Temple of Minerva, Assisi, Italy


Assisi – Tempio di Minerva
Published: L. Vignati, c.1910

The Temple of Minerva is an ancient Roman building in Assisi, Umbria, central Italy. It currently houses a church, Santa Maria sopra Minerva, built in 1539 and renovated in Baroque style in the 17th century. The temple was built in the 1st century BC[1] by will of Gnaeus Caesius and Titus Caesius Priscus, who were two of the city’s quattuorviri and also financed the construction. The attribution to the goddess Minerva derives from the finding of a female statue, although a dedication stone to Hercules has been found, and the temple was likely dedicated to this male demi-god. In the Middle Ages the temple housed a tribunal with an annexed jail, as testified by one of Giotto’s frescoes in the St. Francis Basilica, which portrays the church windows with bars.

Of the ancient temple, the façade has been preserved, with six Corinthian columns supporting the architrave and a small pediment. The columns were originally covered by a very strong plaster, which was perhaps colored. The cella was completely demolished during the church’s construction, in the 16th century, while a small section of the temple was found in the 20th century near the altar.
Wikipedia.

The Temple of Minerva was built in the 1st century BC by the quatorvirates Gneus Cesius and Titus Cesius Priscus at their own expense. In Roman times, the piazza in front of the temple was the main city center, and some early Christian martyrs were likely executed here. By the late 4th and 5th centuries, paganism was basically outlawed and the Temple of Minerva was abandoned. Fortunately, however, it was not destroyed. Sometime in the late sixth century, Benedictine monks restored the temple and made use of it. The divided the interior into two floors, creating living rooms in the upper part and the church of San Donato in the lower part.

In the 13th century, the monks leased the temple to the newly-formed Comune of Assisi, which made the temple its headquarters from 1215 to 1270. The Temple of Minerva/San Donato was used as the municipal jail until the 15th century. In 1456, the temple returned to sacred use and the church of San Donato was reopened. In the meantime, the Italian Renaissance inspired a newfound appreciation for classical art and architecture. In the years 1527-1530, the magistrates of Assisi ordered restoration projects to be undertaken. Then, in 1539, Pope Paolo III, making a visit to Assisi, ordered the Temple of Minerva to be completely restored and dedicated to the Virgin Mary, queen of true wisdom. The temple then took the name of Santa Maria sopra Minerva (St. Mary over Minerva).
Sacred Destinations.

From the year 295 BC, Assisi became part of the comune of Rome, the latter having been victorious over the Italian confederacy. In the year 88 BC, the city became a “Municipium romanum” (Roman municipality), with all the rights and regulations afforded to Rome. During the reign of the emperor Augustus, the city of Assisi was transformed into a well organized residential and turistic centre (during the years 28-25 BC). The grand Forum (a rectangle measuring 44 x 88 meters inside) was constructed; various temples were built, the city walls were completed, the baths and the (healing) springs of mineral waters were opened, and the theatre was constructed alongside the amphitheatre. Among the many monuments constructed was the Temple of Minerva, which at that time dominated the Forum complex and even today, still dominates the “Piazza del Comune”, the heart of Assisi and a wonderful example of medieval architecture.
Franciscanum.it

Pantheon, Rome


ROMA – Pantheon

No date or publisher information, c.1910

Street view

Unofficial website
Webcam (Piazza della Rotonda)
Media Centre for Art History: panoramas & photos of details

The Pantheon, from Greek Πάνθειον Pantheion, “[temple] of all the gods”) is a former Roman temple, now a church, in Rome, Italy, on the site of an earlier temple commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD). It was completed by the emperor Hadrian and probably dedicated about 126 AD. Its date of construction is uncertain, because Hadrian chose not to inscribe the new temple but rather to retain the inscription of Agrippa’s older temple, which had burned down. The building is cylindrical with a portico of large granite Corinthian columns (eight in the first rank and two groups of four behind) under a pediment. A rectangular vestibule links the porch to the rotunda, which is under a coffered concrete dome, with a central opening (oculus) to the sky. Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon’s dome is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 43 metres (142 ft). It is one of the best-preserved of all Ancient Roman buildings, in large part because it has been in continuous use throughout its history and, since the 7th century, the Pantheon has been in use as a church dedicated to “St. Mary and the Martyrs” but informally known as “Santa Maria Rotonda”
Wikipedia.

The purpose of the building is not known for certain but the name, porch and pediment decoration suggest a temple of some sort. However, no cult is known to all of the gods and so the Pantheon may have been designed as a place where the emperor could make public appearances in a setting which reminded onlookers of his divine status, equal with the other gods of the Roman pantheon and his deified emperor predecessors. We are told, for example, by Pliny, the 1st century CE Roman author, that there were once statues of Venus (wearing a pearl once owned by Cleopatra), Mars, and Julius Caesar inside the Pantheon.
Ancient History

Arena of Nimes, France


NIMES. — Vie intérieure des Arenes. — ND
Published by  Levy & Neurdein, 1920s

Street View

The Amphitheatre of Nîmes is a perfect illustration of the degree of perfection attained by Roman engineers in designing and constructing this type of extremely complex building. It demonstrates perfect symmetry: oval-shaped, it measures 133 metres long and 101 metres wide, with an arena of 68 by 38 metres. 21 metres high, its exterior façade comprises two floors of 60 superimposed arches and an attic, separated by a cornice. At the top, pre-drilled stones were positioned to overhang so that long poles could be hung over the arena. A huge canvas canopy was then attached to these poles, thereby providing protection for the spectators against the sun and bad weather. Originally, all the arcades on the ground floor were open to act as entrances or exits. There are certainly bigger Roman amphitheatres, but this one is the best preserved of all of them.

In Roman times, the monument could hold 24,000 spectators spread over 34 rows of terraces divided into four separate areas or maeniana. Each was accessed via a gallery and hundred of stairwells and passages called vomitories. This clever arrangement meant that there was no risk of bottlenecks when the spectators flooded in. The amphitheatre was designed so that everyone had an unrestricted view of the whole arena. Several galleries were located beneath the arena, and were accessed by trap doors and a hoist-lift system. As a result, the decorative effects, animals and gladiators could access the arena during the games.
Amphitheatre Of Nîmes, Maison Carrée, Tour Magne (official website)

In the sixth century, under the Visigoths, Nimes Arena began to play a military role. Transformed from a sports arena to a castle fortress or “castrum arena” complete with a moat, Nimes Arena was a sort of emergency shelter of the people of the town in the event of attack.

Nimes Arena would go on to play an even more elaborate role in the twelfth century when it became the seat of the viscounty of Nimes and home to a chateau. In the eighteenth century, this went even further with the establishment of a whole 700-strong village within its walls. It was only in 1786 that Nimes Arena began to be restored to its original grandeur.
Trip Historic

Following the fall of the Roman Empire, the arena was transformed into a fortress by the Visigoths. Many invasions ensued and threatened the security of the people of Nîmes who decided to take refuge in the amphitheatre, which was easy to defend. In the Middle Ages, the edifice became a veritable fortified village with wells, houses, two churches and even a castle, all of which Existed up to the 18th century. The place became insalubrious and in 1786, as part of a city rehabilitation project, the destruction of the houses and restoration of the amphitheatre was decreed. The first phase of the works was interrupted during the revolutionary period to be resumed during the Second Empire. In 1813, the Prefect of the Gard authorized the first bull races and the arena was soon able to return to its original function. The first Spanish running of the bulls took place in 1863.
Avignon & Provence.com

Baalbek, Lebanon


BAALBEK (Syrie). Le Temple de Venus – La façade
Temple of Venus – the facade

On back:
Require PALMYRA HOTEL, the only first class hotel facing the ruins of Baalbek

Published: M. Harris, Baalbek.

Street View

The temple of Venus was built in the third century. It has a highly original design: built on a horseshoe-shaped platform, it consists of a circular shrine with a square entrance that is almost as big. The outer façade of the shrine is graced by five niches, which means that there is not a single square wall. In the niches are representations of doves and shells, which has been taken as evidence that the shrine was dedicated to Venus.
The square entrance probably was not one of those classical triangle-shaped pediments supported by columns. In fact, the straight horizontal line was broken by an elegant arch. This is certainly not without parallel, but the baroque ensemble suggests that the architect wanted to show off that he was the best and the brightest. He succeeded.

Livius.org

UNESCO Word Heritage listing
Rome in the Footsteps of an XVIIIth Century Traveller
The Baalbek Ruins in Lebanon (photos and write up from a tour of site)


Model of Baalbek (Photo by Franck Devedjian. from Wikipedia Commons

Plan of Temple Complex


BAALBEK (Syrie).BAALBEK (Syrie). La Grande Mosque arabe du VIIe siecle construite avec les colonnes de granit des Temples romains
The Grand Mosque of the 7th century built with the granite columns of Roman temples
On back:
Require PALMYRA HOTEL, the only first class hotel facing the ruins of Baalbek

Published: M. Harris, Baalbek.

Google Maps.

The Great Umayyad Mosque
Built in the first century after the Hegira, during the Umayyad reign, on the remains of a Byzantine church, it is the largest mosque of all Baalbek. It is 60 meters long and 50 meters wide. It contains in the middle 30 columns carried from roman temples neighboring the castle. Some of them are decorated with Corinthian capitals either of granite or of massive stones. The walls of the mosques rise for 8 meters. Its architecture is similar to the Umayyad mosque in Damascus. It includes a courtyard surrounded by porticoes and a square minaret that stands in the courtyard like a war tower. The mosque’s walls hold many inscriptions that are decrees belonging to the Mamluk age. It was left ruined for a long time during the Ottoman and the modern ages. Lately, it has been restored and rehabilitated to perform regular prayers in there.
Destination Lebanon

Interior photo

Umayayd Route, Baalbek: photos at bottom of page two (pdf)

Chedworth Roman Villa, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire


Chedworth Roman Villa, North Wing looking East

Google Maps.

Chedworth Roman Villa is a Roman villa located near Chedworth, Gloucestershire, England. It is one of the largest Roman villas in Britain. The villa was built in phases from the early 2nd century to the 4th century, with the 4th century construction transforming the building into an elite dwelling arranged around three sides of a courtyard. The 4th century building included a heated and furnished west wing containing a dining-room (triclinium) with a fine mosaic floor, as well as two separate bathing suites – one for damp-heat and one for dry-heat. The villa was discovered in 1864, and it was excavated and put on display soon afterwards.
Wikipedia

Photo. Undated.

Frigidarium, Baths of Caracalla, Rome


Stato attuale e restauro della grande sala “Frigidarium.
(Current state and restoration of the great “Frigidarium”)

On the back:
Les Thermes de Caracalla. A L’etat actuel et en restauration. De L’oeuvre recemment publiée. Par Le Chev. J. Ripostelli
La Grande Salle Avec Le Bassin Pour Les Bains. | D’eau Froide Frigidarium

(The Baths of Caracalla. At the current state and in restoration. From the newly published work* by the Chev. J. Ripostelli
The Great Room With The Basin For The Baths | Cold Water Frigidarium)
c.1910

Read moreFrigidarium, Baths of Caracalla, Rome

Public buildings & necropolis, Pompeii,


Pompei, Quartiere dei Soldati
Soldier Quarters

Behind the scene of the theatre stands a large rectangular enclosure, one hundred and eighty-three feet long and one hundred and forty-eight wide, surrounded by a Doric colonnade, having twenty-two columns on the longer sides and seventeen on the shorter. The columns are constructed of volcanic tufa, fluted two-thirds of their height, covered with stucco and painted, the lower part red, and the upper alternately red and yellow, except the two centre ones of the east and west sides, the upper parts of which are blue. The surrounding walls were also covered with stucco, painted red below, with yellow above. On the northern side there was a direct communication with both theatres, and the portico of the building must have been of great utility to the spectators, affording additional shelter from the rains when the porticos of the great theatre might have been crowded.

At the time when this building was excavated (1766 and several following years) it was supposed to be a barrack, and obtained the name of the Soldiers’ Quarters. Afterwards, however, from its situation near the Forum Triangulare, it came to be considered as a market-place, and was called the Forum Nundinarium, or weekly market. But the arguments on which this view rests are far from being convincing. That it was a sort of barrack hardly admits of a doubt, both from the nature of the place and the objects found in it ; but it may be a question whether it was intended for the soldiery or for the gladiators exhibited in the amphitheatre. That a town like Pompeii must have had accommodation for its garrison is evident enough, and the building in question seems excellently adapted for such a purpose. The arms found in it, however, were exclusively of the kind used by gladiators ; not a single soldier’s weapon was discovered, while the paintings and graffiti had also reference to gladiatorial combats. Among these graffiti, traced with a hard point on the surface of the ninth column of the east side, was the representation of a fighting gladiator, with these letters, XX Valerius. It has been detached from the wall and carried to the Museum. From these circumstances, Garrucci designated the place as a ludus gladiatorius or school for gladiators, in which view he has been followed by Overbeck.
From Pompeii. Its history, buildings, and antiquities (1871)

Google Maps, approiximate area & as best I can tell.
AD 79: destruction and rediscovery


Pompei – Strade delle Tombe
Street of the Tombs

Google Maps
Google Street View
AD 79: destruction and rediscovery

Read morePublic buildings & necropolis, Pompeii,

Houses, Pompeii


On back:
The Peristyle, House of Vettil, restored, Pompeii, Italy–Pompeii is an ancient town of Campania, situated on the shore of the Bay of Naples, almost at the foot of Mount Vesuvius. It was destroyed A.D. 79, and after its discovered in modern times, has been known as a place of world-wide fame, and having the most interesting relics preserved to us from antiquity

Google Maps.
AD 79: destruction and rediscovery
Khan Academy.
Wikipedia.


Pompei – Casa della degil Amorini d’ oro
House of the Golden Cupids

Google Street View (reverse view)
AD 79: destruction and rediscovery


Pompei – Casa del Fauno
House of the Faun

Google Maps
Google Street View
AD 79: destruction and rediscovery
Wikipedia.


Pompei – Casa di Panza
House of Pansa

Google Maps
Google Street View
AD 79: destruction and rediscovery