The second most important city for Christian pilgrims, Rome offers a tremendous number of sites. This is the Monument to Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of modern Italy (1820-1878). It was built after the king's death. Known as the "wedding cake" monument, it is one of the grandest monuments in all of Europe. It is the site of the tomb of the unknown soldier. Behind the monument lies the Roman Forum.

One of the most famous and romantic of all sites in Rome is the Trevi Fountain. It was completed in 1762, and features a gargantuan statue of Neptune pouring water into the fountain base. The water comes from the Acqua Vergine aqueduct. The fountain, located in a very densely built area was little visited until it was made famous by the film Three Coins in the Fountain (1954). Today, it is a "must" for all visitors.

The Pantheon is another great attraction in Rome. It holds claim to being the oldest still-used building in the city. It dates from 27 BC, though its present aspect dates from the time of Hadrian, who ruled as Emperor from 117-138 AD. The columns out front stand 46ft. high. The walls are 25ft. thick - the largest concrete structure until well into the 20th century. The dome is 143 wide at its base, the largest such unsupported dome until Filippo Brunelleschi completed the Duomo at Florence. Filippo in fact studied the great Pantheon before suggesting his solution to the problem of the Florence Cathedral.

The Pantheon served as a temple for all the Roman gods (the name means "all gods"). Animals were offered as burnt sacrifices, and the open circle at the top of the perfectly spherical dome, called the "oculus," permitted the smoke to rise and vent to the outside. The oculus is 18ft. across. Today the inner dome is concrete, but was once richly adorned. In the Christian era it was reconsecrated as a Church in honor of St. Mary. It is still used as a Church today.


The Church of Saint Mary Major (Santa Maria Maggiore) is one of the four great basilicas in the city. It is also one of the oldest. The Church was first built by Pope Liberius in 358 AD. It was enlarged by Pope Sixtus III in the mid 400s. The campanile, or tower, is Rome's highest and was built in the 14th century. The Church was magnificently restored in 2000 AD.

Inside the Church, and located in a side chapel (which is itself rather impressive!), is the greatest treasure of the basilica: it is an icon of the Blessed Virgin and the child Jesus, said to have been "written" (or painted) by St. Luke, the writer of the Gospel.


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