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The Riace Bronzes

Riace Bronzes “The Bronze Warriors”

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Introduction

Undoubtedly the bronze statues of Riace are beautiful; perfect exciting heroes that Calabria found in the house itself, a marvel of ancient Greece. A drop jaw piece when one see that the metal still shines today, even after two thousand and fifty years. The discovery of the Riace Bronzes, in August 1972, marked the beginning of a time travel in search of clues as to how the Greeks incarnated their past among the giants, since destined to become a legend. So, let’s do it! Here at Traveling to Calabria you make the trip of your dreams!!! Are you staying in Calabria? Looking for a hotel? Click here and discover best accommodation options in Calabria!

A little more about The Riace Bronzes

A usual underwater dive, made by a professional (like so many in Riace), began the long trajectory of this extraordinary archaeological discovery. The Riace’s sea returns to earth and history two masterpieces in bronze, which went straight to the headlines as one of the most important discoveries of the century. First, the sculptures were submitted to a restoration work, then sent to the National Museum of Reggio Calabria, where they are still today. Riace’s Bronzes initially identified with the letters A and B, depicted very imposing nude male bodies; one apparently young and the other more mature. At first, the identity of the statues was not mentioned, the assumptions about the two continued until the idea that they had been of Greek origin, the result of pillaging after the Roman conquest, was sustained. Click here for Calabria Itinerary 12 days in Paradise!

What are the Riace Bronzes?

The Riace Bronzes are imposing statues that can be from Greek, Greek-Magnus or Siceliota. They were discovered in the fifth century BC and then rediscovered in the early 1970s (more precisely in the year 1972), on the outskirts of Riace (municipality of the province of Reggio Calabria); from there the two statues entered the list of the greatest sculptural masterpieces of the Greek era. ABOUT REGGIO CALABRIA!

The Evidence and the Legend of the Seven against Thebes

There are so many concrete evidences of the work of the great masters of art that the hypotheses about the effective origin end up being discrepant. In fact, there are no elements that could reveal 100% the actual authorship of these sculptures.

After years of guesses and research, the two statues of the bronze warriors seemed to have found their original identity! The historian Paolo Moreno supported the thesis that the authors could be: Agelada di Argo and Alcamene di Lemno. Such conclusion was based on a study comparing the sculptures with the decoration of the temples of Olympia. According to the historian, the statue B would be of Anfiarau, prophet of the king Adrasto, forced, according to the legend, to participate of the expedition of the Seven against Thebes.

Thus, the two statues would be part of a group of sculptures made for the celebration of the legend of the Seven against Thebes, with its followers and descendants. The famous statues now not only have names, but also carry a legend in their back, which explains their posture and facial expression.

Description of Statues A and B

Both statues are represented in the position called ‘chiasmus’, that is, in crossed rhythm, with a visible muscular elasticity. Primarily the Statue A, which appears carved as an energetic and lively warrior; while B has a more relaxed and calm appearance. Either way, the two transmit an enormous sense of power, due to the position of the arms, strong and extended towards the back.

Statue B has the skull box shaped in such a way that it should certainly allow the placement of a Corinthian helmet, now lost. The position of arms and hands indicates that, originally, they held a spear and a shield (the shape of head A also suggests the presence of a helmet).

The men are completely naked, following the principles of Greek art (in which heroes and athletes should necessarily be represented without clothing, to differentiate from everyday life). Certainly they were warriors and to this day are identified by the letters A and B. Man A is 1.98m high, while B measures 2.05m. The study of casting materials and technique reveals a significant contrast between the two statues, attributed to different artists and eras.

Where were the statues made?

Based on style comparisons, Bronze A is from 460 BC, the period of Pre-Classicism, and Bronze B is from 430 BC, the period of Classicism. It is possible that the statues were made in Athens, later taken to Rome, and finally placed in some village or else in the house of a wealthy aristocrat.

The boat that carried them may have sunk and the precious cargo was submerged 8 meters deep. It does not exclude the possibility that, at the time, they had made some attempt of recovery: ineffective, by the way, because the statues remained in the sand for about two thousand years, before returning to the surface to show its entire splendor.

Where are the Riace Bronzes?

As we have already reported, the two bronze warriors are housed inside the National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria, a large palace of light marble, made by the architect Piacentini.These two warriors are considered sculptural masterpieces, known all over the world, and represent the greatest attraction not only on the National Archaeological Museum but also in the city of Reggio Calabria.

Why are they so special?

This singularity is due the fact that there are very few Greek statues in bronze around the world, still more intact until the present day. Between them, these two are the most beautiful. As we said, they are in the National Museum of Reggio Calabria and are continuously subjected to quality interventions in order to control the degradation of bronze. Inaugurated in 1959 under the project of one of the leading Italian architect, Marcello Piacentini, the National Museum today represents the starting point for the archaeological discovery of Calabria.

A little more about the Museum

There are few treasures exhibited in the National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria, the rest is stored. However, just having the privilege of admiring the small collection available, is already an unforgettable experience. Contemplating these perfect masterpieces of ancient art is exciting, as well as observing this entire museum planning, working for the correct destination of the relics of Magna Graecia.

The Riace Bronzes are a Calabrian heritage and an irreplaceable opportunity for both, culture and tourism. Finally they have a museum capable, not only of welcoming them, but also of pleasing the general public: archeology experts, art students and various visitors.

Useful information

The ground floor of the Museum is open to the public, with the room of Riace Bronze and other rooms dedicated to the Greek, Roman and also the Reggio Calabria people. The Museum is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., but the last entry is at 7.30 p.m.; it works every day, from Monday to Sunday. This schedule is subject to change on certain days of the year. The ticket to the Museum is paid and costs € 5, full price and € 3, half price (for people between 18 and 25 years). Visitors under 18 have free charge. The ticket can be purchased online at www.biglietteriaonlinemuseorc.it.

Access to the Riace Bronze room

Access to the Riace Bronze room is only allowed to a maximum of twenty people at a time, subject to time limits, according to the schedule. With 20-minute intervals in an air conditioned room, a video entertains the public with updates on the state of the bronze statues’ investigations. The tour continues for another 20 minutes in the Bronzes room and, then, the visit ends.


How to get to the Museum?


1) How to get to the Museum? FROM THE AIRPORT

Follow signs to the A3 road, direction Nord and take the exit ‘Reggio Calabria Porto’; keep around until you enter the city. Then, take the road to Viale Genovese Zerbi; keep in the rotary, follow the flow of the roundabout to Via Vollaro (the street that exits) and immediately, on your left, you’ll see the Museum.

2) How to get to the Museum? FROM THE TRAIN STATION

Leaving the station ‘Reggio Calabria Lido’, you will see a Square (Piazza Indipendenza); cross this square, take the Via Vollaro and soon after you will see the Museum on your left. Leaving the station ‘Reggio Calabria Centrale’, you will see a Square (Piazza Garibaldi); cross the Square and turn left, you will fall into the Corso Vittorio Emanuele; continue until the end and, on your left, you’ll see the Museum.

3) How to get to the Museum? FROM THE PORT

Arriving from the port (if you are walking) take the street in front of you and go towards the Viale Genovese Zerbi. Arriving at Piazza Indipendenza, follow the flow at the roundabout and continue on Via Vollaro. On your left, you will find the Museum.

If you are by car, follow the signs for the Nord exit of the port. Then follow the signs to the marginal direction downtown. When entering the city, follow the flow of the roundabout until Via Vollaro (the street that exits) and soon after you will see the Museum on your left.


Conclusion

Finally, we can say that the Bronzes are to thrill, allowing us to imagine a past that seems to have been forgotten, but that is kept in memory. Therefore, it is indispensable to have knowledge of this to revive such splendor, which only the Greek civilization was able to give.

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