This shot is one of our favorites, and it's also the very first one we took on our vacation. It shows the remains of the Basilica Ulpia (the short columns), Trajan's Column (the tall, intact column with the statue on top), and the far more modern churches of Santa Maria di Loreto (left) and Santissime Nome di Maria (right).

Trajan's column is 140 feet tall and decorated with a spiral relief of 2,500 figures trumpeting Trajan's exploits. Well, at least that's what Rick Steves says about it. We couldn't get close enough to count them ourselves. I tend to believe Rick though -- there was a lot of carving on that column!

It's interesting to note that, while the column has survived intact, the statue of Trajan that once graced the top has been replaced by St. Peter. This was a theme in Rome -- many of the ruins only survived because the church turned them into holy places or otherwise marked them as "off limits". The Curia -- where the Roman Senate used to meet -- is one of the most perfectly preserved buildings because they actually built a church around the building. We didn't get to see that, but the acoustics are reputed to be amazingly good.