We decided to look for a trail near Colorado Springs that we hadn’t hiked previously and found the Monument Rock Extended Trail that is located in the nearby town of Monument. The trail is rated as moderate and takes you by an impressive rock feature known as Monument Rock. The trail itself goes through the woods, across meadows, and has views of the mountains. There are several intertwining trails, some of which will take you to the top of Mount Herman, which is the peak that sits above the trail. There are also some that are rated hard, so it is important to pay attention to which trail you are following as it isn’t well marked.
The Monument Rock Extended Trail is a loop that goes right next to Monument Rock, which is quite impressive. The full loop is about 2.7 miles, so it makes for a nice hike with an elevation gain that is less than 300 feet. The views are spectacular and, as is typical for this time of year, there are many wildflowers along the trail. The highlight of the hike is certainly Monument Rock, which stands out due to its size, color, and shape. It was certainly an enjoyable hike and we were able to complete it before the afternoon rain started.
We didn’t make it to the Arc de Triomphe during our first trip to Paris, but we made a point of visiting it during our second trip. It was cold and rainy, but that didn’t deter us from going to the top of the Arc and getting views of the city. In addition to the famous Champs-Elysees, there are another 11 avenues that all stretch to and from the Arc de Triomphe. The full name of the Arc is the Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile, which translates to Triumphant Arch of the Star. The star refers to the shape that is made by the twelve radiating avenues that look like rays of light emanating from the Arc.
The Arc de Triomphe was originally commissioned by Napoleon in 1806, but it wasn’t completed until 1836 and Napoleon never actually saw the completed project. The monument was erected to honor the French people that fought and died in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. The names of all of the French generals and victories are inscribed on the inner and outer walls. There is also the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I and an eternal flame located at the arc.
Seeing the Arc de Triomphe is definitely fascinating, but going to the terrace at the top and seeing the city of Paris and the Eiffel Tower is probably the highlight of going to the Arc. You can definitely expect it to be crowded and only a limited number of people are able to go to the terrace at any given time. The Arc de Triomphe should certainly be on your itinerary if you visit Paris and we are glad that we got the opportunity to see it since we missed it on our first trip.
Located about halfway between the Pantheon and the Colosseum, the Atare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland), which is also known as the Monument of Victor Emmanuel II, can be seen from throughout the neighboring streets. It is a huge, marble building that also has the tomb of the unknown soldier, the army museum, and a panoramic viewing platform. There is also the busy Piazza Venezia located across from the building as well as the Santa Maria di Loreto church. What certainly stands out are the different statues, including the two of the goddess Victoria riding on a chariot being pulled by four horses known as a quadrigas.
After the death of Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a unified Italy, in 1878, the government approved construction of the monument. It was built on the northern side of Rome’s Capital Hill and construction began in 1885. It stands out due to its grand size, bright white marble, and tall columns on its façade. As you walk up the stairs to where the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located, which is below a statue of the goddess Roma, the views of the city start to become impressive. In addition to the tomb with its uniformed guards, there is also the eternal flame located there as well. The statue of Victor Emmanuel II on horseback is certainly a dominating feature.
To enjoy even more amazing views of Rome’s skyline, take the lift to the rooftop that was added in 2007. From the rooftop, the unique buildings and architecture of this historic city spread out all around you. You can also see the Colosseum and the Roman Forum from the rooftop viewing platform, which is almost more impressive than seeing it from the ground below. The views of the city are probably the highlight of the monument, but the army museum is interesting as well. From the stairs or the rooftop, the beautiful Piazza Venezia with its busy roundabout stretches out before you and there are many restaurants in the area. We enjoyed lunch at a restaurant that had seats on an outdoor balcony that was directly across from the monument building.
From what we’ve read, there are some mixed feelings for locals regarding the Altare dell Patria, some of national pride and others feeling that it is a little too ostentatious. Either way, since it is centrally located and has the rooftop viewing platform, it is certainly a location that should be part of your walking tour of Rome. We visited on our second day and found it an easy walk from the Pantheon through Rome’s winding streets.