The Pantheon

The Pantheon is a former Roman temple which is now a Catholic church, in Rome, Italy. It was originally commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus. It was completed by the emperor Hadrian and probably dedicated about 126 AD. The oculus in the ceiling is open to the sky so sometimes it rains inside like it did the day we visited. It was built as a sundial to illuminate the emperor as he entered on important occasions.

It is also a basilica since Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, known as Raphael is buried there, He died April 6th, 1520, and had asked to be buried in the Pantheon. His request was granted, making him the first artist to be accorded such an honor.

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The Pantheon

Pantheon Interior

Pantheon Interior

The Pantheon

The Tomb of Raffaello Sanzio da Urbin

The Pantheon

The Pantheon

The Pantheon

The Pantheon

Tempio Maggiore di Roma

We have made an effort when traveling through Europe to not only visit famous Churches but also the Synagogues. In each city we find the ancient ghettos and houses of worships that our ancestors visited. Tempio Maggiore di Roma is truly one of the most magnificent Synagogues on the planet. Like most Synagogues and few Churches it is guarded by the military the necessity of which makes me sad.

Our tour was allowed in at the end of a wedding which made our visit even more special. There is also a wonderful Jewish Museum which I will cover in a future post.

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Tempio Maggiore di Roma

Tempio Maggiore di Roma

Tempio Maggiore di Roma

Never Forget Kristallnacht

November 9, 1938

Americans have some dates burned in their memory. September 11 and December 6 are two notorious dates where Americans were attacked, killed and suffered extreme hardships. It is important as Americans to remember these dates and honor the fallen.

However, as citizens of the world we MUST remember today as well because it is the anniversary of Kristallnacht. Tonight were the first attacks on Jewish homes in Germany. At least 91 Jews were killed in the attacks, and a further 30,000 arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps. Jewish homes, hospitals, and schools were ransacked, over 1,000 synagogues were burned and Jewish businesses destroyed or damaged. Millions of others experienced death and torture by the lunatic Hitler.

We must never forget and always honor this day. Things are much better in Europe now for Jewish people that have remained or returned over all these years. However, this year when visiting Italy I saw it was still necessary for soldiers to guard the synagogues.

Synagogue in Milan Italy

L’ Shana Tova

Tonight is the beginning of one of the most sacred holidays in Judaism: Rosh Hashanah. I can’t help but wonder what services would look like in the beautiful Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is known for its Red Light District, Canals, Coffee Shops and Museums. Nestled in this backdrop is one of the great Synagogues of the world. It was built by Spanish Jews escaping the Spanish Inquisition. Since Holland and Spain were at war with one another, those escaping persecution said they were Portuguese to gain entry in to the country. Many Synagogues in Europe today restrict access due to persistent anti-Semitic feelings. However the Portuguese Synagogue is open for visitors for a small fee. You can also attend services on Friday or Saturday without paying a fee. The entire Synagogue is lit by candles and there is an excellent Judaica store where you can buy beautiful souvenirs and find out about the history of the building.L’shanah Tovah (Happy New Year!)

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Portuguese Synagogue Amsterdam Holland

Thousand Columns

The Thousand Columns of Chichen Itza isn’t because there are exactly thousand columns but merely a large number of columns that supported the roof of what is believed to be the ancient market place. The roof may have been made of mortar, wood or thatch. It is believed that these were great meeting halls adjacent to the market.

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1000 Columns

1000 Columns

Jungle Temple

In addition to the famous temple “El Castillo”, there are over 50 others at Chichen Itsa. Some were actually private for the upper classes only. You can almost see Indiana Jones running away from this one carrying an ancient artifact.

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Jungle Temple

Jungle Temple

El Castillo

Chichen Itsa is a large ancient Mayan city state in the Yucatan province of Mexico. This building is El Castillo and is considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. It is fascinating that archeologists recently discovered another temple like this one built underneath El Castillo. They believe that periodically temples were routinely built on top of other temples and therefore the Mayan culture is older than believed.

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El Castillo in Chichen Itza

El Castillo in Chichen Itza