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Paris, Rome, Venice, and Barcelona are among the top-visited destinations in Europe. Beyond the Old World, New York City, Toronto and Whistler await shopping, dining and skiing enthusiasts, as well as businessmen and students. Quality accommodation is always in demand, and nowadays travellers have the freedom to choose not only hotels, but also apartment rentals.
Conveniently located and fully furnished, apartments of Sweet Home Abroad are excellently suited for short-term rentals and could be your next great vacation! All apartments are meant for travellers looking for comfort and independence regardless of their activities of interest. Beach lovers could opt for an apartment rental in Israel or rent a villa in Spain. Lovers of outdoor winter activities like skiing and snowboarding will find Whistler, located in Canada, a great destination: the co-host of Winter Olympic Games in 2010, Whistler is perfectly equipped to provide you with great skiing and riding trails, impeccable customer service and top-notch long-term accommodation. History and culture buffs will enjoy a great selection of accommodation we offer in Paris, Prague, Madrid, and, of course, Barcelona.
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Monuments, obelisks, squares

Egyptian obelisks

Seven Egyptian obelisks are the most ancients structures brought to Rome during the times of the Empire. The largest of them, originating from Karnak, weights 230 tonnes, is 32 meters tall and is now mounted in front of the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano. In February 1587 the obelisk that was broken into three parts was found buried 7 meters deep on the territory of the ancient Circo Massimo. After being put together, the obelisk reached 32,18 meters in height. It was installed in front of the Lateran palace. Ancient craftsmen began the work on it during the rule of the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose III (1490— 1486 BC). It was the first time that the obelisk was created as a sole “specimen”, as it was customary at the time to make obelisks in pairs.

On the piazza della Minerva stands a curious sculpture of an elephant by Bernini that supports the second obelisk. On piazza Navona the impressive sculptures serve as a pedestal for the third obelisk, 16,54 meters tall, that was made by the decree of the emperor Domitian (82-96 AC) who wanted the obelisk to be mounted in front of the temple of Isis. The obelisk is quite unique in the regard that it depicts Roman emperors dressed as Egyptian pharaohs at the festive sacrificial offerings.

The fourth obelisk was installed on piazza del Popolo, near the basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo. This church was built in 1472 AC over the Domitian familial crypt where, according to the legend, the emperor Nero was buried. This obelisk was brought to Rome by Augustus and judging from the hieroglyphic marks on the facets of it it was created during the times of Ramses II (1223—1211 BC). Initially the obelisk was installed in Heliopolis, the religious center of the ancient Egypt. In 30 BC after conquering Cleopatra the future emperor Augustus ordered to transfer the obelisk to Rome and devote it to Apollo who brought him the victory.

After the construction of the majestic St. Peter's Cathedral on the Vatican hill it was clear that the fifth obelisk should stand in the center of the square in front of the cathedral. It was the same obelisk that was brought to Rome during the rule of Caligula to be installed at the hippodrome. According to Christian legends, Saint Peter was executed beside this obelisk.

The sixth obelisk, 13,91 meters tall, was erected in 1789 at the top section of the Spanish Steps in front of the church of the Santissima Trinità dei Monti. It is agreed that this one was carved out in Egypt, but “commissioned” by Romans. In 200 or 300 AC it was delivered to Rome to be the decoration of the gardens of Sallust, and in the same year its sides were adorned with hieroglyphs, directly copied from the piazza del Popolo obelisk.

The seventh obelisk on Parliament square was installed in 1792. Its story began at the times of Psamtik II (594-588 AC), the pharaoh of the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty, who ordered to erect a granite obelisk in Heliopolis that would be 21,79 meters tall and would weigh 250 tonnes. In 10 BC Augustus celebrated the victory over Cleopatra by taking the obelisk to Rome. It became a pedestal for a giant sun-dial, whose dial plate was measuring 170 by 180 meters. This spot, however, suffered from Tiber inundations annually and after only a few decades the obelisk became lopsided and the dial plate scribing turned undecipherable. The emperor Domitian had ordered to straighten the obelisk, and yet it had fallen soon after.

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Piazza Navona

The contours of the most beautiful Baroque piazza of Rome resemble the outline of an ancient stadium (the Circus of Domitian) where athletes competed. The remains of the stadium can be seen in the vaults under the church Sant'Agnese in Agone where the virgin Agnes refused to marry a pagan and was undressed to be executed. At once, her body miraculously had been covered by her long hair that had grown on the spot. The square acquired its modern look in 7th century when Pope Innocent X whose familial palace was located there, commissioned a new church, a palace and a fountain. The fountain is called the Fountain of the Four Rivers (Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi ) as it symbolizes four rivers of four continents (the Nile, the RГ­o de la Plata, the Ganges, the Danube). The whole architectural ensemble was created by Bernini. There is no other square in Rome that would compare to piazza Navona.

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Fountain Trevi

The magnificent design of the largest and most famous fountain in Rome located on Piazza di Trevi was completed by Nicola Salvi in 1762. At the center of the fountain is Neptune with two tritons by his sides. The tritons ride sea-horses, one of which is still, and the other is restive, symbolizing stiles and storms. The fountain is located at the spot where an ancient aqueduct Aqua Virgo used to end. The aqueduct was built by a stepson of the emperor Augustus, Agrippa, in 19th century BC to ensure uninterrupted water supply to new Roman baths. The fountain was named after a young girl Trivia who supposedly showed thirsty Roman soldiers a source of pure water. The girl's portrait can be seen on one of the reliefs on the second tier of the fountain.

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The Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps, located on the Piazza di Spagna, is the tourist center of Rome. Constructed in 1720, the flight of 135 steps connects the piazza with the commanding church TrinitГ  dei Monti above. The French were planning to mount a statue of Louis XIV here, but the Pope strongly protested, and not until after the architect Fracesco De Sactis brought the project of majestic Rococo decoration of the steps to life, both sides were satisfied. The center of the square is occupied by the fountain Barcaccia (The Fountain of the Old Boat) designed by Pietro Bernini, the father of the famous Giovanni Lorenzo. Gogol drew water from this fountain when he lived nearby. Narrow side streets around the Piazza di Spagna compose one of the most fascinating neighbourhoods of Rome. The square and local cafes have for a long time been a favourite meeting place for upper-class Romans, as well as intellectuals, artists, authors and composers. The famous CaffГЁ Greco was frequented by Keats, Goethe, Byron, Liszt, and Wagner.

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Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II

The monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, uncovered in 1911on the Piazza Venezia, is dedicated to the first king of a unified Italy. Immediately behind the monument the Capitoline hill can be found which for many centuries was the symbolic center of the Roman state. Here three of the most important temples in Rome were located, the ones honouring Jupiter, Minerva, and Juno. Adjacent to the monument is the church Santa Maria in Aracoeli, built in place of the 6th century temple of Juno. The legend goes that the emperor Augustus organized an altar on this very spot to honour the prophecy of Sybil about the Coming of Christ.

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