Posts Tagged ‘Rome’

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Hello !  RenxKyoko Iglesias here !

I’ve been staring at a white, blank screen for hours now. I am still deciding  whether I will post something  about my job – hunting,  or go ahead and write about  my 2014  vacation in the Philippines.  I have tons of pictures  all ready to be posted here,  but  I don’t feel like writing about  a country,(  it does not  matter that this is where I was born, and came from) that tolerates, approves of ,  and seemingly delights  in   extra-judicial  killings of ” ALLEGED” drug pushers.  I’m sure my Filipino blogger friends would tell me I have no right to criticize  the country because 1. I am not a Filipino  2.  I  have no idea what they are going through  living in  a country with acute drug problem.

 

I do understand that. I know  the country has become the dumping ground of  all sorts of drugs  ( they call  one drug shabu  )……. Why is the Philippines the dumping ground , you ask ?  Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and other South East Asian countries have extremely strict laws against possession. It’s death penalty  . The Philippines, on the other hand,  is less strict, not to mention law enforcers are extremely corrupt.  I’m sure the authorities know exactly who the drug lords are .  They are untouchable, and, obviously  we know why.

I always write about the Philippines and its people in glowing terms. They are naturally gentle, generous,  happy, smiling people, and this is true.  But not at this time,  and unfortunately,  not for 6 years.  They just elected a rogue president who disrespects  just about anybody… President Obama,  the Pope, and Jesus Christ  Himself. And  I am  not making this up.

dscn0764

Random photo. (  just because I mentioned The Pope ,and there has to be a picture, right ?)

Above is just a random pic of myself at the Vatican Museum. I think its one of  the best  pic ever taken during our  tour. I am exactly in the middle of the museum hallway,  and equidistant from the 2 walls. It’s true. I checked it.  Maybe there was divine intervention when my Mom took the pic.

To continue……

Oh, we are not entirely disconnected  from  the country. My family still own more properties in the Philippines  than the average Filipino, and we pay  taxes , without fail.  We therefore  have a reason  to pay close attention to  what’s going on there.

To my Filipino blogger friends  who have declared  their  heartfelt approval of this president’s  behavior…. I am sorry  to have a different opinion. I just hope and pray  this does not become the standard by which the country elects its officials.

I am sad and a bit demoralized.

This is all for now. Thank you for reading.

Please check out my manga/anime blogsite HERE    http://2megaworthitwordpresscomblog.wordpress.com/

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My European Trip Part 10 , Rome, Italy

Hi !!!  Renxkyoko Iglesias here.

Please allow me to luxuriate in the aftermath of Pres. Obama’s reelection.

.Well, excuse me, I  did work hard for Pres. Obama.

California is either super liberal or masochists.  The  Democrats now have super majority of both chambers, and across the state, from south to north,  all Propositions and  Measures increasing the tax have been approved by Californians.    We want you to pay a little more for playgrounds , parks,  libraries , new computers for schools. Yeah, sure ! Check.  An increase in tax for this and that….. Okay ! Check.   We Californians taxed ourselves, ha ha ha ! And to think, we have one of the highest tax rate in the US. Well,  we all have decided to share the burden . A shared sacrifice, if you will.  I mean, what can my $ 25 do to help others? Nada. But collectively, a lot. That’s good citizenship.  It’s not what the country can do for you, but what you can do for the country.  Okay, enough of this. I just want to put this out here.

Back to Rome……

After The Forum, we visited the usual places tourists go to.

The Trevi Fountain……. The fountain is unlike modern day fountains that are built merely as    decoration. The Trevi Fountain was the terminal point of one of the aqueducts that  supplied water to ancient Rome. But the Trevi Fountain itself, as we see it now, impressive and beautiful, was finished in 1762.

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.My 14 year old cousin

.Three coins in the fountain, each one seeking happiness, la di da….. There’s a legend that if you throw a coin into the fountain, you are guaranteed to return to Rome.  With your back to the fountain, you should throw the coin over your shoulder. This is how wishers do it. I threw a US penny though, ha ha. I hope that works, too.

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.In case you haven’t noticed, most Europeans drive Smart cars, really small cars. As an American. my eyes are not used to it. But I love it. It’s green. Sadly, Americans love the gas guzzlers, big cars, the bigger, the better.

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Above is the Roman Pantheon.  It is a building that is the most completely preserved ancient structure, built in 27 BC by Marcus Agrippa  to commemorate  Octavian’s ( later named Emperor Augustus , the first Roman Emperor….. before this , Rome was a republic,  headed by Senators ) Battle of Actium victory over Marc Anthomy and Cleopatra. This was a battle between 2 Roman forces. The original building burned down 100 years after, then Emperor  Hadrian rebuilt it and dedicated it to  ” all the gods ” , meaning “pan theos. “

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.Below is the interior of the Pantheon, courtesy of Wikipedia. We didn’t get to see  it. Tsk.

.That’s me below taking a picture .

.Above is the Fountain of Four Rivers, located at Plaza Navona, built by Pope Innocent, and designed by Bernini in 1651. The obelisk in the middle is an earlier structure that was built in AD 81.

.The place is really like an open market where paintings, arts and crafts are sold. I don’t know, but I wasn’t enthusiastic to be there. There were so just many people milling around. Or maybe I  had an overload of fountains in one day. .  This was the 10th one  we visited  that day.  I guess the Italians love fountains. I love it too. There’s one at our backyard here at home. Well, after seeing those magnificent fountains, ours is a just a water feature, a pathetic  teeny one, he he., like a bird bath.

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.Above picture is a structure at Piazza Venezia. You know , at the end of the road  from here is the Coloseum. One can also see The Forum from here.  We just drove by this structure to go to the Coloseum, but very slowly so we could take some  photos of the area. Anyway,  that imposing structure was built in honor of Vittorio Emanuel ll, the former King of Sardinia, then later became the first King of united Italy, the title he held until his death in 1878.  However, I got the impression the tour guide didn’t really like this structure. She was like, “Eh.” I thought it was pretty though.

.Well, this is it for Rome.

Oh, by the way, a commenter corrected me regarding Cleopatra.  He wrote that Cleopatra did speak Egyptian.  I’d like to be corrected.  I misspoke,  nonetheless,  what I understood  from several articles written about her was ,  she didn’t speak Egyptian in Egypt, even if she actually knew the language. Here’s my response to his comment.

Thank you for pointing that out to me. I reread that part, and yes, I did write she never spoke Egyptian, but I should have added that though she did speak speak Egyptian, what I understood was that she didn’t speak the language while she ruled Egypt…. so much so that government ” documents” had to be written in 2 languages, Greek and Egyptian. The discovery of such a document in 2 languages , the Rosetta Stone, led to the understanding of the hyroglyphics, because there is now a direct translation of an unknown written language to a known one. Please correct me again if I’m wrong. I appreciate it., after which I’ll edit my post

Oh, my, the politics here in the US… rape, aspirin between your knees, now it’s binders full of  Mata Haris. WTF ! I’m like reading a shoujo manga. It’s weird.  Two brilliant Generals,  one up for position of Supreme Commander of NATO aaaaaand, for crying out loud, the CIA Director !!!!!!  taken down by an email inbox.  Tom Clancy will never , ever have this as his plotline.  So, guys, please, if you are already ” committed”   , keep it in your pants, and zip it up. And ladies, we all know nature and time are not kind to us, so try to take good care of your physical appearance, and not let go. Don’t just go off into the sea and sail off.

I know this a shallow thinking, but men  , if given the opportunity, will do it with any attactive, willing women . Am I generalizing ?  I don’t think so. Such depressing thoughts.  ‘Course it takes two to tango.

* deep sigh *

This is all for now. Pisa, Assissi, and Flrence are next. G’day to all and PEACE.

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MY EUROPEAN TRIP 9 Rome, Italy

Hi, there !

* sigh of relief * Finally, Rome , The Eternal City. So, how do I start this ?  With statistics, and history ? With over 3000 years of  Roman history, it would take at least one volume of Encyclopedia Britanica  to present in detail  Rome’s influence on the history of the world.  At this moment, I feel stupid to even dare contemplate doing that when I know next to nothing  about ancient  Rome , except of course a few interesting trivia such as Emperor Nero fiddling while Rome burned (  some say he actually sang as he had a good singing voice , and even went to Greece to join singing contests , lol ). And who doesn’t know about Mark Anthony  and Julius Caesar ?   Yes, you got it. Both men were Cleopatra’s lovers.  And who was Cleopatra? Cleopatra was Egypt’s last Pharaoh. Cleopatra , by the way, wasn’;t even Egyptian. She was Greek who only spoke Greek, not the language of the country she ruled.  And,  she must have been so beautiful she snagged two of Rome’s most important citizens. Or,  maybe she wasn’t even pretty….. but she was a Pharaoh, and I guess, that alone would attract the best of Rome.  Okay, enough of gossip.

Below is where we went after The Vatican tour.  At the end of the road is the Coliseum.  The sight of that from the coach made my heart beat fast. I mean, heck,  that’s the Roman Coliseum,  the real McCoy…

.The Coliseum was built in 72 AD by Emperor Vespasian, and  finished by his son, Emperor Titus. It has 80 arched entrances to accomodate  about 50 ,000 spectators.  They were spectators of mayhem and carnage , slaughter of wild animals, and fight to the death between criminals, prisoners of  war, and  slaves  they called gladiators.

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.Above is the interior. Just look at those massive columns.

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.You’d expect the middle space to be an open space arena,  unlike the above photo where  you can see walls and tunnels. Actually, there was  originally a wooden floor that covered these tunnels, and the wooden floor was covered with sand, sand is “arena ” in Latin. The animals and gladiators ( later, the early Christians ) were held under the floor, in the tunnels to await their fate. Pulleys  were raised to bring the animals or humans to the surface.  The spectacle was usually a one-day event, and there were so much killing the ground would be soaked with blood,  so they had to cover the area with fresh sand, after which , the slaughter continued on.

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..Panoramic view of the arena.  Uhm, the design actually confuses me. How did spectators at the top ( what we call the nosebleed section, the bleachers ) manage to get a good view of the spectacle  down at the arena? Those massive walls originally were covered with awnings.

.The Coleseum at night, courtesy of Wikipedia.

.Above is courtesy of Wikipedia.  The arch on the right is the Arch of Constantine.

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Next photos are those of The Forum.

The ruins of the Roman Coliseum and The Forum are in stark contrast to the grandeur of The Vatican. That they are almost next to each other makes the contrast even more stunning. To a person who absolutely knows nothing about  Rome and its history ( yes, there’s a person like that ), The Forum would look like just a pile of bricks and slabs of stones with a few posts and columns scattered  here and there.

It’s hard to imagine  that these ruins were once the center of trade and politics in Rome for about 1000 years. Where the market goes, so go the politicians. I can imagine politicians standing on platforms , orating and speaking to anyone who cared to listen, while common folks went around doing their business. . ” Can you defend your  politics  at The Forum?”  This was  also the place where the Senate met, and triumphant marches and elections were held.  It was at the Rostra where Marc Anthony  addressed his famous eulogy  for Julius Caesar ( who was assassinated by  some Senators led by Brutus ).  “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar ”                     That is of course William Shakespeare’s version.  I actually stood in front of the platform and imagined the whole scene. ( Aaaargh, I’m such a geek ! )

Below is the Rostra.

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.Above is the Temple of Romulus. The door is original, and it’s bronze.  Hmmm, no wonder Kratos can’t destroy that. ( Kratos from video game God of War, he he )

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I’m trying to visualize how the place must have looked during their time.  It does look small and compact, but you know, it isn’t , really.  The columns still standing  are  tall , massive, and impressive.

I have tons of photos of this place that  I’d love to post here, but I’m sure not all  share my enthusiasm for old stuff.  I think I want to be an archaelogist. But I doubt  this career will put food on my table.  I’ll content myself watching National Geographic Channel and The Naked Archeologist and dreaming of going to Greece, Egypt , Turkey, and  Israel. Oh, and back to Italy again. I want to see Pompeii.

So, anyway, I’m done with Colloseum and The Forum, but not Rome yet.  Our tour of The Vatican and the Colloseum and Forum was done in one , HOT sunny day. It was almost 100F, and no lunch time. We were told to eat a very heavy breakfast, warned there wouldn’t be time for lunch, then headed out at  730 H. The photos below are my morning breakfast, times 2, and how my li’l cousin and I looked after a tiring day.

.We finished off the day by getting an Optional Dinner that cost  $65 each person. Add the $ 65 for The Vatican Museum  Tour, it was not only hectic, it was quite an expensive day too. Optional means the fees were not included in the pre-paid packaged tour.  To be honest, the Museum tour was totally worth it, but the dinner wasn’t. The only good thing about dinners in Europe were the ” drink all you can ” part.  One bottle of wine in Europe is cheaper than one glass of wine here in the US.  3 bottles per table of 6 persons, always.

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.The pasta was okay, but the meat was chewy. The steak we had in Venice was quite chewy too.  What’s with the hard meat, anyway? The lasagne was too watery. Perhaps that’s how Italians make lasagna, but I like it better the way we make it at home. It has form and we can actually cut through it.

Below is a blurry picture of the lasagna.

.Bottomline is , the food could have been better for $65 . Oh, and the serenaders got at least  $40 from our table.  ^__^

Well, this is all for now.  Rome again next post.  Good day and PEACE !

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European Trip Part 8, The Vatican

Hi ! ! ! Renxkyoko Iglesias here !

.I posted that picture above because that’s what I feel right now. I just  watched the presidential debate on foreign policy  between Pres. Obama and Mitt Romney and I believe Pres. Obama did a great job of presenting his policies.

You know, I went with my sister to Reno, Nevada as members of Obama’s volunteer workers . Though  I’m from California, ground  game  is not needed here anymore as  California is in his pocket already, so we have to go to places where assistance is needed.  At least Nevada is nearby… some volunteers went as far as Colorado , Wisconsin and Iowa.  And by the way, we are volunteers… we spent our own money,wages we lost were not something to sneeze at, and  we   were not paid a single cent. Not to mention that we   had to grin and bear it when yelled at.  I used to be a wimp and easily get teary-eyed, but I learned fast. Politics is so cruel. I couldn’t afford to be onion-skinned.  Not now, when so much are at stake.  There are already so many  whackos and nutheads  in Congress, and Senate, as it is. Who would have thought that someone running for a Senate seat  would have  the gall and temerity  to  say that rape is God’s will, or another guy saying that there’s a legitimate rape and non- legitimate, that if a woman got pregnant, that is not legitimate, because, a woman who is legitimately being raped would have her system automatically shut down and  have  her eggs fight off the rapist’s sperm, implying that if she did get pregnant, she  relaxed during the act, and maybe had actually liked it? WTH ! Not to mention, Romney’s VP candidate actually  tried to legislate the definition of what rape is…. if no force is applied, then it’s not rape, even if there’s a gun pointed at the woman’s head.   Yeah, they’re who Mitt Romney is endorsing for the Senate seat. I cringe at the thought of this kind of  people wearing  clown hats walking the august halls of Congress.  Oh, while I’m at it, no contraception pills, if these guys would have their way.    Sex is not for pleasure, only for procreation.  So , ladies, just put aspirin between your knees, as suggested, even if he’s your husband.  Rant over.

How ironic. This post is about The Vatican, the center of  my religion.  But I believe Catholicism is not about  how loud a person proclaims his love for God…. it’s how he treats a fellow human being who has less in life, the poor, and the meek. I cannot vote for people who would give more and more tax cuts to the already rich, and take away funds from Medicaid, practically all social nets of the poor, to make up for the difference.  Then they are the loudest in invoking the name of God. The hypocrisy is stunning.  PS I don’t like to associate either with a political party that is embraced by groups whose emblem is the SWASTIKA and KKK. That’s the bottomline for me.

Enough of  politics. Back to The Vatican and Rome. This is my third post on The Vatican and I promise, the last, so, please indulge me on this. Uhm, I say The Vatican, not Rome. Sorry.  And please forgive my rant.  T.T

Above is just one of the numerous statues lining the walls of St. Peter’s Basilica.

And below is a pinkish obelisk, right in the middle of St. Peter’s Square. It was built by an Egyptian Pharao around 2000 BC ( 4000 years ago), and was hauled out of Egypt in about 40 BC by Roman Emperor Caligula, and erected in his circus (  the circus was most probably some kind of amusement park  near the area of St. Peter’s Square , where early Christians’ tortures were done as entertainment for Emperor Nero… yes, that Nero…..   it was also the place where St. Peter was crucified ). It was moved to the center of St. Peter’s Square in 1600.

Main entrance flanked by 2 massive columns. Quite overwhelming…

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.The photo above is like the anteroom , outside the main church’s  interior. Above that photo is the main door to the church. I don’t know why it’s closed. We must have entered through another door.

.Below is  the main altar.

Someone has to correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the tomb of St. Peter , the Apostle is underneath that altar.

The one above is courtesy of Wikipedia. …. just to give you an idea how amazing the place is. Upon entering the basiliuca, the first thing people see is the Papal Altar with the canopy designed by Bernini. There is a wide aisle from the entrance , to the middle ending at the altar,  and off the aisle  are numerous  smaller altars.

Eh. I look so stiff here.  I wonder why. He he he.

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.I don’t need to describe each photo . Every inch of the interior of the basilica is  so richly decorated  I’ve run out of words to describe each intricate  detail.

.To be honest, I find that photo above a bit creepy, that’s the bronze statue of St. Peter,  and together with the photo below, the embalmed body of Pope John Paul if I’m not mistaken,I’d be frightened to death  if I’d suddenly  find myself alone in the church,  company of holy men, notwithstanding. The name engraved in the coffin is that of Pope Innocent, but it was replaced by the remains of Pope John Paul in 2005.

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Below is Michaelangelo’s Pieta.  There’s a glass wall that protects the sculpture from the crowd.  It’s located near the main entrance, on the left.  It’s truly breathtaking.  The first photo is from Wikepedia. The second one is mine. I want to show you the photo without that tiny bit of reflection.

.Do you see the balconies in the picture? The one in the middle is where the Pope stands on to bless the flock.

.The Swiss Guards.

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Oh, the sky is so blue ! !

A panoramic view of St. Peter’s Square, courtesy of Wikipedia.

So, that’s it. . What an amazing experience !  I hope you enjoyed looking at the photos.  If you can, just once in your lifetime, I urge you to go and see  The Vatican.

For some reason, I feel sad to post the last of my Vatican tour.

Well, good day to all , Valete, and  Pax.   Rome is next.

European Trip Part 7, part b, The Vatican and Rome

Hello, there !  Renxkyoko Iglesias here !

How many times have I started a post  with these words? According to WP, more than 274 times.  With just 1 or 2 posts a month, I don;t know where WP got that figure. Okay, I think  I know…. it’s from where I first started blogging here, in October , 2010.  And  I did post almost everyday back then…… mindless, stupid posts, like so…. ” Hi, Renxkyoko Iglesias here ! It’s 2 AM right now and guess what I’m doing ? Doing the laundry , that’s what. So, how’s your day ?  Tut, tut, goodbye ! ”   And the one below is the worst…. by the way, it’s dated June 2010…. that was written on another blogsite that was transferred , lock, stock and barrel to WP.

Posted June 28, 2010 by renxkyoko in Uncategorized. 2 Comments | Edit

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by pHiO_cHaN on June 28, 2010 at 5:12 am  edit

    and this too! what entry is this? @___@

    Reply

  2. Posted by renxkyoko on June 28, 2010 at 5:54 am  edit

    (^__^)”;;  Don’t know.

No wonder  that for a loooong time, I only had  2 or 3 loyal and captured readers, lol. Who would read such crap ? The first time I saw another commenter  on my blog, aside from my loyalists, of course,  I was like, ” Waaaaa ! They can read my blog ? ” All the while, I thought that was my private space .  I was such a dumb-belle…. still one, though, he he he.

Well, then, consider the above   my anniversary post.

Moving on……

This is the second part of my Part 7 tour of Rome and The Vatican.  There’s just no way I can convey the richness of  Rome’s and  The Vatican’s history  with just one post.  Rome ruled for 3,500 years after all. Also, The Vatican Museum contains the biggest collection of  the antiquities.   Don’t worry though, I won’t overload you with images, which  some of you might even  find boring.

.As I wrote before, the Vatican Museum has numerous  rooms, about 55 ,  one of which is the photo above, The Chariot Room.

.That’s Isis , Goddess of Fertility, and those protuberances  are not fruits hanging on her chest… those are breasts.  Ah, gravity has taken its toll.

.I hope this is the last nude statue that I’m going to post here, but I assure you there’s no shortage of nude statues in my cache……..Above  photo is a sweet sculpture of father and son, isn’t it? Actually, no. The title of the sculpture is Temptation of the Grapes, and somehow, temptation connotes something  ominous.

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.There’s only one word that can describe the photos above. …. MAJESTIC.

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Above is the Gallery of Maps . Check out the frescoes on the ceiling. They are flat paintings but look 3 D. This is also the hallway that leads to the Sistine Channel.

A bit blurry, but I’m in the photo, he he he. Gotta be  in the photo, y’ know.

Old topography of Italy showing  the Vatican’s territories.  Nothing in the maps are accurate for obvious reasons, but Pope Gregory Xlll did introduce the Gregorian Calendar, the calendar that we use today. That’s pretty accurate.

Can we just look and admire ? I’ve run out of words to describe the magnificence of this Museum.  The place is simply overwhelming.

.That;s the Gallery of Tapestries. Check out the 3 D frescoes on the ceiling. They are actually flat paintings. Do you notice the room is dark?  Sunlight will damage the delicate tapestries, so we were requested to minimize the use of flash in our cameras.

.I secretly took this photo.  In fact, we were requested not to use our cameras, at all. Anyway, about the photo….. This is obviously a tapestry of The Last Supper. Do you notice the food on the table? There’s fish, and bread, but what do you see in front of  Jesus? Doesn’t it look like a pig?  Jews don’t eat pork, and Jesus was a Jew. So, what message  was the tapestry  maker trying to convey here?  Was he trying to deny the Jewishness of Jesus ? Is there a subliminal messaging that went  on here ?  Years after His death, there was a split among His followers and disciples on whether to retain the Jewish laws and traditions, or to separate from them and form a new religion that centers on the teachings of Christ. This is ironic because Jesus Himself never left his Jewish Religion.  Well, I’m not going into this. Suffice it to say that, St. Peter ( to whom Jesus has entrusted the building of the Church….. ” Simon, you are Peter, and on this rock, you will build my Church…..”) is considered the first Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, declared  just 30 years after the death of  Jesus. His successor was Pope Linus, ensuring that succession of Popes should be constant, and should always reconize  St. Peter, one of the 12 Apostles, as the first.

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.I’m not sure but I think above photo is the official emblem of  The Vatican.

The photo above is the exit , out of the Vatican Museum . Next is St. Peter’s Basilica. Okay, here’s the truth. The Vatican Museum  has 55 rooms. The truth is, I don’t really know how many rooms I’ve visited.  One thing I’m sure of, we didn’t get  to see the famous Raphael Rooms, also called Stanze di Raphael, which are actually papal rooms, the private living quarters of the Popes. . There are 4 smaller rooms in the Stanze.  Raphael painted the walls of these 4 rooms. What is amazing is that , Pope Julius ll commissioned Raphael to paint the walls the same time he ” commanded” Michaelangelo to paint  the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It’s mindboggling to imagine 2 of the greatest artists , Michaelangelo and Raphael working  almost side by side.. Also, I say ” commanded ” because Michaelangelo resisted  and had to remind the Pope again and again that   he was not a painter, but  a sculptor, and   thus, wouldn’t do a good job of it. He was also worried that the dome of the Sistine Chapel (  that he himself designed ) which was then simultaneously being constructed, would  fall on him.  These 2 artists’  works mark the peak of the Rennaisance art in Europe. By the way, the difference between the two as far as their work at the Vatican was concerned was that, Raphael relied heavily on his assistants ( in fact Raphael died prematurely and it was his assistants who finished the job ) whereas M did it all by himself, alone. Not to mention the fact that M painted lying flat  on his back, while Raphael painted normally, standing on his feet.

I don’t have photos of  Raphael wall frescoes, so apologies to Wikipedia for copying some of theirs and posting them here.

.The title of this fresco  is The School of Athens. Heraclitus ( which is actually a portrait of Michaelangelo) is the one seated on the stairs, in front, and leaning  on a block of marble. The two men standing prominently in the middle of the painting are  Plato and Aristotle. Pythagoras is on the left  writing on something , Euclid is the man on the right teaching a few students, Ptolemy is holding some kind of a sphere, the one lying in the middle of the stairs is Diogenes.

The Optional tour of The Vatican Museums which cost $ 65 per person included entry to the Sistine Chapel.  We were resquested again not to take any photos, and this time, there were quite a number of guards who saw to it the rule was being followed. I even saw a Japanese tourist who was secretly shooting a video being reprimanded by a rude guard . According to our tour guide, taking photos and videos are banned because Nippon  Television Network of Japan has sole copyright or exclusive  TV, video and photo rights to the Sistine Chapel. NTV financed the restoration of the chapel in 1990. The restoration took 20 years to finish.

I don’t want  to be melodramatic, but I was totally in awe. The Sistine Chapel’s ceiling  was one of the greatest masterpieces of all time, made by one of the greatest artist on the planet.  To be there and absorbing everything that I saw was quite a unique experience for me.  Just imagine,   surrounding  me were paintings by some of the greatest painters  in the world… Michaelangelo, Boticelli,  Roselli, among others.  The feeling was simply indescribable. Well, I guess it  was just me.  You know, I saw this Asian tourist ( pardon me, I’m Asian too ) having her photo taken in front of  Michaelangelo’s Pieta. She had a wide smile on her face, standing at an angle that was typical, and making a V – sign. O_O  I thought that V-sign was  an  inappropriate and  disrespectful gesture to make in a church, and in front of one of the greatest masterpieces of all time.  Darn, lady, this is not an amusement park.

About The Sistine Chapel……………..

The Chapel was originally built as a private chapel of  Pope Sixtus lV. He was also the one that commissioned Botticelli, Perugeni, et al, to do the wall frescoes that depicted the lives of Moses and Jesus. He died, and was succeeded by Pope Julius lV who urged Michaelangelo to do the ceiling. It was said that another painter recommended Michaengelo to Pope Juluis. The truth was, this painter was a relative of Raphael, who at that time was M’s arch rival and enemy. He knew that M was not a painter, and if, by chance, he accepted Pope Juluis’ job offer, he   wished M would fail, and he and his cousin Raphael could then  happily gloat over M’s failure. As expected, Michaelangelo resisted at first, but the Pope insisted and in fact dangled several  future  sculpturing  commissions as a kind of bribe.  Thanks to that painter’s malicious suggestion, the world got one of the greatest materpiece art of all time.  Michaelangelo was of course worried his work wouldn’t be that good. So what he did was to start painting on the ceiling closest to the main entrance. His rationale was , that area would be amateurish,  because  he knew his foray into  painting wouldn’t be that good at first, so to cover that up, he first  started painting on the  ceiling above the main entrance.  He figured that people entering the chapel would look first at the paintings in front, and  not above their heads where they would  have to crane their necks or tilt their heads  uncomfortably.  The last painting he did was on the wall behind the altar, The Last Judgement, which he thought was the best, and the first that people would see as they entered the chapel.

.Jesus is in the middle of the painting, and check out the man seated on a rock that is directly underneath Jesus’ image, the one on the right, and holding a soul that he’s about to drop into hell.  On my previous post, I wrote that Michaelangelo admired the Belevedere torso . That man’s image above is almost an imitation of the Belvedere torso.

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.Michaelangelo painted almost all of  the images nude.  Some Cardinals complained to the Pope… said it was immoral and   appropriate to be placed only in taverns and bath houses , and not in  such a sacred place. The Pope ignored their complaints. But later, when   Michaelangelo died, the private parts of the nude figures were painted over with some cloth. Check out  the photo above, and the main painting.  During the restoration process though, the restorers were charged to remove the paint -overs without damaging the original painting. So, what people see now are  nude human figures as originally painted.  The covers have been washed away. Too bad I couldn’t find any of the restored image.

* I suddenly have a vision of myself holding a pointer and  giving a lecture to a nearly empty hall *

* taps table with  pointer ” The picture below shows The Creation of Adam, one of the two most famous paintings in the world, rivaled only by Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

.It depicts God giving life to Adam, the life force of which emanates from his fingers. It contradicts the Biblical narrative of God breathing life into Adam. Michaengelo of course got away with so many things. In fact, he was commissioned to paint only 12 figures, those of the 12 apostles. M was appaled there would be such a lot of empty space on the ceiling, so the Pope gave him carte blanche on what he wanted to do. M decided to paint Biblical scenes since most of Jesus ‘ life had already been painted on the walls. He ended up painting 300 human figures.

Actually, the chapel is really small. It’s the Pope’s private chapel, where he meditates and prays in private, I guess. But nowadays, it’s the place where Cardinals gather to elect a new Pope., and where tourists can gawk and marvel at the paintings.

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.It’;s kind of dark in there, to be honest. But they’re just trying to protect the paintings from harsh light.

Well, I guess this is it . I’d like to inform you that I need a part C of  The Vatican and Rome. There are just so many things I  want to show and tell you.  Please pardon me . I need to show you St, Peter’s Basilica, and  Rome, so bear with me, okay. If you’re bored, it’;s okay, but I have to post my stuff here.

Good day to all, and PAX !

My European Trip 7 Rome, Italy & The Vatican

Heus  ! Here I am again, Renxkyoko Iglesias !

I’m  on the 7th post of my European trip.  I’m now in the great city of Rome and The Vatican.  But first, an introduction to The Vatican.  Very few of us know that The Vatican is a country that issues its own passports, is also  a city-state  ( like Singapore) and is considered the smallest country in the world, with a population of 1,000 ( about 100 of whom are Swiss   Guards ) that are mostly members of the Catholic clergy and a few non-clergy staff.  It is a walled city within the city of Rome, with a zero birthrate ( not surprising,  what with majority of the population practicing celibacy ), and area just 80 hectares. ( 198 acres)

My  photos of Rome and The Vatican   consist mostly of  art objects and religious statues.  The Vatican Museum is a treasure trove of ancient art, what we call the Antiquities. ( statues and paintings ). They are simply amazing . You know, when I saw Michaelangelo’s PIETA, my heart stopped for a second, literally. I mean, it  just…….. ” took my breath away. ”    Pardon me for  being melodramatic but  I really felt that way..

.There we are queieng to enter the Vatican Museum.

.There’s our Italian tour guide, the one who said I had a Roman nose.  Ha ha ha ! Look, she’s speaking to a recorder. Everyone was given this thing  that we hook ed around our ear so we could hear her even from  a distance and most importantly, if we got lost. That came in handy because I actually got lost at Versailles in France.

.That’s the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. That dome was designed by Michaelangelo.   I’m wearing a long-sleeved shirt and pants.  Anyone wearing a sleeveless shirt or a dress that shows the knees is banned from entering a Catholic Church in Italy …. oh,  and in Spain too. No shorts. They have a very strict dress code.

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.That golden globe looks so out of place. I have no idea why it’s there and what’s it for. I was so  busy taking photos of the area, I didn’t listen to the guide’s lecture.

. It looks like something that has been left behind by  aliens. Actually, the globe is called Sfera con Sfera. ( A Sphere within a sphere )

The Pope is the head of  The Vatican and of more than 1 billion Catholics,  myself included.  Furthermore,  he is considered the Vicar of Christ,  the human messenger of God here on earth, and therefore , whatever comes out of his mouth cannot be disputed. In other words,  he is infallible…….  So, as a Catholic, do I believe in the Pope’s infallibility ?  I’m not sure. Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m a practicing Catholic.  I go to Mass every Sunday, without fail,  listen to the priest’s sermon attentively, even go to church on holidays of obligation,  but I think believing in the Pope’s infallibility is kind of a stretch. Okay, I digress.

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.Mom should have let the lady behind pass before she took the picture.  That’s  a beautiful photo, don’t you think so ?

Do you know how it feels walking down this great hallway ?  And that is just the hallway leading to the Museum proper.  * speechless*  * jaw drop *  * totally overwhelmed *

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I’m not an expert on male bodies but I think these Roman men really look buffed and fit. Well, a bit on the effeminate side, but   spectacular, nonetheless.    Oh, and the men must have spent a lot of time curling their hair.

.Do you notice the guys always have some cloth  draped on  their shoulder, but they’re naked down there ?   * sweat*  What’s up with that ?  I’m not being perverted here , I just find  fashion in their time awkward.  O_Oa  I mean, did they walk around town dressed like that ?  ” Good morning, Octavius. * looks down * Oooops, you’re quite perky today, I see “  Oh, well, I guess it didn’t matter if everyone was dressed  that way. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.   To this day, there are, in fact,  places where women are topless and men wear a loincloth that’s  just enough to cover their privates.

From the hallway , then upstairs to the museum proper.  Hey, that’s my Mom, the one wearing a hat. .

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.Jaw- dropping  art.  For such a small country, The Vatican packs a punch.  If you can visit just one country, go to The Vatican ( and of course Italy. The Roman ruins are just in the neighborhood. ) To us Roman Catholics, this is a religious pilgrimage.

Everything in the country is spectacularly rich. ( But I highly doubt Jesus would  approve.  Well, we all know what Jesus thought of the rich and powerful……… and the Romans, . Are you listening, Mitt Romney ?  )  Anyways, the photo above is the courtyard inside the Vatican Museum.

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.Perfect  human specimen !

I guess the statues we see  lining the hallway  are the minions, and the guy above is a VIP, a member of the elite,  with his own niche.  As far as quality of the sculptures is concerned, I don’t see any difference. So, how come those guys at the hallway don’t have their own niches?  Elitism rearing it’s ugly head again. …………..

Oh, wait! The guy above is Apollo . Okay, he is the sun god, god of beauty,  also the god of music , intellectual pursuits, etc.  and archery.  That sculpture is supposed to show him shooting an arrow, but bow and arrow are gone.  Oh, well, I guess it can’t be helped. He’s a god, after all and the son of Zeus, to boot.  He deserves a niche.

The photo above is that of Venus Felix, and her son Cupid.  What can I say ?  Every female wants to be a   Venus, the  goddess of beauty, and Cupid,  he;s my man of the moment …… shoot that arrow straight into my heart, Cupid !

.That one is that of Laocoon and His Sons. Laocoon is the Trojan who uttered the famous words, ” Beware of Greeks bearing gifts, ” referring to the wooden horse given as gift to the Trojans. I assume you know the story  ILIAD ?  Because of that, Poseidon took revenge and sent sea serpents to kill him and his 2 sons.  The discovery of this sculpture is significant because for the first time , the faces of the sculpture show emotions. ( in this sculpture, it’s emotion of great pain ) Take note that most of the faces of the sculptures before this was discovered  do not show any emotions. The Pope back then sent Michaelangelo himself to examine the sculpture, after which, it influenced his later works. Also, check out the other sculptures. You can see that the body parts ( limbs, etc ) are smooth . Laocoon’s shows rippling muscles that depict his struggles againts the serpents. There are lots of movements in this  sculpture that are absent in others.

Another significant thing about Laocoon is that its discovery  and acquisition by the Vatican started the creation of  The Vatican Museum.  From then on,  The Vatican had acquired almost all of the art objects that could be found in Italy and from all over the world, more specifically from Greece.  Most of the Greek objects were found in Italy though.  Well,  the Romans conquered most of Europe , and the Middle east. To the victors belong the spoils.  ( although I didn’t see anything from Asia, but who knows? Maybe they have a Room of Requirement, a place where they stash all the stuff they have deemed  not important enough to be displayed at the museum. Sorry, I made this up., he he he )

.That is Meleager, a figure in Greek mythology. He is  a boar hunter.  I don’t know his importance in Greek mytholgy , but he must be, because he has a niche in the Museum.

By the way, do you notice the  leaf that covers the private part of some of the sculptures in the Museum ?……… A Pope back then thought it inappropriate to have nude sculptures at the Vatican so he had some of the private parts covered with a  leaf.  That’s unfortunate. That pesky leaf distracts me from fully appreciating the human body.

,Above is Apoxyomenos. He’s some guy  that represents a Greek athlete. His stance is always as if he’s dusting dirt off his arms.

.A bas relief

.The Vatican Museum is not one big space that  houses all these antiquities. It  actually  consists of numerous rooms , and each room has a theme, like the room House of Pompey that houses sculptures of Greek mythological gods. The one above contains mostly  sculptures of animals.

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.Can you imagine how it feels to be underneath that  magnificent dome , and looking up to see those breathtakingly beautiful frescoes?  To be honest, I’ve run out of adjectives to describe them.

.Check out the frescoes on the dome.  Believe  it or not, they are one dimensional paintings, totally flat, but they look 3 dimensional, don’t they? This kind of painting is repeated all throughout.  And I’m not sure, but this room is the Room of Pompey or The Round Room,  or Sala Rotonda ( sala means living room ) that houses sculptures of Greek gods.   There’s a huge  basin in the middle of the room and an ancient mosaic on the floor.  It felt weird when I was there, because , I swear, this room looks exactly like the ones   on one of my most favorite video games… God of War, 1,2,3 ! Standing there, I felt I was Kratos, and had a sudden urge to  smash the sculptures to get a life force, or move the sculptures around to solve a puzzle. It’s not surprising  though because this is the replica of  the Greek Pantheon.

Guess who !      HERCULES ! I’m glad that he’s not depicted as one with huge muscles, which, to be honest, I find gross.  His body is perfect. And that one is not made of marble. It’s bronze.

.That’s Queen Helena’s sarcophagus ( stone coffin ). St. Helena was the mother of  Constantine. The one below is the sarcophagus of Constantina, the daughter of  Constantine. Both are housed in the Greek-east Room, and in the middle is a 3rd century mosaic floor.

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So far, I’ve only shown photos of The Vatican and none of Rome.  Actually, what I’ve posted here  are  only  1/10 of all the photos I’ve taken of The Vatican.  The Vatican has an immense collection of the Antiquities, one of the world’s greatest museums in the world.  The building where this massive collections are housed can even stand alone as one huge art object, every square inch of it.  I wish I could share all the photos  I had managed to take despite the limited time we were allowed to  see this magnificent place,  although  I’m aware not all share my enthusiasm and passion for the antiquities.   I only hope you won;t be bored to tears, because I’m going to show more  from hereon.  Oh, I wanna use ” Doubling down “, famous 2 words in US politics nowadays.  So, yeah, I’m doubling down.

.That is the Belvedere Torso, the only sculpture that had been signed by the sculptor himself.  ” Appolonius, son of  Nestor “.  He was a Greek sculptor from Athens.

.As you can see, this fragment of a nude male is displayed prominently in the middle of the Room of the Muses.  The Pope  back then wanted Michaelangelo to add limbs to the torso, but M declined several times, and said the torso was perfect. M, in fact, loved it so much that it became his inspiration for his male figures when he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. You know, when I saw those etched Greek letters, I was like, ” Oh, my , is that a signature? ” and took a picture of it . I was right. That was important.

.I imagine Kratos walking those stairs  and smashing the urn. And about the stairs below…. We climbed up and down these stairs but I didn’t realize it was  this beautiful seen from the top.

.By the way, before I forget, the tour of the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel  was an Optional Tour and cost $ 65 each per person.

And I think  I have to stop here. At this point, this post ‘s word count is now 2014 words, and  contains 60 photos.  I have to admit that;s too much for anyone to digest.  So, I say,  Valete, Pax,  and see you soon !

I wish my brother was at home. He can write an essay in Latin.