Published in 1555 A.D. in A. Lafrery's Speculum Romanae magnificentiae, this fine print was designed by Ugo Pinard and shows the city as it looked during the reign of Pope Marcellus II, in the middle of its revival: the population started to grow from around 20,000 at its lowest point, to over 100,000 by the time that the armies of the emperor Charles V sacked the city in 1527 A.D.. New palaces in the city and country estates spreading up the surrounding hills reflect the growth of prosperity and the efforts of cardinals, ambassadors, and others to make the city splendid once again.
St. Peter's Basilica & plazaEditOn the far left in the map stands St. Peter's Basilica, only the facade and the plaza are visible, it might be hard to spot them as they reached our era in their Baroque incarnation, as Maderno and Bernini imagined them.
In the same area it's easy to recognize Castel Sant'Angelo, before the construction of the fortified pentagonal perimeter, last step in a long series of fortification interventions, which construction started during the reign of Pope Paul IV (1555 – 1559 A.D.) evidently after this map was completed.
The ruined ruinsEditOn the total opposite side it's easy to recognize the remains of the Colosseum and the non-interred ruins of the Roman Forums area; during the Renaissance period those ruins, today considered as invaluable monuments, where used as a source of materials for the construction and renovation of palaces and churches.
That area of the city, as visible, was still quite desert and it might be surprising to know that at that time Pope Julius II asked Michelangelo to design a functional solution to restore the Colosseum as a residence for middle class families. The Renaissance genius delivered a draft of a self-sufficient borough divided in sectors and contained in the perimeter of the ancient arena feauturing four main entrances and a plaza with a church in the middle of what once was the area where Gladiators fought for glory.