Monday, December 8, 2014

Our Roman Holiday - Day Four

On our final day, we had to be heading to the airport by around 1:30 pm so we were tight on time. As such, one of the best areas to visit was Celio and Lateran as everything was so close together. We decided to walk from our hotel and make a detour via the Piazza Vittoria Emanuele II to see the Magic Door.
Legend has it that this was once part of an enormous villa whose owner was slightly obsessed with the occult and was set on discovering the philosophers stone. The door itself is covered with ancient symbols which are believed to hold the formulae for turning matter into gold.
From there we headed to the Chiesa di Santo Stefano which was Rome's first round church and covered in somewhat graphic frescoes which depict the torture of Christian martyrs. The picture above is probably the only one which I can pop on the blog as the rest are incredibly gruesome, so gruesome in fact that even Charles Dickens described the scenes as "a panorama of horror."
Next it was time for something a little more cheery and what better than an obelisk covered in hieroglyphs? I think I've said it once before, but it really did surprise me that both Christian and Catholic architecture was surrounding by pieces with such a strong Egyptian influence.
Perhaps one of the most surprising things I saw during my trip to Rome was the above at the Scala Santa. Your eyes do not deceive you,those are people crawling up the stairs. It is believed that these 28 steps are those which Jesus himself walked up in Jerusalem. They are considered so holy that you're not allowed to walk up them (although there's no literature which tells you how the steps were transported from Jerusalem to Rome but that's another matter altogether.) At the top of the staircase (don't worry there are separate stairs on either side) was what used to be the Pope's private chapel.
On the opposite side of the road is the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano which was the first Christian basilica to be built in Rome and until the 14th Century was apparently the Pope's main place of worship. It certainly showed that this was a highly regarded as it was incredibly vast and filled with marble statues, gilted ceilings and enormous frescoes throughout. This was probably one of the most extravagant and indulgent basilicas we saw during our time here.
After we'd finished nosing around we headed next door to the Battistero Lateranense which is an octagonal baptistery.
The final place we headed to was the Basilica di San Clemente which I sadly don't have any pictures of as we were prohibited from taking any. Now the basilica itself was really anything special, it's what's underneath the basilica which was so interesting. There's actually an underground temple to the Persian god Mithras which was really rather eerie, especially seeing all the pagan references alongside further Egyptian hieroglyphs. It seemed incredibly odd that a place of Christian worship was built on top of a place of worship for a god of an entirely different religion.
Anyway, I digress, after that it was time to grab a spot of lunch before heading back to the airport. All in all we'd had a great time and I really felt like we saw all that we needed to to. Whilst we wouldn't go back to Rome, we're very keen to explore more of Italy at some point in the future.

That's it for my Rome mini series I hope you enjoyed it! I've tried to include some handy hints and tips along the way so that if you decide to make you're own trip, it'll be that little bit easier.


  1. With each Rome recap post, I'm more and more amazed by the architecture and artistry. I'm also surprised by the juxtaposition of different religious structures and symbolism. The people crawling up the stairs is a powerful image. What a meaningful experience that must be for Christian tourists and visitors.

    I also like your honesty about enjoying your visit to Rome but not needing to visit again. There are some places that I definitely want to revisit: Inverness and Edinburgh in Scotland, the Pacific Northwest, Savannah, the Old Mission Peninsula in Michigan, etc. And there are other places we've visited that I'm satisfied with seeing just the one time: Aberdeen in Scotland, Nassau, Key West, etc.

    Thank you so much for sharing this glimpse into your trip! Rome looks like an incredible feast for the eyes, and we love cities that we can simply walk around and photograph.

    <3 Liz

    1. Geeez I am rubbish on the blogging front right now.

      Anyways, me to, it was just quite odd to see such a heavy Egyptian influence throughout our journey. I think in one of the basilicas we even spotted something which looked like an illuminati eye which was kind of odd. The stairs were such an odd thing for me as I just couldn't really grasp why anyone would want to crawl on their hands and knees to show their devotion to someone but that's faith for you. I imagine for those involved it was an incredibly powerful experience and as I always say...each to their own.

      Thanks for your comments about my honesty, I kind of felt like I should have hyped things up more than I did, but that wouldn't be honest of me. I loved every minute but there's no need to go back there. Much like Aberdeen...been there, done that kind of thing.

      Ad and I are trying to decide where we should do next, I reckon a lot will depend on what deals we can spot lying around!



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