Sunday, January 31, 2010
Sant Andrea al Quirinale is located high on the Quirinal Hill, on the Via del Quirinale, on a rectangular site with its long side facing the major avenue. Now major avenue in Rome means two lanes and sidewalks, mind you. It is the masterpiece of church design of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who attended the church, claiming it was his only perfect work. The genius of his design is his creation of an optical illusion of a normally proportioned church sitting in what is in reality an awkward location.The interior is stunning, and greeting the visitor straight ahead is a miraculous vision of the apostle Andrew being borne into Heaven in a blaze of stuccoed glory.Above, you can see his martyrdom in paint, where the apostle continued to preach on an X-shaped cross even after being pardoned by the Roman governor. Below is a close-up of the stuccoed figure of St. Andrew.Below is the hidden window that Bernini used to light the altar; he always hid his light source to give the impression that Heavenly rays were falling on the miraculous vision.I don't like the advertisements, but this website has great drawings of the interior, which is difficult to capture on a camera.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
The Arch of Titus is one of the most famous of the many triumphal arches that still grace the city of Rome, but ironically, it originally was one of the smallest of the fifty or so of its type. The Arch of Titus was not built by the Emperor Titus, but rather by his successor and brother Domitian. It commemorates the defeat of the Great Jewish Revolt around 70 AD with the capture of Jerusalem (the fortress of Masada held on for another couple of years).What is fascinating are the two high relief sculpture panels on the interior of the arch. Below, we the Emperor Titus driving his chariot through the streets of Rome during his triumphal parade after his victory in Judea. According to Roman tradition, legionnaires and their commanders were allowed in the city only if the Senate allowed them to celebrate a great victory. The war booty and prisoners would be marched along with the legions, and the victorious general would sacrifice to the gods on the Capitoline while the defeated leaders of the revolt would be executed in the prison nearby.In this panel, legionnaires carry the Ark of the Covenant and a candelabra from the Great Temple of Jerusalem. There is an urban legend that the Vatican still possesses the last relic of the Great Temple, but that is preposterous. The candelabra in question has not been seen for centuries.The arch was turned into the gate of a family's compound after the fall of the Roman Empire, thus accounting for the damage to the interior of the arch. Imagine a giant door attached in the opening, and you can see how it would have been damaged. Much of the nice, clean marble is actually restoration.