Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Julius II - The Warrior Pope

Giuliano della Rovere became Pope Julius II on November 1503 with an immediate objective of regaining the lands that had been taken away from the papacy during the reigns of Innocent VIII and Alexander VI by the French, Germans and Spanish. To this end he started a series of wars and secret alliances. However this warrior pope also left a lasting legacy to the Eternal City.

Santa Maria del Popolo is the Della Rovere family church and their chapel is the first on the right as you enter. Above the chapel altar can be seen the charming Nativity scene 'Adoration of the Child' by Pinturicchio.

Via Giulia was laid out by the pope's favourite architect, Bramante, and was intended as a triumphal approach to the Vatican.

On the opposite side of the Tiber is Villa Farnesina, home to Agostini Chigi, treasurer of the Papal states.

The villa contains the work 'Galatea' by Raphael 

The Della Rovere symbol of the oak tree can also be glimpsed on the decorative ceiling.

Pope Julius also commissioned Bramante to build the Cortile del Belvedere in the Vatican.

The courtyard linked the Vatican with Julius's collection of classical statuary which was to become the the Vatican Museums that we know today.

Julius also spurred both Michelangelo and Raphael to produce their finest work - the former in the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel and the latter in the 'School of Athens'

San Pietro in Vincoli is the last resting place of Pope Julius. Michelangelo was asked to design his funeral monument which was to be the centrepiece of the new St Peter's Basilica but for various reasons it was referred to by the artist as the 'tragedy of the tomb'. The statue of Moses is one of the few that remain of the original grandiose plan. Other sculptures from the unfinished tomb are to be found in Florence and the Louvre.

I've no doubt that Julius would have thought his tomb a tragedy too if he had seen the comical effigy of himself by Tommaso Boscoli.

To complete the Julius experience you could stay at Hotel Colombus which is housed in Palazzo della Rovere. A well in the courtyard bears the family coat of arms.

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