Pompeii – 1963

Ruins of the Temple of Jupiter at Pompeii in 1963

In 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius erupted and covered the city in thirteen to twenty feet of ash and pumice. The site was first rediscovered in 1599, and then again in 1748 by Spanish engineer Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre. This quick destruction preserved the city giving us a curiously intimate look into early Roman culture and day to day life.

Today Pompeii is Italy’s most popular tourist destination with 2.5 million visitors a year. It is also an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Altare della Patria – 1961

The Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland) is also known as Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II.) In fact, the slide is labeled the later.

Altare della Patria

It was built to honor Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of united Italy. He was crowned King on March 17, 1861 and held the post until his death on January 9, 1878.

The building was started in 1911 and completed in 1925. So at the time of this picture it would have only been 36 years old.

Apparently the building is somewhat controversial. It’s construction destroyed a Medieval neighborhood, and the monument itself has more Greek influences then Roman influences in it’s architecture. Despite that, in recent years it’s apparently becoming one of Rome’s most visited landmarks.

Unfortunately, this slide needed a lot of cleanup work in GIMP. There seems to be a bit of mold growing on it down in the corner. It also appears to have been photographed in black and white, but color restoration from the faded red typical in some brands of older slides restored some color to the grass around the monument and the bus seen in front. There are also a number of minute scratches in the slide as can be seen in the picture. None are bad enough to detract from the picture, in fact I think it lends a bit of authenticity to the slide.

Retro photo Milan Cathedral in Milan Italy – 1960

Today’s picture if of the Milan Cathedral in Milan Italy taken sometime in the late 50’s, early 60’s. The exact date is hard to pin down but based on the rest of the slide collection I am guessing it was 1960.

Milan Cathedral

Milan Cathedral, Italy – 1960

It is dedicated to Santa Maria Nascente, and is the fifth largest cathedral in the world. Archbishop Antonio da Saluzzo ordered construction to start in 1386 with the sponsorship of his cousin, the Duke of Milan, Gian Galleazzo Visconti. When the Duke died in 1402, construction on the half completed cathedral came to a halt. Various parts of the cathedral were added over the years, notably Napoleon Bonaparte ordered the fa├žade to be finished so that he could be crowned King of Italy there.

With inauguration of the last gate on January 6, 1965, just a few years after this photo of the Milan Cathedral was taken, the cathedral was finally considered “finished.” Construction of this amazing piece of architecture took just 579 years.

One of the things to note is that since this picture was taken the Milan Cathedral has been well taken care of. The dull grey color of the stone of the building in this picture shows evidence of the centuries of pollution Italy has endured.

Retro photo from Venice of Saint Mark’s Basilica in 1964

The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark or more commonly Saint Mark’s Basilica is located in Venice, Italy. It’s located in the Piazza San Marco at it’s eastern end next to the Doge’s Palace. It became the city’s cathedral in 1807 and is one of the best known examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture. This photo dates from 1964.

St. Mark's Basilica

Retro photo from Venice of St. Mark’s Basilica in 1964

A church was at this location as early as 832. It’s construction was ordered in 828 to house the relics of Mark the Evangelist that had been stolen from Alexandria by Venetian Merchants. That church building was burned to kill Pietro IV Candiano, the 20th Doge of Venice in 976 during a rebellion. It was rebuilt in 978. The existing church show in the picture was built on the same site about 1073. It was rebuilt and modified multiple times up until 1117. Saint Mark’s Basilica has seen more modifications over the centuries, mostly adornments added after successful Crusades, and marble covering the exterior brick work.

The church seems to be a combination history and art museum due to it’s age and collections. Among it’s collection are a collection of Byzantine metalworking and stone carvings looted from Constantinople after the Fourth Crusades. The collection includes The Horses of Saint Mark, copper statues of two horses that at one time pulled a chariot. The statue dates to the 4th Century B.C. and are attributed to the Greek sculptor Lysippos. The originals are now stored inside to protect them from air pollution but have been replaced with full size bronze versions.

Saint Mark’s Basilica is also known for it’s gold glass tesserae mosaics that cover the interior ceiling of the building. These were added in multiple stages, first as early as 1070, with the bulk of the work completed in 1270.

Have you ever been to Saint Mark’s Basilica? If so, what is like to be in the middle of such history? Who was Saint Mark and why did the Merchants steal his relics?

The Colosseum

How many locations in the world have “The” in their title? How many also have a fairly generic word in their title? How many have the instant name recognition of The Colosseum in Rome?

The number is pretty low, few buildings in the world have the same recognition. Even fewer of them are more then 2000 years old.

The Colosseum

Vintage photo of the The Colosseum in Rome from 1961.

Most people think The Colosseum, or the Flavian Amphitheatre, is most famous for the gladiatorial games held there. That was far from the only type of entertainment held there though. The building acted as arena for public executions, staged hunts, even full scale naval battles.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, it continued to see use. It was used as quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry, a Christian shrine, housing and workshops. In the 1800s the building went under reconstruction to shore up the building from imminent collapse.

The Colosseum has suffered through the centuries from earthquakes, vandalism, and collectors. In an attempt to protect the building, it was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list in 1980. These days The Colosseum remains one of the most visited tourist sites in Rome.