Countless books have been written about the wonderful city of Rome, but nothing can compare with being actually there, walking its streets, personally encountering ancient structures and artefacts you would have otherwise only read in books. In fact, history school trips to the ancient city are the most educational means through which students can learn about the city-its global cultural significance, its tourist attractions, and its artistic and architectural treasures.
The Pantheon: Amazing Architectural Wonder
Although the Pantheon’s architectural design is strikingly different from other traditional Roman temples, it has always been understood to serve as a temple. Ever since it was built in around the first century AD, it has been in continual use. But credit for its startling state of preservation is due to the efforts of Pope Boniface the VIII (and subsequently, to the Roman Catholic Church), who received it from Emperor Phocas in AD 608. Thanks to this transfer of ownership, the Pantheon is the single most preserved structure in ancient Rome, still looking as if it were built only decades ago. Naturally, it is an important focus on history school trips bound for Rome.
The Colosseum’s Cultural Significance
Although Emperor Vespasian did not live to see the final completion of what he had envisioned as his greatest legacy to what was then the ‘centre of the world’, the Roman Colosseum, or simply Coliseum to the locals past and present, was finished in AD 80 through the efforts of Vespasian’s son Titus. History school trips worthy of the effort will always include a closer inspection of the Colosseum in their itinerary. The Colosseum aptly provided the kind of glory and fame on the grand scale that its then ‘superstars’-the Roman gladiators-lived for: its 80 arched entrances and width of 156 metres ensured seating for up to 55,000 spectators. Indeed, the word ‘colossal’ perfectly befitted both the Colosseum’s physical dimensions and the sheer scale of the violent games of gladiatorial combat staged in it-the inaugural games alone involved the massacre of more than 9,000 animals, not to mention the human deaths.
Rome’s Great Piazzas
Because the city’s great squares, or “piazzas”, serve a multitude of social, political and religious purposes, they are a great resource for those who seek to understand Rome’s culture and history. In fact, certain schools of thought maintain that the great piazzas easily represent the city’s pivotal events in the past thousand years, making them a vital part of the itinerary of history school trips. For example, there is St Peter’s Square-considered as the city’s greatest piazza primarily due to its access to the very centre of Christianity, St. Peter’s Basilica. Then there is Piazza Navona with its breath-taking Fountain of Four Rivers. The favourite venue of those exchanging their wedding vows, the Trinita dei Monti church, is perched on top of the famous Spanish steps in Piazza di Spagna. And, for an extensive visit to as many priceless works of art as possible, the Piazza del Popolo, specifically its Church of Santa Maria del Popolo, will not disappoint with its collection of works by Bernini, Carracci, Raffaello, Caravaggio, and others.