Category Archives: Last Judgment

Gaudi’s Magnificent La Sagrada Familia is a Vino con Vista UNESCO Site in Barcelona Spain

Maqueta de la Sagrada Familia

Maqueta de la Sagrada Familia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Ventilation towers on the roof of Cas...

English: Ventilation towers on the roof of Casa Milà designed by Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona, Spain Français : Cheminées d’aération sur le toit de la Casa Milà réalisée par Antoni Gaudi, Barcelone, Espagne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sagrada Família church, by Gaudí.

Image via Wikipedia

English: The Sagrada Familia viewed from Casa ...

English: The Sagrada Familia viewed from Casa Milà, Barcelona, Spain Français : La Sagrada Familia vue de la Casa Milà, Barcelone, Espagne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Español: Gaudí y el nuncio Ragonesi visitan la...

Español: Gaudí y el nuncio Ragonesi visitan la Sagrada Familia (1915). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Sculpture of Philip the Apostle on a ...

English: Sculpture of Philip the Apostle on a tower of the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain Français : Sculpture de l’Apôtre Philippe sur une des tours de la Sagrada Familia, Barcelone, Espagne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Español: Fachada del Nacimiento, Sagrada Famil...

Español: Fachada del Nacimiento, Sagrada Familia (Barcelona). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are seven properties built by the renowned architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926) in or near Barcelona that have been classified as UNESCO sites. Barcelona is blessed with the legacy of this incredible man in the same way that the city of Rome is blessed with Bernini‘s legacy.

His exceptional masterpieces yield harmonious colors and fluid lines that are a testiment to his creative genius. He contributed to the development of architecture and building technology in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Antoni Gaudí, Casa Batlló

Antoni Gaudí, Casa Batlló (Photo credit: profzucker)

The UNESCO monuments include: Casa Vicens; Gaudí’s work on the Nativity façade and Crypt of La Sagrada Familia; Casa Batlló; and the Crypt in Colonia Güell. His works demonstrate “el Modernisme of Catalonia.”

Antoni Gaudi was born in Reus in 1852, a small town south of Barcelona. He died in an accident in 1926.

Interior del Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada F...

Interior del Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia en Barcelona (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

His major feat was his association with the church of Sagrada Familia that was started by the architect Francesc de P. del Villar in 1882 in Gothic revival style. In 1883, Gaudi made fundamental changes to the project and he continued working on the church based on a Latin cross, until his death. Visit the museum under the church that chronicles Gaudi’s contributions including his models and his original drawings.

Détail de la Sagrada Familia de Gaudi à Barcelone

Détail de la Sagrada Familia de Gaudi à Barcelone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gaudi’s vision has been realized The passionate commitment of the heroic efforts of people involved in building this magnificent church will make you weep.

Gaudi's Barcelona Spain

Gaudi's Barcelona Spain Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona Spain

Gaudi's Barcelona Spain

The church has three facades: The Nativity to the east, the Passion facade on the west and the Glory facade on the south which has not been completed. The Glory facade will explain the life and the end of man presided over by St. Joseph in his workshop. Watch a brief video to see the magnificent structure

Español: Busto de Gaudí, Joan Matamala, Museo ...

Español: Busto de Gaudí, Joan Matamala, Museo de la Sagrada familia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The influencial architect has the most influence on the Nativity facade. It was built between 1894 and 1930. It is dedicated to the birth of Jesus and is decorated with ornate sculptures and faces the rising sun to the northeast. It is divided into three porticos that represent faith, hope and charity. The Tree of Life rises above the door. The facade includes different episodes of the Childhood of Jesus including the Immaculate Conception.

Gaudi's Barcelona Spain

Gaudi's Barcelona Spain

Nativity Facade

Gaudi's Barcelona Spain

Sagrada Familia Church in Barcelona Spain

The Passion facade has gaunt, skeletal characters which were designed by Josep Maria Subirachs. His hard llines represent the pain and final scrifice of the life of Jesus. A crucified Christ presides over the central door surrounded by the people that were present at his agony. Three Lati nwords appear on this facade: Veritas, Vida and Via because Jesus is the Way. The work was completed in 1978. The Last Supper and the Kiss of Judas are sculpted into the facade that is supported by six columns designed to resemble sequoia trunks.

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona Spain

Passion Facade of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Kiss of Judas

Passion Facade of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Barcelona Spain

Gaudi's Sagrada Familia

The stratospheric magnificence of the ornamentation of the  interior of the church is breath-taking. The ceiling soars with a central vault of sixty meters crowned by Christ ascending into Heaven over the main altar. The Church was consecrated by the Pope in November of 2010 so you can plan your wedding ASAP.

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Gaudi's Barcelona Spain

The Ascension of Jesus Christ

Barcelona Spain

Barcelona's Sagrada Familia Church

The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ

Barcelona Spain

Stained Glass in Sagrada Familia

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Filed under Antoni Gaudi's Barcelona, Attractions in Barcelona Spain, ebooks, Last Judgment, Park Guell in Barcelona Spain, Peter the Apostle, Safrada Familia Church in Barcelona Spain, Travel and Tourism, UNESCO, UNESCO sites in Barcelona Spain, vino con vista, What is the name of the famous church in Barcelona Spain, What is the name of the famous park in Barcelona, Who designed the famous church in Barcelona Spain, Who designed the famous park in Barcelona Spain?, World Heritage Sites, World Heritage sites in Barcelona Spain

Witness the Story of Easter in Rome: Buona Pasqua

c. 1580

c. 1580 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Master of the Tiburtine Sibyl Princeton

Master of the Tiburtine Sibyl Princeton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Tiburtine Sybil, woodcut from the Nurember...

The Tiburtine Sybil, woodcut from the Nuremberg Chronicle Français : La Sibylle Tiburtine, bois gravé tiré de la Chronique de Nuremberg, feuille 93 verso (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 12th Station of the Cross - Jesus dies on ...

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A 14th-century of Jesus Christ bearing the cro...

A 14th-century of Jesus Christ bearing the cross, from the monastery in . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Italiano: La Sibilla Tiburtina, 1483, affresco...

Italiano: La Sibilla Tiburtina, 1483, affresco nella Chiesa di S. Giovanni Evangelista a Tivoli (Roma). L’immagine è racchiusa in un tondo e deliminata in un anello bianco con il basso l’espressione SIC AIT riferito alla profezia che viene riportata sotto il ritratto. La profezia inizia all’interno del medaglione per proseguire al di sotto di esso. The Tiburtine Sibyl, 1483. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Tiburtine sibyl and the Emperor Augustus i...

The Tiburtine sibyl and the Emperor Augustus is a 16th-century chiaroscuro woodcut by Antonio da Trento. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pope Francis and the Vatican gear up for Holy Week Celebrations and ancient traditions in and around Rome. These events commemorate the last week of the life of Jesus Christ before his painful death on the cross and ultimate Resurrection.

The Tiburtine Sybil named Albunea, told Emperor Augustus (27 BC-AD 14) in a mystic meeting, that the first-born of God would one day rule his empire: “Haec est ara primogeniti Dei”-This is the altar of the first-born of God.

Augustus commemorated the spot by erecting an altar. The church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli (altar of Heaven) now crowns the highest point of the Campidoglio in Rome with 124 steps that lead to the entrance of the church. In the church, the figures of Augustus and the Tiburtine Sibyl are painted on either side of the arch above the high altar.

English: Santa Maria in Aracoeli (façade), Rome.

English: Santa Maria in Aracoeli (façade), Rome. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Antonio da Trento, Tiburtine Sibyl and the Emp...

Antonio da Trento, Tiburtine Sibyl and the Emperor Augustus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Inside this church are the relics of St. Helen in a porphyry urn. Saint Helena was the mother of Emperor Constantine who ultimately decreed the Christianization of pagan Rome. Inside the church, there is a chapel of the Santo Bambino. The Bambino is carved from olive wood from Jerusalem using wood from the Garden of Gethsemane. It was created by a Franciscan monk in the 15th century.

Furthermore, the Tiburtine Sibyl prophesied a final Emperor named Constan who would “vanquish the foes of Christianity and end paganism.” Michelangelo portrayed the Sibyls in the frescos of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

The Tiburtine Sybil's prophecy to the Emperor ...

The Tiburtine Sybil’s prophecy to the Emperor Augustus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Easter story of the “Passion of Christ” is depicted in the 14 “Stations of the Cross.” The “INRI” on the cross is the abbreviation of “King of the Jews” in Hebrew. During his lifetime, Jesus encountered the same type of pain that normal people excounter. He endured physical pain, mental anguish, rejection, abandonment and betrayal. Holy Week allows us to recall the great sacrifice that Jesus made for all of us and signifies new beginnings.

Holy Week is one of the most religious and exciting times of the year to visit Rome and many other towns in Italy and Spain Holy Week events begin on Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday. On this day, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on  a donkey and was welcomed as royalty with the path paved with branches and palms. The ceremonies during the week revolve around the story of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. On Palm Sunday,  Holy Week begins with the Pope‘s blessing of the palms in St. Peter’s Square.

The three days before Easter are called the Paschal Triduum of Death, Burial and Resurrection of the Lord The Easter Vigil is the high point of the Triduum: “The night Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave.”  The church empties the Holy Water from the fonts on the days of the Sacred Paschal Triduum in preparation of the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil. The Passion is read three times during Holy Week: Passion Sunday, Holy Thursday and Good Friday. The words of Jesus are always read by a priest.

On Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday), the Pope performs a rare morning mass. “The Mass of the Chrism” is held in St. Peter’s Square when the oils are blessed and the Chrism is consecrated.  Chrism is a combination of balsam and oil and is used for annointing for occasions like confirmation and ordinations.

In the evening after sun-down, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper commemorates the institution of the Eucharist and the Last Supper of Jesus with the Apostles. This event includes a reading of Matthew’s account of the “Passion of Christ”; the narration of Jesus’ capture, suffering and death. It includes the representation of Jesus Christ washing the feet of his Disciples which was carried out by Pope Benedict at the Cathedral of St. John Lateran where he washed the feet of 12 priests

On Good Friday, the day of Christ’s brutal crucufixion in AD33, choirs sing St. John’s version of Christ’s crucifixion. Peter Paul Rubens’ “Ecce Homo” (Behold the Man) portrays Christ with his “Crown of Thorns” before his Crucifixion. After his crucifixion, he was covered with a shroud

On this day in Catholic churches around the world, Christians glorify the cross in their individual parishes The cross is venerated as a symbol of our faith by kneeling in front of the cross and kissing it. In this way, we honor the Lord’s Cross as an instrument of our salvation. The cross was the means of Jesus Christ’s execution and as a sign of victory over sin and death. The church does not celebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist on Good Friday, rather the Church commemorates the Lord’s Passion.

In Rome on Good Friday, a solemn “Via Crucis Procession” (The Way of the Cross) involves an evening torch-lit procession that follows the Pope as he traces the Stations of the Cross from the Colosseum to Palatine Hill The church in Rome adopted the practice of “Adoration of the Cross” from the Church in Jerusalem where a fragment of wood believed to be the Lord’s cross has been venerated every year on Good Friday since the fouth century

St. Helen, the mother of emperor Constantine, discovered this fragment of wood on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 326. Pope Alexander VII had the top of the obelisk in St. Peter’s Square adorned with his insignia. There is a relic of Christ’s “True Cross” encased in this emblem of Pope Alexander that crowns the Obelisk.

Jesus had 12 disciples. They were pupils or followers of Christ. The Passion of Christ was initiated when the Temple Guards, guided by Judas Iscario, captured Jesus. Judas was a Disciple of Jesus who betrayed him by telling the guards that whomever he kisses, they should arrest. Judas was paid in silver for his betrayal which is portrayed  in “The Kiss of Judas.” The trial and painful crucifixion of Jesus ensued. Judas ended up returning the silver and committing suicide.

On the Joseph Maria Subirachs “Magic Square” on the facade of Gaudi’s Sagada Familia in Barcelona (Quadrato magico di Sagrada Familia) next to “The Kiss of Judas” in the picture below, notice that all colums, diagonals and rows add up to 33, the year of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Judas Betrayed Jesus Christ before his Crucifixion

Judas Kiss and the Magic Square of 33

Pictured above is Caravaggio’s famous portrayal of “The Kiss of Judas.”

On Holy Saturday, Jesus’  lifeless body was cradled in the arms of  Mary, as portrayed in Michelangelo’s “Pieta.”  He was then laid to rest in the borrowed grave of a friend. Churches around the world conduct an Easter Vigil where we celebrate Jesus Christ; our light who drives away the darkness of our lives At the beginning of the Easter Vigil, the church is darkened and gradually springs to life with the Ressurection of the Lord as faithful parishoners light candles inside the church. The Easter Vigil service includes the Service of Light, the Blessing of the Fire and the Preparation of the Paschal Candle and Procession.

The gloomy darkness of Good Friday is followed by the joyful celebration of trumpets at Easter which “dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy, casts out hatred, brings us peace and humbles earthly pride” (Paschal Praeconium, the Exsultet). Easter Sunday celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. His Ascension into Heaven is the 40th day after Easter. On Easter Sunday, Pope Benedict delivers his blessing “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and to the world) in St. Peter’s Square

In the picture below, Jesus Christ is ascending into Heaven above the altar of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona Spain. The term apostle came into use after the Ascension of Jesus Christ when the disciples (followers) who had witnessed his resurrection, became apostles (ambassadors of the Gospel: evangelists and teachers). The true apostolic age ended when the last apostle died in about 100AD.

Gaudi's Sagrada Familia in Barcelona Spain

The Pope delivers several messages to faithful pilgrims between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday

Here was the 2011 Easter Message in Italian

Happy Easter and have a wonderful Vino con Vista celebration with your family and friends!


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Filed under Ancient Rome, Buona Pasqua, Colonna dell'Immacolata in Rome, Colosseum, Easter in Rome, Holy Week in Rome, Hotels in Rome, Italian Architecture, Italian art, Italy Travel Guides, Last Judgment, Papal ceremony in Rome for the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception, Peter the Apostle, Rome, Rome History, Rome Italy, Saint Peter, Scavi Tour of Saint Peter's Basilica, St. Peter's Basilica, Travel and Tourism, UNESCO, vino con vista, World Heritage Sites

Silent Night Holy Night: A Vatican Christmas

St. Peter's Basilica in Rome seen from the roo...
Image via Wikipedia

Rome became the fulcrum of Western spiritual life in the 4th century. The grandeur of church rituals is reminiscent of the glory days of Julius Caesar. Roman senators became bishops, scholars became monks and philosophers became theologians. The pope or high priest adopted the title held by the emperor, “Pontifex Maximus”. Look for this word in the Latin inscriptions throughout Rome.

An image from the necropolis under the Vatican...

An image from the necropolis under the Vatican in which Jesus = Mithras (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The re-birth of Rome can be traced to April 18, 1506 when Pope Julius II (Giuliano Della Rovere) laid the cornerstone for the new Basilica of Saint Peter to be built over the old Basilica of St. Peter. Bramante was commissioned by Pope Julius II to renovate St. Peter’s Basilica, originally built by Constantine between 324-329.

In the Clementine Chapel in the Vatican Grottos under the Basilica, you can see the precious chest protecting the sepulcher of St. Peter. Behind the altar, protected by a gilded bronze grid, lie the remains of the “Memoria Petri”. This monument was built by C0nstantine to protect the mortal remains of Peter. This is the epi-center of the Apostolic Roots of the Catholic Church.  The grottos contain the tombs of many popes.

St. Peter's Basilica, Rome, Italy - Saint Pete...

St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome, Italy – Saint Peter statue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is the holy site where the Apostle Peter, the “Prince of the Apostles” was crucified upside down, martyred and buried.  A “Scavi Tour” of the Vatican Necropolis is available with advanced reservations (at least 90 days before your departure). All requests must be made in writing to the excavations office:  The crypt is located under the Papal Altar. For over 1900 years, pilgrims from all over the world have come to this location to venerate the remains of Saint Peter. The Scavi Tour ends at the Clementine Chapel in the grottos near the tomb of Pope John Paul II.

English: Christ Handing the Keys to St. Peter ...

English: Christ Handing the Keys to St. Peter by Pietro Perugino (1481-82) Fresco, 335 x 550 cm Cappella Sistina, Vatican. Ελληνικά: Λεπτομέρεια από την νωπογραφία του Πιέτρο Περουτζίνο, Ο Χριστός Παραδίδει τα Κλειδιά στον Πέτρο, 335 x 600 cm, Καπέλα Σιξτίνα, Πόλη του Βατικανού. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums are located a short distance from the Basilica. Magnificent works of art are housed in the Vatican City that became sovereign in 1929. It is the world’s smallest country. It occupies 109 acres and it is ruled by the pope.

My favorite time to visit the Vatican is during Christmas. The square in front of the Basilica is lavishly decorated for Christmas with a giant tree and a presepe. The square is equpped with large video screens so that during the holiday festivities, everyone gets a bird’s eye view of the holy events. Every year a different part of Italy or a different European country donates a spuce tree to the Vatican. The tree is decorated with 3000 ornaments and 1500 lights. Watch the tree lighting:


The glorious tree is a symbol of life and hope. It signifies the birth of Christ. Listen to Mahalia Jackson sing “Silent Night” The magnificent tree creates quite a spectacle in St. Peter’s Square. The generous donation of the tree is considered a great honor. This year the majestic 110 foot, 94 year old tree was donated by Luson in Trentino-Alto Adige. In addition, the Vatican erects a huge “Il Presepio” nativity scene in the square. It is generally unveiled on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Eve, the Pope celebrates midnight mass at the Basilica. At noon on Christmas day, the Pope delivers his Christmas message and gives his blessing from the window of his apartment overlooking the square to the crowds gathered at the Vatican.

St. Peter’s Basilica is the most famous Catholic Church in the World with a staircase of over 500 steps that leads to the summit of the dome. The Treasury of Saint Peter’s houses a collection of precious relics.

On New Year’s Day there is a parade in the Vatican City. For the Epiphany, hundreds of people in medieval costumes walk along the wide avenue leading up to the Vatican called the “Street of Reconciliation” bearing symbolic gifts for the pope. The Pope says morning mass to commemorate the visit of the Wise Men bearing gifts for the Christ child.

As the hub of the papacy, Rome had tremendous power and wealth. Artists and architects flocked to Rome to work for the popes. In a lunette over the central opening into the portico of the Basilica is Giotto’s mosaic “Navicella della Chiesa” from 1298. This restored mosaic shows Jesus walking on the waters of the Sea of Tiberias with his right hand extended toward Peter. He is inviting Peter to come with him. Peter is overcome by fear and is beginning to sink. Jesus saves him and says” “How little faith you have! Why did you falter?” This symbolic representation is inspired by the words of Christ, comparing the church to a ship that is constantly battered by storms. Saint Peter’s ship will never sink because it can always rely on the help of its founder.

In the middle of the 17th century, the papacy commissioned Gian Lorenzo Berninito work his distinctive artistic magic on Rome. The world’s greatest Baroque scultptor lavished his creative genius on the ancient city. In 1665, Bernini completed the splendid “Throne of Saint Peter in Glory” at the far end of the nave beneath the glistennig “Dove” stained-glass window in the space behind the altar. The throne depicts the power of the pontiff and is surrounded by the statues of the founding fathers of the church.

English: Bernini's "Gloria" surmount...

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Bernini’s flamboyant baroque genius is apparent in other Vatican monuments. Admire his opulent bronze Baldacchino and tabernacle at the papal altar. The bronze for Bernini’s canopy was taken from the Pantheon. His incredible monument to Pope Alexander VIIis one of my favorite sculptures and memorializes the life of the pope with elaborate marble allegorical figures.  Bernini also designed the Piazza outside the church. The colonnade surrounding the square was designed by Bernini between 1656 and 1666. The configuration represents two outstretched arms welcoming faithful pilgrims to the Basilica. There are 140 statues of saints watching over the Basilica above the colonade.

The dome of the St. Peter's Basilica in Vatica...

The dome of the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica (Photo credit: Jungle_Boy)

Michelangelo Buonarotti designed the dome in 1546. It is almost as wide as Hadrian’s dome on the Pantheon. Michelangelo’s magnificent “Pieta” is housed in St. Peter’s Basilica. It was sculpted halfway through the last millennium when he was 25 years old. It has been protected by glass since it suffered glass a devastating attack of vandalism in 1972. A madman struck the face with a hammer and also knocked off the Madonna’s left arm.

English: Michelangelo's Pietà in St. Peter's B...

English: Michelangelo’s Pietà in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Français : La Pietà de Michel-Ange située dans la Basilique Saint-Pierre, au Vatican. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1473, Sixtus IV commissioned Giovannni De Dolci to build a chapel for Papal ceremonies.  This Sistine Chapel is located in the Vatican Museum a few blocks away from St. Peter’s.  It houses Michelangelo’s brilliant masterpieces. His monumental frescoes are a magnificent sight to behold and are considered the greatest masterpiece in the history of art. The barrel vaulted ceiling has a scene that represents Adam and Eve’s Original Sin and Expulsion from the Garden of Eden.  The “Last Judgment” is located on the wall behind the main altar and was completed in 1541. Christ, the supreme judge, welcomes the blessed and banishes the damned. St. Peter holds the key that Christ gave him when he appointed him the head of the Church.

Bloomingdale’s Christmas Tree

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Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise: Florence Art History 101

Old Testament- Joseph in Egypt from the "...

Old Testament- Joseph in Egypt from the “Gates of Paradise”, Lorenzo Ghiberti (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Baptistery, Florence, probably 11th cent. Roma...

Baptistery, Florence, probably 11th cent. Romanesque (6) (Photo credit: Prof. Mortel)

English: The Gates of Paradise by Lorenzo Ghib...

English: The Gates of Paradise by Lorenzo Ghiberti at Florence. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gilt-bronze doors of the Baptistry at Florence...

Gilt-bronze doors of the Baptistry at Florence (Lorenzo Ghiberti, 1401-22) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bust of Lorenzo Ghiberti in the Gates of Paradise

Bust of Lorenzo Ghiberti in the Gates of Paradise (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Baptistry of Firenze, Italy Deutsch: ...

English: Baptistry of Firenze, Italy Deutsch: Das Baptisterium San Giovanni in Florenz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gates of Paradise, Baptistery, Florence. The d...

Gates of Paradise, Baptistery, Florence. The doors in situ are reproductions. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Adam and Eve by Ghiberti (Panel 1 of the Gates...

Adam and Eve by Ghiberti (Panel 1 of the Gates of Paradise, see below). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Baptistry with Ghiberti’s Bronze Doors, “The Gate of Paradise” was sculpted by Ghiberti (1378-1455) between the years 1425 and 1452.  The 10 panels depict biblical scenes from the Old Testament .Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise at the Baptistry in Florence ItalyThey  include: the Original Sin of Adam and Eve, the Story of Noah and the Story of Moses.Here are some “Art History Tidbits”:
 1. The Baptistry is one of the city’s oldest buildings, built in the 6thcentury.2. The doors on the Baptistry are not the original doors. Ghiberti’s original doors are preserved in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.3. Inside the Duomo Museum you can admire the original scenes from the “Last Judgment” by Zuccari and Vasari.

4. Many visitors think that the original doors are on the Baptistry-don’t be fooled! Go see the original doors while you are in Florence at the Museum!

5. In the center of the door, Ghiberti cast a self portrait. His prominent facial features and wrinkled brow are displayed among the other faces.

Ghiberti's Self Portrait on the Gates of Paradise in Florence


6. The original panels were damaged during the flood of 1966.

7. The panels were restored after the flood and moved to the Museo of the Cathedral.

8. Historically, the Baptistry of the church was separated from the actual church building because people were not allowed to enter the church until they were baptized.

The panel below is a scene from “The Battle with the Philistines.”

In this scene, David slays Goliath and carries his head before a cheering crowd to Jerusalem.

Ghiberti's door of David and Goliath

Old Testament- Joseph in Egypt from the "...

Old Testament- Joseph in Egypt from the “Gates of Paradise”, Lorenzo Ghiberti (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


A Bronze plaque (history of Joseph), from the ...

A Bronze plaque (history of Joseph), from the Gates of Paradise of the Florence Baptistery, by Lorenzo Ghiberti (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guide Books to Italy and  Vino Con Vista Travel Guides can be purchased at these sites

Gates of Paradise in Florence

Gates of Paradise in Florence

The Gates of Paradise (by Lorenzo Ghiberti) of...

The Gates of Paradise (by Lorenzo Ghiberti) of the Baptistery, Florence. Schema: 1. Adam and Eve 2. Cain and Abel 3. Noah 4. Abraham 5. Isaac with Esau and Jacob 6. Joseph 7. Moses 8. Joshua 9. David 10. Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To learn more about Italy read Travel Guides. iBookstore

NYC - Metropolitan Museum of Art - Gates of Pa...

NYC – Metropolitan Museum of Art – Gates of Paradise – Jacob and Esau (Photo credit: wallyg)

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Filed under David and Goliath, ebooks, Florence, Florence Baptistry, Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise, Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise: Florence, IPad, Italian art, Italy, Italy Travel Guides, Last Judgment, Renaissance Art, The Gates of Paradise, Travel and Tourism, Tuscany, UNESCO, vino con vista, World Heritage Sites

Top Treasures of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel in Italy

Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam. The Book ...

Image via Wikipedia

English: Spectacular spiral staircase in the V...

English: Spectacular spiral staircase in the Vatican Museums in Rome (Italy) designed by Giuseppe Momo in 1932. Español: Espectacular escalera de caracol del Museo del Vaticano en Roma (Italia), diseñada por Giuseppe Momo en 1932. Nederlands: Spectaculaire wenteltrap in de Vaticaanse Musea in Rome (Italië) ontworpen door Giuseppe Momo in 1932. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: A Colossal Statue of Ceres, identifie...

English: A Colossal Statue of Ceres, identified by the harvest grain in her right hand. From the Vatican Museums, Rome, Italy. (March 2005) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So-called “Apoxyomenos” (“the Scraper”). Marbl...

So-called “Apoxyomenos” (“the Scraper”). Marble, Roman copy of the 1st century AD after a Greek bronze original ca. 320 BC. From the Trastevere in Roma. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Museo Pio-Clementino in the Vatican Museums.

Museo Pio-Clementino in the Vatican Museums. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Musei Vaticani: Braccio Nuovo (inside).

Musei Vaticani: Braccio Nuovo (inside). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Carlo Brogi (1850-1925) - "Rome - Vatican...

Carlo Brogi (1850-1925) – “Rome – Vatican – Museo Pio-Clementino – Augustus in his older age”. Catalogue # 8262. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Fresco of Mercury - Vatican Museum - ...

English: Fresco of Mercury – Vatican Museum – Rome, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A spiral staircase inside one of the Vatican M...

A spiral staircase inside one of the Vatican Museums (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Augustus of Prima Porta, statue of the emperor...

Augustus of Prima Porta, statue of the emperor Augustus in Museo Chiaramonti, Vatican, Rome (with white background). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bust of Augustus of the Prima Porta type. Roma...

Bust of Augustus of the Prima Porta type. Roman artwork, most of the bust is a modern restoration. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Vatican Museums ( Musei Vaticani) are located inside the Vatican City. They display works from the immense collection acquired by the Roman Catholic Church throughout the centuries. The collection includes some of the most renowned classical sculptures like the Apoxyomenos (Athlete Washing) in the Museo Pio Clementino that houses works of Greek and Roman sculpture. This statue was discovered in 1849 when it was excavated in Trastevere. This statue is a 1st century Roman copy of an original Greek bronze by Lysippus.

Athlete Washing at the Vatican Musuem

I can’t resist the ancient “giant head ” sculptures in Rome! They truly relflect the egos that have dominated this town for centuries.

Classic vatican giant head

The museums contain some of the most important masterpieces of sacred Renaissance art. The intricate and elaborate Roman mosaic floors were made from tesserae colored marble.

Roman Mosaic floor of Neptune at the Vatican Museums

Many Roman military leaders were commemorated with statues throughout Rome. The statues were originally painted with vibrant colors like this replica of the Prima Porta Augustus shown below. The original marble Augustus of Prima Porta is also in the museum.

The famous statue of Augustus Caesar was discovered in 1863, in the Villa of Livia at Prima Porta (first door), a suburb of Rome on the right bank of the Tiber River. Augustus Caesar’s wife, Livia Drusilla, retired to the villa after his death. The sculpture is now displayed in the Braccio Nuovo of the Vatican Museums.

English: Torso of the statue, now in the Bracc...

English: Torso of the statue, now in the Bracchio Nuovo of the , Rome. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Augustus of Prima Porta, statue of the emperor...

Augustus of Prima Porta, statue of the emperor Augustus in Museo Chiaramonti, Vatican, Rome (with white background). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are 54 galleries (salas) in the museums. The last one is the Sistine Chapel. You will witness one of the oldest and most comprehensive art collections in the world! Let’s take a look at some of Vatican Museum’s treasures and masterpieces.

Vatican Museum Treasures

The Goddess of Fertility

1.Pope Julius II founded the museums in the early 16th century. They were visited by 4,310,083 people in the year 2007.

The Vatican Museums trace their origin to one marble sculpture, purchased 500 years ago; the sculpture of Laocoon.

The story of Laocoön was the subject of a play by the Greek writer Sophocles. According to Greek mythology, Laocoön was killed after attempting to expose the ruse of the Trojan Horse by striking it with a spear. The snakes were sent by Athena, and were interpreted by the Trojans as proof that the horse was a sacred object. The most famous account of these events is in Virgil‘s Aeneid. Laocoön warned his fellow Trojans against the wooden horse presented to the city by the Greeks. In the Aeneid, Virgil gives Laocoön the famous line Equo ne credite, Teucri / Quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentes, or “Do not trust the Horse, Trojans: Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even bearing gifts.” This line is the source of the saying: “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.”

The statue was unearthed in 1506 near the site of the Domus Aurea of the Emperor Nero in Rome, in the vineyard of Felice De Fredis  near the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.

Laocoon in Vatican Museums

Pope Julius II,  an enthusiastic classicist,  sent Giuliano da Sangallo and Michelangelo Buonarroti  to examine the discovery. On their recommendation, the pope immediately purchased the sculpture from the vineyard owner. The pope put the sculpture of the Trojan “Laocoön and His Sons” who were named Antiphantes and Thymbraeus in the grips of a sea serpent on public display at the Vatican exactly one month after its discovery. It is believed that the scultures wre from the island of Rhodes and there names were Agesander, Athenodros and Polydorus.

2.   The Stanze della Segnatura are  four rooms decorated by Raphael. They formed part of the apartment situated on the second floor of the Pontifical Palace that was chosen by Julius II della Rovere (pontiff from 1503 to 1513) as his own residence and used also by his successors. The pictorial decoration was executed by Raphael and his school between 1508 and 1524. I love Raphael’s “Baptism of Constantine” and the “Deliverance of Saint Peter.”

Raphael’s Baptism of Constantine

Raphael’s ceiling

Raphael’s Deliverance of St. Peter

3. The Sistine Chapel houses Michelangelo’s brilliant frescoes on the ceiling and lunettes above the windows. Here’s a virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel

In 1473, Pope Sixtus IV commissioned Giovannni De Dolci to build a chapel for Papal ceremonies.  This Sistine Chapel is located in the Vatican Museum a few blocks away from St. Peter’s.  It is famous for its architecture and its elaborate decorative frescoed interior. Many Renaissance artists including Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Pinturicchio and others contributed to the magnificent art display in the Chapel.

Commissioned by Pope Julius II, Michelangelo painted the chapel ceiling between 1508 and 1512.

Sistine Chapel Ceiling by Michelangelo

He resented the commission but  the ceiling and The Last Judgement (1535–1541) is Michelangelo’s crowning achievement in painting. The “Last Judgment” is located on the wall behind the main altar and was completed in 1541.

Saint Jerome holding his flayed skin with Michelangelo’s self-portrait

Pope Paul III commissioned Michelangelo’s “Last Judgment” (1536-1541).  It represents a vortex of divine, human and diabolical bodies. Some souls are blessed and reach paradise and others are damned and cast down into an inferno.

Vatican Last Judgement Information Board

There are information boards in the  Cortile della Pigna that will help you navigate the art in the Chapel.

Check out the  large Roman bronze pinecone that was once a fountain. It is positioned in front of the niche in the courtyard.

Michelangelo’s Ceiling in the Sistine Chapel

One of the primary functions of the Sistine Chapel is that it is a venue for the election of each successive pope in a conclave of the College of Cardinals. During a conclave, a chimney is installed in the roof of the chapel. The smoke from the chimney serves as a signal. If white smoke appears, it is generated by burning the ballots of the election. The white smoke signifies the election of a new pope. If a candidate receives less than a two-thirds majority, the cardinals send black smoke up the chimney. This is created by burning the ballots along with wet straw and chemical additives, therefore it signals that the election has not been successful.

4. The Gallery of the Busts (Galleria dei Busti) is where many ancient busts are displayed  in the Museum of Antiquities.

Ancient busts at the Vatican Museum

The Bust Room in the Vatican Museum

5. The Map Room at the Vatican Musuems is incredible. The barrel vaulted ceiling of the “Gallery of Maps” is the hallway that leads to the former residences of the popes. The map room illustrates stories of the saints and events charted on the wall maps. It is located on the west side of the Belvedere Courtyard in the Vatican. This magnificent hallway contains a series of painted topographical maps of Italy. The maps are based on drawings by friar and geographer Ignazio Danti. The gallery was commissioned in 1580 by Pope Gregory XIII.It took Danti three years (1580–1583) to complete the 40 panels.

A Map of Sardinia at the Vatican Museums

6. The Sarcophagus of Saint Helen, the mother of Constantine is located in Sala a Croce Greca. The ornate object is carved from red porphyry stone with Roman horsemen and barbarian prisoners from the 4th century.

St. Helen’s Sarcophagus

7. The  Pinacoteca Vaticana was commissioned by Pope Pius IV in 1790. The collection was first housed in the Borgia Apartment, until Pope Pius XI ordered construction of a proper building. The designer was Luca Beltrami. The art gallery contains paintings by Giotto, Lippi, Leonardo da Vinci and Caravaggio including:

Leonardo da Vinci’s Saint Jerome

Fra Filippo Lippi’s Coronation of the Virgin

1.  Giotto, “The Stefaneschi Altarpiece”
2. Fra Angelico, “Madonna and Child with St. Dominic, St. Catherine and the Angels
3. ”Filippo Lippi, “Coronation of the Virgin”
4.   Bellini, “Pieta” (1471)
5. Pinturicchio, “Adoration of the Magi” (in the Borgia Apartment)
6. Leonardo da Vinci, “St. Jerome” (1480) Raphael’s Oddi Altarpiece,  “Crowning of the Virgin” (1503) and “The Foligno Madonna”

Caravaggio’s Entombment

7. Caravaggio’s, “The Deposition” shows Christ’s hand brushing againstthe tombstone.Saint John the Evangelist and Nicodemus, the Pharisee and doctor of law, struggle to support his body.The Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene are bent toward Jesus.This painting was originally commissioned for a church in Rome but it was moved here when itwas returned from France.

“The Vatican Museums Under the Stars”  Exhibit is open from May 6-July 15 every Friday. Get your tickets on-line, get there early and proceed to the Sistine Chapel immediately. I was fortunate enough to almost have the entire Chapel to myself!!

After admiring the amazing art, helix staircase and sculptures collected by the papacy since the 15th century in the Vatican Museum, have a Vino con Vista by enjoying a glass of Cesanese or Montepulciano di Abruzzo wine in one of the charming neighborhood cafes like Bar Santa Anna or Pizzeria il Migliore on via Santa Anna.

Vatican Museums Helix Staircase by Giuseppe Momo in 1932

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Italy Travel Guides. To learn more about Rome visit

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What does Milan Italy have in common with New York?

Last supper
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Milan was founded by the Gauls in the early 4th century B.C. and grew rapidly following the Roman conquest in 222 B.C.  By 1277, Archbishop Otto Visconti imposed hegemony over the city and 130 years of Visconti rule ensued. Gian Visconti (1351-1402) was a generous patron of the arts and initiated the construction of the magnificent Duomo.

Milan is similar to New York because it is the nucleus of finance, business and fashion. Many Italian multinational corporations are headquartered in Milan. The location contributes to the historic significance of trade with countries north of the Alps.

Lombardy’s capital is set at the foot of the Alps and serves as the business capital of Italy. Milan is also the Italian hub of fashion. Designer luminaries grace the catwalks of Milan. The famous monument by Claes Oldenburg’s is a brightly colored “Needle, Thread, and Knots” and symbolizes Milan’s fashion prowess. This interesting sculpture is in Piazzale Cadorna in front of the train station. The city is an upscale shopping mecca.

Visit the Pinocoteca at the Brera Museum and get an audio guide. The museum was founded in 1799 and was transformed into a Napoleonic museum in 1809. The Napoleon I statue by Canova stands in the center of the courtyard. The museum is nestled in a 17th century palace that was originally a Jesuit college. Most of the artwork in the Brera is from Lombardy and the Venato. The building is also the home of the Accademia di Belle Arti and the Brera Library. Much of the museum had to be rebuilt because it was devastated by World War II bombs. Magnificent works of art by Bellini, Montegna, Caravaggio and Raphael will tantalize your visual senses.

Visit the magnificent Duomo of Milan. Climb to the top of the majestic 14th century Duomo. It is an outstanding example of flamboyant gothic architecture and measures 479 feet long by 284 feet wide. A golden Madonna surmounts the highest spire that was cast in copper by Giuseppe Bibi in 1774. The tomb of San Carlo Borromeo is in the crypt; he was the cardinal of Milan. The central tower is 354 feet high and offers a breathtaking view of Milan. The mountains are visible on a clear day.

After you climb to the top of the Duomo, relax at a table in the Piazza del Duomo. It is a great place for people-watching and admiring the 135 spires and elaborate statues that adorn the façade of the magnificent Gothic Cathedral. At one of the local restaurants, savor your Risotto alla Milanese, Ossobucco or breaded Milanese veal cutlet as you gaze at the stylish fashionistas in the square.

 Conclude your afternoon with a shopping spree at Milan’s famous glass-enclosed shopping Galleria. Visit the elegant Prada boutique or buy a sophisticated Borsalino hat in their historic shop. Before you leave the Galleria, it is customary to step on the genitals of the mosaic “Taurus the Bull” on the floor of the Galleria for good luck. Set your sites on La Terrazza on Via Palestro to enjoy an evening of fine food and wine overlooking the public gardens. Try some regional specialties like Tortelli di Zucca, Pizzaccheri alla Valtellinese or Cottoletta alla Milanese.

Plan your trip to the refectory of the convent of the gothic church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. It is the home of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.” This fresco was painted between 1495 and 1497.  The church is an outstanding example of Italian Renaissance architecture crowned by Donato Bramante’s elegant dome. The restoration of the fresco was completed during the 500 year anniversary of Leonardo’s completion of the masterpiece. Reserve tickets well in advance prior to your departure. To learn more about Milan and Northern Italy, read Travel Guides and  

Vino Con Vista Travel Guides can be purchased at these sites

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