Pyramid of Cestius
The Pyramid of Cestius (in Italian, Piramide di Caio Cestio or Piramide Cestia) is an ancient pyramid in Rome, Italy, near the Porta San Paolo and the Protestant Cemetery. It stands at a fork between two ancient roads, the Via Ostiensis and another road that ran west to the Tiber along the approximate line of the modern Via della Marmorata. Due to its incorporation into the city's fortifications, it is today one of the best-preserved ancient buildings in Rome.
The pyramid was built about 18 BC–12 BC as a tomb for Gaius Cestius, a magistrate and member of one of the four great religious corporations in Rome, the Septemviri Epulonum. It is of brick-faced concrete covered with slabs of white marble standing on a travertine foundation, measuring 100 Roman feet (29.6 m) square at the base and standing 125 Roman feet (37 m) high.
In the interior is the burial chamber, a simple barrel-vaulted rectangular cavity measuring 5.95 metres long, 4.10 m wide and 4.80 m high. When it was (re)discovered in 1660, the chamber was found to be decorated with frescoes, which were recorded by Pietro Santi Bartoli, but only the scantest traces of these now remain. There was no trace left of any other contents in the tomb, which had been plundered in antiquity. The tomb had been sealed when it was built, with no exterior entrance; it is not possible for visitors to access the interior, except by special permission typically only granted to scholars.
The sharply pointed shape of the pyramid is strongly reminiscent of the pyramids of Nubia, in particular of the kingdom of Meroë, which had been attacked by Rome in 23 BC. The similarity suggests that Cestius had possibly served in that campaign and perhaps intended the pyramid to serve as a commemoration. His pyramid was not the only one in Rome; a larger one—the so-called "pyramid of Romulus"—of similar form but unknown origins stood between the Vatican and the Mausoleum of Hadrian but was demolished in the 16th century.
Some writers have questioned whether the Roman pyramids were modelled on the much less steeply pointed Egyptian pyramids exemplified by the famous pyramids of Giza. However, the relatively shallow Giza-type pyramids were not exclusively used by the Egyptians; steeper pyramids of the Nubian type were favoured by the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt that had been brought to an end in the Roman conquest of 30 BC. The pyramid was, in any case, built during a period when Rome was going through a fad for all things Egyptian. The Circus Maximus was adorned by Augustus with an Egyptian obelisk, and pyramids were built elsewhere in the Roman Empire around this time; the Falicon pyramid near Nice in France was suspected by some to have been constructed by Roman legionaries who followed an Egyptian cult, but more recent research has indicated that it was actually built between 1803 and 1812.
During the construction of the Aurelian Walls between 271 and 275, the pyramid was incorporated into the walls to form a triangular bastion. It was one of many structures in the city to be reused to form part of the new walls, probably to reduce the cost and enable the structure to be built more quickly. It still forms part of a well-preserved stretch of the walls, a short distance from the Porta San Paolo.
The origins of the pyramid were forgotten during the Middle Ages. The inhabitants of Rome came to believe that it was the tomb of Remus (Meta Remi) and that its counterpart near the Vatican was the tomb of Romulus, a belief recorded by Petrarch. Its true provenance was clarified by Pope Alexander VII's excavations in the 1660s, which cleared the vegetation that had overgrown the pyramid, uncovered the inscriptions on its faces, tunnelled into the tomb's burial chamber and found the bases of two bronze statues that had stood alongside the pyramid.
The pyramid was an essential sight for many who undertook the Grand Tour in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was much admired by architects, becoming the primary model for pyramids built in the West during this period. Percy Bysshe Shelley described it as "one keen pyramid with wedge sublime" in Adonaïs, his 1821 elegy for John Keats. In turn the English novelist and poet Thomas Hardy saw the pyramid during a visit to the nearby Protestant Cemetery in 1887 and was inspired to write a poem, Rome: At the Pyramid of Cestius near the Graves of Shelley and Keats, in which he wondered: "Who, then was Cestius, / and what is he to me?"
In 2001, the pyramid's entrance and interior underwent restoration. In 2011, further work was announced to clean and restore the pyramid's badly damaged marble cladding, through which water seepage has endangered the frescoes within. The restoration is sponsored by Japanese businessman Yuzu Yakhi, whose €1-million donation resulted in a call for tenders to carry out the work issued by the Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma whose officials drew up the project and are supervising such an intervention along with the Italy's Ministry of Cultural Heritage. Restoration works started in March 2013.
The pyramid is the namesake of the Piramide station of the Rome Metro.
Critiques | Translate
lousat (64327) 2013-11-01 11:10
Ciao Romano,una via d mezzo tra le piramidi egizie e maya,qui almeno c'e' molto verde attorno e non solo quella da vedere..ehehe...grande esposizione dei differenti livelli di luce,brillantissimi i verdi.Buona serata,Luciano
cornejo (22610) 2013-11-01 11:25
Ciao Romano, mi piace questa bella immagine di questa interessante composizione con l'interessante piramide torri sfondo, splendida pineta e lapidi cimitero protestante, molto ben catturato in questa immagine bella e interessante, con una buona nitidezza, luce e colore . Ottimo ed interessante lavoro perfettamente fatto, complimenti amico mio. Grazie per aver condiviso questo bel lavoro.
Buona notte e buon fine settimana.
Cordiali saluti dal sud della Spagna.
PaulVDV (17359) 2013-11-01 11:57
This is a highly well composed picture with an excellently balanced image and a good depth of field.
There's so much to look at here.
I also like the contrast between the dark side of the pyramid and the well lit and colourful glimpse we catch of the towers of the city gate.
Best regards, Paul
nikkitta (9053) 2013-11-01 14:35
How very interesting and informative note to present this well composed capture playing with lights and shadows
Good use of vertuical format following the tombs, threes and the Piramide
Good contrast given by sky and the towers at the back
Great TE contibution
Avere un grande fine settimana
ChrisJ (91342) 2013-11-01 15:12
Punchy light contrasts with excellent density and shadow detail I like how the leaning tree tries to emulate the steep left side of the pyramid. I may have tried a lower shooting angle to get the tip of the pyramid in although it may not have been possible. That happens sometimes. Love the sneak peek at the bg castle and its warm color tone contrast against the blue sky. Tfs!
mvdisco (17122) 2013-11-01 18:41
Hi Romano, Bonjour,
Nice presentation of the pyramid of Cestius in Rome,
Beautiful contrast and light ,
Excellent point of view and details,
All my compliments.
emka (64266) 2013-11-01 23:49
beautiful view of the pyramid and nearby city walls. beautifully composed shot with excellent light management. I like the trees, they give such an Italian mood - cypress and pinia.
have a beautiful weekend
My granddaughter was lately in Rome. She was a bit afraid to put her hand in Bocca la verita, but OK, she still has hands :).
timecapturer (37236) 2013-11-02 3:54
this looks amazing and I do not remember it from my visit to Roma, but it was a fair time ago. It looks so majestic in this beautifully managed light that just makes it all the more atmospheric and impressive. Stunning and imaginative imagery! Love it!
Enjoy your weekend - B.
snunney (72834) 2013-11-02 5:36
I should first say I have never heard of this monument before; your accompanying note is therefore most useful. As for the image, it is well composed making good use of the nearby trees as a frame. I like the light and shadow play. Well exposed with good management of the backlight. Good colours and clarity.
Sergiom (45600) 2013-11-02 6:13
Tu sembles avoir passé un beau moment dans ce beau cimetière et tu as su profiter d'un beau jeu d'ombres et de lumière entre les monuments. J'aime la perspective sur les belles tours en arrière plan.
krzychu30 (12793) 2013-11-02 8:36
it´s so nice reminder of my last visit to Rome(I´ve been to this place).
I really enjoy your vision and presentation of this scene.Well considered and carefully composed image.We can immediately notice your attention for all details.
But what makes your composition really so pleasant for an eye is the way you utilize here light&shades to create so nice mood of the scene and finally your POV with the trees in the FG creating natural frame to the scene.
Have a nice weekend
Noel_Byrne (13458) 2013-11-02 10:10
Mi ricordo che lei ha citato questo prima quando stavamo commentando la piramide irlandese che ho postato qualche tempo fa, e io sono così felice di arrivare a vedere ora. L'altezza è molto impressionante, sembra un grande punto focale nel cimitero. Le ombre gettate sulla scena sono eccellenti troppo, aggiungendo un tocco di mistero a tutta l'immagine. I colori sono incredibili troppo. Immagine impressionante, grazie per la condivisione di questo pezzo raro di storia.
Tutti i migliori
jmdias (48413) 2013-11-29 0:08
muito bom este ponto de vista apanhando a pirâmide, as torres ao fundo e as sepulturas. eu acabei conhecendo esta pirâmide quando me perdi e acabei seguindo para esta area, de qualquer maneira ainda restam muitos monumentos de Roma a serem conehcidos por mim.