Saturday, October 8, 2011

Things I missed the first time: The Basilica of San Nicola in Carcere

As I read more about Rome, and look through the photos I took last year, I realise just how much I missed. To be expected, I guess, on what was my first big trip overseas on my own (yes, Miss Tizz was with me, but I was totally responsible for everything - the bookings, where we went, what we saw, the works). We did a lot of wandering, going from one incredible sight to the next, often without a particular plan, and obviously not taking in all the Eternal City has to offer. Actually, I think it would take many years to see it all, and even then I suspect Rome would continue to surprise me.

So ... I was reading a blog about Rome - Revealed Rome - and saw a photo of a familiar building. I remember clearly standing beside it and wondering what it was, and then shifting my gaze further to the right and being overwhelmed to realise that the Capitoline Hill was just across the road. And somehow I never did find out what this odd building with the columns built into the wall was. But now I know!

The columns in the photo above are from the Temple of the Goddess Hope - from 250 BC! But that's not all. On this site there are the remains of three ancient temples, with the much newer basilica built right into them!

This is the basilica from the front. You can just see the columns from the previous photo on the far left. The columns that are part of the lighter coloured facade are from the Temple of Juno, and on the right, next to the medievel belltower, are the remaining columns of the Temple of Janus. The three temples were constructed at various times in the second and third centuries BC. The site itself was a vegetable market before any of the temples were built (the Tiber River is just across the busy road behind the basilica), and there was a prison here (the in Carcere part of the basilica's name) in Byzantine times. The main building dates from about the 6th century AD (perhaps), although the first mention of the church in written history is apparently in the 11th century, and there have been numerous alterations since them.

All very fascinating, and you can also go down to the crypt to the old ground level, and see the podiums of the temples.

And that's not all I missed the first time: that odd-looking building to the right of the church in the second photo is part of the Theatre of Marcellus. Not that we missed it, but we normally approached it from a different angle, and at the time I took the photo I didn't realise what it was. I was used to seeing the arches and colonnades (you can just see them on the far right), and had no idea that apartments had been built into the ancient structure.

So much to see next time, armed with more information so I know what I'm looking at.

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