Monte Cassino and Commonwealth War Cemetry
Trip Start Jun 27, 2009
20Trip End Jul 18, 2009
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The Abbey of Monte Cassino and the Monastery was founded in 529 by St. Benedict on the remnants of a pre-existing Roman fortification on the top of Monte Cassino (Casinum in Roman). Over the centuries the monastery and the abbey were attacked and partially destroyed by various groups, and earthquakes but it always seemed able to survive. The monastery and abbey grew in size and fortification over the centuries. On February 15, 1944, during the final stage of World War II, the Allies, believing the monastery and abbey were used by the Germans to hide their weapons and ammunitions in the tunnels underneath it, launched a massive bombardment of Cassino and the Monastery. The old roman town of Cassino and the Monastery were totally destroyed
With time, both the town and the Monastery were rebuilt. The Monastery was rebuilt exactly as it was prior to the bombardment, from precise records kept by the Benedictine monks and drawings century of years old.
On our way back to town, we stopped a few minutes to see the old Roman Theatre, that survived for over 2000 years. The theatre is built at the base of Monte Cassino. It is still used today for music concerts, open-air movies and theatre. Not far away, we can see the remains of the foundations of the old Roman Amphitheatre. It was a smaller version of the Colosseo in Rome and sat about 20,000 people.
Next we visited the Commonwealth War Cemetery located in the heart of Cassino. Here are buried the young Canadian, British, Indian, Australian and New Zealander soldiers that fought in the area of Cassino from February to June of 1945.
We ended the day with another 3 hour long supper.