Image via Wikipedia By Eric Simon
The strong beating heart of the Roman Empire may be long gone, but the beautiful city of Rome remains, preserved, as a testament to the beauty, ingenuity, and opulence of the ancient world. Rome truly lives up to its name of The Eternal City with visitor's continually drawn to its ancient wonders, returning time and time again from all over the world. Its dedication to the preservation of its ancient heritage is the most rewarded investment the cities inhabitants have every made. With over four million people visiting the Colosseum every year, there can be no disputing the ancient city of Rome continual attraction to travelers, hundreds of years after its Empire's demise.
The best preserved ancient wonder is the marvel of The Pantheon. While the original of Agrippa's Temple to all the Gods of 27 BCE is no longer with us, Hadrian's faithful reconstruction of 125 AD is still standing, as graceful and magnificent as ever. Not only is the Pantheon a testament to the beautiful classical architecture of the ancient world, it is also one of the ancient wonders of engineering. The great concrete dome of the Pantheon has been standing for over two thousand years, and in all that time it has held the title of the world's largest unsupported concrete dome in the world.
If that wasn't enough engineering to marvel at, the great dome also has a rather large hole in the centre, making the unsupported structure even more wondrous in its ability to remain standing for thousands of years. The Oculus has no glass, and allows sunlight to illuminate the inside of the Pantheon unfiltered. Only during the heaviest of rains and snowfalls do the elements enter the chamber then another engineering marvel, the sloping floor and underground draining system, unseen by all ensures the visitors stay warm and dry. The Pantheon displays all of Rome's history on its walls. From the ancient Roman structure to marble altars and tombs inside the structure, there are representatives of all of Rome's most beautiful ages, the ancient, the medieval, the renaissance, the baroque, the enlightenment and the modern era.
The Colosseum is a bit more worse-for-wear than the Pantheon, but considering its age, location and purpose it too has survived beautifully considering all its been through. The most popular of the ancient sites of Rome, it has had a long and varied history from its origin as a host of gladiatorial combat. The gladiators have long since gone, and in their place have been families, blacksmiths, stone-masons, warehouses, a church, a monastery and at one point it became the source for stone and marble for Rome's great building projects.
Today this beautiful colossus is being preserved for eternity and serves duty as a place of peace. This once building of blood and gore is now central to the global movement for the abolishment of the death penalty. When its nighttime illuminations turn from white to gold, a death sentence has been commuted or the death penalty abolished, it glows white in silent yet immutable protest. Travelers and locals alike are devoted to this long-standing symbol of Rome, its statuesque eternal presence lures people back time and time again to gaze in wonder at its external beauty and explore its secrets inside its walls.
There is more of Ancient Rome preserved for all eternity, the heart of Rome has become a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you can walk the same streets and enter the same buildings as its original inhabitants. From Imperial Palaces to simple stalls in the Forum, the Emperors and the Plebeians may be long since gone, but they have made a lasting impression on this city. These impressions can all be explored, while the Forums, the Appian Way and the Ara Pacis are all within the walls of the city, they are not just Rome's heritage they are the world's history. We have inherited a great deal from them, but the city of Rome is the everlasting gift the Romans gave to the world, and that is why millions upon millions of people visit this amazing city year after year.
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