I was hardly excited when I finally sat down to read Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. First, because the book was so freaking expensive that for the first time in my life, i had to borrow a book that is widely available anyways, and something that I could actually buy. I guess Mr Brown made a killing with the sequel The Da Vinci Code that he decided to up the prequel. Second, I don't really know what to expect from this book - Church bashing? That's a given.
What I can say is, at least Dan Brown is pretty much consistent: he bashes the Church which welcomes him during his visits, he gives us an overload of information more than what we could possibly handle in our lifetime, and yet despite all these, he gives us a satisfactory piece of fiction.
In fact, i read through the book without getting a wink of sleep, looking like a panda the next morning when i tossed the book on Mom's bed with an air of triumph. "Here", I said. "it's your turn." She was reading VAGINA MONOLOGUES that morning I visited her in her room.
I read Angels and Demons all night, tossing and turning interminably in my bed, reading every page with the help of my cellphone's flashlight (that gives you an idea of what my other cellphone's model is).
Truly absorbing that immediately the next day, I turned to Google to help me with the photos of places and art works mentioned in the book. And here are some of them, dear readers:
The Ecstasy of St Teresa. 1647-52 Marble / height c. 11' 6" (3.5m) at the Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome
The altar with the pyramid and the elliptical eye, Chigi Chapel dubbed "The First Altar of Science" in the novel
The hole on the roof of the Pantheon which allows the light to come in, Rome's oldest Christian church (although was orginally built as a monument and temple to the gods of Olympus)
Raphael Santi's tomb, a clue misunderstood by character Langdon
Entrance to the Pantheon, wrongly pointed out by Langdon as the first Altar of Science
Can you see the bronze dove on this one? It should point to Castel S'Angelo, the Illuminati lair where Vittoria is helt by the Hassassin.
Oh look! The cover of the Demon's Hole in the Chigi Chapel!
"Langdon, you stupid American! Can't you see I'm pointing the way out of this chapel?!"
Chigi on the outside. You will miss it, like Langdon and Vittoria did.
S. Maria Della Vittoria. The Third Altar of Science (Fire clue). On one side of the altar is the beautiful Bernini work ECSTASY OF ST TERESA, one of my personal favorites. I've had a photo of it since my High School days (See above).
That's the passetto as it leaves the ground and enters the Vatican. As you can see, it is disguised as a viaduct, which in a sense it really is.
The Church welcomes the world with an embrace via St Peter's Square, capable of holding 60,000 people. In the center is the site of the WIND clue (West Ponente marker), and that obelisk was brought to Rome by the (in)famous Empreror Caligula.
The West Ponente "blowing" away from the Vatican towards Sta Maria della Vittoria. Derscribed as "The Breathe of God"
A shot of St Peter's Main Nave, with Bernini's famous baldachin in the foreground. The bronze used here, sorry to say, was stripped from the Pantheon.
Entrance to the underground crypt leading to the catacombs and St Peter's grave. As you can see, it is directly beneath the main altar.
The 99 lamps "that will burn till the end of time" lighting the way to the catacombs.
The Illuminati lair! all clues lead to this one!
More angels on the bridgeway towards the castle, full of angels pointing the way!
Oh look! That's the secret passageway for the Popes coming into the castle from the Vatican. It does look like a viaduct or an aqueduct from here.
Angel atop the Castle marks the spot of the Temple of Illimunation. End of the search! Wait, why do I sound like I am raving? (Stop me!)
A sample of a male statue whose penis must have one of those hacked off by Pope Sixtus because they might arouse evil thoughts among churchgoers. Ouch!
The Vatican Museum. Don't gape. This is just a hallway, dear. There's more to take your breath away. Now, on your left is the...
Hall leading to the Sistine Chapel. Isn't it so freaking amazing?!
Ground Zero. This is where the College of Cardinals is locked until they elect a new Pope. The frescoes on the sides are by Raphael and one friar whose name escapes me at the moment (Fra Filippo Filippi, i think. I learned it all in High School. I used to be so good with art identification and dating, damn!), and the that on the altar and those on the ceiling are by Michelangelo.
I will finish my article when i have time. Enjoy the photos for now.
Photos by www.xtdnet.nl