Rome
Arch of Constantine in Rome Jeremy Vandel

The Arch of Constantine

The Arch of Constantine is undoubtedly the most famous Roman monument of the fourth century and is located between the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. The decorations on the arch are astonishing: a fusion of different styles and traditions from various periods of Roman history.

Between the Colosseum and the Arch of Titus, along the triumphal route of ancient Rome, is the Arch of Constantine. It consists of three arches, the middle one being larger than the other two, which are decorated with beautiful reliefs, statues, and columns. The monument is made of marble and brick and is 21 meters high and 25 meters wide.

It’s the first arch that celebrates a victory, not over a foreign power, but a Roman rival. Moreover, the monument reflects the changes of the Constantinian era. It represents the greatness of thought and the divine inspiration that characterized the Roman people.

History of the Arch of Constantine

Constantine the Great is known as the first Christian emperor of the Roman Empire. He said he owed his victory over Roman emperor Maxentius to the God of the Christians. This was an important battle in Roman history, which was immortalized with this beautiful monument.

Imperial period (27 BC - 476 AD)

The Arch of Constantine was erected on the ancient Via Triumphalis (the triumphal route to the Capitol), in celebration of the battle at Ponte Milvio in 312 AD, when the emperor defeated his rival Maxentius.

The construction ended three years later and the arch was inaugurated on July 25, 315—the tenth year of Constantine’s reign. The monument was never torn down, mainly because the emperor was the first to be in favor of the Christian religion, even though he converted at the end of his life.

The arch was built on behalf of the Senate, which dedicated it to the emperor. Partly to establish a good relationship with him and partly because he was indeed a courageous leader capable of defending the empire.

The facades of the monument are decorated with reliefs taken from honorary monuments erected for previous emperors, a practice known as spoglio. The purpose was to emphasize that Constantine’s Rome came to life based on the most glorious traditions. The arch lists the emperors who contributed most to the greatness of the Roman Empire and whom Constantine sought to emulate: Trajan, Hadrian, and Marcus Aurelius.

It seems that the monument was built in Hadrian’s time and then substantially rebuilt during the Constantinian period. For example, the columns were moved outside, the upper section was rebuilt, Trajan’s frieze was applied to the interior walls of the central arch, and reliefs and decorations from the Constantinian period were incorporated into the masonry. The Hadrianus Tondi is said to be original.

Much of the information known about the arch today comes from the controversial inscription above the middle passage, which is the same on both sides of the arch. It has confused various points of view, especially regarding the religious theme.

However, we can say that Constantine maintained a certain distance between religions, for reasons of political importance. This is reflected, for example, in the reliefs of the arch, both in the side aisles and on the facades, where scenes of sacrifices to pagan gods are found.

Middle Ages (476 - 1492)

On the upper part of the arch are four statues on the north side and four statues on the south side. These represent prisoners from Dacia who originally belonged to Trajan’s Forum. Because of these statues, the Arch of Constantine was called Arco dei Trasi in the Middle Ages.

During this period, streams of art fused, which is reflected in the reliefs of the arch. The older elements are based on a Greco-Roman concept of art. Unity of time, space, and movement were fundamental features.

In the elements of the Constantinian period, the above-mentioned features aren’t present. The spacing between the figures of the reliefs, for example, is minimal and everything seems to be crammed together. Also, the figures are less realistic as it’s more about the symbolic message of the composition.

For a long time, art historians took opposing positions on this and often criticized the Constantinian elements. They considered them the beginning of a “decadence of form.” In other words, a brutal incursion of anti-classical tendencies into “official” art, which would soon lead to the emergence of what is called “medieval art.”

Renaissance (1492 - 1789)

As mentioned earlier, according to critics, the arch of this period seemed to emphasize a more popular and plebeian narrative, in contrast to the graceful attention to detail of the classical style and its complex spatial expressions. Scholars such as Berenson and Ghiberti, sculptors and those with considerable critical insight, saw in the Arch of Constantine “the end of classical art.”

Before the judgment of experts was so critical, the most prominent architects of the 15th century such as Brunelleschi and Alberti, wanted to measure and analyze the Arch of Constantine with various instruments.

Studies continued throughout most of the century until finally the arch was offered a starring role in the Sistine Chapel. Here, under the crown of a clear blue sky, the Arch of Constantine was elevated to a majestic setting for Botticelli’s frescoes.

In the 18th century, the arch was partially restored because in 1530 a vandal, Lorenzino de’ Medici, had cut off the heads of the reliefs for his amusement. As a consequence, he was exiled from Rome.

Contemporary period (1789 - present)

As mentioned earlier, the Arch of Constantine has been excellently preserved thanks to its strong connection with Christianity. From the moment the first ancient monuments were destroyed and reused, the people of Rome respected the monument as a symbol and reminder of the emperor who had granted historical dignity to the Christian religion. The work represented not only a military triumph (that of Constantine over Maxentius) but also a religious victory (that of Christianity over paganism).

While ancient Rome was destroyed over the centuries and monuments such as the Colosseum or the Roman Forum were degraded, the Arch of Constantine remained standing and intact.

In 1960, during the XVII Olympiad in Rome, the Arch of Constantine was the spectacular finish line of the legendary marathon won barefoot by Ethiopian Abebe Bikila.

This great monument of honor stands out for its grandeur and charm, especially at night when it is illuminated, conveying to the viewer the grandeur of ancient Roman power. The arch was thoroughly cleaned in the early 21st century, regaining its former splendor.

Elements of the Arch of Constantine

As mentioned earlier, the monument is rich in majestic elements and decorations from different periods of Roman history. Thus, multiple art styles were eventually united in it. Some of the most relevant elements, are mentioned in the historical section of this article and will be explained in more detail below.

Structure and components

The columns of the monument are made of marble. However, the attic consists of a mixture of different types of marble reused from older monuments, as do most of the architectural elements and sculptures of the arch.

The monument consists of three arches, and the central one, which is the largest, is 6.5 m long and 11.45 m high, while in total it’s 21 m high including the attic, 25.70 m wide, and 7.40 m deep. The attic alone is 21 m high and 26 m wide.

The structure of the work resembles that of the Arch of Septimius Severus on the Roman Forum. It consists of three arches framed by columns standing on high pedestals and some decorative themes such as the victories in the parapets of the central arch.

The cornice is from the Antonine or Severine period. The Corinthian capitals, also from the Antonine period, the shafts of old yellow marble and the bases of the columns were also reused. The archivolts crowning the upper part of the central arch, the corbels, plinths, frieze, architrave, and bases of the main order, archivolts and impost corbels of the side arches, which are not aligned, all date from the Constantinian period.

The distribution of reliefs is symmetrical over the two facades (north and south) and the two short sides (east and west) of the arch. Traditionally, Roman arches decorated with reliefs feature war scenes on the outer (southern) facade, while peace scenes predominate on the inner (northern) facade, which faces the city.

On the attic of the monument, we find relief pairs from the time of Marcus Aurelius, while on the smaller sides can be seen slabs belonging to a frieze from the time of Trajan. In the lower part are pairs of tondos from the time of Hadrian and others from the time of Constantine. Other bas-reliefs are found above the arches and on the pedestals of the columns.

The “good” emperors

The protagonists of the reliefs are the so-called “good emperors”, being Trajan, Hadrian, and Marcus Aurelius, whom Constantine hoped to emulate and with whom he wanted to be associated, also for political purposes.

Let’s not forget that the emperor had to legitimize his succession after the defeat of Maxentius. So it was partly a propaganda strategy to present himself ideologically as the one who would revive the glorious era of the second century and the three emperors mentioned above.

This strategy was also reflected in the decision to manipulate the faces of the beloved emperors in relief in such a way that it seemed that Constantine was a direct heir to them. The new statues were even provided with an element, recognizable as a kind of precursor to the halo, called the nimbus, to emphasize his grandeur and majesty.

Sculptures

The surface of the Arch is covered with sculptures that date from different periods in Roman history. Many of these sculptures weren’t even made by Constantine. He was reusing them from earlier monuments that had been built by earlier emperors.

Like mentioned earlier, Constantine seemed to associate himself with emperors Marcus Aurelius, Hadrian, and Trajan. He showed this by incorporating sculptures from their monuments into his own.

Let’s take a look at the different elements coming from specific periods.

The era of Trajan (98-117 AD)

From the time of Trajan date the eight statues (made of pavonazzetto marble) of the Dacian prisoners on the attic. These freestanding figures are borrowed from monuments belonging to the emperor Trajan. Dacia was more or less what we call Romania, an area that had been previously conquered by the emperor Trajan. The statues are easily identifiable as non-Romans, or barbarians (foreigners), by the fact that they have beards and by their clothing.

On the two smaller sides of the attic, between de statues of the Daciers, are two panels with battle scenes from the era of Trajan. These belong to one large frieze of around 3 meters high and originally more than 35 meters long, originating from Trajan’s Forum.

The Dacian frieze and the reliefs of Trajan’s column were most likely made by the same artist. Not only the style is very much alike but also the scenes are similar such as the one in which Trajan receives the heads of two Dacian chiefs and the one in which the cavalry is attacked.

The last two major panels from this period are found inside the main archway. On one side, there’s an inscription that translates “bringer of peace” (FVNDATORI · QVIETIS). Below it, you see Constantine being crowned by a figure of victory, with a battle scene in the background. The opposite panel shows Trajan on horseback, trampling a barbarian, and the inscription above reads “Liberator of the city” (LIBERATORI · VRBIS). These two enormous inner panels are from the era of Hadrian, but he made them not of his own exploits, but of the previous emperor, Trajan.

The era of Hadrian (117-138 AD)

Under the attic, you can see the pilasters and columns with corinthian capitals. And in between those columns, there are roundels of more than 2 m high. The attribution to the emperor is due to stylistic factors and especially to the presence of the figure of Antinous, known for his love affair with Hadrian.

On the south side, from left to right, the scenes in round frames represent:

  • The departure for the hunt.
  • A sacrifice to the god Silvanus.
  • A bear hunt.
  • A sacrifice to the goddess Diana.

On the north side, from left to right, you can see:

  • A boar hunt.
  • A sacrifice to the god Apollo.
  • The aftermath of a lion hunt.
  • The sacrifice of Hercules.

The right roundels on the north side, are placed against a field of purple porphyry, which is an extremely expensive and semiprecious stone.

In addition, there are two inscriptions above the roundels. On the north side is written “VOTIS - X - VOTIS - XX” and on the south side “SIC - X - SIC - XX". These refer to the celebrations of the ten and twenty years of Constantine’s reign.

In the scenes, the emperor is assisted by two or three figures, on horseback in two of the hunting reliefs and on foot in the others. The compositions are meticulously arranged around the imperial figure and the backgrounds are essential, following the conventions of Hellenistic art.

The era of Marcus Aurelius (161-181 AD)

The recurring theme of the subjugation of foreign peoples to the power of the Roman Empire is especially reflected on the eight panels (four on the south and four on the north side), between the statues of the Dacians. The rectangular reliefs, over 3 meters high, are scenes from Marcus Aurelius’ battles against the Quadi and the Marcomanni in 175 AD.

On the south side of the monument, from left to right, is shown how Marcus Aurelius:

  • Presents a foreign king that has been captured.
  • Receives barbarian (foreign) prisoners.
  • Speaks to his soldiers.
  • Makes a sacrifice before a battle.

On the north side of the monument, from left to right, you can see:

  • The arrival of Marcus Aurelius into Rome;
  • his departure of Rome.
  • The distribution of largesse (money).
  • The submission of the barbarian prisoners.

The beautiful reliefs are sculpted in classical style—of the ancient Greek and Roman tradition. The figures are in complex poses and there’s a high degree of naturalism (the faithful representation of the observable world). Many figures stand in contrapposto (an asymmetrical stance with weight shifted) and their drapery reveals the form of their bodies underneath, in three-dimensional folds.

It’s believed that the panels came from a now non-existent arch dedicated to Marcus Aurelius on Capitoline Hill. Another hypothesis is that they belonged to the complex that his son Commodus had built in his honor on the Campus Martius, of which only the Colonna Antonina (column) now remains.

The era of Constantine (312-315 AD)

Above the side arches and below the Hadrianic roundels is a frieze measuring just under 1 m high, which also continues on the short sides of the monument. During the time of Constantine, these reliefs were carved directly from blocks of masonry. This period is characterized by drastic artistic changes from the earlier classical tradition.

The story, which refers to the episodes of the war against Maxentius and the celebration of Constantine’s victory in Rome, begins on the short west side and runs counterclockwise around the arch.

On the west side of the arch, Constantine’s army is shown, making its way to Verona to attack the army of another Roman emperor, Maxentius. The panel next to it shows Constantine laying siege to the city of Verona and Maxentius’ troops.

Just to clarify: for some time, the Empire had been ruled by two senior and two junior emperors (tetrarchy). Licinius and Maximinus were responsible for the east. And Constantine was one of the emperors that were responsible for the Western Empire and went to battle against his co-ruler, Maxentius.

Then, on the south side, across the large bay is the most famous scene—the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. This is when the two armies confronted each other, just outside of Rome. Constantine defeats Maxentius, who’s killed at the battle, and is therefore in charge of the western part of the Roman Empire.

The panel on the east side, shows Constantine entering the city of Rome. And on the north side, the two final panels show the distribution of money to the Senate and the Roman people.

Below the frieze telling the story of the emperor, some spandrels and sculptures also date from the time of Constantine. Most of these show victory figures, some of them include roman gods, and also the seasons. Then, on the pedestals of the columns, you see additional relief carvings which show victories and subjugated barbarians.

Lastly, on the short sides of the arch are two roundels, also sculpted in the Constantinian period. On the east side, the sun god Apollo rises from the sea on a quadriga, while on the west side, the moon goddess Diana controls a chariot that plunges into the Ocean. The two reliefs reflect the emperor’s victory in a cosmic dimension.

Curiosities about the Arch of Constantine

Did you know that in theory, the victory over Maxentius didn’t meet the requirements to have a triumphal arch built? After all, this was a war between two Roman emperors in which the blood of their own people had been spilled. Probably because Maxentius was seen as an evil ruler and enemy of the empire, the construction of the arch was justified.

Read on to discover more facts about the Arch of Constantine!

A revolutionary monument

When looking at the style of the sculptures from the era of Constantine, you can see how different the carving is compared to the rest of the monument. Whereas the panels that had been borrowed from earlier monuments (from the era of Marcus Aurelius) are so classical, the figures telling the story of Constantine are the opposite.

However, some art historians now conjecture that Constantine’s imagery isn’t meant to compete stylistically and that it was valued for its clarity. The lack of concern for the correct proportions of the human body, the lack of interest in space for bodies to exist in, are characteristics that we associate with early Christian art, meant to function symbolically rather than naturalistically.

The shift away from Greek naturalism facilitated the interpretation of the figures. As mentioned earlier, for some, this was a sign of decadence and a farewell from the tradition of Hellenistic Roman art, which had been deeply assimilated by the Roman upper class since the mid-Republican period.

For others, it’s an artistic interpretation of the Romanized provinces and a greater naturalness; but also a sign of the emergence of new artistic styles that would become more pronounced in later eras, making way for abstract art.

Either way, the elements of the Constantinian period drastically broke away from traditional Roman art. The monument, therefore, refers, on the one hand, to the time before Constantine, when Christianity was not yet officially tolerated, with literally thrown together pieces of remains from other monuments, and on the other hand, the beginning of a Christian millennium, full of symbols and with a simpler art form.

The controversial inscription

The much-discussed inscription on the arch was made by the Senate to gain favor with the new emperor and to celebrate the defeat of the tyrant Maxentius.

The attic inscription in Latin states as follows:

IMP(eratori) CAES(ari) FL(avio) CONSTANTINO MAXIMO P(io) F(elici) AUGUSTO S(enatus) P(opulus) Q(ue) R(omanus) QUOD INSTINCTU DIVINITATIS MENTIS MAGNITUDINE CUM EXERCITU SUO TAM DE TYRANNO QUAM DE OMNI EIUS FACTIONE UNO TEMPORE IUSTIS REM PUBLICAM ULTUS EST ARMIS ARCUM TRIUMPHIS INSIGNEM DEDICAVIT”.

And means:

To the Emperor Caesar Flavius Constantinus, the greatest, pious, and blessed Augustus: because he, inspired by the divine, and by the greatness of his mind, has delivered the state from the tyrant and all of his followers at the same time, with his army and just force of arms, the Senate and People of Rome have dedicated this arch, decorated with triumphs”.

In particular, the phrase “by divine inspiration” has raised many questions and debates among scholars who, without reaching a common conclusion, emphasize that one can recognize in that term formulations that belong to both Christian and pagan culture.

The inscription on the triumphal arch indicates with this wording that Constantine considered the victory at the Milvian bridge to be the result not only of his military, political, and strategic genius but also of the supernatural support he received.

Constantine and Christianity

Referring to the above inscription, some historians claim that the only (pagan) gods the monument refers to are the sun god Apollo and the moon goddess Diana. But as mentioned earlier, these symbolize the greatness and divinity of Constantine himself.

The historian Eusebius of Caesarea, on the other hand, claims that the emperor overwhelmingly embraced the monotheistic Christian religion. After all, he believed that with the help of God he had won the battle against Maxentius. Moreover, with the Edict of Milan in 313, Constantine recognized the freedom of religion, which made Christianity a legitimate religion in the Empire.

Despite the above claims, Constantine didn’t take sides until the end of his life as he converted to Christianity on his deathbed. From this, it can be concluded that the real strength of Constantine was his ability to convey a series of concrete messages, which were seemingly contradictory, as they focused on his goal of uniting the many people within the Empire and thus the political and social components of the time.

Constantine and Sol Invictus

Despite being known as the first Christian emperor of the Roman Empire, Constantine worshiped the sun god Sol Invictus, the “Unconquered Sun,” from his early years. This cult and religion didn’t officially exist until 274 AD and was very similar to early monotheistic Christianity. Reason being that Sol and God were both sources of heavenly light and victory.

According to historians, Constantine had a special relationship with Sol Invictus. Thus, in 310, coins were increasingly minted with the busts of Constantine as well as the sun god. The distribution of personalized coins throughout the Empire was an important means of communicating imperial power, legitimacy, and ideas to the people.

These coins also bore the inscription “SOLI INVICTO COMITI” (Sol, invincible companion). Combined with the type of coins that figuratively feature Constantine and Sol together, the inscription emphasizes that the emperor had chosen Sol as his companion and patron saint.

A special coin was also struck after Constantine’s death. This one contains a quadriga symbol that can be linked to the Sol Invictus, the same one depicted on the Arch of Constantine. In other words, even after the emperor’s death, it was decided not to strike Christian symbolism on Constantine’s coins.

The Meta Sudans

In 1936, it was decided to demolish a monument located near the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine, the Meta Sudans. It was built around the year 80 by order of Emperor Titus and was completed by Domitian. The fountain stood at the intersection of four city districts, at the place where Via Triumphalis crossed Via Sacra. To avoid traffic obstructions between the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, it was removed.

The Meta Sudans was made of concrete and brick and was conical in shape, much like the turning posts (metae) on the spina of a Roman circus. Sudans means “sweating” and refers to the water that seemed to slide down the marble walls of the fountain like sweat.

The appearance of the monument has been superseded because it’s depicted on ancient coins. It’s estimated that the fountain must have been 17 m high and had a diameter of 25.5 m. In addition, arcades with statues were placed, possibly on the occasion of the construction of the Arch of Constantine.

According to an ancient legend, gladiators went to the fountain after their battles to wash and quench their thirst. The remains of the Flavian fountain were eventually dismantled during the fascist era when the Via dei Trionfi (triumphal route) was constructed.

Other Roman Arches

Besides the Arch of Constantine, the Arch of Titus and the Arch of Septimius Severus are also in good condition today. The former is the monumental entrance to the Forum Romanum and was built in honor of the emperor’s victory over Judea in 70 AD. It was built by the Senate in memory of Emperor Titus after his death in 81 AD.

With its simplicity, noble proportions, and sculptural decoration, the arch is a wonderful example of austerity and balance. The reliefs within the Arch of Titus depict the two highlights of the triumphal march and are considered the highest expression of the illusionistic style in Roman sculpture.

The second was built in 203 AD by order of the Senate in honor of Emperor Septimius Severus and his sons Caracalla and Geta. The inscription on the monument refers to two glorious deeds of Septimius Severus that marked the first years of his reign.

The beauty of the architectural proportions, which made the Arch of Septimius Severus a paragon, is outweighed by the lavish sculptural decoration, which depicts scenes of the emperor’s military campaigns in the East and the tributes of the peoples he had subjugated.

Also still standing is the Arch of Janus, a quadrangular structure between the Tiber and the Roman Forum. The monument was built around 356 AD by order of Emperor Constantius II in honor of his father Constantine the Great. The original name of the arch was Arcus divi Constantini (arch of the deified Constantine). After Roman times, it was named Janus, the god of gates and bridges.

But these were not the only arches in Rome. According to the registers of the 14 regions of Augustinian Rome there were as many as 36. Some were smaller or lesser-known than the above and others have since disappeared. A few examples are the Arch of Pompey (61 BC), the Arch of Drusus (9 BC), the Arch of Nero (62 BC), and the Arch of Marcus Aurelius (176 AD).

Useful tips for your visit

  • Combine a visit to the Arch of Constantine with a tour of the Colosseum and the Imperial Forum. This way you fully dive into the history of the culture of the Eternal City. Highly recommended!
  • The Arch of Constantine can be visited at any time of the year. Of course, it’s busier in the high season (June, July, and August). The months of April and October, for example, are a good alternative, also to avoid the heat in the summer months.
  • In terms of visiting time, it’s recommended to go just after opening time or just before closing time.
  • To fully admire the monument, it’s recommended to take a guided tour.
  • A visit to the Arch of Constantine is free (only the exterior can be visited), so you don’t have to buy a ticket or pay an entrance fee.
  • It’s recommended to spend at least half an hour visiting the monument.
  • Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes if you plan to visit several nearby attractions. And if you go during the peak season, it’s also recommended to wear headgear against the sun.
  • If you decide to take a tour, we recommend booking it in advance.

Nearby places of interest

Like mentioned before, the Arch of Constantine is surrounded by other attractions. Here’s a list of sights you might want to visit while you’re in the area.

Colosseum

The Flavian Amphitheater is the most important symbol of Italy and therefore definitely worth a visit during your stay in Rome. Each year, about six million travelers visit the ruins of the Colosseum, which are among the new seven world wonders.

Admission to the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, and the Palatine is included in a single ticket.

The Colosseum is 140 m from the Arch of Constantine (a 2-minute walk).

Palatine Hill

The Palatine is one of the seven hills of Rome and the first that was inhabited. Since the imperial period, it was the hill where the emperors built their palaces.

Here you can visit, among others, the remains of the residences of the House of Augustus, the Domus Tiberiana, the House of Livia, the Domus Aurea, the Farnesian Gardens, the Domus Transitoria, and the Hut of Romulus.

The entrance to the Palatine is 400 m west of the Arch of Constantine (6 minutes walk).

Roman Forum

This was the epicenter of social, political, religious, and cultural life in ancient Rome. It was also the heart of the empire and the ruins found here are surprisingly interesting.

No trip to the Eternal City would be complete without a visit to this majestic complex. It’s a must-see site and access is included in the Colosseum entry ticket.

The entrance to the Roman Forum is located just 30 m from the Arch of Constantine.

Imperial Fora

The Fori Imperiali consists of a series of monumental fora (public squares). They were built over a total period of 150 years, between 46 BC and 113 AD. Over the years, Caesar, Vespasian, Augustus, Nerva, and Trajan contributed to its development.

The Imperial Fora were built to replace the Roman Forum after it became too small due to strong population growth and could no longer fulfill its purpose as the center of Rome.

The entrance to the Imperial Fora is 900 m northeast of the Arch of Constantine (an 11-minute walk).

Piazza Venezia

Piazza Venezia with the Altare della Patria is among the iconic sights of Rome. It’s located at the foot of Campidoglio hill, where five of the city’s main streets intersect. It’s named after the nearby Palazzo Venezia, which was used as the embassy of the Venetian Republic in Rome.

A few sights in this square include Palazzo Bonaparte, the Monument to Victor Emanuel II, Palazzo Venezia, Basilica San Marco, and the bust of Madame Lucrezia.

Piazza Venezia is 1.2 km west of the Arch of Constantine (a 15-minute walk).

Circus Maximus

Considered to be the largest sports stadium built by man, this archaeological area was the site of legendary entertainment activities for nearly a thousand years.

Most of the building is underground and there’s not much left to see above ground. However, through a virtual reality tour, you can discover what the circus used to look like. It’s definitely worth a visit.

The entrance to the Circus Maximus is 850 m south of the Arch of Constantine (a 10-minute walk).

Domus Aurea

The remains of the great palace that Emperor Nero ordered to be built in 64 AD can be visited in a virtual reality experience tour.

The virtual reality glasses allow you to explore Nero’s extravagant residence in all its glory and get an idea of what it would have looked like at the time.

The entrance to the Domus Aurea is 700 m northeast of the Arch of Constantine (a 10-minute walk).

Ludus Magnus

The Ludus Magnus was the largest of the four ludi (gladiatorial schools) known from ancient Rome. The rectangular building complex was commissioned by Emperor Domitian (81-96) and completed by Hadrian (117-138).

The building was located in the valley between the Caelius and the Esquiline, east of the Colosseum—to which it was connected by a subterranean passage.

The Ludus Magnus is 500 m from the Arch of Constantine (a 7-minute walk).

Basilica of San Clemente

This intriguing building complex is a Roman Catholic church dedicated to Pope Clement I. The first tier was built in the fourth century, making it one of the oldest Christian churches in Rome.

Over the centuries, three successive floors have been built over it, of which the top three can be visited. During a visit, you can admire (among other things) the underground temple of the Persian sun-god Mithras and numerous medieval frescoes.

The Basilica of San Clemente is 700 meters from the Arch of Constantine (a 9-minute walk).