College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota
College of Science and Engineering
http://cse.umn.edu/

Vatican Museum

Greetings from Roma,

It was a beautiful sunny day in Rome. We started the day with an exclusive private tour of the Paul VI Audience Hall in the Vatican City. The tour was really interesting and enlightening. The Audience Hall, was constructed using reinforced concrete, by the Italian architect Pier Luigi Nervi in 1971. The building's interior is rather spectacular, with the weight of the roof supported through arched beams that functions as part of the ventilation system as well. The design of the structure was inspired by nature, the symmetrical spires in addition with the decorated stained glass in the hall is similar to the wings of a butterfly. Our tour guide gave a really good piece of advice for us engineers, he said "As an engineer, you have to think first, 'what are you trying to achieve?', and then execute it with excellence."

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In the afternoon, we visited the St.Peter's Basilica. The view at the top of the cupola was rather spectacular, well worth the long queue and the long walk up the steps to reach the top of the cathedral.

The visit to the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel was in the mid-afternoon. There were Roman sculptures, paintings, artifacts, etc, in the museum. Personally, my favorite part of the tour was the Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel. The Raphael Rooms were the private residence of Pope Julius II. The rooms have spectacular frescoes by Raphael, including the masterpiece, 'The School of Athens". The Galleria degli Arrazi was one of the group's favorite part of the museum. The 120m long corridor has 40 16th Century topographical maps of Italy.

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