Sunday, 30 August 2015

What's the Time?

In Rome there are many unusual ways of finding out the time of day.

 
Take the Pantheon, for example, where the oculus appears to act as a giant sundial. You can tell the time of day by observing the beam of light which  crosses the doorway at noon.
On 21st April, Rome's birthday, the sunbeam hits the metal grille above the door and floods the outside courtyard with light. Imagine what the ancient Romans thought when they saw their Emperor bathed in this glow. No wonder they believed Emperors were Gods.


 Another sundial can be found in Piazza Montecitorio, behind the parliament buildings.

 
The obelisk was bought to Rome from Heliopolis by Emperor Augustus and originally stood in Campo Marzio. It was re-erected here after being excavated in five pieces in the 18th century.
Originally a solar meridian line was drawn at the foot of the obelisk which demonstrated the accuracy of the calendar introduced by Julius Caesar. A modern meridian line can be found in the paving in Piazza Montecitorio.

 
 
The meridian line seen above can be found in Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri near Termini station. The sun shines through a hole in the wall and hits the line at various points throughout the year.



If you wish to know the time in the Villa Borghese Gardens you can consult the Water Clock which runs on a hydraulic mechanism. It fits in beautifully within the surroundings, appearing to be almost part of the rocks and foliage. The clock was exhibited at the Paris Expo in 1867


Perhaps my favourite way of telling the time in Rome is to look up to the Torre dell'Orologio in the piazza of the same name. This Borromini designed  tower is a delight to behold but is close to my heart as I think of it as the 'Magic of the Movies' clock. It appears outside the window of Joe Bradleys Via Margutta apartment in Roman Holiday, miles away from the real location.

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