Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The only Gothic church in Rome

Rome is a city of magnificent churches. Each one of them has a character all its own. In the center of Rome near the Pantheon and Piazza Navona are a collection of churches that are worthy of a full day enjoying. The churches of note are the Pantheon, Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, Gesu, and Saint Ignazio.

All of the majesty of Rome's churches comes through with these. However, there is only one Gothic church in Rome and it is steps away from the Pantheon. If you are looking at the doors of the Pantheon in Piazza della Rotunda with the fountain at your back walk to the left of the Pantheon about 50 feet. You'll see an ancient Egyptian Obelisk atop an elephant. This is Bernini's work and marks the piazza in front of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva.

Minerva has work by the hand of Michelangelo, Fra Angelico, and Bernini to name a few. Michelangelo's Risen Christ is at the altar. Christ was originally naked, but has since been covered by a garland for modesty. An unnecessary touch, but done nonetheless. This is one of the few Michelangelo sculptures you will enjoy withouth a huge crowd at your back or without a reservation.
Santa Maria Sopra Minerva translates to Santa Maria over Minerva. Originally this church was a temple to Minerva for the ancient Romans.
What is Gothic? One of Europe's most famous Gothic Church is Notre Dame in Paris and it is a shining and beautiful example. Italy's most impressive Gothic Church is in Milan. It seems to rise from the earth and shoot to Paradise.

Some key features of Gothic architecture are Flying Buttresses - struts from the nave, Pinnacle - pointed caps, Gothic rib - where the point of arches are the same height as the vault's crown.

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