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Marsala (Italian pronunciation: [marˈsaːla] Sicilian: Maissala, pronounced [maɪsˈsaːla] Latin: Lilybaeum) is an Italian town located in the Province of Trapani in the westernmost part of Sicily. Marsala is the most populated town in its province and the fifth in Sicily.
The town is famous for the docking of Giuseppe Garibaldi on 11 May 1860 (the Expedition of the Thousand) and for its Marsala wine. A feature of the area is the Stagnone Lagoon Natural Reserve — a marine area with salt ponds.
Marsala is built on the ruins of the ancient Carthaginian city of Lilybaeum, and includes in its territory the archaeological site of the island of Motya, an ancient Phoenician town. The modern name likely derived from the Arabic مَرْسَى عَلِيّ (marsā ʿaliyy, “Ali's harbor”), or possibly مَرْسَى اللّٰه (marsā llāh, “God's harbor”). 
Novara was founded around 89 BC by the Romans, when the local Gauls obtained the Roman citizenship. Its name is formed from Nov, meaning "new", and Aria, the name the Cisalpine Gauls used for the surrounding region.
Ancient Novaria, which dates to the time of the Ligures and the Celts, was a municipium and was situated on the road from Vercellae (Vercelli) to (Mediolanum) Milan. Its position on perpendicular roads (still intact today) dates to the time of the Romans. After the city was destroyed in 386 by Magnus Maximus for having supported his rival Valentinian II, it was rebuilt by Theodosius I. Subsequently, it was sacked by Radagaisus (in 405) and Attila (in 452).
Under the Lombards, Novara became a duchy under Charles the Fat, a countship. Novara came to enjoy the rights of a free imperial city. In 1110, it was conquered by Henry V and destroyed, but in 1167 it joined the Lombard League. At the end of the 12th century, it accepted the protection of Milan and became practically a dominion of the Visconti and later of the Sforza. In the Battle of Novara in 1513, Swiss mercenaries defending Novara for the Sforzas of Milan routed the French troops besieging the city. This defeat ended the French invasion of Italy in the War of the League of Cambrai.
In 1706, Novara, which had long ago been promised by Filippo Maria Visconti to Amadeus VIII of Savoy, was occupied by Savoyard troops. With the Peace of Utrecht, the city, together with Milan, became part of the Habsburg Empire. After its occupation in 1734, Novara passed, in the following year, to the House of Savoy.
After Napoleon's campaign in Italy, Novara became the capital of the Department of the Agogna, but was then reassigned to the House of Savoy in 1814. In 1821, it was the site of a battle in which regular Sardinian troops defeated the Piedmontese constitutional liberals. In the even larger Battle of Novara in 1849, the Sardinian army was defeated by the Austrian army of Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky von Radetz. This defeat led to the abdication of Charles Albert of Sardinia and to the partial occupation of the city by the Austrians. The defeat of the Sardinians can be seen as the beginning of the Italian unification movement.
A decree in 1859 created the province of Novara, which then included the present-day provinces of Vercelli, Biella, and Verbano-Cusio-Ossola.
The city of Novara had a population of 25,144 in 1861. Industrialisation during the 20th century brought an increase in the city's population to 102,088 in 1981. The city's population has changed little in subsequent years.
Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, former president of Italy and Italian senator for life, was born in Novara in 1918.
|Climate data for Novara (1971–2000, extremes 1960–present)|
|Record high °C (°F)||19.4 |
|Average high °C (°F)||5.7 |
|Daily mean °C (°F)||1.4 |
|Average low °C (°F)||−2.9 |
|Record low °C (°F)||−19.4 |
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||69.5 |
|Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)||6.3||4.9||6.0||8.5||9.3||7.4||5.2||6.6||6.3||6.9||6.7||5.8||79.9|
|Average relative humidity (%)||83||80||73||76||75||74||75||75||76||81||84||84||78|
|Source: Servizio Meteorologico (humidity 1961–1990)   |
Novara's sights can be divided into two groupings. The city's most important sights lie within its historic centre, the area once enclosed by the city walls. However, several important sights also lie outside the line of the former city walls.
Historic centre Edit
The old urban core makes up the "Historic centre", situated in the district of the same name. Novara once had an encircling wall, which was demolished to permit urban development. Of the old wall there remains only the Barriera Albertina, a complex of two neo-classical buildings that constituted the gate of entry to the city, the required passageway for those who traveled from Turin to Milan. After their removal, the walls were replaced by the present-day baluardi, the broad, tree-lined boulevards that surround the Historic Centre.
The most imposing monument in the city is the Basilica of San Gaudenzio, with a cupola 121 metres (397 ft) high, designed by Alessandro Antonelli and constructed in 1888. The bell tower is also of particular interest it was designed by Benedetto Alfieri, uncle of the more famous Vittorio Alfieri.
The centre of the religious life of the city is the Novara Cathedral, in the neo-classical style, also designed by Alessandro Antonelli. It rises exactly where the temple of Jupiter stood in the time of the Romans. Facing the Duomo is the oldest building in Novara today: the early Christian Battistero (Baptistry).
Close to the Duomo is the courtyard of the Broletto (the historic meeting place of the city council), the centre of the political life of the imperial free city of Novara. Overlooking the courtyard of the Broletto are the Palazzo del Podestà ("Palace of the Podestà"), Palazzetto dei Paratici ("Little Palace of the Paratici Family"), site of the Civic Museum and of the Gallery of Modern Art, the Palace of the City Council, and a building of the 15th century.
Not far from the Piazza della Repubblica (formerly Piazza Duomo) is the Piazza Cesare Battisti (known to Novaresi as the Piazza delle Erbe, "Herbs square"), which constitutes the exact centre of the city of Novara.
In Piazza Giacomo Matteotti stands the Palazzo Natta-Isola, seat of the province and of the prefecture of Novara. The landmark feature of this palace is its clock tower. Extending from this square is the via Fratelli Rosselli, along which is the Palazzo Cabrino, the official seat of the administrative offices of the city. As it was a Roman city, the street network of Novara is characterized by a cardo and a Decumanus Maximus, which correspond respectively to the present-day Corso Cavour and Corso Italia. The two streets cross at the so-called "Angolo delle Ore" (Corner of the Hours).
The largest square is Piazza Martiri della Libertà (formerly Piazza Castello) dominated by the equestrian statue of Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of Italy. Overlooking the Piazza Martiri are the Castello Visconteo-Sforzesco, built by the Milanese dukes Visconti and Sforza, and the Teatro Coccia. The Castello Visconteo-Sforzesco, once much larger than the complex that remains today, is surrounded by the Allea, one of the largest public gardens in Novara.
Other important squares are:
- Largo Cavour, dominated by the statue of the same name, recently restored.
- Piazza Garibaldi, the square facing the Novara Railway Station, also recently restored and featuring the statue of the hero of two worlds and a fountain with the statue of mondina .
- Piazza Gramsci, formerly Piazza del Rosario, location, after the restoration of 2005, of the landmark statue of Icarus.
The cupola of the Basilica of San Gaudenzio, symbol of Novara, is 121 metres (397 ft) high.
Situated on a rocky crest rising from 350 to 475 metres (1,148 to 1,558 ft) between the Carpino and the Sordo rivers, the plan of Isernia still reflects the ancient layout of the Roman town, with a central wide street, the cardo maximus, still represented by Corso Marcelli, and side streets at right angles on both sides.
The commune of Isernia includes 16 frazioni. The most densely populated is Castelromano which is positioned in a plain at the base of the La Romana mount, elevation 862 metres (2,828 ft), 5 kilometres (3 mi) from Isernia.
The area of Isernia was settled at least 700,000 years ago:  the nearby site called Pineta has been cited in the magazine Science as the most ancient site where traces of use of fire by humans have been found.
The city's Roman name, Aesernia, reflects probably a former Samnite toponym, but a connection to an Indo-European root, aeser, which means "water", is tenuous.
Classical Aesernia was a city of Samnium, included within the territory of the Pentri tribe, situated in the valley of the Vulturnus (modern Volturno), on a small stream flowing into that river, and distant 22 kilometres (14 mi) from Venafrum (modern Venafro). The Itinerary (in which the name is written "Serni") places it on the road from Aufidena to Bovianum, at the distance of 45 kilometres (28 mi) from the former, and 29 kilometres (18 mi) from the latter but the former number is corrupt, as are the distances in the Tabula Peutingeriana. 
The first mention of it in history occurs in 295 BC, at which time it had already fallen into the hands of the Romans, together with the whole valley of the Vulturnus.  After the complete subjugation of the Samnites, a colony, with Latin rights (colonia Latina) was settled there by the Romans in 264 BC the city, a key communication center between southern Italy and the inner Appennine Regions. This colony is again mentioned in 209 BC as one of the eighteen which remained faithful to Rome at the most trying period of the Second Punic War.  During the Social War it adhered to the Roman cause, and was gallantly defended against the Samnite general Vettius Scato, by Marcus Claudius Marcellus, nor was it till after a long protracted siege that it was compelled by famine to surrender, 90 BC. Henceforth it continued in the hands of the confederates and at a later period of the contest afforded a shelter to the Samnite leader, Gaius Papius Mutilus, after his defeat by Lucius Cornelius Sulla. It even became for a time, after the successive fall of Corfinium (modern Corfinio) and Bovianum, the headquarters of the Italic League.  At this time it was evidently a place of importance and a strong fortress, but it was so severely punished for its defection by Sulla after the final defeat of the Samnites in 88 BC, that Strabo speaks of it as in his time utterly deserted. 
We learn, however, that a colony was sent there by Julius Caesar, and again by Augustus but apparently with little success, on which account it was recolonized under Nero. It never, however, enjoyed the rank of a colony, but appears from inscriptions to have been a municipal town of some importance in the time of Trajan and the Antonines. To this period belong the remains of an aqueduct and a fine Roman bridge, still visible while the lower parts of the modern walls present considerable portions of polygonal construction, which may be assigned either to the ancient Samnite city, or to the first Roman colony. The modern city is still the see of a bishop.  The massively constructed podium now underlying the cathedral probably supported the Capitolium.
In the early 7th century AD, what are today the communes of Isernia as well as Bojano and Sepino were the places where Grimoald I of Benevento settled a group of Bulgars, seeking refuge from the Avars the Bulgars were for many generations a distinctive part of the population, until finally assimilated in their Italian environment (see Bulgarians in Italy, Old Great Bulgaria#Bulgars in Southern Italy).
Even after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Isernia has suffered destruction numerous times in history. Isernia was destroyed by the Saracens in 800, sacked by Markward of Anweiler, Count of Molise, in 1199, and set on fire in 1223 by the soldiers of Frederick II. In 1519 it was freed from feudal servitude by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and became a city in the Kingdom of Naples.
Earthquakes in 847, 1349, 1456 and 1805 caused massive destruction.
On the morning of September 10, 1943, during World War II, American planes launched their bombs from B-17 Flying Fortress planes over a crowded town on market day causing thousands of deaths. [ citation needed ] In the following weeks they came back twelve times without ever hitting their targets: the bridges of Isernia, Cardarelli and Santo Spirito, then built entirely of iron, towards the internal area. All the bridges were vital to the German retreat.
In 1970 Isernia became the capital of the province of the same name, created out of part of the province of Campobasso.
The hills around Isernia produces red, white and rose Pentro di Isernia, an Italian DOC wine. The grapes are limited to harvest yields of 11 tonnes/ha with the finished red and rose wines needing a minimum alcohol level of 11% and the finished whites required to have at least 10.5% alcohol. The reds and roses are composed of 45-55% Montepulciano, 45-55% Sangiovese and up to 10% local grape varieties to fill out the blend if needed. The whites are composed of 60-70% Trebbiano, 30-40% Bombino bianco and up to 10% local varieties to fill out the blend if needed. 
The coins of Aesernia, which are found only in copper, and have the legend "AISERNINO", belong to the period of the first Roman colony the style of their execution attests the influence of the neighboring Campania. 
Terme del Faro (lighthouse): (left-above) view from the south (left-below) "bar counter" of a tavern inside the baths (right) detached floor mosaics with marine subjects which included a depiction of the lighthouse of Porto, after which the baths are named
Travellers who entered Ostia at Porta Laurentina initially found a series of temples and other religious buildings, but as soon as they entered Cardo Maximus they felt they were in a more lively setting. A rather large bath establishment stood opposite the shops of the mill/bakery. It is dated early IInd century AD, a period during which many parts of Ostia were redesigned, mainly at the initiative of Emperors Trajan and Hadrian.
To accommodate the growth of Ferrara, in 1492 the Duke Ercole I d'Este demolished the medieval walls of the city on the north, and had the court architect, Biagio Rossetti, design an urban expansion known as the Addizione Erculea. Rosetti was commissioned by Sigismondo d'Este, brother of the Duke Ercole I, to build this palace at the prestigious intersection of what was to be the Decumanus Maximus (now encompassing Corsi Porta Po, Biagio Rossetti, and Porta Mare) and Cardo Maximus (Corso Ercole I d'Este) of the "urban addition". It was built between 1493 and 1503. Used as a residential home by the Este family and, starting in 1641, by the Villa marquis, in 1832 the palace was acquired by the municipality of Ferrara to house the National Gallery of Art and the Civic University.
The most striking feature is the bugnato of the exterior walls: it consists of some 8,500 white (with pink veins) marble blocks carved to represent diamonds, hence its name. The positioning of the diamonds varies in order to maximize the light reflected off the building, creating quite the visual effect. The palace is also well known for its candelabra and the phytomorphic corner motifs. Inside, it has a typical Renaissance courtyard with a cloister and a marble well the latter is a characteristic typical of gardens in Ferrara.
The main floor of the palazzo houses the Pinacoteca Nazionale (transl. national picture gallery ), with paintings from the Ferrarese School from the Middle Ages up to the 18th century. The oldest paintings are large frescoes (Triumph of sant'Agostino by Serafino da Modena) and wooden panels with gold-leaf backgrounds, such as the Madonna and Child by Gentile da Fabriano. The main artists from the 15th century in Ferrara represented in the museum are Cosmè Tura (Giudizio and Martyrdom of san Maurelio), Ercole de' Roberti, Vicino da Ferrara and Michele Pannonio. There are works from the Este family collections, including a work by Andrea Mantegna (Cristo con l'animula della Madonna). There are also two works by unidentified artists from the collection of the Marquis Leonello d'Este at the Belfiore Palace.
On the lower floor, there is the Civic Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, which has hosted high level temporary shows since 1992, when the space was inaugurated by the show on Claude Monet and his friends. Some of the most important shows held here have included:
9 July AD 118 – Hadrian enters Rome (#Hadrian1900)
After a long journey travelling from Antioch, through Asia Minor and the Danube provinces, Hadrian finally arrived in Rome on 9 July AD 118, almost a year after his accession to the throne following the death of Trajan in Cilicia. His arrival (adventus) in the capital was celebrated by the Arval Brethren with solemn sacrifices at the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline Hill, to which the inscriptions containing the Acts of their college bear record ( CIL VI 32374 ).
VII I[d(us) Iul(ias)] / in C[apitol]io ob adventum I[mp(eratoris) Caes(aris) Traiani Had]riani Aug(usti) fratres / [Arvales] convenerunt ib[i]que [Trebicius Decia]nus mag(ister) ob adven/[tum faustum eiusdem n]omine colle[gi(i) fratr]um Arvalium Iovi O(ptimo) M(aximo)
In the presence of the Emperor, seven beasts were sacrificed in the name of the college, one each to Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, Salus Publica, Mars Ultor, Victoria and Vesta, in thanks for his safe return and to mark his assumption of the purple.
[bovem marem Iuno]ni Reginae v[ac]cam Minervae vaccam Saluti / [publicae p(opuli) R(omani) Q(uiritium)] vaccam Mar[ti] ultori ta[urum] Victoriae vaccam / [Genio ipsius taurum i]mmola[vit adf]uer[unt in collegio Imp(erator) Caesar]
Hadrian’s arrival in the capital had been anticipated for many months and was marked with newly minted silver denarii that expressed the wish of the emperor’s happy return. They invoked FORTUNA REDUX (“home-bringing fortune”), the goddess who brings the Emperor safe home again.
The Emperor had probably completed his journey to Rome overland from Pannonia to northern Italy and headed south along the coast to Ariminum (Rimini) and then over the Apennine Mountains on the Via Flaminia (see previous post here). Inaugurated in 220 BC by Gaius Flaminius to connect the Tyrrhenian area to the Adriatic, this long-distance road of Italy left Rome from the imposing Porta Flaminia (today Porta del Popolo) and then crossed the Tiber into Umbria to meet the sea at Fanum Fortunae where it was linked to Ariminum.
The emperor entered Rome over the Milvian Bridge, a symbol of military might dedicated to the triumphant victory of Rome over Carthage and later made famous by Constantine’s military victory and his vision of the Cross .
Extensive preparations to welcome the Princeps to the city might have begun months in advance, despite the scandal of the killings of the four consuls (see end of previous post here) . As he approached the capital with his army, a welcoming committee probably consisting of magistrates, senators, equestrians and other imperial officials went out to greet their arriving ruler outside the city walls. They escorted him in a long procession down the Via Lata (the urban prolongation of the Via Flaminia and today’s Via del Corso on the east side of which Hadrian was to build insulae), riding past the Mausoleum of Augustus, the Ara Pacis and the Saepta Julia in the Campus Martius, then into the Forum through the Porta Fontinalis before proceeding along the Clivus Capitolinus, the road leading up to the Capitol with the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus at its summit.
Perhaps, as the Emperor passed , the crowds lining the roadside shouted acclamation and maybe even threw flowers in his path. Indeed, there were good reasons to be thankful. A generous donation of three gold pieces a head (worth seventy-five sesterces) had already been distributed to the plebs before the emperor’s return. A second congiarium of six aurei was now to be distributed by Hadrian in person.
He hastened to Rome in order to win over public opinion, which was hostile to him because of the belief that on one single occasion he had suffered four men of consular rank to be put to death. In order to check the rumours about himself, he gave in person a double largess to the people, although in his absence three aurei had already been given to each of the citizens. HA Hadr. 7.3
No literary source gives a description of his adventus but the Historia Augusta informs us that Hadrian showed great moderation in the use of his power . Although a proper triumph was offered to him by the Senate, he declined the offer and instead requested divine honours for his adoptive father. He also refused the title of father of his country until he had earned it by his own personal actions, just as Augustus had only accepted it late in his reign.
When the senate offered him the triumph which was to have been Trajan’s, he refused it for himself, and caused the effigy of the dead Emperor to be carried in a triumphal chariot, in order that the best of emperors might not lose even after death the honour of a triumph. HA Hadr. 6.3
Shortly afterwards, a new coin bearing the legend ADVENTVS AVG(VSTI) -“the arrival of Augustus”- was issued. The reverse of this imperial mint is showing Hadrian in civilian garb, clasping hands with the goddess Roma seated on a heap of arms.
Upon his return to Rome, Hadrian’s first task was to regain his people’s favour after the mysterious deaths of four distinguished senators who were accused of plotting . This event had damaged his relationship with the Senate and the new Emperor was going to do everything he could to win back the Senate’s trust and establish his reputation as a peaceful man. This echoed with the beginning of Tiberius’ reign and the murder of Agrippa Postumus (Tac. Ann. 1.6) and nobody wanted to return to an age of tyranny when emperors murdered their enemies.
According to Dio, Hadrian was so sensitive to what people were saying about him that, within days of his arrival, he declared upon oath that he had not ordered the deaths of the four former consuls (Cassius, 69, 2.6) and distanced himself from Attianus who he shifted the blame onto. He also swore before the Senate that no senator of Rome should be put to death by his command during his reign (HA Hadr 7.4), as Nerva (Dio, 69. 2) and Trajan (Dio, 69 .5) had done before him. Whether Hadrian was indeed opposed to the deaths of the ex-consuls and that the murders were carried out by Attianus will never be known.
When at Rome, he frequently attended the official functions of the praetors and consuls, appeared at the banquets of his friends, visited them twice or thrice a day when they were sick, even those who were merely knights and freedmen, cheered them by words of comfort, encouraged them by words of advice, and very often invited them to his own banquets. In short, everything that he did was in the manner of a private citizen. HA Hadr. 9.7-8
Hadrian was to introduce a number of important reforms designed to gain popularity and would embark on an ambitious building programme. One of his first actions would be to cancel people’s debts to the state treasury, a very popular policy which was to have a positive economic effect. He would then initiate many construction projects. The new princeps was determined to put his mark on the capital by erecting monumental edifices but also by renovating and restoring existing buildings. His architectural accomplishments were to transform both the urban fabric and the spiritual landscape of Rome and to have a profound impact on the socio-economic life of the people of Rome.
Mary T. Boatwright, who explores in her book “Hadrian and the City of Rome” how Hadrian’s buildings changed the physical nature of the city, notes that, based on the brick stamp evidence, most of Hadrian’s building activity was to take place in the first decade of his principate. Some of his earliest building projects were going to be his Temples dedicated to the Deified Trajan and Plotina and to the Deified Matidia, his mother-in-law, as well as the Basilicas of Matidia and Marciana (Trajan’s sister). All these monuments were designed to emphasize his legitimacy as Trajan’s rightful heir, giving the appearance of continuous dynastic rule.
At Rome he restored the Pantheon, the Voting-enclosure, the Basilica of Neptune, very many temples, the Forum of Augustus, the Baths of Agrippa, and dedicated all of them in the names of their original builders. Also he constructed the bridge named after himself, a tomb on the banks of the Tiber, and the temple of the Bona Dea. With the aid of the architect Decrianus he raised the Colossus and, keeping it in an upright position, moved it away from the place in which the Temple of Rome is now. HA Hadr. 19.10-12
Except for a trip to Campania (attested by inscriptions found in various towns) to “aid all the towns of the region with benefactions and gifts” (HA Hadr. 9.6), Hadrian was to remain in the capital until late spring AD 121. His actions while in the city would be focused on civil, senatorial and financial matters. Important reforms would include nothing less than a cancellation of all unpaid debts owed by individual citizens. In addition, g ames and spectacles would be provided to the masses.
(left) Tempio dei Fabri Navales and Schola del Traiano (another guild seat) opposite it on the other side of Decumanus Maximus (right) gravestone of P. Celerius Amando
A gravestone found in the early XIXth century was decorated with some of the tools used by the fabri navales and its long inscription showed the degree of social mobility which existed at Ostia. P. Celerius Amando died at the age of 18 and we must assume he had just been admitted into the guild. His parents (who paid for the gravestone) were liberti, former slaves, but P. Celerius Amando had a higher legal status (ingenuus i.e. born free) and a public funeral ceremony was held at his death. In summary a couple of former slaves managed to achieve enough wealth/influence to have their young son accepted into a guild and the decuriones (senators) of Ostia to decree public funerals at his death.
Who Founded the City of Florence, Italy?
Florence is one of the most culturally rich cities in the world, a place full of centuries’ worth of fascinating history. Read on to discover who founded this magnificent city, and how the town became one of the most powerful cities in the ancient world.
Florence, the capital city of Tuscany, is one of the most beautiful and famous towns of the world. It is mostly known as the capital of the Renaissance, and its artists and painters are known worldwide. Florence has a long history it was founded as a Roman military colony in the 1st century BCE, and during its history, has had many important roles. It has been a republic, a seat of the duchy of Tuscany, and also capital of Italy.
Romans called the town Florentia. Today it’s still possible to see the first ancient streets founded in the Roman era: ‘Cardo Maximus’ in the actual Via Strozzi, Via degli Speziali and Via del Corso and the ‘Decumanus’ in Via Calimala, Via Roma, and Via Por Santa Maria. Place of Repubblica, indeed, was the ancient Foro, which is the main square of a typical Roman town, and is considered the exact central point of Florence.
In the 14th–16th centuries, Florence became one of the most important cities in the world and the centre of commerce, finance and especially the arts in Italy. Who doesn’t know Michelangelo, Botticelli, Brunelleschi or Leonardo da Vinci (just to name few)? Well, all of them, and many others, are linked to the Tuscan town.
The historic city centre of the town is inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list since 1982 because of its uniqueness and splendour. The family who had a fundamental role in the growth of Florence is Medici, the most renowned rulers of the town. Thanks to their power and love for art, Florence became the hub of art in Italy and one of the most powerful cities in Europe and beyond.
That’s not all. The Florentine vernacular became the official Italian language, and the local coin, the florin, became a world monetary standard. Thanks to its important history, it’s not difficult to understand why Florence is still today considered one of the most loved and appreciated Italian towns by tourists, who come here from all over the world to admire its beauty.
Jerash – A Historical Gem in Jordan
A fter spending the morning at the historical sites in Amman, we started towards north to visit Jerash – Gerasa of Antiquity. Also referred to as Antioch on the Golden River or Pompeii of the Middle East, this city of the antiquity dates back to the neolithic period and rose to prominence from the time of Alexander the Great.
Located on the mountains of Gilead, Jerash is a reminder of the grandeur of Imperial Rome, more so being one of the largest and most well preserved sites in the world. It was 40-50 minute ride from Amman and Waleed shared the history on the way.
Jerash was a part of the federation Greek cities, Decapolis during the Hellenistic era. In 63 BC, it became part of the Roman province of Syria. After a gradual decline after the fall of the Roman Empire, Jerash again rose as a Christian city under the Byzantines. After years of wars andoccupation, Jerash was badly damaged due to several earthquakes and it was only in the 1920s that its restoration started.
Due to its rich history, Jerash makes a fascinating archaeological site. One can see structures from different eras that are strikingly different in their architecture.
As we reached Jerash, we first went to the small market besides the main complex. The sun was over our heads, so I decided to get myself a Jordanian keffiyeh, a traditional headgear made from red and white square scarf. Its amusing to see the shopkeepers tie the keffiyeh on the head with such ease because the method is quiet complicated. Men also get a black headband known as Aqel.
Hadrian’s Arch and Hippodrome
As one approaches the site, the first gate is the Hadrian’s arch. That is not the main entrance to the city. On the left is the Hippodrome, a massive arena where chariot races and sporting events were held. Even today, chariot races are organised as a tourist attraction.
As you walk further inside, there are also some caves that are tombs of the royalties. South gate marks the start of the city limits.As I walked inside from the south gate, I was awed by what I saw.
Strikingly similar to the Forum at Pompeii, Italy, Oval plazas are a regular part pf Roman architecture. Surrounded by a colonnade of 1st-century Ionic columns, the plaza used to be a market place in the past. The Jerash Festival held each year for 2 weeks in July, also take place at the Plaza.
North and South Theatre
Jerash also has two theatres. The South theatre is larger than the north theatre. The Archaeological Museum houses artefacts, pottery, jewellery is located at the south theatre. We enjoyed some refreshing music played by the two musicians in the scorching sun at the theatre. I must say that the people of this place are very friendly. Even in the hot sun, the musician were jovial and got some nice photographs clicked. They did ask for money but that was just once, no more.
Temple of Zeus
We went up the stairs just opposite the Oval Plaza, leading to the Temple of Zeus which dates back to the 162 AD. Ruins of the temple contain many gigantic Corinthian columns. There is a viewing point up the stairs here, that is a vantage point to click pictures of the entire site of Jerash.
At this point many of were really worn out due to the heat and decided not to go further. In the spare time, everyone choose the places to click more pictures. After some thought, I decided to at least go till the Nymphaeum.
The main Roman road in Jerash leading to the Nymphaeum, Cardo Maximus is still paved with its original stones and bears the ruts of chariot wheels. The Street was remodelled in 170 AD and the original Ionic columns were replaced with a more decorative Corinthian colonnade.
Nymphaeum and Temple of Artemis
Nymphaeum is an ornate fountain built in 191 AD and decorated marbles. It adorns a lions heads and is dedicated to the nymphs.The Temple of Artemis (150 AD) is a monumental staircase with high walls on the left of the Cardo.
Thoroughly drained and thirsty, I was cursing myself for coming this far as the walk back was equally long. Sid offered to find some water for Sambhavna and me and we decided to wait for him at the temple. In the mean while I walked up to the North Tetrapylon just to get a few pictures and tick it off my list:)
North and South Tetrapylon
The intersection of the Cardo with North Decumanus is marked by the North Tetrapylon. Further ahead, is the South Tetrapylon that marks the intersection of the Cardo with the South Decumanus.