The Tower of Pisa, often referred to as "The Leaning Tower of Pisa," is one of the world’s most famous landmarks. The tower itself was originally built as the bell tower for Pisa’s cathedral. It was intended to stand upright, but began leaning in 1178, five years after construction began. The "lean" occurred because the 185 foot tower was built on weak, unstable soil.
The Tower of Pisa was recently closed to the public for eleven years while reconstructive efforts were undertaken to prevent it from toppling. It was reopened in 2001.
The Colosseum is a large, ancient Amphitheatre located in Rome. Construction on the Colosseum began in 70 AD under the Roman emperor Vespasian, and was completed in 80 AD under Titus. The colossal structure once seated over 50,000 spectators, who who would come to The Colosseum to see gladitorial combat, mock sea battles, animal hunts, theatrical performances, executions, and other public spectacles. The Colosseum was used for over 500 years and was the largest amphitheatre ever built in the Roman Empire.
Although the Colosseum has been eroded over time by earthquakes and stone-robbers, it remains one of the international symbols of Rome.
In 1508, Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the chapel within the Apostolic Palace (home of the Roman-Catholic Pope). The elaborate ceiling took four years to complete. Working on scaffolding high above the chapel floor, Michelangelo painted over 400 life-sized figures on the ceiling by 1512. The ceiling features nine scenes from the Book of Genesis, seven Old Testament prophets, and five sibyls (characters from Greek mythology). Of the Old Testament scenes, the Creation of Adam is the most renowned. The depictions on the walls of the Sistine Chapel were painted by other renowned Renaissance artists such as Cosimo Rosselli.
Today, the Sistine Chapel is one of the most visited sites in Rome.
The city of Pompeii is one of the world’s most unusual landmarks. In the year 79 AD, nearby Mt. Vesuvius erupted and buried the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in layers of burning ash. The only account of the eruption that survives is from Pliny the Younger. From the dramatic account, scientists believe the cloud of ash he witnessed descend upon Pompeii was 20 miles high.
The city of Pompeii was completely buried. It was rediscovered in 1748, more than 1600 years after the eruption. The people of Pompeii were found buried under 12 layers of soil. Many of the buildings were amazingly well-preserved, as were the bodies of those who were just going about their daily routines when the eruption occurred. The ruins at Pompeii have provided archaeologists with valuable information about how people in the Roman Empire lived. Today, Pompeii is one of the most visited sites in Italy.