Voucher #1: THE VATICAN MUSEUMS
The Vatican Museums are the largest, richest, most compelling and perhaps most comprehensive museum complex in the world. Many treasures of the city's history are here, from both classical and later times, and many of the Renaissance's finest artists were in the employ of the Pope.
The Vatican Palace holds a collection of museums on very diverse subjects: displays of classical statuary, Renaissance painting, Etruscan relics, Egyptian artifacts, not to mention the furnishings and decoration of the palace itself.
The Vatican Museums are the Egyptian Museum, the Chiaramonti Museum, the Museum of Popes Clement XiV and Pius Vi, Gregorian Museum of Etruscan Art, Antiquarium Romanum, the Vase Collection, the Biga Room, the Gallery of the Candelabra, Gallery of the Tapestries, Gallery of the Maps, the Apartment of St.Pius V, the Sobieski Room, the Room of the Immaculate Conception, Raphael's Rooms and Loggias, the Collection of Modern Religious Art, the Sistine Chapel, the Apostolic Library, the Vatican Picture Gallery, the Gregorian Museum of Profane Art, the Christian Museum, the Missionary Museum of Ethnology, and the Carriage Pavilion.
Justly known as one of the most famous places in the world, the Sistine Chapel is the site where the conclave for the election of the popes and other solemn pontifical ceremonies are held. The ceiling as well as the wall above the altar bear the magnificent frescoes by Michelangelo. Pope Julius II commissioned the Florentine master sculptor and painter to decorate the ceiling between 1508 and 1512. Much later, from 1537 to 1541, Michelangelo was again called to create The Last Judgement on the wall above the altar, a fresco which would change the course of Western art.
Built according to the architectural design of Baccio Pontelli by Giovannino de Dolci between 1475 and 1481, the chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV, who commissioned it. A large rectangular room with a barrel-vaulted ceiling, it is divided into two unequal parts by a marble screen. The screen and the transenna were built by Mino da Fiesole and other artists.
Voucher #2: THE COLOSSEUM, THE ROMAN FORUM, THE PALATINE MUSEUM
The Colosseum is probably the most famous monument in the world. With its height of 48 meters (157 feet), the colossal elliptical structure has fascinated humans throughout history.
Construction of the Colosseum was begun under Vespasian as a symbol of the grandeur of the Roman Empire. It was inaugurated by Emperor Titus in the year 80 AD.
The popular name of "Colosseum" is due to a statue ("colosso") of Nero once situated next to the arena. The original name of this ancient Roman sports arena, the largest arena of its kind, is the Amphitheatrum Flavium.
The exterior borrows elements from Greek architecture. Every arch is framed by columns. From the bottom to the top, the columns are Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. The attic is decorated with Corinthian pilasters. Here, small windows once alternated with bronze plaques. Marble and metal were taken from the facade and interior of the Colosseum for use in later buildings.
The design of the Colosseum is a triumph of functional planning. The Colosseum consisted of four floors. It stood 160 feet high with four stories of windows, arches, and columns. It could easily accommodate as many as 50,000 spectators who entered through the 76 gates on the ground level. Two of the entrances were used by Emperor Titus and two for the gladiators. Barrel-vaulted corridors gave access to tiers of seats. The spectators were seated by rank with the topmost seats reserved for women and children.
The basement level, now exposed, was covered with a wooden floor strewn with fine sea sand. The level underneath contained elaborate corridors, service rooms, elevators, gladiatorial barracks, and rooms for wild beasts. During the first ten years of its existence, the stadium was filled with water and used for mock naval battles called Naumachie.
Most shows lasted all day beginning with comedy contests and exotic animal shows in the morning and professional gladiator events in the afternoon.
The Palatine Hill is located between the Roman Forum, the Velabrum and the Circus Maximus. It is one of the seven hills of Rome, and probably the site of the first settlements of the city. The western side of the Palatine Hill is where Roman mythology places the site of the dwelling of Romulus, as well as the cave where Romulus and Remus were raised by the she-wolf.
The Palatine Museum is located on the Palatine Hill, on top of what was once the palace of Domitian. The former Convento della Visitazione was built here in 1868. The museum was set up around 1930 by Alfonso Bartoli. In the beginning, only the first floor was used to exhibit the most important material, including findings from Diocletian's Baths. After WWII, items of greatest artistic importance were relocated to the Museo Nazionale Romano, while the Palatine Museum was dedicated to exhibiting items relating to the topography of the Palatine Hill and its monuments.
The museum was reorganized at the end of the 1960's. After a long closure period and recovery of Diocletian's sculptures, the Palatine Museum reopened to the public showing the artistic culture of the Domus from Augustus to late imperial times.
The Palatine Museum is entirely devoted to ceramics, frescoes, mosaics, inscriptions, sculptures and portrait heads actually found on the hill. Given the lasting importance of this relatively small area of the city, the museum's mere nine rooms offer a remarkably rich and comprehensive tour through ancient Roman history and art.