Saturday, 5 March 2011

At the gates of Rome

When I first saw this pyramid I thought it was a modern structure, I should have known better, this card is after all of Rome. Built for the rich praetor Gaius Cestis in the years18-12BC  it was his last resting place, a tomb. The interior is a burial chamber. When Rome conquered Egypt in 30BC anything Egyptian became fashionable so why not build your pyramid at the fork of two roads so people would pass it on their way into Rome.

The contrastingly round gates are the 3rd Century Porta Ostiensis, so called because they led to Ostia which was Rome's harbour in ancient times. at the mouth of the Tiber River.  It eventually silted up. Nowadays it is called the Porta San Paolo because it was the exit of Rome that led to St Paul's basilica. Today they stand in isolation but in the 3rd Century they were attached to the Aurelia walls.  The card brings to life the  history I learnt at school about Rome's decline and the vandals sacking the city, for in 549 the Ostrogoths entered the city through these very gates.

I don't know what date this unused card is but I do love the cars on it, the little Fiat by the gate and the open topped car in the foreground.  Driving in Rome I think may not be as idyllic as this scene looks on the card so perhaps it is best to take the metro and get off at the station called "Piramide"

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