...just prior to entrance you have to pass a security check...
...sadly, many women would temporarily cover their skin with a handkerchief and remove it once they were allowed in and they were out of the eyes of security. That really had us wonder how much respect some people actually do not have, for the very place they deem so sacred. Perhaps another wonder of the modern world, "no one shall tell me what I will wear!". In any case, the main reason we went in was to climb to the top of the dome to see the spectacular view of Rome that it has to offer. In the two hours that it took, there were many contemplations of turning around and just leaving...but we stuck it out...and well, the view, as our Lonely Planet guidebook promised, was well worth it...
After that two hour climb, we made our way to the Sistine Chapel. As we were going up the road, I turned to Salik and said, "why is it that everywhere we go, there's a long, steep, upward climb of one sort or the other?"...he looked at me with a smile and a raised eyebrow, and before he could answer, I put forth my own theory, "I suppose all the ancients, when they made these sites that were of religious significance to them, they wanted to put them as high up as possible. That way, when pilgrims visit, they feel as though they are going up towards that which is Good, Holy, and Pure. I mean, imagine if all these sites were downhill, it would feel as though one was going to the 'underworld'. Yeah, that's probably it." That won be the biggest smile yet from Salik, who exclaimed "did you read that somewhere?" -- "No? Why?" -- "Do you know that that theory has been put forth by some of the greatest of scholars?" -- "No, but I guess that means someone's probably beat me to publishing it, eh? :)". Then we got into a discussion about how if one looks at modern architecture, it consists of flat buildings, whereas older ones always had something pointing upward because they believed in a Higher Reality, but in the modern world, there is this feeling that this is it, that there is nothing higher.
La hawla wa la quwwata illa bi'Llah.
Then came the highlight of our tour of Roma...the Masjid -- the biggest masjid in all of Europe! What we got from the Arabs living there was that the Saudis funded the building of this HUGE Islamic Centre which houses a masjid, a library, a school, board-rooms, and more...plus beautiful lush green exterior grounds.
Earlier we found our way to another tiny little masjid tucked away behind some stores. The sisters' side was empty, but Salik managed to make a few friends on the brothers' side -- the Muslims there seemed always pleased and excited to see fellow Muslims.
...and our last stop in Roma were the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain, a nice place to just sit down and have some yummy Italian icecream!
...and that was it for our time in Roma!
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