Thursday, January 27, 2011

rome: day two

Monday, our second day, started around the same time, and because we loved our breakfast treats so much on Sunday morning, we decided to go back to that bakery again. They didn't have any of the things we had ordered on Sunday though, so that was disappointing. But we were able to find some other yummy things to eat.

Seth found something else to eat as well...just not so yummy. ;)

Seth and Allie wait for their breakfast to arrive.

John and Allie enjoying their pastries and cappuccino!

Seth loved these cinnamon bites. He'd better because they were not cheap. ;)

So did Kate!

From breakfast we hopped on the metro (the only time we took public during our stay) and headed across the Tiber River to Vatican City. I remember learning at some point in time that it was its own country inside of Rome, but I just couldn't fathom it. Yah, it is its own country. It was like going through security at an airport to enter. Plus, it was surrounded by a MASSIVE wall!

After clearing security, we headed towards the Sistine Chapel. I thought it was going to be a place you walk in and out of, not a huge labyrinth of rooms to go through first, which is the Vatican Museum. We were directed to go into a different entrance towards a lift because of the stroller and found out that instead we were directed through the exit to the Sistine Chapel. So Kevin and I later went back through the correct way without the kids so we could see everything, especially Raphael's rooms. But the pictures are in order as if we had gone through it correctly the first time. :) The Vatican Museum covers history from ancient Egypt up through the Renaissance.

Roman history includes Egypt, as Rome controlled much of the world for so long! Did you know that the embalming process takes 70 days? I didn't either. This woman died 3000 years ago. By the way, she was surprisingly short, and we had learned the previous day that back then people were much shorter (1.6 meters tall on average, or roughly 5 ft tall).

So many floors had these intricate and beautiful mosaics, many of which were roped off so that you couldn't walk on top of them.

Close up of the small, individual tiles that made up a majority of the floors in the Vatican Museum rooms.

This painting on the wall was interesting because Mary is the center and higher than Jesus. Later this was outlawed, and no one could be higher than Christ in pictures.

We went through countless rooms and long hallways that contained paintings, statues, tapestries, etc. It was all overwhelming. It was in chronological order, so you could see how things changed and emerged over time. One noticeable difference is in the way they did nude paintings or sculpture. From 1550 to 1800, the church decided that it was obscene to show private parts, and thus fig leaves began to appear. One book told us that they could be removed from the sculptures now if the museum so chose, but they have been left alone. :)

Next came Raphael's rooms. This part of the museum was the living quarters of the Renaissance popes, and they hired the best artists of the time (mainly from Florence) to paint the walls and ceilings of their dwellings. It was quite the honor.

Here is his famous School of Athens. I took a ton of poor quality pictures of this because it has so many people in this painting. I took a bunch for Kevin and hope to frame some for his classroom because there are several mathematicians in the picture, but I am waiting to see John's pictures because I'm sure they will be better. Besides the Sistine Chapel, we spent the most time in this room.

Interesting facts:
Raphael was only 25 years old when he painted this.
He was painting this room at the same time as Michelangelo was painting the Sistine Chapel down the hall. (Allie asked, "Do you think they had lunch together?")
This painting is said to sum up the spirit of the Renaissance, which was a rebirth of not only classical art but also a rebirth of learning and discovery.

Some people included in this painting: Plato and Aristotle (center, left and right), Socrates (midway to the left in green), Euclid, Pythagoras, Raphael himself, and Michelangelo (whom he added later after seeing his work in the Sistine Chapel, who is the figure down in front leaning on a block of marble).

From there we made our way to the Sistine Chapel...

The Sistine Chapel is the personal chapel of the pope and is where they are elected. Pope Julius II asked Michelangelo to paint it, but he refused at first, saying he was a sculptor and not a painter. He obviously wound up doing it, but he insisted he do it all himself. Many say that it is the single greatest work of art by any one human being. Like I said yesterday, Rome as a whole is breathtaking. Well, the Sistine Chapel is that in itself.

What you see on the walls and ceiling is the history of the world up until Jesus. It starts near the entrance on the ceiling and begins with creation and continues all through Genesis on one side of the chapel, then onto the prophets, and going through the ancestors of Christ. The other side of the chapel shows Christ's life.

The most famous, the Creation of Adam

Creation of Eve

The temptation and expulsion from the Garden

Twenty three years after he finished the ceiling, Michelangelo returned to paint the altar wall, where he did The Last Judgment, pictured above. This picture is not clear, but it is quite an ugly picture of the end. It shows heaven on the top with people on earth in the middle. The "good" are being pulled up to heaven while these ghoulish looking figures on the bottom are pulling the "bad" down to hell. They are vile looking creatures.

The back wall, opposite the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel

Several things to note about the Sistine Chapel:
It is considered a holy place, so you are not allowed to wear tank tops, shorts, or show cleavage in there. Not a problem in the winter, but I'm curious what they do for tourists in the summer.
Because it is a holy place, it is to be silent. Of course there is always a low murmur of people whispering, but they do enforce it.
There are also no pictures or video allowed.

So how did I get my pictures and video done? We entered through the exit, as I mentioned before, so I didn't know! So those are the pictures I was able to take before I learned the rule. John and Allie did come through the entrance but didn't see the rule posted, so John got in a lot of great shots, too, before the guards came in and started enforcing that rule. Look forward to seeing more awesome shots in the upcoming weeks. :) One guy near us was trying to snap one with his cell phone before they got to him, and so the guard kicked him out. I am so glad I got some photos in!

Kate slept through most of the Sistine Chapel, but Seth was quite funny. His question to me: "Mom, why is everyone looking up at the ceiling?" SO funny! I told him that he was looking at one of the coolest pieces of art (and the coolest ceiling!) in the world. His response? "Oh."

After that, we grabbed a bite to eat and headed to St. Peters.

Large arched entrance to St. Peter's Square

Seth wanted to play in every water fountain possible. Look at how happy he was that this one was NOT blocked off from him touching :)

Guards at their station near the entrance to the pope's quarters

Some history of St. Peters:
The large square in front of the church is where Nero's Circus was located, which was a chariot racecourse. For entertainment before, during, and/or after races, they would kill Christians. This is where (not at the Colosseum) the Christians were forced to fight beasts or gladiators or were simply crucified. Others were tarred, tied to poles, and lit on fire, acting as human torches for the night time races. Like I wrote yesterday, man is sinful. All for entertainment...well, and they hated Christians. This is where Peter was martyred, crucified upside down because he did not consider himself to be worthy enough to die in the same way Christ did.

Later after Christianity was legalized (AD 313), Constantine built the "Old St. Peter's" on this site to honor Peter, who was buried in a nearby cemetery. From AD 329-1500, this was considered the head of the church. But it began to fall apart, so they built a new one that would be "fit" to be the center of the Western Church. Many parts of the original can still be seen inside St. Peter's today, which was built later on in the 1500's.

The Church is in the shape of a Greek cross, and there are plaques on the floor where you can see the size of other churches in the world as compared to St. Peter's. The dome at the top is 430 feet high, larger than a football field standing on end!

I realized after looking through all of my pictures that I didn't get a picture of the entire church. I will have to post one later from John. But trust me, it was everything else. :) And the pope addresses the crowd on Wednesdays when in town from that middle balcony or sometimes out his window.

These original bronze doors only open once about every 25 years and are bricked up between these holy years.

Around the dome is the inscription in Latin of Matthew 16:18, "You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church, and to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven."

The main altar, used only when the pope himself says mass, although regular mass is held here.

Michelangelo's famous Pietà, sculpted when he was only 24 years old.

To the right while looking at the church from outside, you can see the roof of the Sistine Chapel and the on top, the tiny chimney, which is where the famous smoke signals announce the election of each new pope. Black smoke means a two-thirds majority hasn't been reached while white smoke means a new pope has been decided. I definitely remember watching this on television when Pope Benedict XVI was elected. :)

This building above the columns on the square is the pope's residence. The top floor far right window is his bedroom, and the window to the left is his study. I read that you can see his lamp on late at night as he is known to "burn the midnight oil."

Seth got tired right around this time as it was his nap time. So Kevin stayed outside with Seth while I went inside St. Peter's with Kate. I came out so that Kevin could go inside without Seth, but then Seth decided he was over his 5 minute meltdown and wanted to go inside, too. So Kate thoroughly enjoyed the time outside of her stroller. She will walk only if we are holding one of her hands (I think she'll do it any day now, but she just hasn't...), but she wanted to crawl on the cold ground in front of the church. So I let her.

You can see how happy (and little!) she is in front there moving about on her own without anyone bothering her. People started coming up to her and taking her picture. She smiled and waved and continued to crawl around. Adorable. :) She tried crawling through those fence-like structures there in that one picture and got frustrated when she couldn't get through.

From here we left to head back to the hotel to take naps. We wound up staying in for most of the evening because the kids were tired and did NOT want to put hats and coats back on again. So we figured early bedtime would be best because Tuesday was going to be a LONG day without the opportunity to go back for naps because we had to check out of our hotel in the morning...and our flight didn't leave until 10:30 p.m.

It was another spectacular day that I was so grateful for. The sunshine was beautiful, and the weather was warm enough to be enjoyable without being really cold.

A few other things I want to share about St. Peter's...

The building of the church was paid for by the selling of indulgences. That really bothered me. I well remember learning about these, but I mean, to think that the church sold people these so that they could be from the guilt of their sin and thinking that it brought them into a right relationship with God?! In other word's, they were so insecure in their faith (or just didn't know!) that Christ's death on the cross and resurrection was enough to save them. Their sins were already forgiven, and yet they felt the need (or were told that they needed) to pay the church lots of money to be forgiven and saved. And this church is elaborate in its say the least...paid for by the selling of these indulgences.

It was also the building of St. Peter's that got Martin Luther angry, for similar reasons as I shared above. He posted his 95 Theses and spoke out against many of the Catholic practices, including the selling of indulgences. This was October 31, 1517, not long after the church was constructed (for the second time as "Old St. Peter's" was falling apart). So the building of St. Peter's was a key part in the starting of the Reformation. Amazing to think about.

Also, because the church is built in honor of Peter, they have statues of him in there. People were practically worshiping him. It was creepy. They have an elaborate tomb set up for him in the middle of the church, which I did get a picture of but it turned out terribly, with ornate gold lanterns and quite gaudy looking stuff. And I couldn't help but think that Peter would be horrified to know that this church was built in honor of him. He didn't even want to be crucified right side up because he wasn't worthy enough to be crucified like Christ, so he was crucified upside down. And now this church is there, and the people who idolize him... I just think that Peter would be very upset. Allie made a comment that someone had once mentioned to her and said that some people wondered if they (people like Mary, Peter, Paul, as well as many others) knew what was happening on earth in their "honor," and if they were able to know, wondered if maybe the Lord protected them from knowing this. I know that if I died and people did these things in my name instead of the name of Jesus Christ, I would be disgusted.

Anyway, sorry to go on a rant there. It was just sad. Still amazing to think about how old these things are and that we were there where Peter was martyred...and walked past where they think he was imprisoned...Paul, too.

OH! And I almost forgot my other favorite thing that Seth said that day. We were standing outside of St. Peter's, and he looked at me and said, "Mom, I would like you to build that with my Legos for me." HA HA! And by the way, he has asked me twice since we got home if we could "make that building in Rome."

Tomorrow, I will post about our last day there.

1 comment:

Magyar Journey said...

It's an interesting experience to go there, isn't it?? When my mom and I went the summer before I moved back, people wore cardigans or shawls to cover up. I think they even sold them right outside Vatican City for that purpose. Also, there were so many people in there taking photos of the Sistine Chapel-- I don't think I even saw a guard who cared. It's funny how that changes from day to day.

And, yes, very sad stuff...