Friday, April 27, 2012

san nicola in carcere walk, rome april 26,2012

left outside wall of san nicola incorporating the outside wall of a  2nd century b.c. roman temple 
models of  three (there were four) B.C. Roman temples that were on this site, model is found in crypt on church

16th century wooden ceiling of church

we climbed up a staircase and at the back of church and we were at the top level of the roman temple

we moved on to the church of San Bartolomeo on the Isola Tiberina (tiber island). this is one of the few medieval pieces, a 1,000 year old well, which remains in the church. Christ figure.

well had 4 figures on it. this is san bartolomeo, back side had Otto III, a German king, who founded the church

view of ponte cestio, dates back to 69 B.C. connects the tiber island to 'mainland". view of synagogue in distance

The island was encircled in travetine and said to have the shape of a ship. Part of these B.C ruins can be seen on the island if you walk down to the river level. you can see the ship shape with part of a figure of Aesculapius and the serpent carved on it (not shown here).

balsalt grinding stones which were used at the edge of the river to grind grain when the aquaducts were cut by the Goths. 
Visited San Nicola in Carcere which dates back to possibly 8th century, current church is 16th century. Inside church there is a column with an inscription written in the 8th century by a man who donated a number of things so that a relative could be buried at the base of the column. There is another inscription dedicated to San Nicola (St nicholas) from 1128. Inside the church the columns from the Roman temples are used. Outside San Nicola incorporates ruins of two outside walls of two temples  (1st and 3rd temples)and the site it is on has the remains of the second temple. In front of the church there are fenced off ruins which were the steps to the temple where animal sacrifices took place.

We headed across the Ponte Fabricio which is the oldest roman bridge to have survived, dates to 69 B.C., you can still see the inscription on one of the arches. On the island there is the Fatebenefratelli (do good brothers) hospital. The first hospital here was in 1582 started by San Giovanni di Dio, he had had a prior hospital at Piazza di Petra. He belonged to a brotherhood and was apparently the first to start hospitals which helped people maintain their dignity. First time hospitals were having only one person to a bed instead of several people. He collected money for the hospital by going around to his fellow brothers and other people and saying "do good brothers".

  In Roman times there were another 3 Roman temples on this small island area.  If one goes into the hospital today (owned by the Vatican, but it is a city hospital) you can still see some of the ruins. We were able to visit the 16th century baroque church in the hospital. Gino (our weekly tour guide) explained the elegance of the place in terms of architectural space etc. On ceiling is a fresco of San Giovanni di Dio.  We also visited the chapel of the brotherhood (in building to left of San Bartolomeo) which is now more a less a depository for bones of people who were found in the river. Creepy place.

Lastly, we went into San Bartolomeo which was built on the remains of Aesculapius. It also has reused some of the roman temple columns. The red porphory coffin of the apostle San Bartolomeo is on the altar. He was skinned alive in Armenia. Story goes that his body was carried by water to island of Lipari and then taken to Salerno. The German king who built the church wanted a relic, the Salernitani wanted to keep their relic so most likely they only sent part of San Bartolomeo's body to Rome. They believe part of his body and part of the body of another saint are in the coffin.

Excellent tour.


  1. Wow, really cool tour. Had you been to these places before? It seems like there is a never-ending amount of ruins in Rome to be seen, each with their own detailed story in the vast Roman history! Looks like a gorgeous day as well. :)

  2. Hi Lissa,

    Yes I had been in San Nicola before but not in the underground or top of the church. I had also not been in the bones section (don't plan to go back there) of the hospital area. Yes, there is a never ending about of sites, churches, history to discover.