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Written by UK Flower Girl on 17 Sep, 2009
Temple of Jupiter AnxurSitting above Terracina on Mount Sant’Angelo are several large, flat terrace platforms for supporting buildings. The Temple of Jupiter Anxur sits on one of these platforms. The unobstructed views from up here were magnificent. You could see northward in…Read More
Temple of Jupiter AnxurSitting above Terracina on Mount Sant’Angelo are several large, flat terrace platforms for supporting buildings. The Temple of Jupiter Anxur sits on one of these platforms. The unobstructed views from up here were magnificent. You could see northward in the direction of Roma and southward in the direction of Napoli. Looking up from the town below you can really see what a commanding presence the temple must have had back in its day.This Roman temple dates mostly from the 4th century BC. It was found that some of the development goes back to the 1st and 2nd century BC. Much of its history relates to the famous Via Appia Antica, built between Rome and Brindisi.After the Roman period, the sanctuary was destroyed and burned and the remains were known in medieval times as "Palace of Theodoric". Part of it was used as a church for some time and the entire structure was finally abandoned at the end of the 16th century. First excavations of the structure took place at the end of the 19th century.The upper portions of the structure were mainly used for military purposes with the lower portion being used as the temple.The complex consisted of several buildings. The main temple, or cella, dominates the structure. There are several parts of ruins that have been left behind. Facing the sea is a cloister area with eleven arches and landward the passage opens onto a 60 metre-long vaulted hall. It was fun to wander through these arches and look out over the incredible landscape below.There is much speculation about the origins of the name and which God or Goddesses were being worshipped. There is also much detail written out there about dimensions and history that I will not repeat here. The information is freely available about the subject and, honestly, isn’t of that much interest to me. I would rather go and have a look around with a brief introduction of the history.There was no entry fee, no security, and no barriers or anything of the like. You can come and go as you please. There is a large car park and plenty of space for picnics, children to wander, etc. There is a small café that sells snacks and drinks as well as guidebooks. Close
Written by UK Flower Girl on 15 Sep, 2009
Every year my husband has a week-long conference to attend somewhere in Europe. Back in 2005 it was Frascati, Italy, 20km southeast of Rome. Each year he attends these conferences we extend out the weekend and I join him. I flew out…Read More
Every year my husband has a week-long conference to attend somewhere in Europe. Back in 2005 it was Frascati, Italy, 20km southeast of Rome. Each year he attends these conferences we extend out the weekend and I join him. I flew out to Rome from England on a Thursday, arriving in the evening. It was my job to pick up the rental car and drive out to Frascati to his posh hotel to meet him. That was an experience in itself. Picking up the rental car was the easy part. I won’t bore you with the details, but I was scared. I had no idea where I was going. My directions were vague. The signage on the roads was poor. Driving in the dark along with the locals who decidedly used stop lights as a mere suggestion wasn’t my idea of fun. I was sure there was at least one wrong or missed turn involved because the signs were not showing anything I needed. As I declared failure and wanted to curl up into a ball and cry I looked up and there was a sign for Frascati. Praise the Lord. I made it in one piece. I saw Tom for two minutes as he was in the middle of a Gala Dinner in the hotel.Note: I am not going to go into a long, historical explanation of either of these two towns. Both can be read on Wikipedia or many other sources. The following morning a fragile Tom and I headed south towards Sperlonga, our next overnight stop. Both of these cities are located in the Lazio (Latium in English) region of Italy which has five provinces: Frosinone, Latina, Rieti, Rome and Viterbo. Most of our time would be spent in the coastal areas in the Province of Latina in the towns of Sperlonga and Terracina.Sperlonga is a tourist town and beach resort. There are just over 3000 residents in the little town as well as plenty of hotels for visitors. The lovely old town is painted white and goes up and down, up and down with steps. Little tourist shops and homes are tucked in along all of the nooks and crannies of the narrow streets.Tom and I took a walk from our hotel up into the old town. The old town is very picturesque. Everywhere we turned were little things to see like a little chapel, cappella s. rocco extra mura, scenic overlooks, interesting architecture, locals going about their business, roaming cats (the dozens of cats we saw everywhere), and quiet places to take in the views.After a stroll through Sperlonga we drove over to Terracina to see what this larger town was like. We first viewed it from above. The Temple of Jupiter Anxur sits high above Terracina and gives amazing views of the town as well as the coastline going in either direction.From here it was a short drive down into the town. Parking seemed to be a bit of a problem around lunchtime. After finding nowhere to park, Tom randomly chose an illegal place to park, he wasn’t the only one. This is Italy. What was going to happen? Terracina is a bit more populated with 43,000+ residents. It also has a longer, more complicated history. The town is full of medieval architecture and Roman remains.The first place we saw at Terracina was a bit unsettling if only because of the name--Via del Purgatorio. And a little church called Chiesa del Purgatorio. The church was built between 1750 and 1787 on the ruins of the medieval church of S. Nicola. It is the only late-baroque religious architecture in the town. And the only centrally planned church having a church square. It was an interesting diversion and on we went looking for the piazza and old buildings which we could see from above.We found out that the Duomo, The Cathedral of SS. Pietro e Cesareo, is the building we could see from above. The front of the church has a mosaic frieze across the top with ten columns and lions at the bottom of the columns. Steps lead up to the church where there is a Cosmatesque-inlaid vestibule and more steps leading up to the door. The bell tower, campanile in Italian, is done in Gothic-Romanesque style and even looks a bit out of place on the building. Because it was lunchtime—and everything shuts at lunchtime—we were unable to go inside.As we wandered around town from here we could see excavation/archaeology work being carried out in a couple of areas. Tom and I spent another half hour or so in Terracina before returning to our car and heading on to our next place of exploration.As a little side note and to give you some additional information about the town, this is the text from an information board in the old town section of Sperlonga:Sperlonga’s long sandy beaches are among the few between Rome and Naples still free from pollution. Its climate is one of the best in the world. Its fishing fleet brings in fresh seafood every day, and it even has an interesting history. Not far away there was a Greek settlement called Amyclae, but it has left no trace beyond extravagant theories about its disappearance. The name Sperlonga comes from the Latin word "Speluncae" for the caves that are typical of the area. The most important of these is the Grotto of Tiberius, which was part of a large villa used by this Roman Emporer. From the 5th century the villa was occupied by monks, who in the 9th century moved to the greater safety of the rocky promontory, where a maze of narrow passages, steep slopes and steps, and archways giving sudden views of the sea are now the core of the town.The brief Roman flowering of Sperlonga as a leisure resort for noblemen was followed by a long and tragic period of isolation and decline. Depredations by Saracens and other invaders and pirates lasted from the 6th to as late as the 18th century. The worst of many was in 1534, when Khair ed Din Barbarossa slaughtered or enslaved most of the inhabitants on his way inland to Fondi in a crazy and unsuccessful attempt to capture the Contessa Giulia Gonzaga for his sultan’s harem. The Torre Truglia, the Watchtower at the seaward end of the promontory, symbolizes the many centuries under the threat of such incursions. It is only since the second world war that Sperlonga has finally has been able to resume its logical function as a leisure resort. Several modern hotels have been built above the western beach, and a new part of the town has developed on the landward side of the promontory. Sperlonga has also found a new archaeological fame. When the new coastal road was being built in 1958, the Grotto of Tiberius was used as a depository for equipment. It was found to have contained thousands of fragments of sculpture. There were to be taken to Rome for examination but fearing they would never see them again the people of Sperlonga physically prevented their removal. Eventually a new national museum to house the laboriously reconstructed sculptures was opened in 1963 on the coastal road above the ruins of the imperial villa. Close