St. Patrick’s Cathedral (New York City, U.S.A.)

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Our third, and final, mass in the U.S. was held at the decorated  Gothic Revival-style Cathedral of St. Patrick (commonly called St. Patrick’s Cathedral), the seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York (created in 1808 and made into an archdiocese by Pope Pius IX on July 19, 1850). Held on the first Friday of July, this was our second visit to the cathedral (the first was 13 days ago) and we attended this mass to pray for a safe journey back to Manila, our flight back being just 8 hours away.

The cathedral is located on the east side of Fifth Avenue, between 50th and 51st Streets in Midtown Manhattan. Directly across the street is the Rockefeller Center and it specifically faces the Atlas statue. A prominent landmark of New York City, the land on which the present cathedral sits was purchased in 1810 and it was designed by James Renwick, Jr.  In 1976, the cathedral and its associated buildings were declared a National Historic Landmark.

Here’s some interesting trivia regarding St. Patrick’s Cathedral:

The 100.6 m. high spire

St. Patrick’s Cathedral currently has two pipe organs, both built by the firm of George Kilgen & Son of St. Louis, Missouri. They consist of more than 9,000 pipes, 206 stops, 150 ranks and 10 divisions.

The cathedral interior

The Gallery Organ,  located in the Choir Gallery below the Rose Window over the Fifth Avenue entrance and in the Triforium, near the South Transept, was edicated on February 11, 1930. It took 3 years to build at a cost of US$250,000. Designed by Robert J. Reiley, consulting architect of the Cathedral, it has one of the nation’s most glorious wood facades and is adorned with angels and Latin inscriptions. Containing 7,855 pipes, ranging in length from 32 ft. to 1/2 inch, its longest pipes run horizontally across the North and South Triforia.

The pulpit

The Chancell Organ,  located in the North Ambulatory next to the Chapel of St. Joseph, was dedicated on January 30, 1928. It has 1,480 pipes; located on the opposite side of the Ambulatory, diagonally across from the console, and is encased in a carved oak screen ornamented with Gothic elements of design and symbolism.

Stained glass windows

Here is a timeline of the cathedral’s construction:

  • On August 15, 1858, the cornerstone was laid, just south of the diocese’s orphanage.
  • Work began that same year, was halted during the Civil War,and resumed in 1865.
  • In 1878, the cathedral was completed and was dedicated on May 25, 1879.
  • In 1879, the cathedral’s first organ, composed of 4 manuals with 51 stops and 56 ranks, was built by George Jardine & Son, one of New York’s most distinguished organ builders, and installed.
  • In 1880, the archbishop’s house and rectory were, both by James Renwick, Jr.
  • In 1880, an organ by J.H. & C.S. Odell (then also from New York City), composed of 2 manuals with 20 stops and 23 ranks, was installed in the chancel.
  • An adjacent school, no longer in existence, was opened in 1882.
  • The spires were added in 1888, and at 329 feet and 6 inches (100.4 meters) were the tallest structures in New York City and the second highest in the United States.
  • From 1901 to 1906, an addition on the east, including a Lady chapel (designed by Charles T. Matthews), was constructed.
  • Between 1912 and 1930, the Lady Chapel’s stained-glass windows were made by English stained glass artist and designer Paul Vincent Woodroffe.
  • In 1927 and 1931, the cathedral was renovated, the sanctuary was enlarged and two great organs were installed.
  • In the late 1930s and early 1940s, the cathedral’s main altar area was renovated under the guidance of Archbishop (and later cardinal) Francis Spellman. The previous high altar and reredoswere removed (now located in the University Church of Fordham University). New items include the sanctuary bronze baldachin and the rose stained glass window.
  • In the 1940s and 1950s tonal changes were made on the two organs.
  • In the 1970s and 1980s, additional renovations were made on the organs by Jack Steinkampf of Yonkers, New York, particularly in the revoicing of flutes and reeds, and the addition of the Trumpette en Chamade.
  • In the 1980s, the altar was further renovated, under the direction of Cardinal John Joseph O’Connor. To be more visible to the congregation, a stone altar was built from sections of the side altars and added to the middle of the sanctuary. However, in 2013, this altar was removed.
  • In 1993, the organs underwent major restoration. new consoles for both the Gallery and Chancel Organs to replace the original ones (which had deteriorated beyond repair) were acquired. Robert Turner (of Hacienda Heights, California) constructed twin, 5-manual consoles while Solid State Logic, Ltd. of England designed and engineered the combination action. Fiber-optic wiring were used to enable both consoles to control the Gallery, Chancel and Nave Organs at the same time. In 1993, the Gallery console was finished and installed in time for Christmas Midnight Mass. In early 1994, the Chancel console was installed. In 1995, the entire Chancel Organ was restored
  • On September 15, 2007, the 10th anniversary of the organ’s renovation, the organs were blessed. The Bicentennial Concert Series was also inaugurated with a performance James E. Goettsche, the Vatican Organist.
  • In 2012, an extensive US$177 million restoration of the cathedral was begun and lasted 3 years. The exterior marble was cleaned, the stained glass windows were repaired and the ceiling was painted, among many restorations. On September 17, 2015, the restoration was completed before Pope Francis visited the cathedral on September 24 and 25, 2015.

The cathedral ceiling

Beneath the high altar is a crypt in which the nine past deceased Archbishops of New York as well as notable Catholic figures that served the Archdiocese are entombed. They include:

Plaque commemorating Pope Paul VI’s October 4. 1965 visit

The galeros of Cardinals McCloskey, Farley, Hayes and Spellman (also worn by Pope Pius XII, as Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, until the latter’s election to the papacy at the 1939 Papal conclave) are located high above the crypt at the back of the sanctuary. In 1965, the ceremony of the consistory was revised by Pope Paul VI and therefore no galero was presented to Cardinal Cooke or any of his successors.

Plaque commemorating Pope John Paul II’s second Papal visit

Requiem Masses were said at the cathedral for the following notable people:

Special memorial Masses were also held at the cathedral for the following:

The cathedral or parts of it were featured in a number of movies, TV shows, songs and literary works:

  • The climax of Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970), where Taylor destroyed Earth with the AlphaOmega bomb, were set in the cathedral’s underground ruins. Centuries earlier, mutant humans surviving a nuclear holocaust founded a religion on the bomb (later depicted in Battle for the Planet of the Apes). They reconsecrated the cathedral to their new religion and installed the bomb in front of the organ pipes in place of the crucifix.
  • The TV show Futurama, Fry, Leela, et al. are visiting the sewer mutants beneath the ruins of Old New York and Fry sticks his head in the cathedral, sees the bomb, and says, “So you guys worship an unexploded atomic bomb?” A mutant replies, “Not really, it’s mostly a Christmas and Easter thing.”
  • Nelson DeMille‘s 1981 novel, Cathedral, concerning a fictional seizure and threatened destruction of the cathedral by members of the Irish Republican Army on St. Patrick’s Day, is mostly set in and around the cathedral and details of the cathedral’s structure contribute important elements to the plot.
  • The cathedral is also featured in the 1990 film Gremlins 2: The New Batch.
  • In Giannina Braschi‘s novel, Empire of Dreams (1994), the ringing of the church bells at the cathedral marks a pastoral revolution in New York City.
  • The cathedral was referenced in the song Not A Love Story by musical-theatre songwriters Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk. 

The author and son Jandy at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

St. Patrick’s Catheral: 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022, USA.

Copp’s Hill Burying Ground (Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.)

Copp’s Hill Burying Ground

The historic, 12,000 sq. m. (3 acre) Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, the second (and largest) cemetery in Boston (second only to the King’s Chapel Burying Ground founded in 1630), was founded on February 20, 1659. Originally named “North Burying Ground,” it is situated on land (where a wind-powered grinding mill once stood) on Copp’s Hill (named after early settler and local cobbler William Copp whose children were buried here in the 1660s) bought by the town from John Baker and Daniel Turell.

Now named “Copp’s Hill Burying Ground” (although often referred to as “Copp’s Hill Burial Ground”), it is the final resting place of over 10,000 people (buried between 1660 and 1968) and contains more than 2,200 marked graves (60% of which date to before the American Revolution), including the remains of various notable Bostonians (29 Boston Tea Party participants and 43 Revolutionary War veterans) from the Colonial Era into the 1850s.

On January 7, 1708, the cemetery was extended when the town bought additional land from Judge Samuel Sewall and his wife Hannah (part of a  pasture which she inherited from her father, John Hull, master of the mint).  On June 17, 1775, because of its height and panoramic vista, the British used this vantage point on the southwest side to establish earthworks and train their North Battery cannons on Charlestown during the Battle of Bunker Hill. Legend has it that British troops used gravestones for target practice (many have interpreted the round scars of the Capt. Daniel Malcolm grave marker to be the result of musket balls being shot at close range).

On December 18, 1809, it was further extended when the town bought, for US$10,000, additional land from Benjamin Weld and his wife Nabby after they had bought it from Jonathan Merry, who had used it as pasture.  Ten years later, Charles Wells (later mayor of Boston) bought a small parcel of land from John Bishop of Medford which he used as a cemetery. Later, this was merged with the adjacent North Burying Ground. It is no longer possible to discern the original boundaries of the cemetery because of this complicated history.

Along the Snow Hill Street side, in a potter’s field, are many unmarked graves of more than 1,000 free  African Americans who lived in the questionably named “New Guinea” community at the foot of the hill. In addition, there are 227 tombs, most of which bear inscriptions that are still legible. In addition, the grave markers and their epitaphs of thousands of artisans and tradesmen buried here reflect the nature of the 17th and 18th century economy of the North End.

Prince Hall Memorial

Reputedly, the oldest grave stone is that of Grace Berry, wife of Thomas Berry, who according to the inscription, died May 17, 1625 (5 years before Boston was settled). The well preserved stone is of old Welsh slate with quite distinct carving; the edges are ornamented with curves and at the top are carved two cherubs and the angel of death.

Grace Berry Tomb

The tomb erected by Isaac Dupee, perhaps the most ornate monument in the ground, bears a beautifully carved coat-of-arms, together with a tribute in verse.

Isaac Dupee Tomb

The town continued to maintain the site intermittently but, by 1840, the cemetery had fallen into near disuse and, by 1878, it was badly neglected. When the Freedom Trail  created in 1951, the cemetery was not an official stop but it has since been added and is now much-frequented by tourists and photographers. In 1974, the site was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Now owned by the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department, it is part of the Historic Burying Grounds Initiative.

Michael Malcom Grave stone

Notable persons buried here include:

Copp’s Hill Burying Ground: 21 Hull St. cor. Snowhill St., Boston, 02113 Massachusetts, U.S.A. Tel: 617-635-4505.  Open daily. 10 AM  – 5 PM.

King’s Chapel (Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.)

King’s Chapel

The King’s Chapel, proudly one of the 16 historic sites (the fifth stop) on Boston’s Freedom Trail, is housed in what was formerly called the “Stone Chapel,” an 18th-century structure. The chapel, an independent Christian unitarian congregation affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association and the first Anglican church in colonial New England and overwhelmingly Puritan Boston, was founded on June 15, 1686 by Royal Governor Sir Edmund Andros  during the reign of King James II. Notable members and attendees included George Washington, Paul Revere, Thomas Hutchinson, Charles Sumner, Charles Bulfinch, Oliver Wendell Holmes  and many more

The exterior columns of chapel colonnade

The chapel was originally a wooden church built in 1688. The present larger stone (made with Quincy granite) chapel building, started in 1749 (its cornerstone was laid on August 11) and completed in 1754, was built around the wooden church.

One of the finest designs of the noted colonial architect Peter Harrison (dubbed as “America’s first architect”) of Newport, when the stone church was completed, the wooden church was disassembled, removed through the windows of the new church and the  wood shipped to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia where it was used to construct St. John’s Anglican Church.

National Historic Landmark Plaque

During the American Revolution, the chapel sat vacant or a few short months as Loyalist families left for Nova Scotia and England, but reopened, following the loss of its minister (the Rev. Henry Caner), for the funeral of Gen. Joseph Warren who was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill (June 17, 1775). In 1782, those who remained reopened the church. In 1960, the chapel was designated a National Historic Landmark  for its architectural significance. On Halloween night of 2001, the church was destroyed by fire but has since been rebuilt.

The chapel’s magnificent interior

The chapel bell, cast in England and hung in 1772, cracked in 1814 and was recast by Paul Revere (the largest bell cast by the Revere foundry and the last one cast by Paul Revere himself) and rehung. Ever since, it has been rung during Sunday morning services.

Plaque commemorating congregation members who died during the American Civil War

The exterior columns of the colonnade (completed after the American Revolution), which appear to be stone, are, in fact, wood painted in a cost-saving trompe-l’oeil.

Plaque commemorating congregation members who died during World War I and World War II

The magnificent interior, considered the finest example of Georgian church architecture in North America, features wooden columns which have Corinthian capitals hand-carved, in 1758, by William Burbeck and his apprentices.

The wooden columns with hand-carved Corinthian capitals

The current uniform appearance of the seating, in box pews, dates from the 1920s. The pews were mostly originally owned by the member families who paid pew rent and decorated the pews according to their personal tastes.

The box pews

The chapel first organ was acquired in 1723. The present organ, the chapel’s sixth, was built by C.B. Fisk in in 1964. Decorated with miters and carvings from the Bridge organ of 1756, it is slightly below average in size compared with most mid-1900s European chapel organs.

Within the King’s Chapel is a monument to London merchant Samuel Vassall, brother of the colonist William Vassall (who frequently clashed with John Winthrop, and eventually removed himself to Scituate, Massachusetts), a patentee of the Massachusetts Bay Company (also named a member of the company in its 1629 Royal Charter), an early deputy of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and a Member of Parliament (1640–1641) representing London.

Monument to London merchant Samuel Vassall

Kings Chapel: 58 Tremont Street cor. School Street, Boston, Massachusetts, MA 02108,  U.S.A. Open daily, 10 AM – 4:30 PM.  Tours: 10 AM to 5 PM, Mondays through Saturdays; and 1:30 PM to 5 PM on Sundays. Tel:+1 617-523-1749. Website:

Park Street Church (Boston, Massachusetts)

Park Street Church

The Park Street Church, an active, thriving missionary-centered Conservative Congregational church with 2,000 in Sunday attendance and around 1,000 members, is a historical stop on the Freedom Trail located next to the historic Granary Burying Ground.

Its cornerstone was laid on May 1, 1809 and its construction, under the guidance of architect Peter Banner (his design is reminiscent of St. Bride’s Church in London by famous British architect Christopher Wren), chief mason Benajah Young  and woodcarver Solomon Willard, was completed by the end of the year. On January 10, 1810, it had its first worship service.

The church became known as “Brimstone Corner,” in part because of the fervent missionary character of its preaching and, in part, because of the gunpowder stored in its crypt (which gave off a ferocious smell of sulfur) during the War of 1812.

The church’s beautiful white steeple, a landmark visible from several Boston neighborhoods, rises to 66 m. (217 ft.), making the church the tallest building in the United States from 1810 to 1828. The red brick façade has white accents.  There is a little museum on the first floor.

The church is the site of a number of historical events:

Park Street Church: 1 Park St. cor. Tremont St.Boston, Massachusetts 02108. Tel: (617) 523-3383.  Website: Open Wednesdays – Fridays, 9:30 AM -3 PM. Worship services: Sundays 8:30 AM, 11 AM and 4 PM. Admission is free.

How to Get There: The church located right across from the Park Street subway stop (Red Line) at the edge of Boston Common.

Mactan Shrine (Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu)

Mactan Shrine.  On the left is the small building housing two plaques while on the right is the Magellan Monument

Part 4 of the Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa-sponsored City Tour

This shrine is dedicated in honor of Lapu-Lapu (the Philippines’ first National Hero) and the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and was erected on the supposed spot where the Battle of Mactan (April 27, 1521) took place. The shrine has three prominent monuments

Lapu-Lapu Monument

The 20-ft. high Lapu-Lapu Monument, beside the shore, features a bronze statue, on a pedestal, of Datu Lapu-Lapu, sculpted with great realism, holding a kampilan (curved sword) on his right hand and a shield on the left.  The Magellan Marker, shaped like a large headstone, allegedly marks the spot where Magellan fell dead in the hands of Lapu-Lapu’s men.

Magellan Monument

A little farther away is the 30-ft. high Magellan Monument, on a base of several levels and surrounded by a low fence. It consists of plain, coralstone obelisk, on whose apex rests a sphere, mounted on a tall plinth that rests on a tripartite structure – an octagonal base, on which rests a tall quadrilateral structure, divided into a lower part, decorated with high relieves of vases, and an upper part pierced by narrow arches.

Relief of a vase

The monument is inscribed with texts. On one side is A Hernando de Magallanes, Ferdinand Magellan’s name written in the original Portuguese language.

Inscription with Magellan’s name

On a second side is the phrase Glorias Españolas (“Glory to Spain”),  on the third is the phrase Siendo Gobernaor Don Miguel Creus (the Spanish governor of the Philippines at the time) and on the fourth side is the phrase 1866 Reinando Ysabel II (the Spanish monarch at that time).

Inscription with Gov. Miguel Creus’s name

The monument was said to have been built in 1866 during the administration of Augustinian Fr. Simon Aguirre, who was cura (parish priest), from 1857 to 1871, of Opon (the old name of Lapu-Lapu City).

The plinth with two plaques

Between the Lapu-Lapu and Magellan monuments stands the Philippine flag.  East of the Magellan Monument is a small building housing a plinth flanked by plaques.

The Lapu-Lapu plaque

The plaque about Lapu-Lapu (installed by the Philippine Historical Committee in 1951) reads:


Here on 27 April 1521, Lapulapu and his men repulsed the Spanish invaders, killing their leader Ferdinand Magellan thus Lapu Lapu became the first Filipino to have repelled European aggression.

The plaque about Magellan’s death

The other plaque about Ferdinand Magellan (installed by the Philippine Historical Committee in 1941) reads:

Ferdinand Magellan’s Death

On this spot Ferdinand Magellan died on April 27, 1521 wounded in an encounter with the soldiers of Lapu Lapu, Chief of Mactan Islands. One of Magellan’s ships, The Victoria, under the command of Juan Sebastian Elcano, sailed from Cebu on May 1, 1521 and anchored at San Lucar de Barrameda on September 6, 1522 thus completing the first circumnavigation of the earth.

The huge mural painting

Behind the plinth is a huge mural painting depicting the battle. The Battle of Mactan is reenacted along the shores near the shrine during the 27 April Kadaugan sa Mactan Festival.

The Kadaugan sa Mactan re-enactment site

Mactan Shrine: Punta Engano, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.

Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa: Buyong, Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City, 6015, Cebu. Tel: (032) 492-0100. Fax: (032) 492-1808.  E-mail:   Website:  Metro Manila sales office: Rm. 704, Cityland Herrera Tower, 98 Herrera cor. Valero Sts., Salcedo Village, Makati City, Metro Manila. Tel: (02) 887-1348 and (02) 817-5751. Fax: (02) 893-5391.

Bonifacio Trial Museum (Maragondon, Cavite)

This two-storey bahay-na-bato (stone house) was the site where Andres and Procopio Bonifacio were court martialed by a military court presided by Gen. Mariano Noriel from May 5 to 6, 1897. The court  found the two accused guilty of treason and recommended execution.

Bonifacio Trial Museum

Built by Teodorico Reyes in 1889, this house was formerly known as the Roderico Reyes House (which was the name of the former owner). The house now belongs to Mr. Jose Angeles.  In 1999, it was fully restored and declared as a National Heritage Site. Today, this stone, brick and wood ancestral house has been converted into a museum called the Museo ng Paglilitis ni Andres Bonifacio or Bonifacio Trial Museum. It was formally inaugurated on November 28, 2014.

The house has capiz sliding windows, ventanillas and calado woodwork on the eaves

The museum has five galleries.  Gallery 1 (Maypagasa) provides a short background on Andres Bonifacio and the Katipunan; Gallery 2 (Pagsalubong) focuses on the conflict between the two Katipunan factions in Cavite, the Magdalo and Magdiwang; Gallery 3 (Pagdakip) narrates the events leading to Bonifacio’s arrest; Gallery 4 (Ang Paglilitis) re-enacts the Bonifacio brothers’ court martial through a light and sound presentation; and Gallery 5 (Kadakilaan) recounts the anguish of Bonifacio’s widow, Gregoria de Jesus, in learning of her husband’s death.

National Historical Institute (NHI) Plaque

The museum also has an audio-visual corner offering a brief documentary about the trial and death of Andres Bonifacio and an e-learning room for online lessons on the history of the Philippines. The shrine is administered and managed the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (formerly the National Historical Institute).

Philippine Historical Committee (PHC) Plaque

Bonifacio Trial Museum: Col. Crisostomo Riel St., Brgy. Poblacion 1-A, Maragondon, Cavite. Mobile number: (0917) 553-7375 (Mr. Melanio Guevarra – museum curator). E-mail: Open Tuesdays to Saturdays, 8 AM – 5 PM. Admission is free.

Diocesan Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (Naic, Cavite)

Diocesan Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

The Diocesan Shrine of the Immaculate Conception was first constructed in the 1800s with wood and cogon grass. Six years after its initial construction, a kopa, a pair of cruets and ornamentation was added. In 1835, the construction of a new stone church was started by Don Pedro Florentino. Its bell tower was completed in 1892.

The church convent

After the Tejeros Convention of March 22, 1897, the the church convent was used as the headquarters of Andres Bonifacio and the Naic Conference was held there. In this conference, the old Tagalog letter of the flag was replaced by the “Sun of Liberty,” with two eyes, a nose and a mouth and its symbolic eight rays.

The church interior

Before World War II, the church was one of the tallest (about 5 storeys high) and the longest (almost 10 blocks long) churches in Cavite. In width, it was second to the Imus Cathedral. On November 17, 1996, it was made into a Diocesan Shrine.

The church’s Neo-Gothic facade

Author’s notes:

The church’s three-level Neo-Gothic façade, the only one of its kind in Cavite, has a pointed, lancet-like arched main entrance flanked by square pilasters and similarly pointed arched windows.

The 4-storey bell tower

The second level has three pointed arched windows while the triangular pediment, with inverted traceries below the eaves, has a circular window at the tympanum.  The central pilasters rise up to the pediment and end up in pinnacles, dividing the façade into 3 vertical sections. The sides of the church are reinforced by thick buttresses.

The thick buttresses

The 4-storey, square bell tower, on the church’s left, has alternating circular and pointed arched windows and is topped by a pyramidal roof.

The main altar

Its interior has 3 major and 2 minor Gothic-style altars with the Very Venerated Image of the Immaculate Concepcion, Patron Lady of Naic, in the main altar.

Diocesan Shrine of the Immaculate Conception: Capt. Ciriaco Nazareno St., Poblacion, Naic 4110, Cavite. Tel: (046) 412-0456. Feast of the Immaculate Conception: December 8.

How to Get There: Naic is located 47 kms. from Manila, 13.3 kms. from Trece Martires City, 12.9 kms. from Maragondon and 12.8 kms. from Tanza.

Noveleta Tribunal (Cavite)

Noveleta Tribunal

The Noveleta Tribunal, the first municipal hall of the town, was where, on August 31, 1896, Noveleta-born Gen. Pascual Alvarez, under orders from his uncle Gen. Mariano Alvarez of the Sangguniang Magdiwang, killed the Guardia Civil Capt. Antonio Rebolledo within the hall of this building.

The narrow wooden stairway leading to the second floor

Lt. Francisco Naval, the adjutant of Capt. Rebolledo, was also killed. The rest of the Guardia Civil were disarmed and imprisoned. This incident further intensified the Cavite front of the Philippine Revolution. It was repaired on August 1998 during the term of Mayor Dionisio L. Torres.

Capiz windows and ventanillas

Author’s notes:

This historical, 2-storey building, with its narrow, centrally located wooden stairway leading to the second floor, has wooden columns, a balcony in front, a bank of sliding capiz windows with ventanillas, and calado (lace-style fretwork or latticework) on the soffit and roof eaves.

Philippine Historical Committee plaque

Noveleta Tribunal: Gen Antonio St. Poblacion, Noveleta, Cavite. Coordinates: 14°25’38″N 120°52’51″E.

How to Get There: Noveleta is located 27 kms. from Manila, 18.7 kms. from Trece Martires City, 6 kms. from Tanza and 3.5 kms. from Kawit.  The highway divides in this town, one branch going to Naic and Ternate and the other towards Cavite City. The Tribunal is situated just 10 m. from the Church of the Holy Cross. You can park your car in front of the church.

Colosseum (Rome, Italy)

The Colosseum

The Colosseum

The oval, entirely free-standing Colosseum or Coliseum,  an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome, is situated just east of the Roman Forum. Following the reign of Nero, it was began by emperor Vespasian in AD 72 and completed in AD 80 by his son and successor Titus. Further modifications were made during the reign of Vespasian’s younger son Domitian (81–96).

The outer wall

The outer wall

It has suffered extensDSC00278ive damage over the centuries, with large segments having collapsed following earthquakes. In 217, the wooden upper levels of the amphitheater’s interior was destroyed by a major fire (caused by lightning, according to Dio Cassius) and was not fully repaired until about 240.  Further repairs were done in 250 or 252 and again in 320. Gladiatorial fights are. Various parts of the Colosseum were restored under Theodosius II and Valentinian III (reigned 425–455), possibly to repair damage caused by a major earthquake in 443.  More work followed in 484 and 508.


The outer wall (left) and the nearly intact inner wall

The outer wall (left) and the nearly intact inner wall

The great 1349 earthquake severely damaged the Colosseum.  The outer south side, lying on a less stable alluvial terrDSC00283ain, collapsed and much of the tumbled stone was reused to build palaces, churches, hospitals and other buildings elsewhere in Rome. The interior of the amphitheater was extensively stripped of stone, which was reused elsewhere.  The marble façade was burned to make quicklime. The bronze clamps, used to hold the stonework together, were pried or hacked out of the walls, leaving numerous pockmarks which still scar the building today.


The Colosseum interior

The Colosseum interior

In 1807 and 1827, the façade was reinforced with triangular brick wedges and, in 1831, 1846 and in the 1930s, the interior was repaired. In 1810–1814 and 1874, the arena substructure was partly excavated and, in the 1930s, was fully exposed under Benito Mussolini. Between 1993 and 2000, due to the effects of pollution and general deterioration over time, a major restoration program was carried out at a cost of 40 billion Italian lire ($19.3 million/ €20.6 million at 2000 prices).

The raked areas that once held seating

The raked areas that once held seating

Here are some interesting facts and trivia regarding the Colosseum:

  • Built of concrete and sand, it is the largest amphitheatre ever built.
  • One of Rome’s most popular tourist attractions, it receives millions of visitors annually.
  • Elliptical in plan, it is 189 m. (615 ft./640 Roman ft.) long, 156 m. (510 ft./528 Roman ft.) wide and has a base area of 24,000 sq. m. (6 acres). Its outer wall is 48 m. (157 ft./165 Roman ft.) high. Its perimeter originally measured 545 m. (1,788 ft./1,835 Roman ft.). The central arena is an oval 87 m. (287 ft.) long and 55 m. (180 ft.) wide, surrounded by a wall 5 m. (15 ft.) high, above which rose tiers of seating. The arena itself was 83 m. by 48 m. (272 ft. by 157 ft./280 by 163 Roman ft.).
  • Its outer wall was estimated to have required over 100,000 cu. m. (3,531,467 cubic ft.) of travertine stone which were set without mortar and  held together by 300 tons of iron clamps.
  • According to the Codex-Calendar of 354, the Colosseum could accommodate 87,000 spectators, although modern estimates put the figure at between 50,000 and 80,000, having an average audience of some 65,000.
  • The Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests (last mentioned around 435) and public spectacles such as mock sea battles (for only a short time as the hypogeum was soon filled in with mechanisms to support the other activities), animal hunts (continued until at least 523, when Anicius Maximus celebrated his consulship with some venationes), executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology.
  • In the Early Medieval era, the building ceased to be used for entertainment but numerous vaulted spaces in the arcades under the seating were later reused for housing and workshops.  It was also reused as a fortress (around 1200 by the Frangipani family), quarters for a Christian religious order (from mid-14th century until as late as the early 19th century), a quarry (stones from the Colosseum were taken for the building of other sacred sites), and a Christian shrine (in 1749, by Pope Benedict XIV).
  • The Colosseum is also depicted on the Italian version of the five-cent euro coin.
  • The Colosseum has become a symbol of the international campaign against capital punishment. The color of the Colosseum’s night time illumination changes from white to gold whenever a person condemned to the death penalty anywhere in the world gets their sentence commuted or is released,or if a jurisdiction abolishes the death penalty (most recently on November 2012, following the abolition of capital punishment in the American state of Connecticut in April 2012).
  • Large concerts, using the Colosseum as a backdrop, have been held just outside. They included  concerts o Ray Charles (May 5, 2002), Paul McCartney (May 11,  2003), Elton John (September 3, 2005), and Billy Joel (July 31, 2006).
Cross dedicated to the Christian martyrs, placed in 2000 by Pope John Paul II

Cross dedicated to the Christian martyrs, placed in 2000 by Pope John Paul II

The iconic Colosseum has been featured in numerous films:

Roman Holiday

Roman Holiday

Demetrius and the Gladiators

Demetrius and the Gladiators

Colosseum seating

Colosseum seating

The remainder of the present-day exterior of the Colosseum is, in fact, the original interior wall. The surviving part of its monumental façade comprises three stories of superimposed arcades framed by half-columns of the DoricIonic, and Corinthian orders and surmounted by a podium on which stands a tall attic decorated with Corinthian pilasters, both of which are pierced by windows interspersed at regular intervals. At the second- and third-floor arcades, arches framed statues, probably honoring divinities and other figures from Classical mythology. The north side of the perimeter wall, though still standing, has distinctive triangular brick wedges at each end that are modern additions, having been constructed in the early 19th century to shore up the wall.

Maenianum Primum

Maenianum Primum

Positioned around the top of the attic are 240 mast corbels that originally supported a retractable awning,known as the velarium (a canvas-covered, net-like structure made of ropes, with a hole in the center), that kept the sun and rain off spectators over two-thirds of the arena and sloped down towards the center to catch the wind and provide a breeze for the audience. Working on the velarium are sailors specially enlisted from the Roman naval headquarters at Misenum and housed in the nearby Castra Misenatium.

Maenianum Secundum

Maenianum Secundum

DSC00299The amphitheater was ringed by 80 numbered outer entrances, many of which have disappeared with the collapse of the perimeter wall (only entrances XXIII to LIV still survive) at ground level, 76 of which were used by ordinary spectators.  All four axial entrances, richly decorated with painted stucco reliefs (of which fragments survive) consisted of a northern main entrance  reserved for the Roman Emperor and his aides and three other axial entrances most likely used by the elite. Special boxes at the north and south ends, for the Emperor and the Vestal Virgins, provide the best views of the arena. They were provided with separate tunnels to permit them to enter and exit the Colosseum without needing to pass through the crowds. A broad platform or podium, for the senatorial class (they  were allowed to bring their own chairs), flanked them at the same level

Maenianum Secundum in Legneis

Maenianum Secundum in Legneis

Fragment of an ancient Roman equestrian statue

Fragment of an ancient Roman equestrian statue

The maenianum primum, the tier above the senators, was occupied by the non-senatorial noble class or knights (equites) while the next level up, divided into two sections, is the maenianum secundum, originally reserved for ordinary Roman citizens (plebeians). The lower part (the immum) was reserved for wealthy citizens while the upper part (the summum) was for poor citizens. The maenianum secundum in legneis, a level added at the very top of the building during the reign of Domitian (either standing room only or having very steep wooden benches), was a gallery for the common poor, slaves and women. Gravediggers, actors and former gladiators were banned altogether from the Colosseum.

The author

The author

Inscriptions identified the areas reserved for specific groups (boys with their tutors, soldiers on leave, foreign dignitaries, scribes, heralds, priests, etc.) with the names of some 5th century senators still seen carved into the stonework (presumably reserving areas for their use). Stone (and later marble) was provided for the seats of citizens and nobles (presumably they brought their own cushions with them).

L-R: Kyle, Cheska, Jandy and Grace

L-R: Kyle, Cheska, Jandy and Grace

Curved passages and low walls (praecinctiones or baltei) divided each tier into sections (maeniana) and were further subdivided into cunei, or wedges, by the steps and aisles from the vomitoria. Each row (gradus) of seats was numbered, permitting each individual seat to be exactly designated by its gradus, cuneus, and number.



The arena (part of it re-floored), comprising a wooden floor covered by sand (harena or arena is the Latin word for sand), covers the hypogeum  (literally meaning “underground”), an elaborate two-level subterranean network, built by Emperor Domitian, of tunnels and cages beneath the arena where gladiators and animals were held before contests began. It was connected by underground tunnels to a number of points outside the Colosseum. Caged animals and scenery pieces concealed underneath were provided instant access to the arena by 80 vertical shafts while larger hinged platforms, called hegmata, provided access for elephants and the like.

Hypogeum (2)

A museum, dedicated to Eros, is located in the upper floor of the outer wall of the building.

Base of the statue of Praefectus Urbi (Prefect of Rome)

Base of the statue of Praefectus Urbi (Prefect of Rome)

Colosseum: Piazza del Colosseo, 1, 00184 RomeItaly. Open daily, except January 1 and December 25. Tel:  (+39) 06 39967700 (Mondays-Saturdays, 9 AM -1:30 PM and 2:30 -5 PM).  Tickets (€2) can also be bought (often avoiding a long queue) at the ticket offices in Via di San Gregorio (Palatine), Largo Salara Vecchia (former Largo Romolo e Remo  – Roman Forum) and Via Sacra (Roman Forum, Arco di Tito). The Colosseum, together with the Forum/Palatine Hill ticket, is valid for both.

How to Get There
The Colosseum is located a few hundred yards from Piazza Venezia, and close to the Forum.

  • On “B” line Metro station Colosseo
  • “A” line Metro station Manzoni, then two stops of Tram No. 3 going southwards
  • Bus lines 60, 75, 85, 87, 271, 571, 175, 186, 810, 850, C3, and the electric minibus 117
  • Tramway Line No. 3.

Palatine Hill (Rome, Italy)

The Roman Forum

The surprisingly peaceful and majestic Palatine Hill (LatinCollis Palatium or Mons Palatinus; ItalianPalatino) is the centermost of the Seven Hills of Rome and is one of the most ancient parts of the city. It stands 40 m. above the Forum Romanum, looking down upon it on one side, and upon the Circus Maximus on the other. Here are some interesting trivia regarding the Palatine Hill:

  • The English word “palace,” the Italian word “palazzo,” the French word “palais,” the German word “palest,” the Czech word “palace,” etc.,  are all derived from the Palatine.
  • Cacus, a ferocious, fire-breathing giant cannibal , was said to have once lived in a cave the Palatine. Regularly terrorizing the residents of neighboring Aventine Hill, he was finally defeated by the hero Hercules.
  • The Palatine is site of the festival of the Lupercalia, derived from the Lupercal, the cave where Romulus the mythical founder of Rome, and his twin brother Remus were found and raised by the she-wolf.
  • Regarded as one of the most prestigious neighborhoods in the city because of its mythical association, central location, spectacular views of the city, cooler summer temperature and cleaner air, the Palatine was the site of the residences of many affluent Romans of the Republican period (c.509 BC – 44 BC) and, during the Empire (27 BC – 476 AD), was the site of the palaces, now in ruins, of Emperors Tiberius (14 – 37 AD) and Domitian (81 – 96 AD).
  • The emperor Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD) was born on the Palatine.  He later lived there in luxury, with his wife Livia (58 BC – 29 AD). The remains of the House of Augustus and the House of Livia, with some of the most impressive ancient art in the city, are beautifully decorated with colorful frescoes. Beside his own palace, Augustus also built a temple to Apollo. Situated near the House of Livia is the temple of Cybele, currently not fully excavated and not open to the public. Cut into the side of the hill behind this structure is the so-called House of Tiberius.
  • In 41 AD, the 28 year old Emperor Caligula was assassinated in the cryptoporticus, a a semi-subterranean, barrel-vaulted corridor of about 130 m. beneath the palaces on the Palatine, stabbed up to 30 times by his loyal guard who responded by indiscriminately slaughtering anyone (including innocent bystanders) who were nearby.
  • During the Middle Ages, convents and churches (the oratory of Caesarius, Santa Anastasia, Santa Lucia, San Sebastiano) were built over the remains of older buildings of the Palatine, and the noble Frangipani family used them, along with the Colosseum and Arch of Constantine, to create a fortified stronghold.
  • In 1550, during the Renaissance Period, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese purchased a section of the Palatine and created beautiful Farnese Gardens, the first private botanical gardens in Europe.  Featuring a nymphaeum, an aviary, a tree-shaded park of terraces, lawns, flowerbeds, pavilions, fountains and a wealth of art, over time it fell into disuse but some parts can still be visited today.

The Palatine Hill, and the Forum Romanum  beneath it, is now a large open-air museum.  Using the same ticket as the Colosseum, we visited it via the entrance on Via di San Gregorio, the street just beyond the Arch of Constantine, going away from the Colosseum.

Check out “Colosseum” and “Arch of Constantine

Jandy and Grace at the Via di San Gregorio entrance

Overlooking the  Roman Forum is the enormous Flavian Palace  (also known as the Domus Flavia or the Domus Augustana) which was built, extended and modified largely during the reigns of VespasianTitus and Domitian of the Flavian dynasty (69 – 96). This palace, which extends across the Palatine Hill, looks out over the Circus Maximus, a huge structure which could accommodate 300,000 spectators. During the reign of the emperor Septimius Severus (146 – 211), the imposing brick building of the greater part of the palace visible from the Circus was undertaken.

Domus Severiana

The 621 m. (2,037 ft.) long and 118 m. (387 ft.) wide Hippodrome of Domitian or Stadium, which could accommodate 150,000 spectators, was built between AD 81 and 96.  Situated in the valley between the Aventine and Palatine hills, immediately adjacent to the Flavian palace of Severus, it is the first and largest stadium in ancient Rome and its later Empire.

House of Livia

House of Augustus

Temple Antoninus

The Hippodrome has the appearance of a Roman Circus (its name means “circus” in Greek) but is too small to accommodate chariots. Hippodromes, originally areas for exercising horses, were later used, in Rome, to describe elongated rectangular gardens or as a Greek stadium that is a venue for foot races. The tower is part of a medieval fortification

Circus Maximus

During the Severan period, it was used for sporting events and, while it is certain that it was most likely originally built as Domitian’s private stadium-shaped garden, its exact purpose is disputed.

Basilica of Maxentius

Temple of Venus and Rome

Antiquarium Forense

The nearby, small Palatine Museum exhibits Roman statuary (most coming from the Hippodrome) and artifacts dating from before the official foundation of Rome.

Palatine Museum

Claudian Aqueduct

On the eastern side of the Hippodrome is a large exedra decorated with sculptures and fountains commanding views of the garden below.

Farnese Gardens

Aviaries of the Farnese Gardens

Palatine Hill: Piazza di Santa Maria Nova, Rome. Admission: €12 (including admission to the Colosseum and Roman Forum). Tickets to the House of Augustus and House of Livia need to be booked separately and in advance.

How to Get There: Located close to the Colosseum and Roman Forum, the area around Palatine is walking distance from the Circus Maximus and Piazza Venezia. Well-served by public transport, lots of buses, such as the 75 and 87, stop near the Colosseum and it is also a short walk from the Colosseo (Line B) metro station. If going to Palatine by bus or taxi, keep in mind that the Via dei Fori Imperiali (the road connecting Piazza Venezia and the Colosseum), is mainly closed to traffic on Saturdays and Sundays.