Plans and illustrations of the Vatican from 1694

We’ve been looking at old pictures of Old St Peter’s in Rome, and thinking about the Circus of Nero nearby, and other structures from ancient Rome.

Last week Brent Nongbri very kindly sent me an extract from one of those tourist books, which the Italians do so well, about the pagan tombs under the Vatican, which contains some interesting diagrams.[1]  In it, my eye was drawn to some splendid old pictures, which the author had reproduced from Carlo Fontana, Il Tempio Vaticano e la sua origine, Roma, 1694.[2]

The book is mainly about New St Peter’s.  It has details of how the Vatican obelisk was moved (with pictures!).  But it also contains plans and reconstructions of the older basilica, and the area around it.  I thought that these would be known to few, and deserved to be better known.

Here are some of them.  Click on the image to get the full-size picture.  (They’re all small)  I apologise for the cut-off to the right; the blog software doesn’t handle this very well.

Plan of the ancient Vatican area.
Plan of the ancient Vatican area.
fontana_2_plan
Plan of Nero’s circus and its relation to the basilica.
fontana_3_circus_of_nero_w_petronilla
Reconstruction of Circus of Nero with dome of “temple of Apollo”, later Mausoleum of Honorius, later still chapel of St. Petronilla.
fontana_4_plan_of_old_basilica
Plan of old St Peter’s, with New St Peter’s and the Circus of Nero all on the same plan.
fontana_5_section_of_old_basilica
Section lengthways through Old St Peter’s.
fontana_6_half_built_w_andrea
St Peter’s halfway rebuilt, from the south; the new circular church, the Vatican rotunda, and behind it most of the old church.
fontana_7_grottos_of_vatican
Plan of the cellars under the Vatican.
fontana_8_section_and_end_of_old_basilica
Section through Old St Peters side-ways, with picture of the old frontage.
  1. [1]Pietro Zander, The Necropolis under St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, Elio de Rosa editore, 2009.
  2. [2]Online at Archive.org here, from the original, rather strange, Microsoft digitisation; a better version at Heidelberg here.

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