Sunday, June 27, 2010

Jeffery's Tours Part II

Friday we also went on a tour with Jeffery, but this one was much less filled with things, so I think it will be easier to show you all. . .

We started out on the Ponte Sant'Angelo, which was a lovely little bridge with ten statues of angels holding various items from the Crucifiction scene. . .

All of the statues were designed by Bernini, but only two of them were carved by Bernini himself, and those two were immediately replicated so that the originals would not have to be out in the weather.

Originally, the bridge was built by Hadrian as an access to his mausoleum, which went through a number of phases before ending up as the Castel Sant'Angelo, where a Pope saw a vision of Michael re-sheathing his sword (the statue on top depicts this) as a symbol that a plague was ended.

The Castel Sant'Angleo is connected to Vatican City by a wall, and was used as a fortified residence in times when the Vatican was under seige.  In fact, the Castel Sant'Angelo was heavily fortified (with marble cannon balls, of course!)

We weren't allowed to take any pictures inside, but the rooms were furnished like a palace beacuse one Pope had to live in the Castle for a while during a seige, and decided if that ever happened again, he wanted to live the same way he did in the Vatican.  So, basically, the interiors are amazing!  The view from the top of the Castle was pretty awesome too:

After the Castle, we went to Saint Peter's Square and then into the church itself.  St. Peter's Square was designed by Bernini around the same time as the statues on the Ponte Sant'Angelo were done (when Bernini was the official architect for the Vatican).

There are two fountains in St. Peter's Square, the earlier one was done by Maderno, and then Bernini made a second one modeled after Maderno's when Bernini designed the square.

Inside St. Peter's was amazing!  It is so huge, I can't even begin to describe it.  Along the floor, there are various inscriptions which show how big other churches are in relation to St. Peter's.  Obviously, this is to show that St. Peter's is the biggest (and the best).  My pictures don't do it justice!

Over the decades it took to build St. Peter's, it went through a number of different designs.  Practically each head architect who worked on it had a different idea about what it should look like.  Some people wanted it to be a Greek cross shape (with all four arms the same length) while others wanted it to be a Latin cross shape (with one of the arms, the entrance, significantly longer than the rest).  Eventually, it ended up being a Latin cross, but in order to stress the importance of the area where St. Peter is buried, an additional structure was built over his grave.  Designed by Bernini, this structure stands 98 feet tall (nearly 10 stories), and fits very comfortably under the dome of St. Peter's.

After our tour with Jeffery was over, some of the girls and I paid 5 euro to walk the steps up to the top of St. Peter's.  This was the first level of our trip:

As we climbed up the dome, things got a little tight and tilted. . .

But, I'd say the view from the top was worth it!

This was the stairway on the way down.  I seriously got dizzy going both up and down this thing!

When we got back down, I took this lovely picture of sunlight coming through one of the minor domes . . .

Well, that was my Friday.  Maybe tomorrow I'll have time to tell you all about Saturday (at the Vatican Muesum!) and today (not much, just went to the Spanish Steps, a park, and the Trevi fountian). . .  Yay!

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