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Art and Culture in Vatican City

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St. Peters Basilica
The largest church in the world, St. Peter’s Basilica is more than just the most important building in Christendom. It is a jewel within Vatican City from where Popes have spread the word of God throughout the world. The Basilica is a focal point of millions of pilgrims each year, but it is also a true cultural, historical and architectural landmark. The classic Renaissance structure holds within itself treasures from millennia including paintings, sculptures, artefacts and the art decorated on the walls. A visit to St. Peter’s Basilica is a treat to the senses and the soul!
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Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums,founded by Pope Julius II in the early 16th contain one of the world's greatest art collections in the world. Exhibits range from Egyptian mummies and Etruscan bronzes to ancient busts, old masters and modern paintings.
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Sistine Chapel
Sistine Chapel, located in the Vatican Palace is famous for its Renaissance frescoes by Michelangelo, painted between 1508 and 1512. The frescoes are the cornerstone work of High Renaissance art and a must see while visiting Vatican City.
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Roman Colosseum
Known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, the Roman Colosseum is one of the capital's most remarkable monuments. Every year over 6 million people visit it. The Colosseum is the main symbol of Rome. It is an imposing construction that, with almost 2,000 years of history, will bring you back in time to discover the way of life in the Roman Empire. The construction of the Colosseum began in the year 72 under the empire of Vespasian and was finished in the year 80 during the rule of the emperor Titus. After completion, the Colosseum became the greatest Roman amphitheatre, measuring 188 meters in length, 156 meters in width and 57 meters in height. During the Roman Empire and under the motto of "Bread and Circuses" the Roman Colosseum (known then as Flavian Amphitheatre) allowed more than 50,000 people to enjoy its finest spectacles. The exhibitions of exotic animals, executions of prisoners, recreations of battles and gladiator fights kept the Roman people entertained for years. The Colosseum remained active for over 500 years. The last recorded games in history were celebrated in the 6th century. Since the 6th century the Colosseum has suffered lootings, earthquakes and even bombings during World War Two. Demonstrating a great survival instinct, the Colosseum was used for decades as a storehouse, church, cemetery and even a castle for nobility. At present the Colosseum is, along with the Vatican City, Rome's greatest tourist attraction. Each year 6 million tourists visit it. On 7 July 2007 the Colosseum became one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
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Trevi Fountain
The Trevi fountain, inspired by Roman triumphal arches, is the largest and most famous Baroque fountain in Rome (standing 25.9 meters high and 19.8 meters wide). In 1629, Pope Urban VIII, asked Bernini to sketch possible renovations of the fountain, finding it insufficiently theatrical. After the Pope's death the project was abandoned. Bernini's lasting contribution was to situate the fountain from the other side of the square to face the Quirinal Palace (so that the Pope could see and enjoy it). The Trevi Fountain as we know it today, was designed by Nicola Salvi in 1732 and competed in 1762. The central figures of the fountain are Neptun (God of the sea), flanked by two Tritons. One struggles to master a very unruly "seahorse", the other lead a far more docile animal. These symbolize the two contrasting moods of the sea. Appropriately for a fountain resembling a stage set, the theatrical Trevi Fountain has been the star of many films shot in Rome, including romantic films such as "Three coins in a fountain" and "Roman holiday", but also "La dolce vita", Federico Fellini's satirical portrait of Rome in the 1950s.
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Roman Pantheon
The Pantheon, completed in 126 AD, was a Roman temple with a surprising oculus that is the building's main source of natural light. The Pantheon of Agrippa, also known as the Roman Pantheon, is one of the architectural masterpieces of the Italian capital. It is the best preserved building from ancient Rome. The construction of the current Pantheon was carried out during the reign of Hadrian, in the year 126 A.D. The name of Agrippa comes from the place in which the current building is built, which was previously occupied by the Pantheon of Agrippa, built in the year 27 B.C and that was destroyed in a fire in the year 80 A.D. At the beginning of the 7th century the building was donated to the Pope Boniface IV, who transformed it into a church, in which function it currently finds itself in a perfect state of preservation. In the interior of the Pantheon the tombs of numerous Italian kings and a multitude of art works are found. The best-known person who can be found buried in the Pantheon is without doubt the painter and Renaissance architect Raphael. The outskirts of the Pantheon are usually full of people at all hours, either photographing the imposing building or having a traditional supper in some of the terraces of the Piazza della Rotonda while they enjoy the shows put on by different street artists.
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Castel Sant Angelo
Known as Hadrian's Tomb, the Castel Sant'Angelo is a fortress located on the right bank of the Tiber, a short distance from the Vatican City. Construction of the building began in the year 135 under the direction of the Emperor Hadrian, who intended to use it as mausoleum for himself and his family. It was finished in the year 139 and a short time later, it became a military building, which in the year 403 would be integrated to the Aurelian Walls. The Castel Sant'Angelo is split into five floors which can be reached by a spiral ramp that first reaches the chamber of ashes and subsequently the cells in which a number of historical figures were incarcerated. Advancing toward the upper part of the castle you will find different rooms that functioned as a Papal residence, decorated with perfectly preserved frescoes from the Renaissance period, besides the extensive collection of weapons. In the upper floor there is a large terrace where you can take amazing photographs of the city from above. Advancing toward the upper part of the castle you will find different rooms that functioned as a Papal residence, decorated with perfectly preserved frescoes from the Renaissance period, besides the extensive collection of weapons. In the upper floor there is a large terrace where you can take amazing photographs of the city from above.
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Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
The first nucleus, a collection of ancient sculptures, was constituted by Julius II (1503-13) but the idea of ​​the museum was born with Clement XIII (1758-69), who with the assistance of Winckelmann had the Museo Profano exhibiting set up Greek and Roman sculptures. With Clement XIV (1769-74) and Pius VI (1775-99) the Museo Pio Clementino was born, which brings together the most famous examples of ancient sculpture such as the Apollo del Belvedere, the Laooconte group and the Torso del Belvedere, while in 1807 -10, under Pius VII, the Chiaramonti Museum is set up by Canova, which houses Roman sculptures. In 1822 the Braccio Nuovo is opened with over 150 sculptures including statues such as the wounded Amazon, the Doryphoros, the enormous statue of the Nile, the Augustus of Prima Porta. With Gregory XVI the Gregorian Etruscan Museum was opened in 1837 , with finds coming mostly from the nineteenth-century excavations carried out in southern Etruria, and in 1839 the Egyptian Gregorian collecting a series of statues depicting deities or characters of the royal family, sarcophagi, mummies and elements of funerary furniture. In 1844 he opened the Lateran Profane Museum (today Gregoriano Profano) and later the Pio Cristiano which collected materials from excavations in the Roman catacombs including numerous sarcophagi.
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Palazzo dei Papi
The Pope's residence was established in the bishop's palace which, for the occasion, it was enlarged and adapted to the magnificence and solemnity required for a papal seat.
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The Parco dei Mostri (Park of Monsters) of Bomarzo
The Parco dei Mostri (Park of Monsters) of Bomarzo, a large park with gardens, buildings and fantastic sculptures, is a fun and different excursion, one that also inspired Salvador Dalì; meanwhile, the ancient village of Montecalvello develops around a castle where the famous Balthus, a contemporary painter, lived for thirty years.
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Galleria Nazionale of Umbria
The National Gallery of Umbria is organised following a chronological exhibition itinerary structured in 40 rooms on a total surface of 4.000 square meters. It houses one of the most complete collection of artworks in Italy dated between XIII and XIX Centuries, with works by Duccio di Boninsegna, Benedetto Bonfigli, Bartolomeo Caporali, Gentile da Fabriano, Beato Angelico, Benozzo Gozzoli, Piero della Francesca, Pintoricchio, Perugino, Orazio Gentileschi, Pietro da Cortona, Gian Lorenzo Bernini and others.
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The Civic Museum of Palazzo Pubblico
The Museo Civico, the city museum of Siena is situated at the heart of the city, in the first floor of the city hall known as Palazzo Pubblico in the main square of Piazza del Campo. Palazzo Pubblico is still used for its original function, for the municipal offices of Siena.
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National Archaeological Museum Naples
Originally the museum was an horse riding school, then the location of the University. The Archeological Museum was inaugurated in 1816 and nowadays it’s one of the most important museums of the world because of the quality and quantity of works exposed.
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Cappella Sansevero
The Sansevero Chapel Museum in the historic heart of Naples is a jewel of the world’s artistic heritage. Here, baroque creativity, dynastic pride, beauty and mystery blend to create a unique and almost timeless atmosphere. With its masterpieces such as the famous Veiled Christ, renowned world over for the remarkable tissue-like quality of the marble, feats of virtuosity such as Disillusion, and enigmatic creations such as the Anatomical Machines, the Sansevero Chapel is one of the most impressive monuments that the human mind has ever conceived. A noble mausoleum, a temple of initiation, which admirably reflects the multi-faceted personality of its ingenious architect, Raimondo di Sangro, seventh Prince of Sansevero.
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Santa Chiara Church and Cloister
Near the Gesú Nuovo church, there is the monumental complex of Santa Chiara, one of the most important buildings commissioned by the French Kingdom of Anjou for the Franciscan order. Built in 1340, it is a rare example of Medieval architecture in Napoli. The convent was to accommodate both monks and nuns in two separate buildings but at the same time depending on the same church. The church was then built in a simple Gothic style, with the typical Neapolitan yellow tufa. Unfortunately, the church has been reconstructed changing the original features into the Baroque style with marbles, polychrome stuccos and exorbitant decorative elements by Domenico Antonio Vaccaro between 1742 and 1769. Sadly, in 1943 the church was partially bombed during the second world war. It was decided that it would be rebuilt in its original Gothic style. It was reopened in 1953. Most of the antiques sculptures have returned to their original location, including the splendid tombs of the member of the Anjou family, like the monumental tomb of Robert of Anjou dated 1343, the tomb of Mary Valois, second wife of Robert, and his son's tomb. A small part of a fresco still remains from the medieval decoration attributed to Giotto (who stayed in Napoli between 1328 and 1333) and his workshop. The fine cloister outside the church is richly decorated with majolica tiles and it is a pure gem of the eighteenth century, designed by Domenico Antionio Vaccaro. He left the original medieval plan of the cloister but redesigning parts of it, adding two wide paths in the middle, the fine majolica decorations on the pillars with motif of vine shoots and wisteria twisting up, flowers, lemons while the seats are decorated with scenes of the city and country life in the eighteenth century.
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Piazza del Plebiscito
This noble semicircular piazza (19th Century) is enclosed on one side by the royal palace, on the other by the neoclassical façade of the church of San Francesco di Paola, built on the model of the Pantheon in Rome and prolonged by a curving colonnade. Two equestrian statues stand in front of the church: one, by Canova, depicts Ferdinand I of Bourbon, the other is of Charles III of Bourbon. The royal palace was built at the beginning of the 17th Century by the architect Domenico Fontana and has been remodelled several times. The façade retains more or less its original appearance. Since the late 19th Century the niches on the façade have contained eight statues of the most famous Kings of Naples. A huge staircase with twin ramps and crowned by a coffered dome leads to the apartments and the sumptuously decorated royal chapel. It was only after 1734 that royalty lived in the apartments. The richly ornamented rooms have retained their numerous work of art, tapestries, paintings, period furniture and fine porcelain.
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Amalfi Paper Museum
Among the first towns where it was discovered in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the existence of the paper, if you want to take for granted the information contained in notarial deeds discussing of the existence of paper products, while not specifying whether these were imported from other places and traded in the above-mentioned places, there were the territories of the Maritime Republics: Amalfi, Pisa, Genoa and Venice who had warehouses both in Syria, both on the coast of Palestine, where they were precisely located the major centres for the production of paper. These republics also had intense trade relations with the East and they could learn from the Eastern art of making paper without too much difficulty, or it is possible that on board the galleys, which in medieval times shuttled between our coasts and the Holy Land to transport crusaders and merchandises, they are embarked "Magisters in art cartarum" which as skilled labour have introduced this type of work. Amalfi is the oldest of the Maritime Republics, as early as the ninth century had its warehouses in Palermo and Messina and Syracuse, where the Amalfitana is still present in local place names. Age-old remains the question on the primacy of paper in Italy and then in Europe and in contention are mainly Amalfi and Fabriano.
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Cathedral of Ravello
Built in the 11th century with support from the Rufolo family, the Duomo is a combination of Baroque and Romanesque styles. Dedicated to St. Pantaleone, the church has undergone extensive modifications and restorations over the past 900 years. The Duomo’s shining white façade dates back to the last major restoration in 1931. The Duomo’s bell tower, which dates back to the 13th century, shows Moorish and Byzantine influence. Today, the Duomo is primarily remembered for five attractions: The first is the bronze door, which was temporarily removed for restoration in 2010. Constructed in 1179 by Barisano da Trani, the door is of special interest because fewer than two dozen bronze church doors are still extant in Italy, three of them by Trani. The second item of special note is the pulpit, which is supported by six spiraled columns sitting atop marble lions. Across from the pulpit, to the left, is the Ambo of the Epistles that boasts two wonderful mosaics of Jonah and the Whale. The fourth area of special interest is the Chapel of St. Pantaleone the Healer, a 3rd century physician who was beheaded, on orders of the Emperor Diocletian, after he converted to Christianity. The Chapel has a small ampoule of the saint’s blood, which is said to liquefy every year on July 27th, the anniversary of his martyrdom. The chapel also has a silver bust of the town’s venerated saint. The final attraction is the cathedral's museum, which is accessible through a side entrance on the Via Richard Wagner.
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Amalfi Cathedral
Amalfi Cathedral is a 9th-century Roman Catholic structure in the Piazza del Duomo, Amalfi, Italy. It is dedicated to the Apostle Saint Andrew. Predominantly of Arab-Norman Romanesque architectural style, it has been remodelled several times, adding Romanesque, Byzantine, Gothic, and Baroque elements. The cathedral includes the adjoining 9th-century Basilica of the Crucifix. Leading from the basilica are steps into the Crypt of St. Andrew. A wooden 13th-century Crucifix hangs in the liturgical area. Another crucifix, made of mother-of-pearl, was brought from the Holy Land and is located to the right of the back door. The High Altar in the central nave is formed from the sarcophagus of the Archbishop Pietro Capuano (died in 1214). Above the altar is a painting by Andrea dell'Asta of The Martyrdom of St. Andrew. The front facade was rebuilt in 1891 after the original one collapsed. It is of striped marble and stone with open arches that have lace detailing not commonly found in Italian sacred architecture while the tiled cupola is quite common amongst churches of the area. The tympanum's mosaics portray “The triumph of Christ” in a work created by Domenico Morelli and whose original designs are retained in the Town Hall.
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Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens
This enormous palace is one of Florence's largest architectural monuments. The original palazzo was built for the Pitti family in 1457, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and built by his pupil Luca Fancelli. The original construction consisted of only the middle cube of the present building. In 1549, the property was sold to the Medicis and became the primary residence of the grand ducal family. The palace was then enlarged and altered; from 1560, Bartolomeo Ammannati designed and added the grandiose courtyard and two lateral wings. Today, the Pitti Palace houses some of the most important museums in Florence: on the first floor is the Palatine Gallery, containing a broad collection 16th and 17th century paintings (including works by Raphael), and the Royal Apartments, containing furnishings from a remodeling done in the 19th century. On the ground floor and mezzanine is the Treasury of the Grand Dukes (formerly known as the the Silver Museum or Museo degli Argenti) displaying a vast collection of Medici household treasures, from table silverware to precious stone vases, rock crystals and precious jewelry. The Gallery of Modern Art is on the top floor, holding a collection of mostly Tuscan 19th and 20th century paintings.
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The Uffizi Gallery
Like a very precious treasure chest, the Uffizi Gallery will grant itself to visitors just a little bit at a time: from the initial uncertainty on where to get tickets, getting through lines to get inside and at the metal detector, then taking two flights of Renaissance-era stairs before you arrive at the actual entrance to the museum.
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The Palazzo Vecchio Museum & Tower
Palazzo Vecchio offers Roman ruins, a Medieval fortress and amazing Renaissance chambers and paintings. A microcosm where art and history have been indissolubly bound for centuries. Palazzo Vecchio is the main symbol of civil power for the city of Florence, whose original project is attributed to Arnolfo di Cambio. Construction on the solid fortress began in 1299 above the ruins of the destroyed Uberti Ghibelline towers, testimony of the final victory of the Guelph faction. The entire construction also rests on top of the ancient theater of the Roman colony of Florentia (dating back to the first century A.D.), whose ruins can be admired in the underground level. This area can be visited with a separate ticket or a combination ticket which includes the Palazzo Vecchio Museum and the Archaeological site. The area is suggestive organized with information and an interesting film to help you understand exactly what you are looking at underground.
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Piazza della Signoria
The Piazza della Signoria has been the center of political life in Florence since the 14th century with the prominent Palazzo Vecchio overlooking the square. It was the scene of great triumphs, such as the return of the Medici in 1530 as well as the Bonfire of the Vanities instigated by Savonarola, who was then himself burned at the stake here in 1498 after he was denounced by the Inquisition as a heretic. A marble circle inscription on the piazza shows the location where he was burned. The sculptures in Piazza della Signoria bristle with political connotations, many of which are fiercely contradictory. The David (the original is in the Galleria dell'Accademia) by Michelangelo was placed outside the Palazzo Vecchio as a symbol of the Republic's defiance of the tyrannical Medici.
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Florence Cathedral
Florence's cathedral stands tall over the city with its magnificent Renaissance dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, with the baptistery right across. The cathedral named in honor of Santa Maria del Fiore is a vast Gothic structure built on the site of the 7th century church of Santa Reparata, the remains of which can be seen in the crypt. The exterior is covered in a decorative mix of pink, white and green marble. The interior, by contrast, is pretty stark and plain but quite enjoyable on warm summer days since the temperature inside tends to be cooler. Please note the clock above the entrance on the inside of the church. It was designed in 1443 by Paolo Uccello in accordance with the ora italica, where the 24th hour of the day ended at sunset... and it still works!
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The Accademia Gallery
Visiting the Galleria dell’Accademia, you're most likely target are the magnificent giant marble sculptures created by Michelangelo, and above all, the glorious David. If you explore the museum with a bit more time, the Accademia will offer you much more in the less crowded halls, satisfying any curiosity for botany, music, art symbols and painting techniques. The Accademia welcomes the visitor in the Hall of the Colossus, name taken from the huge models of the Dioscuri of Montecavallo which were displayed in this large hall in the 19th century. It now hosts in the center the plaster model for the stunning marble sculpture of Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabine Women. Giambologna prepared the model as an exercise in creating a tightly-knit group of three figures from just one large block of marble. He did not actually name the sculpture, it was meant to be as a “simple” exercise of skill and it became the first example of such magnificent talent.
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La Rive Droite
Dedicated to the so-called "right bank", that is, the area of the historic centre that unfolds to the right of the cathedral of San Lorenzo, this itinerary begins in Piazza Caricamento, where goods were once unloaded and loaded in the old harbour. Here, you'll find Palazzo San Giorgio, today home to the Port Authority.
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The Certosa di Calci
As you exit the main highway at Cascina on the east to west road called the FI-PI-LI and start to drive towards the Apuane Alps, you slowly shake off the busy industrial sensations and start to ease yourself into the quiet and tranquility that first drew the Carthusian monks to this area.
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Piazza delle Vettovaglie
Piazza dei Cavalieri and Piazza Dante Alighieri are the centres of student life and in the streets around about there are many typical and affordable restaurants. In Piazza delle Vettovaglie there is the historic food market.
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Santa Maria della Spina
The exuberant Santa Maria della Spina Church in Pisa, Italy, is a beautiful work of Gothic fantasy rendered in miniature, that sits on the banks of the Lungarno Gambacorti. The eye-catching Santa Maria della Spina was originally a simple oratory for seamen, who would come here to pray for a safe return. The church was originally closer to the river bank. The church needed to reflect the value of the relic that it contained, so the best artists of the time went to work on it. These included Lupo di Francesco, Andrea Pisano with his sons Nino and Tommaso, and Giovanni di Balduccio. The “Madonna and the child with two angels” in the tabernacle on the façade is attributed to Giovanni Pisano, an important master who also worked at the Cathedral. The sumptuous decorations on the right side and in the tabernacles were made in the workshops of the Giovanni Pisano school. In contrast with the outside, the interior is quite ostentatious. It’s essentially one open space, at one end of which stands the “Madonna of the Rose” by Andrea and Nino Pisano, one of the most notable achievements of Gothic sculpture.
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Square of Miracles
The Campo dei Miracoli in Pisa, or the Square of Miracles, was proclaimed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO 25 years ago. The square is not located in the center of the city as you might imagine but to the north-west of the fortified wall, almost out of the town; there probably wasn’t enough space to use at the time the project got underway so this is the site decided upon. Since the times of the Etruscans, the three structures found in the piazza have been considered central to religious life, symbolizing the main stages of a human’s life
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Camposanto Monumentale
The Cemetery is the last monument on Piazza del Duomo, its long marble wall flanking the northern boundary and completing its shape. It was founded in 1277 to accommodate the graves that until then were scattered all around the Cathedral. Archbishop Federico Visconti wanted the building to be a “large and dignified, secluded and enclosed place”. This is how one of the oldest Christian Medieval architectures for the devotion of the dead came into being.
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The Pinacoteca Art Gallery
The Pinacoteca is located not far from The Due Torri (the Two Towers, symbols of Bologna), inside the former St. Ignatius Jesuit Novitiate, built in the second half of the 15th century house young men who were to join the Society of Jesus (Jesuit Order). Besides the Pinacoteca, the building is also the headquarters of the Accademia delle Belle Arti (Figurative Arts Academy) as well as the Historical Artistic and Ethno-anthropological Heritage Authority
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Sea Organ
Zadar has a unique combination of architecture and music, the wordly known Sea Organ. It is located next to the installation Greeting to the Sun, and it represents an organ whose sound is produced under the influence of the energy of the sea, rather waves and tides. The Sea Organ has been gently formed out of stone and returned to the sea. It stretches out on a surface of seventy meters of Zadar's coast, under which on the level of the lowest seated 35 pipes of different lengths, diameters and descent are installed. When the most beautiful sunset illuminates the waterfront, the play of light of the Greeting to the Sun accompanies the rhythm of waves and the sounds of the Sea Organ.
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The Greeting to the Sun
This new symbol of Zadar is located in the Zadar port on the western point of Zadar Peninsula. The Greeting to the Sun is overlooking the Zadar Channel, the islands and the widely known sunset. With this installation, Zadar has got a new tourist attraction. The modern installation Greeting to the Sun is made of 300 multilayer glass solar panels in the shape of a circle of a diameter of 22 meters. Throughout the day it collects the energy of the sun and transforms it into the electricity, which is consumed in and around the installation throughout the night. The Greeting to the Sun in the immediate proximity of the Sea Organ, the second modern intervention on Zadar's waterfront, and both of them brought Zadar to the front covers of all the world media.
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