“Old Stuff”

For the February vacation, my family and I took a trip looking at ruins and relics of the past. First we flew to Rome where we stayed for two days. We were wandering the long and winding streets of the city at night in a light rain. We turned a corner and all of a sudden we found ourselves in a piazza. There was a beautiful fountain that had many statues of men and fish. Just beyond the fountain we saw a building that had pillars holding it up, kind of like the White House entrance. It took all five of us, with our arms completely stretched out, to hug one of the pillars. The building was the Pantheon.IMG_5730

The Pantheon in Rome is one of the best preserved buildings from ancient Rome. It has been a church and a tomb. It still has an alter and pews inside. When you walk inside, the first thing you notice is how high the ceiling is. It’s domed with a checkered pattern carved into it. The next thing I noticed was the giant hole in the ceiling.

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It didn’t take over 2000 years for that hole to appear. It’s been there all along. And I know what you’re thinking: doesn’t rain get in? As a matter of fact, it does. That night it was raining right into the building. I stood under the hole to examine the floor because I’d heard that there are holes hidden in the floor. I found 20-something holes that had been designed in the marble floor where the rain drains away.

After doing some research I found that there is still a real tomb in the Pantheon. As it turns out the tomb is attached to a tragic love story.  

In Rome we also saw the Sistine Chapel. It’s in the building in the Vatican where the Pope lives. The Vatican actually has a large museum with a lot of art. There were a lot of old Christian paintings, and there were modern-day Christian paintings too. There were even some paintings by Chagall. The Sistine Chapel itself is a room where the ceiling has many different parts, almost like looking through a bunch of different windows. Each window tells a story, some from the Old Testament, and some from the New Testament. The entire ceiling was painted by Michelangelo. I got neck cramps from being in there for only ten minutes. I wonder how he felt after painting the entire ceiling. In all, I really enjoyed it, although I must admit I was a little disappointed when I saw the painting of God touching Adam’s hand. I was expecting that image to take up the entire ceiling, but it was only one component of the painting.

Then we took a train to Naples, where we took a rickety commuter train to see Pompeii. Pompeii was an ancient Roman city, but in 79 AD there was a great explosion. Mount Vesuvius erupted, causing the entire city to burn or be covered in ash. The city sat there for a very long time until archeologists came and dug it out. They found it very much preserved.

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The bottom halves of buildings are still there. There are streets with big cobblestones. The streets were used for transporting water, so there are enormous stones that allowed people to cross the street without getting their feet wet. If you walk down the street, you can see walls and doorways and some rooms of people’s houses. There’s a bath house and an amphitheater and a temple of Apollo (who by the way is the ancient Roman god of music, theater, the sun, and poetry).

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It was interesting because you could kind of imagine what a city looked like 2000 years ago. At the same time, it was hard to imagine people in it and what their daily lives were like. Thanks to the archeological museum in Naples, I was able to sort of imagine the way the inside of houses looked a long time ago because we were able to see things like murals and art that had been taken off the preserved walls.

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