THE CASTEL SANT'ANGELO
The Castel Sant'Angelo, also known as The Mausoleum of Hadrian or Hadrian's Mole is a roman monument, radically modified several times during the middle ages and renaissance. Erected on the right bank of the Tiber in front of Campo Marzio, to which it was connected to, by a bridge, specifically built for this purpose. The Aelian Bridge (Pons Aelius), nowadays known as Sant'Angelo's bridge is not too distant from the Vatican. Commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in 125 a.d. to serve as his mausoleum and later completed by Antonius Pius in 139.
The names of the emperors buried inside could be found in the frieze overlooking the river: not only the remains of the Emperor Adrian and those of his wife Sabina are placed inside the mausoleum, but also those of succeeding emperors as well, the Emperor of Antonino Pio, his wife Faustina maggiore and of three of their children, Lucius Aelius Cesare, Commodo, the Emperor Marcus Aurelius and three of his children, the Emperor Septimius Severus and his wife Julia Domna and those of their children and Emperors' Geta and Caracalla.
The name, with which the castle is known still today, dates back to 590 a.d., year in which a plague ravaged Rome. Pope Gregory the Great led a penitential solemn procession to pray for its end. When the procession reached Hadrian's Mole, the Pope saw Archangel Michael sheathing his sword. The vision was interpreted as a sign that the plague would soon end, and in fact, from that moment the plague ceased. What are believed to be the footprints of the angel when he stopped to announce the end of the plague are conserved on a circular stone in the Capitoline Museum. Since that day, the Romans began to call Cast Sant'Angelo, Hadrian's Mole, and in remembrance of the prodigy which took place during the XIII century they placed a statue angel on the summit of the Castel portraying an angel sheathing his sword.
In recent months, the monument has had a return of popularity with a consequent increase in tourism, due to the fact that the director Ron Howard used the castle in 2008 as the set for the film Angels & demons, based on Dan Brown's best seller.
The original Pantheon was built in 27-25 b.c. by Marco Vipsanio Agrippa, son-in-law of Augustus and located in the Campus Martius, submitting the realization to Lucius Cocceio Aucto. It was originally built as a temple dedicated to all the Gods, or more so to the 7 planetary divinities (Sun, Moon, Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars). In more modern texts we will mostly find Mars and Venus. The original inscription dedicated to the building, carved across the entablature of this rebuilt Hadrian period structure read: M.AGRIPPA.L.F.COS.TERTIUM.FECIT (“Built by Marcus Agrippa, the son of Lucius, third counsul."); the third consul dates back to the year 27 b.c.
It was destroyed in 80 by a fire, rebuilt by the Emperor Domitian but burnt again during Trojan's reign. The Emperor Hadrian rebuilt it around 126, after a fire had damaged the previous building dating back to the Augustan age. At the beginning of the 7th century, the Pantheon was consecrated as a Catholic church, known as Santa Maria ad Martyres (St. Mary and the Martyrs), which permitted the building to survive nearly intact, the spoliation to roman classical buildings carried out by the popes.
One of the curiosities of this architectural structure is that in the centre of the dome with a diameter of 43.44 meters, is situated a central oculus (8.92 m in diameter) which illuminates the dome and although it is perforated, when it rains, the current air climb, shatters the water drops so it appears that inside it isn't raining. Even though, to prevent puddles of water from forming inside, a drainage system was created both centrally and laterally to handle the rain falling through the oculus.
The Ara Pacis Augustae (Altar of Peace) is one of the most important monuments of ancient Rome. It was built in 13 b.c. to honour the triumphal victories of Augustus in Spain and Gaul. It stands as a square enclosing an altar in the middle, consecrated by Augustus to celebrate the peace personified as a Roman goddess. All the surfaces are decorated with friezes and reliefs carved on marble by Greek artists who obtained a depth of space through different thicknesses of the figures. The appearance of the Ara Pacis was reconstructed through the testimony of sources, the studies during the excavations and some representations on Roman coins.
The Ara Pacis is a key monument of the Augustan public art which blends many different styles: classical Greek art (in the processions friezes), Hellenistic art (in the friezes and panels) and the typically “roman" art (in the altar decorations).
The appearance was so eclectic, its implementation suggest that the work was most certainly the work of Greek workshops. The potent political propaganda is significant, as in many Roman monuments of the period with obvious connections between Augustus and the Pax expressed as a reflourishment of the land under the universal Roman dominion. The connection between Aeneas, the mythical progenitor of the Gens Julia and Augustus himself is clear. According to the propaganda of historical continuity, it would frame the takeover of the emperor as a reconnection between the providential history of Rome and the history of the world at the time.