Ancient Rome: Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum

Rick suggested that for our tour of Ancient Rome we start at Palatine Hill and make our way back down towards the Colosseum, so naturally, that's what we did. Well, after we got lost, that is...
We walked passed these umbrella pines about three times before we found the entrance to Palatine Hill, but I didn't mind. They are so beautiful!
Palatine Hill was the home of the Roman Imperial Palace (and the huts of Romulus, the founder of Rome), but now it mostly looks like a bunch of rocks. There aren't even very many signs indicating what you're looking at (thank god we had Rick!). This is Socorra, myself and Cara at the spot where the Roman Emperor sat. Yep, we are in the EXACT spot. Crazy, huh? We were trying to be royal - Socorra with a scepter, Cara with a crown, and me? I panicked at the last minute.
The view of Rome from Palatine Hill is gorgeous. (And a couple days later, we would get an even better view from the top of St. Peter's.) I love these views because of the contrast - the old Ancient ruins against the modern city. In the top picture, to the left you see the dome of St. Peter's in the distance. The white building to the right is the National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II. The whole time, I thought it was the Capitoline Museum... oops. We didn't go there, but it was gorgeous.
Stopping to read our Rick before going to the Forum. Seriously, I know you think I'm overdoing it... or that I'm getting paid to promote him or something, but I'm not. I just know we would have been screwed without this book.
The Arch of Titus' story is so interesting to me - The arch was built to commemorate the victory over Israel. You see, Rome didn't really care what your religion was, as long as you praised the Emperor as a God. No big deal for most civilizations - they just added him to their long list of deities. But Israel only had one god, and so they revolted. The Romans destroyed their temple (today's Wailing Wall), took them as slaves back to Rome and made them build this arch.
Basilica of Constantine. This was an epic hall of justice back in the day. The roof was another 55 feet higher than these arches. 
This road - Via Sacra - has many of the same basalt stones that were there 2,000 years ago; the same stones that Caesar walked on (!!!).
The temple of the Vestal Virgins is the most f-ed up thing in all of Rome. There's this temple on the Forum, with a torch in it. The Romans believed that they would hold power as long as that torch was lit, so rich families in Rome would offer up their daughters to serve as virgins and watch over the light. They served thirty-year terms, starting at age 10. After your time is up, you get a huge dowry and (most likely) a statue in your honor in the temple... if you stay a virgin. If you don't? You get a parade.... down to the crypt with a loaf of bread and a candle... TO DIE.
The Roman Forum doesn't look like much, does it? THIS is why having a tour guide or book is so important... Otherwise you're just looking at a bunch of rocks....
'But just think - Julius Caesar once leaned against these rocks.'

Click here for links to all my Rome and Morocco travels!


Ashley said...

How fun! I used Rick Steves' books when I was in London and Paris last spring and they were absolutely invaluble - I wish he made tour books for every major city, not just those in Europe!

His audio tours are awesome, too - they're on iTunes - they follow the book tours exactly, but you can listen to your iPod instead of reading the book (and thus, in my mind, look less like a tourist (yeah, right)). It's my goal in life to go on one of Rick Steves' tours through his company.

Danielle said...

We didn't plan very well - and so we didn't know about the iTunes downloads until we were already there.... and with crappy wi-fi, we weren't about to try and download anything! Good note for next time though!

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