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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  History and Archeology (Moderator: David Atherton)  |  Topic: THE CIRCUS OF GAIUS CALIGULA AND NERO- WHERE VATICAN IS NOW. 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: THE CIRCUS OF GAIUS CALIGULA AND NERO- WHERE VATICAN IS NOW.  (Read 9461 times)
Joe Geranio
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« on: March 01, 2013, 12:12:30 pm »

Many folks get this circus mixed up with the Circus Maximus where the Palatine overlooks the great space in Rome.   This spot today of course is located at the Vatican where St. Peters Bascilica is now. There are very few remains and there was some excavations in the 1950's and early 70's , but to further investigate , St Peters would need to be disturbed. We know the obelisk (still exists) www.flickr.com/photos/lecta/2395779781/ was moved to its current location in 1586. I find it amazing we do not have that much information on this site? It is also ironic , where the first Christians were persecuted; sits the Papal power house? dcsymbols.com/rome/rome3.htm
Model of Circus of Caligula and Nero- www.flickr.com/photos/60274160@N00/494114920
Scetch of Ruins of Caligula and Nero Circus- www.flickr.com/photos/julio-claudians/8128727 395/in/photo...
Fragment from the Circo di Caligola- www.flickr.com/photos/julio-claudians/3959526 859/
Pons Neroianus- www.flickr.com/photos/julio-claudians/3959730 381/
Fragment from the remains of the Circus of Caligula and Nero
CIL VI 10053 = CIL VI 10054 = CIL VI 33937 = CIL VI 37834 = AE 1903, 161
www.flickr.com/photos/julio-claudians/6863628 754/in/pool-...
Joe Geranio (2 days ago edit delete)
Nothing has survived as famous for Caligula's building project as the "Gaianum" on the Ager Vaticanus, the circus had an east -west configuration and the obelisk that is extant had the original inscription: DIVO CAESARI DIVI IUL II F. AUGUSTO, TI CAESARI DIVI AUGUSTI F. AUGUSTO, SACRUM= Sacred to the divine Caesar Augustus, son of the divine Julius,
The Globe thought to have originally been on the top of the Caligula Obelisk from the Ager vaticanus? Bronze globe with spire, thought to be the globe added to the pinnacle of either the Vatican obelisk or to the obelisk of Psametik II, when erected on the Campus Martius by Augustus, 10-9 BCE. cdm.reed.edu/ara-pacis/altar/related-material /obelisk-1/
Gaianum: an open space in Region XIV (Reg. Cat.; Hemerol. Filoc. ad V Kal. April., CIL I2 p314), south of the naumachia Vaticana and east of the via Triumphalis, where Caligula was fond of having horse races (Cass. Dio LIX.14). From inscriptions found in the vicinity (CIL VI.10052‑4, 10057‑8, 10067, 33937, 33953; BC 1902, 177‑185) it appears to have been surrounded by statues of successful charioteers (HJ 662; DAP 2.viii.355‑60; BC 1896, 248‑9). penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Plac es/Europe/It...
From Samuel Ball Platner, A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome, rev. Thomas Ashby. Oxford: 1929, p. 247.
An open space in Region XIV (Reg. Cat.; Hemerol. Filoc. ad V Kal. April., CIL I2 p314), south of the naumachia Vaticana and east of the via Triumphalis, where Caligula was fond of having horse races (Cass. Dio LIX.14). From inscriptions found in the vicinity (CIL VI.10052-4, 10057-8, 10067, 33937, 33953; BC 1902, 177-185) it appears to have been surrounded by statues of successful charioteers (HJ 662; DAP 2.viii.355-60; BC 1896, 248-9). public domain archive1.village.virginia.edu/spw4s/RomanForu m/GoogleEart...
CIRCUS GAI ET NERONIS:
built by Caligula as a private course for chariot racing in the HORTI AGRIPPINAE (q.v.). It was called circus Gai et Neronis (Plin. NH xxxvi. 74) and circus Vaticanus (ib. xvi. 200), and was a favourite place for the sports and orgies of Claudius and Nero (cf. Suet. Claud. 21; Tac. Ann. xiv. 14 (?); Suet. Nero 53 (?)). On the spina Caligula erected an obelisk (OBELISCUS VATICANUS (q.v.) ) from Heliopolis (Plin. NH xvi. 201; xxxvi. 74; CIL vi. 882 =3 1911).
In the fourth century the north side of the circus was destroyed to make room for the first basilica of St. Peter, and the south wall and the two southernmost rows of columns of the church were built on the three parallel north walls of the circus (see plan in Lanciani, Pagan and Christian Rome 129). In the fifth century two mausolea were erected on part of the spina, one of them being the tomb of the wife of the Emperor Honorius (see Lanciani, op. cit. 198-205; Mel. 1902,388). One of these was destroyed about 1520 (see SEPULCRUM MARIAE), but the other stood until the eighteenth century (DuP 38; Cerrati, cit.). For the mediaeval name Palatium Neronianum, see HCh 259 (S. Gregorii de Palatio). Some remains of the circus were visible in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and in the seventeenth, when the new church of St. Peter was being built, the ruins were described by G. Grimaldi, whose notes are extant in several MS. copies (see Hulsen, Il Circo di Nerone al Vaticano, in Miscellanea Ceriani, Milan 1910, 256-278, and also Tiberii Alpharani De Basilicae Vaticanae Structura, published by M. Cerrati, Studi e Testi fasc. 26 (1914) xxxiv.- xxxvii.). Cerrati points out that the reason of the collapse of the old basilica was that its walls were built, not on the centre of the walls of the circus, but slightly to one side. The axis of the circus ran east and west, and the carceres were at the east end, toward the Tiber, flanked by two towers placed unsymmetrically. According to Grimaldi, the circus was 90 metres wide and 161 long, but the length is probably underestimated (HJ 657-8; LR 551-554; RE iii. 2581-2); while Cerrati determines the width as 500, not 400, palms (i.e. 111.50 metres). public domain- A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome. Samuel Ball Platner. Thomas Ashby. London: Humphrey Milford. Oxford University Press. 1929.
CIRCUS CAII, ET NERONIS
www.quondam.com/26/2611.htm
TACITUS ANNALS, 14:14
He had long had a fancy for driving a four-horse chariot, and a no less degrading taste for singing to the harp, in a theatrical fashion, when he was at dinner. This he would remind people was a royal custom, and had been the practice of ancient chiefs; it was celebrated too in the praises of poets and was meant to show honour to the gods. Songs indeed, he said, were sacred to Apollo, and it was in the dress of a singer that that great and prophetic deity was seen in Roman temples as well as in Greek cities. He could no longer be restrained, when Seneca and Burrus thought it best to concede one point that he might not persist in both. A space was enclosed in the Vatican valley where he might manage his horses, without the spectacle being public. Soon he actually invited all the people of Rome, who extolled him in their praises, like a mob which craves for amusements and rejoices when a prince draws them the same way. However, the public exposure of his shame acted on him as an incentive instead of sickening him, as men expected. Imagining that he mitigated the scandal by disgracing many others, he brought on the stage descendants of noble families, who sold themselves because they were paupers. As they have ended their days, I think it due to their ancestors not to hand down their names. And indeed the infamy is his who gave them wealth to reward their degradation rather than to deter them from degrading themselves. He prevailed too on some well-
NERO'S AMUSEMENTS
known Roman knights, by immense presents, to offer their services in the amphitheatre; only pay from one who is able to command, carries with it the force of compulsion.
Vaticana Vallis: used once, by Tacitus, for the site of the circus Gai et Neronis (Ann. XIV.14: clausumque valle Vaticana spatium in quo equos regeret, haud promiscuo spectaculo), or, if not for its exact site, for the entrance to the depression of the modern Vicolo del Gelsomino, just south-west of the area occupied by the circus proper.


Circus of Gaius and Nero


This circus was built circa A.D. 40. Both Gaius (Caligula) and Nero participated in the races held here. Several of Christian martyrdoms are said to have occurred here, and it is the present location of St. Peter's Basilica. The obelisk brought to Rome by Caligula to adorn the circus now stands in the middle of St. Peter's Square.


Gaianum

From Samuel Ball Platner, A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome, rev. Thomas Ashby. Oxford: 1929, p. 247.

An open space in Region XIV (Reg. Cat.; Hemerol. Filoc. ad V Kal. April., CIL I2 p314), south of the naumachia Vaticana and east of the via Triumphalis, where Caligula was fond of having horse races (Cass. Dio LIX.14). From inscriptions found in the vicinity (CIL VI.10052-4, 10057-8, 10067, 33937, 33953; BC 1902, 177-185) it appears to have been surrounded by statues of successful charioteers (HJ 662; DAP 2.viii.355-60; BC 1896, 248-9).

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Additional source material

Ancient Library Sources (from Peter Aicher, Rome Alive: A Source Guide to the Ancient City, vol. 1, Bolchazy-Carducci: 2004) [Works cited]
66. The Fire of AD 64. Commentary.

Although Nero's famous fire started in the Campus Martius and spread over most of downtown Rome, the Colosseum-basin is a fitting place to include ancient descriptions of it, not only because Nero's signature work in Rome, the famous Golden House (the Domus Aurea) was built around the basin, but because the fire gave Nero greater liberty in its creation.

In addition to a famous passage about Crassus's profiteering that testifies to the frequency of fires in Rome [66.1], I have also included here a few sources that indicate the possible impact that Nero's fire may have had on the Christian topography of Rome. The first known persecution of Christians in Rome was a result of the fire. Tacitus reports that Nero blamed the fire on the Christians to deflect the suspicion that he started it, and he had many of them executed, some of them used as torches in mockery of the crime they were charged with, others by crucifixion. Tacitus further tells us that some of the executions took place in Nero's circus in the Vatican fields, a racetrack (apparently begun by Gaius Caligula; see 94.2) that stretched all along the left side of the present Basilica of St. Peter. Alongside this racetrack was a street lined by tombs, and it is possible that Simon Peter was not only one of the Christians killed in this persecution, but that he was killed in Nero's circus and buried in this cemetery. Early Christians, at any rate, believed his bones rested here [67.3] and built a shrine above them in the C2, followed, under Constantine, by the large basilica that was the forerunner of the current St. Peter's.

The ruins of Nero's circus are no longer visible, but the obelisk located at its center still stands, transported by Pope Sixtus V in 1586 a short distance to the piazza in front of the new St. Peter's Basilica. The ancient cemetery, complete with street and mausoleums that are preserved deep underground among the massive foundations of the present basilica, is one of the more astounding sites in Rome and can be visited with advance reservations.

67. The Circus of Gaius and Nero and Christian Persecutions. Sources.

67.1.

Nero had a space in the Vatican valley enclosed where he might practice his chariot-racing. At first he raced in private, but soon he was inviting the public in to cheer him on.

Tacitus, Annals 14.14.4

67.2.

[After the fire, various rituals were performed to appease the gods.] But neither the emperor's expense and generosity nor the appeasement of the gods could avert the suspicion that Nero ordered the fire. To quell this rumor Nero falsely accused others—“Christians,” as they were commonly called, already hated for their scandalous conduct—and he subjected them to the most elaborate tortures. (Their founder was a man named Christ, who was executed in Tiberius's reign by the orders of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. The deadly cult was thus suppressed for the moment, but then burst forth anew, not only in Judaea, the source of this evil, but throughout Rome as well, where all things shocking and disgraceful gravitate and thrive.)

First some Christians were arrested who confessed to the crime, and by their evidence a host of others were convicted, not so much for the crime of arson as for their hatred of humankind. Mockery attended their death: dressed in the hides of animals they were torn apart by dogs, nailed on crosses, or were themselves set on fire after dark and used as torches. Nero opened his gardens to this spectacle and made a show of their executions in his circus, dressed as a charioteer and mingling with the people, or riding on a chariot. As a result of his behavior, people felt pity for these Christians, not because they didn't think them guilty and deserving of novel punishments, but because it seemed that they were being slaughtered not for the public welfare but to satisfy the savagery of one man.

Tacitus, Annals 15.44

67.3.

It is recorded that the Apostles Paul and Peter were killed under Nero in Rome itself, the former by decapitation and the latter by crucifixion. That this occurred in Rome is corroborated by the existence of cemeteries there in their names, and by no less an authority than Caius, a church historian who wrote when Zephyrinus was Bishop of Rome [c. AD 210].…

Discussing the location of the relics of the apostles in question, Caius reports: “I am able to point out the burial monuments of these apostles: if you care to go out to the Vatican field or the road to Ostia, you will find the monuments of the founders of our Church.”

Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 2.25.5-7

http://archive1.village.virginia.edu/spw4s/RomanForum/GoogleEarth/AK_GE/AK_HTML/AS-004.html

Gaianum: an open space in Region XIV (Reg. Cat.; Hemerol. Filoc. ad V Kal. April., CIL I2 p314), south of the naumachia Vaticana and east of the via Triumphalis, where Caligula was fond of having horse races (Cass. Dio LIX.14). From inscriptions found in the vicinity (CIL VI.10052‑4, 10057‑8, 10067, 33937, 33953; BC 1902, 177‑185) it appears to have been surrounded by statues of successful charioteers (HJ 662; DAP 2.viii.355‑60; BC 1896, 248‑9).

3RD PHOTO FRAGMENTS FROM CIRCUS OF GAI AND NERONE   -  CIL VI 10053 = CIL VI 10054 = CIL VI 33937 = CIL VI 37834 = AE 1903, 161
http://www.flickr.com/photos/julio-claudians/6863628754/in/pool-395282@N21

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circus_of_Nero#Location.2C_relative_position.2C_orientation.2C_and_dimensions

5TH PHOTO GLOBE FROM CALIGULAN PERIOD THAT WAS ON TOP OF OBELISK THAT RESIDES IN THE VATICAN MUSEUM

THIS LINK THE CALIGULAN OBELISK THAT STILL RESIDES AT THE VATICAN THAT WAS ONCE ON RACE COURSE

http://www.flickr.com/photos/neal1960/2599633781/


REGARDING BRONZE GLOBE OR BALL- THAT WAS ON TOP OF SPINA, NOW THE CHRISTIAN CROSS RESIDES ATOP SPINA

Obeliscus Vaticanus: * the obelisk from Heliopolis erected by Caligula on the spina of the circus Gai et Neronis (CIL VI.882; Plin. NH XVI.201; XXXVI.74, where the reading is uncertain, cf. BC 1897, 226), and now standing in front of S. Peter's.
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« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2013, 05:36:49 pm »

Excellent information. Very useful for someone on a visit to Rome. Platner and Ashby has been reprinted and is inexpensive. I recall several online versions. Link below to Perseus.

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.04.0054

A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome by L. Richardson 1992 updates some of the research.
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Joe Geranio
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Joe and Caligula at the Getty


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« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2013, 12:38:15 am »

Very tough site to get photos of artifacts.   More where popes are buried, near that area?  Here are some nice site maps.   Look at the one with the area of Elagabulus.

http://wikimapia.org/8201740/Former-Site-of-the-Circus-of-Nero   Should be 4 photos of maps/


HERE ARE SOME REFERENCES FROM HORTI AGRIPPINAE

Horti Agrippinae: the gardens of the elder Agrippina, on the right bank of the Tiber, which afterwards (33 A.D.) belonged to Caligula (Sen. de ira III.18; Philo Iud. de legat. ad Gaium II.572). They occupied the present site of S. Peter's, and extended to the Tiber, from which they were separated by a porticus and terrace. Within them Caligula built the p265circus Gai et Neronis, and it was probably in these gardens, under the name horti Neronis (Tac. Ann. XV.39, 44; cf. XIV.14), that the martyrdom of many Christians took place.

Circus Gai et Neronis: Built by Caligula as a private course for chariot racing in the Horti Agrippinae (q.v.). It was called circus Gai et Neronis (Plin. NH XXXVI.74) and circus Vaticanus (ib. XVI.201), and was a favour place for the sports and orgies of Claudius and Nero (cf. Suet. Claud. 21; Tac. Ann. XIV.14 (?); Suet. Nero 53 (?)). On the spina Caligula erected an obelisk (Obeliscus Vaticanus (q.v.)) from Heliopolis (Plin. NH XVI.201; XXXVI.74; CIL VI.882 = 31191).

In the fourth century the north side of the circus was destroyed to make room for the first basilica of St. Peter, and the south wall and the two southernmost rows of columns of the church were built on the three parallel north walls of the circus (see plan in Lanciani, Pagan and Christian Rome 128).º In the fifth century two mausolea were erected on part of the spina, one of them being the tomb of the wife of the Emperor Honorius (see Lanciani, op. cit. 198‑205; Mél. 1902, 388). One of these was destroyed about 1520 (see Sepulcrum Mariae), but the other stood until the eighteenth century (DuP 38; Cerrati, cit.). For the mediaeval name Palatium Neronianum, see HCh 259 (S. Gregorii de Palatio). Some remains of the circus were visible in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and in the seventeenth, when the new church of St. Peter was being built, the ruins were described by G. Grimaldi, whose notes are extant in several MS. copies (see Hülsen, Il Circo di Nerone al Vaticano, in Miscellanea Ceriani, Milan 1910, 256‑278, and also Tiberii Alpharani De Basilicae Vaticanae Structura, published by M. Cerrati, Studi e Testi fasc. 26 (1914) xxxiv‑xxxvii). Cerrati points out that the reason of the collapse of the old basilica was that its walls were built, not on the centre of the walls of the circus, but slightly to one side. The axis of the circus ran east and west, p114and the carceres were at the east end, toward the Tiber, flanked by two towers placed unsymmetrically. According to Grimaldi, the circus was 90 metres wide and 161 long, but the length is probably underestimated (HJ 657‑8; LR 551‑554; RE III.2581‑2); while Cerrati determines the width as 500, not 400, palms (i.e. 111.50 metres).  http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Places/Europe/Italy/Lazio/Roma/Rome/_Texts/PLATOP*/Circus_Gai_et_Neronis.html


Pliny, Historia Naturalis 36. 14 (69):  WITHOUT GETTING INTO THE OBELISKS OF AUGUSTAN ROME TOO MUCH (FOCUS CIRCUS OF GAIUS AND NERO)


(70) Above all, there came also the difficult task of transporting obelisks to Rome by sea. The ships used attracted much attention from sightseers. That which carried the first of two obelisks was solemnly laid up by Augustus in a permanent dock at Puteoli to celebrate the remarkable achievement; but later it was destroyed by fire. The ship used by the Emperor Gaius for bringing a third was carefully preserved for several years by Claudius, for it was the most amazing that had ever been seen at sea . . . . The obelisk placed by Augustus in the Circus Maximus was cut by King Psemetnepserphreus, who was reigning when Pythagoras was in Egypt, and measures 85 feet and nine inches, apart from its base, which forms part of the same stone. The obelisk in the Campus Martius, however, which is 9 feet less, was cut by Sesothis.


[Pliny has these kings reversed: the obelisk in the Piazza del Popolo was commissioned by
Seti I/Rameses II; the one on Montecitorio was commissioned by Psammetichus II.]


The third obelisk in Rome stands in the Vatican Circus that was built by the Emperors Caius and Nero. It was the only one of the three that was broken during its removal. It was made by Nencoreus the son of Sesostris, and there still exists another that belongs to him: it is 100 cubits in height and was dedicated by him to the sun god in accordance with an oracle after he had been stricken with blindness and then regained his sight.   http://www.csun.edu/~hcfll004/obelisks.html

Sepulcra-- Sepulcrum Mariae

Sepulcrum Mariae: the tomb of Maria, daughter of Stilicho and wife of Honorius, and probably also of Honorius himself (Paul. Diac. hist. Langob. 13.7: iuxta S. Petri apostoli atrium in mausoleo sepultus est), of Theodosius II and Valentinian III, built on the east end of the spina of the Circus Gai et Neronis (q.v.), together with another circular mausoleum6 of similar size. This was later known as S. Maria della Febbre, and was only demolished by Pius VI (DuP 38).  The tomb of Maria contained eight niches on the inside, one of which served as an entrance. In the eighth century the body of S. Petronilla was transferred hither, and the tomb became known as the chapel of the Frankish kings. It was destroyed about 1520 during the building of the present church of S. Peter's, but the sarcophagus containing the remains of Maria with much treasure in gold and silver was found in 1544 (ILS 800; for the history of this mausoleum and of the discoveries made in it, see Cancellieri, de Secretariis basilicae Vaticanae 995‑1002, 1032‑1039; De Rossi, BCr 1863, 53 sq.; 1878, 140 sq.; Lanciani, Pagan and Christian Rome 201‑205; LS III.240; Arm. 754‑758; Mél. 1902, 388‑394; BC 1914, 395; HCh 422‑423; Tiberii Alpharani de basilicae Vaticanae structura, published by M. Cerrati, Studi e Testi, fasc. 26 (1914) 132‑145; LPD I.192, for large plan of S. Peter's and these mausolea; cf. also Rivoira, Lombardic Architecture, I.82‑84; Rohault de Fleury, BCr 1895, 41 sqq.

MORE ON CIRCUS OF GAIUS AND NERO

http://books.google.com/books?id=fmHQAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA271&lpg=PA271&dq=circus+of+caligula+and+nero+ruins&source=bl&ots=XMC5YdQJKN&sig=xEZIMiq5UTpENaF7AITKFkoutQg&hl=en&sa=X&ei=2v4yUY6IG8vMigK7gIHoBw&ved=0CGoQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=circus%20of%20caligula%20and%20nero%20ruins&f=false


IMPORTANT EARLY DRAWING WITH CIRCUS OF CALIGULA AND NERO
http://www.quondam.com/27/2744.htm

www.mmdtkw.org -
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Joe Geranio
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Joe and Caligula at the Getty


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« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2013, 12:03:02 am »

Stand "architecture et histoire" bei der "Expo Trains Modelisme" in Ciney

Pierre de Guennec beschreibt sein Diorama der Pferderennbahn des Caligula:

Le Cirque présenté est celui du règne de CALIGULA, construit sous TIBERE en 23, il fut à  travers les âges restauré et embelli au fil des empereurs. Mais c'est sous l'apogée de CALIGULA qu'il prit sa véritable dimension.
Plus petit que le célèbre et immense Circus Maximus, le cirque CALIGULA etait merveilleusement décoré.
La maquette représente le Circus Caius Julius Germanicus (dit Caligula), un matin de courses de chars, plus précisément des quadriges (4 chevaux), les préparatifs des courses offertes par lèmpereur battent leur plein. Le marché s'active, les parieurs se massent aux caisses des "Bookmakers" de l' époque. Les entraînements des quadriges conduits par des auriges se déroulent sous le regard des privilégiés du matin.

Il existait à  cette époque quatres cirques dans ROME, le pl us grand était le Circus Maximus. 600 m de long et 200 de large, un monstre pour l'antiquité romaine. Le plus petit le Circus Flamilius, le troisième le Circus Caligula à  l'emplacement actuel du Vatican, et le quatrième le Circus Domitien à  l'emplacement de la place Navone.
Le plus richement décoré etait sans nul doute, le Circus Caligula (marbre et or, ses dimensions: 300 m de long pour 105 m de large. L'obélisque que vous pouvez voir au centre de la SPINA est celui actuellement sur la place Saint-Pierre de ROME au Vatican, diminué de 10 mètres lors de son transport, il rest toutefois aussi impressionnant.
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