. Pictured below is Santa Maria di Loreto (built in 1630 on the left side of the Column) with its simple frescoed ceiling and walls and pretty marble alter.

When we were passing by the Presidential palace on the Quirinale hill, we heard a commotion of people and then a marching band. It turns out that the military's marching band and flag core was putting on a performance. So, we stopped to watch.

This obelisk in the Piazza al Quirinale has statutes of the twins Polux and Castor descendants of the Roman god Jupiter known for their equestrian abilities.

We walked home at sunset and Kenny snapped some great pictures of the Vittorio Emmanel Monument above and Trajan's column below.

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