Imagine that you are from a village recently conquered by Romans. Which architectural examples would make an impression on you?
Well, in looking forward to the age of peace in the Pax Romana (and assuming that the Romans, in conquering didn't murder my family, ... and trying to forget that they killed Jesus Christ), I would simply stare upwards in awe at the new architectural marvels that would be presented before me for the first time. I would marvel at the dome, especially, and its , ability to make such large indoor spaces, the likes of which I would never have seen before. Also, similar to how tourists look up to the height of the Empire State Building, I would stand beside the Colosseum (or something similar that might be built in my town) and marvel at a building that stood a whole four-stories high! I would probably just stand there in awe of the water running through the aqueducts, held up by hundreds of arches and imagine water entering all of our homes to keep us clean and nixing thirst. It's a wonder how Europe entered the eventual Dark Ages after seeing such a wonderful example.
The Romans were able to both cool and heat places. In Pompei, for instance, there is a building that had hot baths because under the stone floor, there were fires built. With pairs of walls, there was an air conditioning of a sort: water was run through inner walls, cooling the most interior wall. Then, outside are ruins of markets where booths were set up in this same manner to keep foods clean. There were even turnstiles and traffic levers to prohibit crowding before the booths. Roman engineering was indeed impressive.
Let us not forget the architectural wonder of Roman roads. Although I probably would be impressed with the aqueducts, I think the sheer genius of Roman roads, which of course was so vital to their power and control of a vast empire, needs to be recognised. Many roads in the UK today are actually built upon old Roman roads, and can be seen on maps easily because of their straightness.
The baths, the huge buildings, the statues and artwork in every corner of their existence. I have been blessed enough to visit Bath, England (amazing ingenuity and it still works even today!), and several cities in Italy. Even the ruins are quite impressive, so I can't imagine the ability to actually see these creative and beautiful structures when they were still in their prime. The art and mosaics were so lovely, and the color! Oh, my! I walked around with my mouth gaping just looking at what is left of the original creations...it would be a wonder indeed to see it in its entirity.
I have to agree that I believe the aqueduct system would be the most impressive. While the Colosseum and Circus Maximus would be large and built in a way I had likely never seen, the aqueducts would be amazing not only because of their size and building techniques but because of their purpose and their success in achieving that purpose. My village or area may have been familiar with some of the spectacles that went on in the great arenas (on a smaller scale) but it is highly unlikely that it had the water access or quality that the aqueducts provided. I liken it to a modern immigrant to America from a third world country who might be more impressed by a modern supermarket than a modern skyscraper.
I agree with the above posts that the aqueducts would probably be the most impressive in function; however, when I am in Rome I am more impressed by the visual spectacle of the Colloseum and even the ruins of various temples and other buildings than I am the sight of the aqueducts. They are massive and impressive structures, and they are hard to dismiss as dramatic accomplishments. While it is not as impressive today, I imagine the Circus Maximus was another amazing architectural feat envied by both friends and enemies of ancient Rome.
I agree with post 4 - the aqueducts would be the most amazing thing in my immediate experience. The Colosseum represents an amazing architectural accomplishment and presented a location for incredible human drama, but as a resident of a recently conquered village, I would probably never get to Rome to be able to witness it. Of course, another contribution of the Roman Empire that could possibly be classified as an example of architecture (or is it infrastructure, distinct from architecture?) was the system of roads constructed by the Romans.
I'd be most impressed by Roman Aqueducts. Running water has a great appeal!! The Roman system of aqueducts, which allowed for all manner of conveniences that only occur with liberation from the town water well, provided for a healthful environment as well as a convenient lifestyle, complete with indoor plumbing. In much much later European and English cities, burgeoning populations created conditions fostering disease. In contrast, the Roman aqueduct system carried unsanitary disease-causing water away from the population just as readily as it carried fresh and usable water to the population.
The Colosseum, hands down, would make an impression on me. I am going to put aside the fact that I would be naturally resentful of Roman domination over my village. Yet, if I were to admire something of my captors, I think that Colosseum would be something at which I would marvel. Coming from a village, its sight would be unimaginable to me. To actually see it would be to provide a new vocabulary to a lexicon that lacked it. To consider the gladiators who fought, triumphed, and died on its stage would be something that I would find overwhelming. I think that I would be amazed to simply walk around it and to notice its subtleties and intricacies. Going inside, I would observe the circular pattern of how each seat is perfectly placed to allow a maximum view of what is happening at its center. I would try to breathe in the smells of human glory and human carnage, moments of human greatness and human savagery all in one. I would focus on where the Emperor would sit and how the crowd is a part of the Colosseum's design. The screams of 50,000 people would be deafening even in my mind's ears. They are as much a part of the action as the participants. In the end, I think that the Colosseum is where I would be most impressed after the Romans conquered my village.