When I walked down the streets of Rome, I couldn’t help but imagine the history of the ancient world that once called these roads home. More than 2,000 years ago Ancient Rome was one of the most powerful cities in the world. A city controlled by emperors, watched over by gods, protected by gladiators. Taking a walk through the streets of modern day Rome is almost like taking a walk back in time.
In a city with so much history there is a lesson to learn at every turn and so I decided to join a City Wonders tour to discover as much of these ancient wonders as possible.
The tour took me through the walls of the Vatican, where the art of Michelangelo truly takes your breath away. Shivers were sent down my spine as I looked up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The colours and detail that were painted thousands of years ago remain intact and vibrant to this day.
I then walked from the Vatican to St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world and another true masterpiece. The floors covered in beautiful marble, the walls decorated with priceless sculptures, and there in the centre the most astounding chapel. The ceiling here is so high it can actual fit the entire Statue of Liberty. It is a sacred place, where only the Pope himself is allowed to pray because below these floors lies the burial site of Peter himself.
I then traveled even further back in time as I stepped into the Colosseum walls. The massive stadium which housed 65,000 Romans took only eight years to build. While most of the building has been lost in time, it was once a grand stadium decorated with life size statues and covered in marble seats. Where gladiators would fight beasts and crowds would watch in amazement. As a sports journalist trying to picture this time was interesting for me, since this is where my industry technically started although I do not believe they had any sideline reporters back then.
The tour finished in the Roman Forum. I walked through what was left of the grand palace, past the homes of gods, and even laid eyes upon what was left of the memorial marking the spot where Julius Caesar was cremated. It was during this part of the tour that my guide mentioned something truly amazing, that this is just the part of the ancient world left on the surface.
“Rome is like a lasagna”. Those were his exact words. Instead of tearing down the old, they would just build the new on top, meaning that the majority of ancient Rome is still hidden below the surface. In fact, only 6% of Rome has been excavated and a whole world still waiting to be discovered.
With new homes and buildings on the surface, excavating the area has become a lot harder, but with archaeological advancements there is hope that more of the past will be uncovered.
As I walked back to my hotel I couldn’t help but wonder what was laying underneath me. Was it beautiful sculptures? Was it pieces of the ancient palaces? Was it stunning marble floors from old homes? The truth is, these questions may never be answered. The truth is the ancient past of Rome may remain in the past forever.