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My review of this documentary history series...
Cities of the Underworld is one of my favorite historical documentaries because it takes you to places underground that you would rarely or never be allowed to visit as a tourist. Places you could easily pass by on a street in Rome, Naples or Istanbul and never know what lies underneath. Many of the people who live in these cities are also unaware of the amazing architecture, technology and history that lie beneath their feet. This series should make them more aware!
Sometimes I wish I could have the job of these episode hosts. Their jobs are pretty exciting given the places they get to visit and the fact very few people ever get to physically visit these places. You know, I would be happy to do this job for free just for the chance to view many of these places or take my own video footage!
Anyway, the various episodes take you to a variety of places across the world through all time periods. My favorite episodes involve the ruins of the ancient cities. The footage in these episodes is amazing, especially when you can view it on a big screen LCD or Plasma TV. It’s almost as good as physically being there, except without the atmosphere of the place.
I also like the fact that they always have an archaeologists or someone knowledgeable to act as guides and provide more archaeological and historical information about the place for the viewer.
I don’t have one favorite episode, but I have a few episodes that I find to be the best and they are:
The two episodes on Rome
Rome: The Rise
Rome’s Hidden Empire
Naples – Beneath Vesuvius (ancient Greek city of Neapolis)
Istanbul (ancient Byzantine city of Constantinople)
I also enjoy some of the other European, Asian and modern-day episodes but not as much as the above 5 mentioned episodes. I guess it all depends on your interests. What I like about this series is that it provides the viewer with a little bit of everything. Something for everyone!
I am not going to review every episode that I really enjoyed watching. It would take too long. I will leave them up to you to discover but I will do a review of “Rome – The Rise Episode (Season 1)” with a discussion of a few of the subterranean places you get to see. Right now only 10% of Rome’s underground has been discovered over a span of 200 years!
In this episode you get to view a variety of ancient Roman ruins underneath modern-day homes, buildings, roads and private property. It’s amazing what lies underneath beneath Roman feet.
This episode begins with Rome’s elaborate sewer system, where Rome’s growth all began. Without it, Rome’s population could never have grown as it had.
It continues with a look at one of the many catacombs underneath Rome outside it’s ancient city walls.
This episode then takes you to a warehouse, a house and an outdoor area. They are all remarkably well-preserved for ancient places that have been buried beneath layers of modern-day Rome.
Like any city today, a city the size of Rome needed a highly advanced water system, a way to collect water and purify it. You get to see a very large Roman cistern and Rome’s innovative way of water purification. After all this time, it is still in amazing shape because of the technology the Romans used to build it and how it was built.
You also get to view a well-preserved Roman theater. You can even view the paintings on the wall.
These are only some of the fascinating places that this episode shows you. There is even more to see in the episode Rome’s Hidden Empire.
In summary, I think that this DVD collection is definitely worth having at your fingertips. It’s a series that you will watch again and again and your appreciation for these places that are still well-preserved, even though built-over, will increase over time!
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