Thursday, May 12, 2011

Rome, day 8 - San Clemente, Santa Pudenziana and Santa Prassede

We headed straight down the road until we reached San Giovanni in Laterano. The obelisk in front is the oldest and largest in Rome (15th century BC), brought here by Constantine originally for the Circus Maximus but moved to its present location by Pope Sixtus V.

Then we visited San Clemente, which has a 12th-century basilica

and a gorgeous courtyard.

It's built on top of a church dating from AD 392, which was itself built on a Roman Mithraeum from the late 2nd century and some houses from just after the fire of AD 64.

Photography is not allowed. But some people were flagrantly using flash, so I took a couple without...

The Roman houses reminded me very much of Pompeii, though the doors were surprisingly tall as well as narrow. In one room, there was a spring; in another, you could hear a river rushing along - this was the one that fed the lake in frint of the Domus Aureum before Vespasian drained it. To reach them, you have to walk through the earlier church (which has some lovely frescoes) and then start walking down narrow steps.

The Mithraeum has a statue of Mithras slaying a bull.

Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II contains the remains of the Nymphaeum of Alexander Severus (ie a public fountain from the 3rd century which distributed water from the Acqua Claudia aqueduct).

Santa Pudenziana was built on the site of a Roman bath house.

; the mosaics in the apse are 5th century and some of the oldest Christian figurative mosaics in Rome (albeit restored).

Santa Prassede is a 9th-century church; allegedly St Prassede (Santa Pudenziana’s sister) sheltered persecuted Christians here.

She was buried in a well in the nave, marked by a red marble disc.

Pope Paschal I built the chapel of St Zeno there for his mother Theodora - the mosaics are 9th century, as are those in the apse.

Paschal's halo (far left) is rectangular, showing that when the mosaics were made he was still alive.

In St Zeno's chapel there is also a piece of the column where it's said Christ was chained when he was whipped. (Gruesome but fascinating - since the Reformation, English protestant churches don't have relics like this.)

Time for a last gelato, and then back to the hotel to meet our taxi. Driving through Rome in the rush hour was quite an experience. There don't seem to be many road markings on Roman roads - and I don't think I'd be brave enough to drive there!

At the airport, we checked in and then took the shuttle over to the departure gate, seeing a gorgeous sunset as we travelled.

The sun dropped amazingly quickly. And then it was time to fly home to England.


Katie said...

Sounds like it was a lovely break. Thanks for sharing your photos :-)

Caroline said...

Aww no more Rome! I've really enjoyed "my" holiday in Rome Kate - thanks to you and your family for sharing... ;o) Caroline x

Shirley Wells said...

I'm with Caroline, sad that there will be no more Rome. Boo hiss. I've loved my wonderful tour. Thank you for sharing and thank you for the brilliant pics.

Wherever I go in Italy, I always vow never, ever to be tempted to try driving there. ;)

Caroline said...

I did post a comment yesterday - but for some reason it's not showing. Just wanted to say that I've enjoyed "my" holiday in Rome. thanks to you, and your family, for sharing the lovely photographs! Caroline x