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An Indian at Colosseum in Rome: Gladiator Movie coming alive

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I was very young when I watched the Gladiator movie for the first time. There were a few scenes which got etched into my mind forever. Especially those fight scenes which take place inside an amphitheater and where Russel Crowe emerges victorious.

Gladiator, Enya, and Celtic Music:

I always wondered. Was the stadium so big during medieval times? Taking some imaginary cues and clues from the Discovery channel and Nat Geo, my inquisitiveness even grew bigger as in how almost close to impossible it had been to erect such a magnificent building. The vividness of the architecture shown in the movie floated over my mind for days.

Years later, when I was doing my masters, that was the first time I got adequately introduced to the Celtic music and learned that “Enya” was one of those singers whose songs echoed in my mind in accord with the emotional resonance.

Those golden wheat fields as shown in the movie in the end and the background soundtrack sung by Enya called “Now we are free” would transport me emotionally into a completely different dimension.

Reaching Colosseum after years watching Gladiator:

During my internship in Berlin, in my last months, I decided to visit colosseum. Though my journey began with Venice but I was actually waiting for to arrive in Rome and see the Colosseum.

When enquired at the hotel about the Colosseum, we got to know that there would usually be a long queue at the entrance. ignoring that fact, we (I and Shayan) decided to go there and deal with our lifetime opportunity. So we arrived at the Colosseum.

Of course, there was a long queue but you beat the wait at the queue with the enthusiasm. The first far glimpse of the colosseum from a distance seems a giant structure from the ancient times. The big pillars, high walls touching the sky is a wonder in its own.

colosseum-1

Colosseum does not seem to be engrafted with the beauty lying inside of it. From the outside, it just looks like an old rickety structure. When we entered inside, there were tier-level structures. The actual grandeur of that magnificent architecture can only be seen when you go inside.

There are tens of entrances to the colosseum. There used to be different entrances for the different class of people. For example, nobles had different entrance than the common man. Also, the sitting arrangement got used to get differentiated among the classes.

The higher hierarchy would sit on the top level while the lower class people used to sit at the lower sitting arrangements. There was also a common ground where gladiators used to fight. When I saw the main arena, that reminded me of the Gladiator movie.

colosseum-6

You can still see the exposed part of the gates and alleys under the arena where gladiators used to stay back before entering the main arena. Those thick walls of small bricks, roman architecture and everything else would take you back centuries ago and force you to think the way it would have been then.

Colosseum in Evening:

It took us a lot of time to visit the colosseum. When the sun went down in the west, we did not realize. Once the darkness engulfed the sky, soon the pale yellow lights were being thrown at the outer walls of the colosseum. I and Shayan just decided to sit there for no reason.

Sky turned from dark blue to completely dark. The number of tourists abated gradually. Even the local by shops got closed. A few couples were walking hand in hand. And we just sat there on the rocks. I must insist that you should also experience something like that. Then, we again decided to take a round of the colosseum from the outside.

colosseum-3

I don’t know what kind of experience I accumulated within me but that surely was something inexplicable. That was so mystifying in conjugation with the past and the movie Gladiator.

Colosseum Photos:

Charles Bridge, Prague: What to do and What to see?

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Charles Bridge was not lesser than a local synonym for the “one of the must-visit places in Prague”. Intrigued by this catchy name, after doing boating in river Vlatava, I decided to spend some time walking on the bridge and try to understand what people love to do.

Some facts about Charles bridge, Prague:

So, following a tourist guide who was addressing Chinese tourists, I came to know that Charles bridge was the oldest bridge in Prague. While the most of the Prague settled on the west side of the river (towards old town square), the king somehow decided to build a castle on top of the hillock across the river Vltava called Petrin hill.

And that is how Charles bridge came into existence as it was the only way to commute from town to the castle. Well, all were not allowed to cross the river Vltava towards the castle side of the bridge. Also, this side housed the quarters of the people working for the castle.

quarters-near-prague-palace-across-charles-bridge

quarters-near-Prague-palace-across-Charles-bridge

From the protection point of view, Charles bridge, the only way to reach the castle has three watch towers. Two watch towers at the end of the bridge and one in the middle towards the castle side. When you enter from the old town square side, you can see that watch tower.

watch-towers-of-charles-bridge-in-prague

watch-towers-of-Charles-bridge-in-Prague

The story does not end here. One of the most flamboyant and noticeable thing for which Charles bridge was famous because of the two rows of the statues all along the bridge. On the both of the sides of the bridge, you can see statues of the saints and even the famous statue of the Cruxificaiton of the Jesus.

cruxification-of-jesus-statue-on-charles-bridge-in-prague

cruxification-of-Jesus-statue-on-Charles-bridge-in-Prague

statues-of-charles-bridge-in-prague

statues-of-charles-bridge-in-prague

However, these statues were removed later and were replaced by the replicas of the statues. Also, the Charles bridge had to go through a lot of restoration work since medieval times only. These restoration works were mostly employed because of the medieval wars and natural calamities like flood. You can still see those restoration works on the bridge pillars.

Charles bridge in modern days:

Owing to that fact that Charles bridge was not capable of carrying the weight of the modern vehicle because of the number of restoration works it had to go through, the government decided to ban the transport movement across the bridge. So, this bridge is only open for the pedestrians now.

pedestrians-at-charles-bridge

pedestrians-at-Charles-bridge

You can see a lot of artists making a caricature of the people on the bridge. You will have to pay for it. Yes, you can take an ice cream cone and stand on the sidewalks and watch the tourists crossing on the bridge.

charles-bridge-caricatures

charles-bridge-caricatures

caricature-in-progress-at-charles-bridge-in-prague

caricature-in-progress-at-charles-bridge-in-prague

What to see from the Charles bridge, Prague

Charles bridge is an awesome place to enjoy the view of the city along the banks of the river Vltava. The roof of the most of the buildings are red in color and it presents a kind of symmetric structures. Watching the couples walking hand in hand is just a treat to the eye.

If you really want to observe the microexpression of a human face, just stand behind a Skechers who is making a caricature of a person. You will surely love the way the zig-zag lines give a shape to a face. If you stand on the sidewalks, you can see tourists’ boats and ships floating slowly on the river. Though the water is not so clear but still that is something you can relish seeing.

river-vltava-in-evening-from-charles-bridge

river-vltava-in-evening-from-charles-bridge

Also Read: Places to See in Potsdam: Potsdam in a day on Bicycle

The best time to spend some time on the Charles bridge would be a clear evening. Just stand on the bridge and watch the sun go down behind the Petrin hill and getting lost somewhere behind the castles. The show is not over yet. You stay there for some more town. The cold wind from the river Vltava may tempt you to smoke there or pull up the hood of your jacket and rub your palms together. Or, just enjoy music from a street artist.

a-street-artist-at-charles-bridge

a-street-artist-at-Charles-bridge

In next half hour, the yellow lights of the Prague castle lighten up and certainly, the entire view has gradually turned from a sparkling heaven. It’s not just the yellow lights falling on the wall of the castle but look down at the bright shimmering shadow being formed over the Vlatava river. Those moments are really too hard to resist to not to take a picture of the Prague castle in the evening.

prague-castle-as-seen-in-night-from-charles-bridge

prague-castle-as-seen-in-night-from-charles-bridge

prague-castle-in-night

prague-castle-in-night

Your hands would automatically reach out for the camera and you would make sure that you do not move from there until you get the best shot of the castle.

Later in the evening, you can either decide to walk on the other side of the river or you can simply walk towards the old town square. I always preferred the old town square. That’s the place in the evening where you can sip Pilsner beer with Pomme Frites and watch the life pass by in front of your very eyes.

Also Read: Royal Palace, Budapest