Saturday, May 31, 2014


The surface of Vatican City, the smallest independent state in the world, is only 0.44 km (109 acres), 7.8 times smaller than Central Park in New York
The maximum altitude above sea level of Vatican City is 77 meters (253 feet)
"At the time of the kings of Rome, and yet in the Republican period, there was the Ager Vaticanus: a territory that stretched for about eight miles along the right bank of the Tiber, starting north from the Valchetta Brook (the ancient Cremera) to south where the Janiculum Hill is, or slightly beyond it" (Paolo Liverani)
The inhabitants of Vatican City in 2011 were 799 of which 572 citizens: 110 Swiss Guards, 43 lay and the rest all members of the clergy
The about 3,000 lay workers in the Vatican live in Italy and they are all Italian citizens
Vatican City includes the so-called Apostolic Palaces also known as Papal Palaces or Vatican Palaces, official residence of the Pope in Vatican City
However popes had lived for about 1,000 years in the Lateran Palace in Rome and next to the Basilica of St. Peter there was just a temporary dwelling, used by popes to rest during the periods of the ceremonies in the Basilica
"The history of the basilica was determined by the choice of Pope St. Symmachus (498/514), who, having to fight against an anti-pope, decided to move his home to the Vatican. Near the atrium of the basilica he had living spaces (episcopia) built for himself and for the clergy, beginning a papal residence. Probably he was also concerned with the completion of the atrium and the stairway facing the campus, near which he arranged accommodation for pilgrims (habitacula pauperum), as well as a fountain. The pontiff was also perhaps responsible for the transformation of the road that led from St. Peter's Basilica to the Mausoleum of Hadrian with a covered colonnade (porticus Sancti Petri), of uncertain date" (Christof Thoenes)
The first pope who decided to live permanently in the Vatican was Niccolò III Orsini (1277/80) who had a new residence built there, close to the area of the city under the influence of his family, the powerful Orsini
After the exile in Avignon in the fourteenth century, the popes returned to Rome in 1420 with Martin V Colonna (1417/31) and began to settle in the Vatican, even though Martin V himself, from 1424 to his death in 1431, lived in the fortified Palazzo Colonna where now Piazza Ss. Apostoli is, the palace of his family, rival of the Orsini and equally powerful
Eugene IV Coldumer (1431/47) was a friend of the Orsini and lived in their properties using S. Lorenzo in Damaso for his court, except of course for the nine years 1434/43 during which he was forced into exile in Florence and Bologna due to the prevalence in Rome of the Colonna party
It was only with Nicholas V Parentucelli (1447/55) that the Vatican was chosen as the permanent home of the popes for good. He was a humanist pope and wanted in the Vatican a beautiful Renaissance court. He renewed the Basilica of St. Peter and built new rooms in the Vatican Palace
Many popes, from the end of the sixteenth century onwards, preferred to live in the Quirinal Palace which was the papal seat from 1592 with Clement VIII Aldobrandini (1592/1605) until 1870 when it became the residence of the Savoy kings (278 years!)
The Apostolic Palaces include the actual Apostolic Palace, current residence of the pope, the government offices of the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican Museums, the Vatican Library in addition to more than 1,000 rooms including the Sistine Chapel, the Sala Regia (Royal Hall) and the rooms painted by Raphael
The approximate and unofficial total number of rooms in the Apostolic Palaces is about 12,000
In 1929 with the birth of Vatican City and the signing of the Lateran Treaty the Vatican's ownership of the works of art in its territory was recognized by the Italian State, provided only that it would guarantee access to scholars and visitors, as stated in the Article 18 of the Concordat between the Holy See and Italy
The Vatican Museums include a huge amount of artwork that lined up would form a line about 8 km (5 miles) long
In 2011 the Vatican Museums were visited by 5,078,004 people, even more impressive if one considers that the second most visited museum in Italy (technically the first, as the Vatican Museums are not in Italian territory), the Uffizi in Florence, had about 1,500,000 visitors
"In a space probably just a little higher on the hill than the present basilica, there was a sanctuary dedicated to Magna Mater Idaea, the Great Mother of Mount Ida, also known under the name of Cybele. The cult is attested at least since the beginning of the second century AD. (...) The structures of the sanctuary were not found, but traces remain in the written sources and in a large number of inscriptions on altars reminiscent of a peculiar rite celebrated here, the taurobolio, the sacrifice of an ox to the goddess. (...) Among the followers of Cybele the sanctuary was so famous that the term 'Vatican' was used to indicate in general a sanctuary dedicated to the goddess, as well as the name 'Capitolio' would have indicated a temple dedicated to Jupiter Optimus Maximus, Juno and Minerva, named after the Capitoline Hill, which housed the most famous temple in Rome dedicated to these deities" (Paolo Liverani)
1996/2000 by the Studio Passarelli for the Jubilee of the year 2000
"Porta Nuova (new door) of the Vatican Museums" 2000 Cecco Bonanotte (1942) in bronze with the theme of Creation, consisting of 208 square panels
The new "White spiral ramp" is inspired by that of the Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, who, in turn, was inspired by the exit ramp of the Vatican Museums by Giuseppe Momo in 1932, a few meters away from the new ramp, in a very interesting dynamic inspirational rebound
At the center of the atrium controversial sculpture "Crossing the Threshold" by Giuliano Vangi
ON THE WALLS extraordinary ancient Roman mosaics including "Mosaic of ships and port maybe on the Tiber" first century BC from a villa on the Via Ardeatina formerly used as the floor of one of the Raphael Rooms
Mosaic "Justice and Peace" 1940 by Massimo Campigli (1895/1971)
At the foot of the white ramp on the right copy of the statue of "August from Prima Porta" painted for the exhibition "Colors of White" held in the Vatican Museums in 2005
"In ancient Rome, the most important public monuments and statues were polychrome, colored marbles were used coming from different places, white marbles were used as part of a complex interplay of colors, and stucco sculptures were painted with fresh vitality. However it has become commonplace to identify the "classical world" with the transparency of white marble, and this simply because the sculptures for the most part have lost any trace of the colorful surface of which were covered, also because of the painting and decoration of buildings and rooms relatively little is preserved. Everything in the ancient world was colored" (Eugenio La Rocca)
"Base of the Column of Antoninus Pius" (138/161) 161 with an apotheosis of Antoninus Pius and Faustina Major with a winged genius and personifications of Rome and of the Campus Martius
On the two shorter sides there are two decursii, parades of knights who used to circle around the ustrinum (funeral pyre) three times during the funeral
It was built by Antoninus Pius' sons, Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus, in the Montecitorio area. It was found in 1703 and restored in about 1840 by Giuseppe Fabris
The Column of Antoninus Pius in red granite was destroyed in 1705 by Francesco Fontana during transport from the monks' orchard in which it had been found to Piazza Montecitorio. Reduced in slab it was used in 1792 to restore the Obelisk of Psammetichus II now in front of Palazzo di Montecitorio
"Small compositional details bring out the composition from its apparent classicism: the fact that the left wing goes beyond the edge of the bottom, or that the shield of the figure of Rome protrudes outside the edge, or that the drapery extends beyond the bottom edge base, are all hints of a ferment of expression richer in movement and color that breaks up the classicist style. In the 'decursio' in the shorter sides there are the plebeian ways of art, foundation of the Roman historical reliefs, reappearing here in a formal expression entirely new, violently contrasted between darkness and light, almost in an Baroque style" (Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli)

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