The Four Altars of Science

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The Four Altars of Science
(4h/5h on foot, 3h/4h by car or public transport)

1. The Church of St. Maria del Popolo  EARTH
3. The Chigi Chapel in St. Maria del Popolo, the first altar of science
“The Church of Santa Maria del Popolo stood out like a misplaced battleship, askew at the base of a hill on the southeast corner of the piazza”.
The famous statues of Habakkuk and the angel pointing the way down the Path of Illumination, by G.L. Bernini.
The Chigi pyramid tomb with its numerous symbols and the vault referring to zodiac signs designed by Raphael.
The skeleton covering the demon’s hole and subterranean crypt, where the first cardinal is found dead with the ambigram seared on his chest.

2. St. Peter's Church and Square  AIR
4. St. Peter’s Church
“Crossing the open expanse of St.Peter’s square he sensed Bernini’s sprawling piazza having the exact effect the artist had been commissioned to create – that of humbling all those who entered”.
The largest Christian church in the world, mother to all Catholic churches and also known as the “museum church”.
The Swiss guards
The papal altar “the golden coffer surrounded by ninety-nine glowing oil lamps. It was said they would burn until the end of time.”
The baldachin (or canopy) covering the very tomb of St.Peter and hiding place of the anti-matter canister.
The dome
The obelisk
The grand staircase.


3. The Church of St. Maria della Vittoria  FIRE

2. The church of St. Maria della Vittoria, where the third cardinal is burnt alive.
Inside the last chapel on the left (Cornaro Chapel), the astonishing Ecstasy of St. Teresa, “a woman inflamed by passion’s fire”, Bernini’s masterpiece in the field of sculpture and also “the most unfit ornament ever to be placed in a Christian church”, according to an English critic, who considered it as “pornographic”.
The triumph of Baroque style.

The Bernini Hotel
The location of the novel final scenes (high above, like some sort of modern shrine to a bygone hero, an enormous neon sign blinked on the roof of a luxurious hotel. the sign seemed eerily befitting “Hotel Bernini”.


4. The Fountain of The Four Rivers at Piazza Navona  WATER

2. Piazza Navona
Once a stadium built by order of Emperor Domitian, now one of the most peculiar Roman squares. In the middle, the famous

3. The fountain of the Four Rivers
“A flawless tribute to water, Bernini’s fountain glorified the four major rivers, one
of his most celebrated sculptures. Everyone who came to Rome went to see it”.
“The fo
untain’s most arresting quality was its height. The central core alone was over twenty feet tall – a rugged mountain of travertine marble riddled with caves and grottoes through which the water churned”.
The four colossal male figures around portray the four continents: America, Africa, Asia and Europe and, of course, the four most important rivers of the Old World, i. e. the Rio della Plata, the Nile, Ganges and Danube. In the middle, the obelisk with the dove atop. Again, Bernini. Nearby,

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