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Far from Heaven, 124 steps far from the Altar of Heaven.

An image took in Roma, looking to the fantastic stairway of 124 steps made of stone that runs up to Santa Maria in Aracoeli ("St. Mary of the Altar of Heaven") on the top of the Campidoglio Hill.

It is a titular basilica church in Rome and it is still the designated Church of the Italian Senate and the Roman people (Senatus Populusque Romanus - SPQR).
Originally the church was named Santa Maria in Capitolo, since it was sited on the Capitoline Hill (Campidoglio) of Ancient Rome; by the 14th century it had been renamed.
It is possible that the church was built over the temple of Juno Moneta, built over the Arx. The other hypothesis is that the church replaced the auguraculum, the seat of the augurs.

The foundation of the church was laid on the site of a Byzantine abbey mentioned in 574; at first it followed the Greek rite, a sign of the power of the Byzantine exarch. Taken over by the papacy by the 9th century, the church was given first to the Benedictines, then, by papal bull to the Franciscans in 1249–1250; under the Franciscans it received its Romanesque-Gothic aspect. The arches that divide the nave from the aisles are supported on columns, no two precisely alike, scavenged from Roman ruins. During the Middle Ages, this church became the centre of the religious and civil life of the city. in particular during the republican experience of the 14th century, when Cola di Rienzo inaugurated the monumental stairway of 124 steps in front of the church, designed in 1348 by Simone Andreozzi, on the occasion of the Black Death.

In 1571, Santa Maria in Aracoeli hosted the celebrations honoring Marcantonio Colonna after the victorious Battle of Lepanto over the Turkish fleet. Marking this occasion, the compartmented ceiling was gilded and painted (finished 1575), to thank the Blessed Virgin for the victory. In 1797, with the Roman Republic, the basilica was deconsecrated and turned into a stable.

The church is built in three naves that are divided by Roman columns, all different, taken from diverse antique monuments. Among its numerous treasures are Pinturicchio's 15th-century frescoes depicting the life of Saint Bernardino of Siena in the Cappella Bufalini, the first chapel on the right. Other splendid features are the wooden ceiling, the inlaid cosmatesque floor, a Transfiguration painted on wood by Girolamo Siciolante da Sermoneta, the tombstone of Giovanni Ceivelli by Donatello, the tomb of Cecchino Bracci, designed by his friend Michelangelo, and works by other notable artists like Pietro Cavallini, Benozzo Gozzoli and Giulio Romano. It houses also a Madonna and a sepulchral monument by Arnolfo di Cambio in the transept.
The relics of Saint Helena, mother of Constantine the Great are housed at Santa Maria in Aracoeli. Pope Honorius IV and Queen Catherine of Bosnia are also buried in the church.

Model: Canon PowerShot S400
Exposure Time: 1/251
F-Stop: f/7.1
Focal Length: 237/32 mm
Date Taken: 2005-09-25 12:40
Metering Mode: Pattern
Flash: Flash did not fire, auto mode
File Size: 186 kb

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Viewed: 2012
Points: 32
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Additional Photos by Paolo Motta (Paolo) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3739 W: 144 N: 8840] (41258)
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