April 26, 2005 - Mediterranean Trip - Day 13

(Rome - the morning)

Background: Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope (Benedict XVI) when we were in Cairo. The sistine was closed for 3 days after the election. Then there was a good weekend to flush the crowds out. This was the following Tuesday morning...
We wake up and get to St. Peter's Square first thing. We get there more than :45 before it opened, but we found that the line was around the block (about 300 yards). We decided to come back the next day.

While we were here, though, we decided to see St. Peter's Basilica.
Swiss Guard standing post.

Inside St. Peter's Basilica, which reminds me of a 17-by-23 1/2 foot painting I remember from Athens...

For fans of Angels and Demons, this is the entrance to the catacombs... 99 oil lamps light the way.

The roof of St. Peter's dome.

Carey poses by two of the cherubs.

We head down below St. Peter's to see the tomb of the recently-enterned Pope John Paul II.

This is Pope John Paul I. Evidently the grandeur of the tomb is not proportional to the longevity of the reign.

Through glass, we view the final resting place of the bones of the crucified St. Peter.

The only exit from the catacombs leads you out of St. Peter's altogether. We pass some more clowns... I mean, "guards" on our way back in to climb the dome.

We climb a couple of hundred stairs on a very narrow one-way staircase to view the interior of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica.
Look at the top, center of the picture. The center black rectangle is a full-size door (if not larger) - to give you a frame of reference. Now, look at the little charubs and faces to the side. Those are mosaics...

A "close-up" of one of the mosaics. Actually, it was taken from as far away as I could get - about six feet.

We emerge on a roof on top of St. Peter's. This is a view of the main dome. We're about to climb to the top of that.

That's another few hundred steps. But THESE are not normal steps...

These are very narrow steps. The walls are at a diagonal. The picture was at an angle since there was no room for me to stand up straight. You can see how everyone is holding themselves up...

Then we take a series of spiral staircases that have a friggin' rope for a rail. (There was no room for a rail.)

Totally worth it. I have a hundred shots from up here... This is obviously St. Peter's Square.
Check out all the chairs - and the pathways between these chairs. They're still there tomorrow, but the pathways have been altered for a 'higher purpose...'

The Sistine Chapel and its courtyards...

Back down from the ling trek, we stop for a photo-op.

Close-up of the columned 'walls' of the circular square.

Off to Colisseo.

Jill poses on the ground floor of the Coliseum.

A view from the upper deck.

The Forum, from Coliseum.

A view from Coliseum of the neary arch.

Other buildings of Rome on the other side of the Forum from the Coliseum.

Walking to the Forum, we stop for one last picture of the Coliseum.

Arch #2...


Finally in the Forum.

It is like a graveyard of ruins and antiques.

Where the vestal virgins lived. I love the Wisteria!

Same place... Evidently, Bill and I found this quite intriguing.

Arch #3! They're everywhere!

Columns. Seriously, ruins all over!

We depart the Forum for the Pantheon...

Next - the rest of the day in Rome (Capuchin Crypt, Spanish Steps, Rome at night...)