Roman Emperors
and the Pantheon
Rome, Italy
Augustus (Octavian) was the first Roman Emperor.  He
defeated Mark Anthony and brought an end to the Republic.
For better or worse, Rome would now be ruled by Emperors.
Roman Emperors loved to build triumphant arches  to
celebrate their victories.  This is the Arch of Constantine, 312
AD, next to the Colosseum.  Emperor Constantine paved the
way for Rome to embrace Christianity, and also split the
empire into east and west by establishing his capital at
Constantinople, what is now Istanbul, Turkey.
Here are fragments of a giant Constantine statue, good
background for wedding photos.  While Rome fell,
Constantinople evolved into the capital of the Byzantine
Empire, which held out until conquered by the Ottoman
Turks in 1453.  This east-west division is still reflected  
today, with the Orthodox Christian Church having its
roots in Byzantium, while the Roman Catholic Church
descended from the western empire centered in Rome.
Rome's Pantheon is the city's best preserved building from
the Roman Empire.  It included the greatest dome of the
ancient world, constructed in 27 BC and then rebuilt a
century later by the Emperor Hadrian.  The Pantheon was
dedicated to the gods of Imperial Rome.
Here is the interior of the Pantheon.  This building survived
because it became a Christian Church, replacing the pagan
gods of the Roman Empire.  I have learned that the classical
Greek and Roman structures which remain relatively intact
today were all converted into churches and/or mosques.
The McDonald's Empire has managed to open a store
directly opposite the Pantheon, a modern triumph.  In
Venice, McDonald's has a less prominent location near St.
Mark's Square.  As of 2001, Florence was still resisting a
McDonald's invasion of its historic old city area.
If you have a high speed internet connection, watch the Intrepid
Berkeley Explorer's free video that is 100% Italy,  by clicking
on  
Gondola With the Wind 2  ; also see Rome, Florence, Pisa,
and Venice by clicking on the earlier
Gondola With the Wind