Architecture

The Colosseum

Only the second day in Rome and it felt like we’d done so much already. Today we’re off to the Colosseum, a huge oval amphitheatre in the centre of the city. Emperor Vespasian started the massive feat in 72 AD, but it was Titus who completed the job in 80 AD with Domitian making modifications around 81-96 AD. Although modified, it’s still the largest amphitheatre ever to have been built.

Things to do in Rome
The Colosseum

In its heyday, from classical times right up to the 6th century, the Colosseum saw between 50,000-80,000 spectators come to cheer on spectacular shows such as sea battles and reenactments of dramas, and the slightly more gruesome gladiator contests, animal hunts, and executions.

 

Things to do in Rome
The Colosseum

Since then, the structure has been destroyed by earthquakes, and robbers have helped themselves to the stone, but it’s still the one thing that most people think about when they think about Rome. Throughout the ages the Colosseum has been used in a variety of ways from housing and workshops to a cemetery and castle, but these days it’s one of the most visited attractions in the city.

Things to do in Rome
The Colosseum

One interesting thing I learned, post visit, is that the Colosseum is the symbol of the international campaign against capital punishment. In the evening, the illuminated amphitheatre changes from white to gold whenever someone’s sentence is commuted or a city abolishes the death penalty anywhere in the world.

Things to do in Rome
The Colosseum
Things to do in Rome
The Colosseum

There are three stories with tiered seating, the higher seats were for the poorest of people while the emperors and elite class would have ring-side seats, at the north and south ends, for the best views over the arena. Underneath the arena is the hypogeum, which means underground, and that’s where the slaves and animals were kept.

As we did with the Vatican City, we’d bought tickets in advance, but when we arrived we were instantly accosted by ticket touts. I think five separate people asked us if we wanted tickets before we even got to the entrance. One guy told us that our tickets wouldn’t allow us to access the arena, which was probably true, but as we had already upgraded tickets the day before, my dad resoundingly replied “We’ll take our chances mate!”

The way in was much more relaxed than the Vatican and, after I’d picked up my audio guide, we were greeted by another amazing sight in front of us. The audio guide was useful and there were designated points where you can stop and listen, and the audio tells you what you’re looking at. But, I kept getting them mixed up, so I’d be at point five listening to point six. It didn’t appear to be on silent either, so when I played it, even with headphones, everyone else could hear it. Technology and I are sometimes not a good mix, so I gave up. In any case, I was so busy trying to work the damn thing, I forgot to look around!

Things to do in Rome
The Colosseum

We walked around the lower and upper levels looking at the ruins, trying to imagine what life would have been like back then. Where the upper classes would have sat, the roar of the crowd, the massacres of men and animals. We only have TV series and movies to give us an idea of how things were, but I imagine the atmosphere would have been electric, albeit the events slightly distasteful.

Things to do in Rome
The Colosseum
Things to do in Rome
The Colosseum

We didn’t spend as long here as we’d done at the Vatican, so once we had gone to the gift shop to buy a book and some postcards, and looked at the views of the Forum and the Arch of Constantine, we left and walked a short distance to have coffee and cake. On the way, we came across a beggar who appeared to have no legs. However, as we walked passed him and looked back, we noticed he was kneeling on the step with his feet resting on the ground behind. Our initial pity turned to amusement at his duplicitous attempt to trick people into feeling sorry for him and parting with their money! I wonder how much money he actually received! He was in such an uncomfortable position he would have been aching all over by the end of the day.

Things to do in Rome
Views of the Forum and the Arch of Constantine

Afterwards, I parted company with my mum and dad and wandered over to the Roman Forum. My parents had already been to the forum, so we planned to meet two hours later at the Vittorio Emanuele II monument, also known as the wedding cake because of its two-tiers, white marble, and its quadrigae on top. It’s not the most appealing building, but it can be seen towering above the rooftops from almost anywhere.

Things to do in Rome
Vittorio Emanuele II Monument aka The Wedding Cake

Tip: There are Roman soldiers around the Colosseum (and other attractions across the city) who are friendly enough when they ask if you want to have a photograph taken with them. That’s fine as long as you don’t mind paying for the privilege, something they fail to mention up front.

Things to do in Rome
The Colosseum

Next up; The Roman Forum

 

 

Piazza Navona

We found ourselves in Piazza Navona, a lovely little square full of life with street artists, selling their paintings, imposing churches and palaces, and inviting cafes and restaurants all around. It didn’t take us long to choose a restaurant with a ring-side view of everything that was going on.

Things to do in Rome
Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona is an oval-shaped square which was once the site of the Stadium of Domitian, a popular venue where games and competitions were held in the 1st century AD.

Things to do in Rome
Piazza Navona
Things to do in Rome
Piazza Navona

The Italian architects loved a good fountain, and in the middle and at either end of Piazza Navona, there are three. The one in the middle is my favourite, just because it’s so elaborate and there’s always a good story behind it. It’s the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The four rivers are the Nile, the Ganges, the Danube, and the Rio de la Plata.

Things to do in Rome
Fountain of the Four Rivers
Things to do in Rome
Fountain of the Four Rivers

If you look at the statue of the Rio de la Plata, it appears that he is shielding this eyes from something. The story goes that he can’t bear to look at the church of St Agnese, built by Francesco Borromini, for fear that it will come tumbling down on him. Borromini was a rival of Bernini’s, but rivalry aside, Bernini built this fountain way before the church, so make what you will of the legend. The fountain is topped off with a towering Egyptian obelisk. There is a lot more to this fountain, lots of smaller sculptures and figurines, and if you look on the internet it’s fascinating the way Bernini (and others) told stories through their work. When I go anywhere I usually have my guidebook to hand, to give me information about what I’m looking at, but I enjoyed just being in the here and now with my parents.

Things to do in Rome
Rio de la Plata
Things to do in Rome
Church of St Agnese

At either end of the piazza is the Fontana del Moro (Moor Fountain) and Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune) both by Giancomo della Porta. 

Things to do in Rome
Fountain of Neptune
Things to do in Rome
Moor Fountain: Photo Credit: Commons Wikimedia

We ordered a selection of meats, cheese, olives and bread, all washed down by a glass of wine or two. It was just perfect sitting there watching the world go by, in the shadows of the grandiose Baroque architecture. Such a small place but big on atmosphere and architectural creations.

Things to do in Rome
Piazza Navona
Things to do in Rome
Piazza Navona

After our delicious lunch, we took a slow walk through the square to find a taxi, only to be approached by a man selling handmade wooden fruit bowls. He complimented my dad, saying how lucky he was to have two beautiful women on his arms, we laughed along as my dad put him right by saying yes, this is my wife and my daughter! Unperturbed, he proceeded to shake hands with us and in our palms he deposited a bracelet, how nice! But, realising that he wasn’t going to get a sale from us, snatched the bracelets back and walked off to find his next victim. Honestly, his attitude changed very quickly from being all smiles and friendly banter, to surly and almost aggressive. I can imagine how he must have felt with people constantly saying no! I’ve been in sales before, so I know how he feels 🙂 but I was always gracious.

We made it back to our digs, had our first evening out (this was still only our first day in Rome) and an early night because we were up early again for our visit to the Colosseum.

 

One Of My Obsessions

I haven’t been out with my camera much recently, I haven’t felt that motivated, but, thankfully, I am over that lack of motivation and the last two weeks, I have been clicking merrily away, but more of what I’ve been getting up to will follow shortly. In the meantime, I was just sifting through my photos when I came across some photographs of my favourite building in Bangkok; MahaNakhon Tower. I love all kinds of architecture and over a period of 2 years I took loads of photos of the different stages of its construction.

These were taken in October 2015, it’s almost finished, but not quite. I love the pixelated effect.

This was 2016. If you’re ever in Silom or Sathorn, you can’t help but notice Bangkok’s tallest building looming up towards the sky.

MahaNakhon was completed late 2016, but, even now, I just can’t help myself taking photos of it, or pointing it out to whoever I’m with if I’m in the area. I love the bold structure against the blue of the sky and I love the way the clouds are reflected in the windows of the tower.

As a photographer, I love looking for interesting shapes, angles, and colours. It’s amazing what you can see when you train your eye to find things.

And there is just plain crazy!

Architecture in Bangkok

And to add to my little obsession, MahaNakhon are in the process of building an observatory which should be completed sometime this year. They say, “Unique architecture. Unrivalled experience. Offering dramatic 360 degree panoramic views across the city, the visitor observatory will open daily, providing soaring double height indoor spaces and a rooftop viewing platform from the highest point in Bangkok. Stand on the sky, with MahaNakhon’s skytray, a cantilevered glass balcony extending outside the building, enabling each guest to walk on air.”

And there’s gonna be a roof top bar!  Drink anyone?

What are your obsessions?

For more photography of this unique building, check out my previous posts! 🙂

A Rising Story

A Rising Story- Part 2

A Rising Story- Part 3

A Rising Story-Risen

Photo Walks Around the City; June 2017

Two of my favourite things; walking and photography.

Sathorn Neua Road (2/6/2017)

Walks Around Bangkok

Charoenkrung Road (2/6/2017)

Silom Road (2/6/2017)

Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra Road (2/6/2017)

Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra Soi 7 Alley (2/6/2017)

Sathorn Tai Road (2/6/2017)

Charoenkrung Road (23/6/2017)

Yaowarat Road (23/6/2017)

On The Trail of Bangkok’s European Heritage

How much do you really know about Bangkok? Did you know that from as far back as the 16th century Bangkok has had European connections?

Neither did I, until, one day, while I was researching about castles in Thailand for my blog, I stumbled across a map which gave information about European heritage in the city. I delved a little further and found there were over 60 locations around Bangkok that all have European ties. Palaces, bridges, galleries, museums, and people all have a very interesting history.

With this new found information, I decided to start my own little project. I put on my hiking boots, packed my camera and notebook, and went in search of these places.

This research has taken me over a year to complete. I have walked the many streets of Bangkok, sometimes retracing my steps to get the photographs I needed. Finding the places and taking photographs was, relatively, easy, but since then I have been compiling my research, designing, and self-publishing my first book:

On The Trail Of Bangkok's European Heritage
On The Trail Of Bangkok’s European Heritage

A not so easy task, but one that has been extremely satisfying. It has given me the opportunity to, not only, explore Bangkok, so I now know the city probably more than many locals do, but I have also learned a part of history that I never knew existed.

I love exploring Bangkok; there is so much to do and see, and the idea behind my book is to allow you to follow in my footsteps, discover these places for yourself, and learn about Bangkok’s connections with Europe. It will be a useful guide to have in your pocket.

I have really enjoyed the process of creating my book; from the initial research, getting out and about in the city, and finally being published.

My book is intended for those who love to learn and like doing something a little different.

I hope that you enjoy it.

PressRelease

On The Trail of Bangkok’s European Heritage is available on Amazon.co.uk; Amazon.com; Amazon.de; Amazon.fr; Amazon.it; Amazon.es