Rome
The Vitorriano from the front Jeremy Vandel

The Vittoriano

The Victor Emmanuel II National Monument, also known as the Mole del Vittoriano or simply Vittoriano, is a must-see for any visitor in Rome. It is a magnificent fusion of Art-Nouveau, Eclecticism, and Neoclassicism, and it is one of the most important monuments celebrating Italian unification.

The Victor Emmanuel II National Monument (or Vittoriano), is a national monumental complex located on the north side of Campidoglio Hill, in Piazza Venezia. It is thus in the center of Ancient Rome and linked to the modern city center thanks to several important streets that flow into the square.

The whole building has been given great symbolic value, as it represents sacrifice for the fatherland and all its ideals. This is particularly thanks to the evocative figure of Victor Emmanuel II and the construction of the Altar of the Fatherland, symbolizing the complex process of unification and liberation from foreign domination. The Altar is the most famous part of the monument, and it comprises an altar to the goddess Rome and a shrine to an unknown soldier. The whole complex is often referred to as the Altar of the Fatherland, because of the Altar’s importance.

Brief History of the Vittoriano

The construction of this monument occupied about half a century of Italian history, and it involved numerous projects and just as many critics. These were mostly concerned with the several expropriations and demolitions needed to make room for such a big monument. Here you will find out about its history.

Contemporary Age (1789 - present)

The Vittoriano was commissioned by the Italian government. In 1878, after the death of King Victor Emmanuel II, the Prime Minister decided to build a monument celebrating the late king and the unification of Italy.

The first national competition for the construction of the monument was called in 1880. During the same year, the Royal Commission for the Monument to Victor Emmanuel II was set up.

The public funds for the construction of the monument amounted to approximately 8 million lire, to which would be added the money sent by Italian citizens living abroad. The competition was won by Frenchman Nenot, but his project was never implemented.

Several complaints arose about the idea of letting a foreign artist work on such a patriotic monument. It also seems that the initial project was not so different from an old project by the same architect for the new Sorbonne building. Moreover, the occupation of Tunisia by France did not improve the architect’s popularity.

In the following international call for proposals (1882), the architects also needed to specify the intended location as well as the specific construction characteristics. There was a detailed list of instructions for the project hand-in.

The Royal Committee approved the idea of building a monument on the Campidoglio. This would have made the Vittoriano - aside from a celebration of the first king of Italy - also a symbol of Rome the Capital, the true counterpart of Papal Rome (represented by Saint Peter’s Basilica) and Imperial Rome (represented by the Colosseum).

The instructions foresaw a complex to be erected on the north side of the Campidoglio Hill, aligned with Via del Corso. It also included a bronze statue of the king, an architectural backdrop of at least 30 meters in length and 29 in height (the shape was to be determined by the architect, as long as it covered the buildings in the back), and the Santa Maria in Ara Coeli Church to the side.

The participants in the call for proposals, which closed on 9 February 1884, were given a year to hand in their projects. The total of the projects handed in was ninety-eight, but the committee was uncertain between the proposals made by Bruno Schmitz, Manfredo Manfredi, and Giuseppe Sacconi. As a result, a third competition was called, limiting the proposals to these three. The call for proposals was closed on 24 June 1884 and Giuseppe Sacconi, a young architect from the Italian region of Marche, was announced the winner.

Sacconi’s project was inspired by some of the great classic complexes, like the Pergamon Altar and the Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia. The monument thus needed to be a large open space, conceived as a forum open to the public in an elevated square in the heart of Imperial Rome. It would be the symbol of a unified Italy, the direct descendant of the Rome of Caesars and Popes.

To build the Vittoriano, as mentioned in our article about Piazza Venezia, numerous expropriations and demolitions were necessary, especially in the area adjacent to the Campidoglio. These were carried out thanks to a program by then PM, Agostino Depretis.

This choice caused severe discontent in some of the members of the committee. After it became clear that the construction of the Vittoriano would compromise some ancient Roman monuments of the area, such as the Sanatorio Palace and the Tabularium, some members even got so far as to resign.

Other constructions to be demolished for the same reason were the three cloisters of the Ara Coeli Convent, a historic monastic complex of medieval origin, the Tower of Paul III, a fortified villa from the 16th century, and the flyover connecting with Palazzo Venezia, known as St Mark’s Arch.

During the second call for proposals, some additions were made. These were a grand marble monument adorned with ascending steps, next to the Ara Coeli Basilica, as well as a colonnade and statue of Victor Emmanuel II sitting on a throne. This piece would be placed at the center of the complex.

On 22 March 1885, the first stone of the monument was laid. It became immediately clear that it would be impossible to lay the foundations of such a building on clay soil. Sacconi was thus forced to modify the project, and the costs went up from the initial 9 million liras to almost 27.

The construction of the Vittoriano took almost half a century, with the first stone being laid in 1885, and the bronze chariots on the propylaea in 1927. The building comprises a large stairway that leads to the Altar of the Fatherland, splitting into two flights that go behind the Altar. These converge behind the king’s statue and open up again to lead to a wide shelf dominated by the exedra portico crowning the building.

Sacconi decided to propose the themes of the Fatherland and Unity, representing them allegorically and geographically. At the sides of the staircase, there are two allegorical groups in gilded bronze, representing Thought and Action. Before them are the statues representing the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic Seas. Above, starting from the left we can find the groups of Strength, Concord, Sacrifice, and Law.

Next are the Winged Lions and the Victories. On the first level is the Altar of the Fatherland (built in 1921), with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Statue of the Goddess Rome, towards which the triumphal processions of Labour (left) and Love of the Fatherland (right) converge.

Up high we can find the monument of Victor Emmanuel II, in gilded bronze, on a base with reliefs of the cities of Italy, by Eugenio Maccagnani. On the last level are the areas of the Italian cities freed during the war (1915-18) and a rock from Monte Grappa. Above there is a portico with sixteen columns, and in the attic are the statues of the Italian regions. On the propylaeums are the chariots of Unity (on the left) and that of Liberty (on the right).

The monument was made of Botticino marble, instead of travertine as originally planned. Inside we can find the showrooms dedicated to the history of the monument itself, to the Shrine of the Flags (Sacrario delle bandiere), and the Risorgimento Central Museum (Museo centrale del Risorgimento), which traces the steps that brought Italy to its unification and hosts interesting exhibits. Risorgimento (Resurgence, in English) is the Italian term used to refer to the period and cultural movement surrounding the Unification of Italy, not to be confused with the term Renaissance, Rinascimento in Italian.

In front of the Adriatico fountain is the tomb of Caius Publicus Bibulus (plebeian aedile). The monument, of which only part of the facade remains, is located in a flowerbed on the left side of the Vittoriano. It was spared from demolition for the construction of the latter. It is a funerary monument, dating back to the first half of the 2nd century BC, now partly buried.

After Sacconi’s death in 1905, the works continued under Gaetano Koch, Manfredo Manfredi and Pio Piacentini’s direction. Completion of the whole work would be achieved much later. Fontana and Bartolini’s chariots would be laid between 1924 and 1927, while the last adjustments were made in 1935.

The monumental complex was inaugurated by Victor Emmanuel III on 2 June 1911, on the occasion of the International Exposition celebrating the 50th anniversary of Italian Unity. The crowd was massive, and many public figures participated in the celebration. Among these was queen Elena, the queen mother Margherita of Savoy, chairman of the council Giovanni Giolitti, the six thousand mayors of Italy, the unification war veterans, and three thousand students from various Roman schools.

From its inauguration, the monument has hosted important celebrations, and this has cemented its function as a symbol of national identity. The main events have always been the celebration of Italian Unity (25 April), Republic Day (2 June), and National Unity and Armed Forces Day (4 November).

On these occasions, the President of the Italian Republic and the highest offices of the State still pay homage to the Church of the Unknown Soldier, in memory of the Italian dead and missing at war.

In the aftermath of the war, having been used as a stage by the Fascist Regime, the Monument was the object of deep critical misfortune, which lasted for the following decades. On 12 December 1969 an assassination attempt was made (detailed in the Curiosities section of this article) which led to the decision to close the monument to the public.

After the closure of almost 30 years, from 1969 to 1997, the entire Vittoriano complex was re-evaluated and began to re-enter the lives of citizens.

Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, then President of the Republic, made the re-evaluation of the Monument one of the key points in his policy of re-appropriation of places and symbols of the country’s history, in the name of national pacification. After careful restoration work, the Monument was reopened to the public on 23 September 2000, in conjunction with the school year’s opening ceremony.

Today visitors can access 90% of the Vittoriano, which would have been impossible only a few years ago. One of the strong features of the monument is the lifts, inaugurated in 2007, which allow for an incredible 360° view of the city. They can be accessed in Terrazza Italia, at the back of the building.

The Polo Museale del Lazio (an institute managed by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities ) is currently in charge of maintaining the Vittoriano. About a third of the monument, which houses the Shrine of the Flags, is under the jurisdiction of the Defence Ministry.

Every year, the monument welcomes about 3 million people, making it one of the most visited in Italy. The Shrine of the Flags registered about 1 million visitors. The panoramic lifts, the only part of the monument to have an entrance fee, generates about 2,700,000 euros, with about 500,000 visitors.

The Vittoriano’s Statues and Monuments

Some of the most relevant monuments have been mentioned in the historical section of this article and they will now be discussed in more detail. Keep reading to understand the symbolism behind the many statues and works that adorn the Vittoriano. Here you will also find out which part of the Vittoriano, in particular, is called the Altar of the Fatherland, and which are its elements.

Victor Emmanuel II’s Equestrian Statue

Victor Emmanuel II’s equestrian statue, the centerpiece of the whole Vittoriano, was designed by Enrico Chiaradia, an artist discovered during the 1884 call for proposals. The piece recalls Marcus Aurelius’ equestrian statue. The work was built in honor of the late king of Italy (the first one the country as we know it today ever had).

Its construction began right after the king’s death, but it was completed only in 1927. It is one of the most impressive statues in Europe. It measures 12 meters in height and 10 in width. The bronze statue represents the king, in military clothing, riding a steady horse.

It is the biggest statue in the city, considering the marble pedestal, which completely makes it 24 meters tall. To make it, 50 tonnes of bronze were melted - that’s a lot of Royal Army cannons.

It is said that the city authorities organized a party to celebrate the moment in which King Victor Emmanuel III (Victor Emmanuel II’s grandson) would see the statue for the first time. The 21 people involved in the construction process were invited. The table set for them was the belly of the statue’s horse.

However, it seems that Sacconi was not satisfied with Chiaradia’s choices, as he deemed his artistic language too realistic, and thus not compatible with the neoclassical style of the rest of the Vittoriano. The statue, after Chiaradia died in 1901, was completed by the Florentine artist Emilio Gallori. Once it was put on its pedestal, the public was well happy to recognize the late king.

The City’s Statues and the Liberated Regions

The equestrian statue rests on a base on which 14 allegorical female figures are placed. The figures, sculpted by Eugenio Maccagnani, represent illustrious cities and the liberated regions of Italy. Turin is surely the city that plays a major role in this composition, having been the first Italian capital and hometown of the king himself.

The other cities are the so-called Noble Mothers, that is the capitals of the old Aristocratic States of the Italian peninsula, converging towards the Kingdom of Italy and the Savoy dynasty. Each one of them carries its own symbols, and among them, we can find: Florence, Naples, Amalfi, Pisa, Ravenna, Bologna, Milan, Genoa, Ferrara, Urbino, Mantua, Palermo, Venice.

A special place was also dedicated to the victorious armed forces who fought in the unification process. These statues are the Engineers, Navy, Artillery, and Cavalry. Maccagni represented them at the bottom of the base, inspired by a similar composition in the Trajan Column.

As for the statues of the regions of Italy, they are located on the frieze of the apex of the portico, on the cornice, each in correspondence with a column. There are 16 of them, like the number of Italian regions at the time of the monument’s construction.

Based on the type of frieze and the height of the statues, we can see the reference to the nearby Trajan Forum. Each statue is five meters tall and each was entrusted to a different sculptor, almost always a native of the region whose image he would carve. The cornice is also embellished with eagles and lion heads.

The names of the regions represented, as well as the selected regions themselves, have changed with time, so many of the names of the statues do not correspond with the current Italian regions.

For instance, the region of Emilia-Romagna, at the time was simply called Emilia, and the region Basilicata was known as Lucania. The regions of Abruzzo and Molise are instead represented by the one region that existed at the time. Another example is the area of the Triveneto*,* which is represented by one statue (the regions are today three: *Veneto, Trentino-Alto Adige,* and *Venezia Giulia*). The regions of *Valle d’Aosta* and Piedmont, are also represented by a single statue, as they were under the same juridical entity.

The Statue of the Goddess Rome

Under the king’s statue, at the center of the Altar of the Fatherland, we can find an extraordinary female figure, inspired by Athena, the Greek goddess of Wisdom, known as Minerva in the Roman pantheon.

The statue represents the Goddess Rome, a large votive altar dedicated to the Italian nation, designed by the architect Giuseppe Sacconi and built by the sculptor Angelo Zanelli between 1911-1925.

Inside the shrine with a gilded mosaic background, the goddess stands in typical Roman dress and goatskin. She wears a helmet and crown with wolf heads, a spear in her right hand, and a statuette of a Winged Victory in her left.

The Stairway and its Sculptures

The magnificent staircase is a fundamental element of the Vittoriano, just like its three-level structure with lots of open spaces for visitors. These allow us to walk among the monuments, among which the majority is heavily symbolic of Italian history.

The stairway leads us from Piazza Venezia to the terrace of the Altar, then to the terrace of the liberated cities, and finally to the terraces of the two propylaea, which flank the summit portico and form the two entrances.

The entrance gate, which is 40 meters long and weighs 10,500 tonnes, stands right in front of the stairway. It was made by Manfredo Manfredi and it can slide on the ground thanks to the tracks that the architect designed.

At the sides of the main entrance are two fountains: on the east side we find the Adriatic Sea fountain, by sculptor Emilio Quadrelli, on the west side is the Tyrrhenian Sea fountain, by Pietro Canonica. Both the statues, built between 1908 and 1911, are inspired by the river statues placed by Michelangelo in the Campidoglio square.

Next to the entrance stairway, there are several statues that lead the visitors towards the Altar of the Fatherland. The first ones are two gilded bronze sculptural groups, with subjects inspired by Giuseppe Mazzini (Italian unification patriot, politician, philosopher, and journalist).

They are Thought and Action (respectively to the left and to the right, for those that leave Piazza Venezia behind them). After them, the other two sculptural groups follow. Here too there is one for each side, both Winged Lions. Finally, at the top of the stairs, before the Altar’s terrace, are two Winged Victories.

The choice of these characters is tied to a strong symbolic meaning. Thought and Action have been two important elements in the process of unification, both drivers of historical and social change. The sculptures’ shapes remind us of their characteristics. Action has an angular profile, while Thought is more circular.

More in detail, we can see a bronze Winged Genius (by Giulio Monteverde) representing Thought. He rests his hand on the personification of Wisdom, from whom he takes allegorical inspiration, and who helps The People to rise, incited by the goddess Minerva. The composition is completed by the figures of the Genius of War, sharpening his weapons ready for battle, and Discord, holding a torch and a scourge. Tyranny is now at the end of its tether.

Action, created by Francis Jerace, is represented by a group of Savoy soldiers raising the flag, upon which the words Italy and Victor can be read. Meanwhile, a Venetian Lion is taking down the oppressor, a woman holding a club is ready to hurl herself at the enemy and a young Garibaldian is preparing to attack. The latter is the only figure, aside from that of the king, to wear modern clothing.

The two Winged Lions, by Giuseppe Tonnini, are two marble statues representing the initiation of patriots who decide to join the unification enterprise motivated by ardor and strength, which also control their instinctive side (the animals are crouching on the balustrade).

The bronze Winged Victories, by Edoardo Rubino and Edoardo de Albertis, symbolize the military and cultural success of the Roman era, as well as good luck.

The Altar’s Terrace and its sculptural groups

Right after the Winged Victories, we enter the terrace of the Altare della Patria, the first elevated platform of the Vittoriano, which is dominated centrally by the statue of the goddess Rome, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Also on the terrace of the Altar of the Fatherland are the sculptural groups in Botticino marble that symbolize the founding values of the young kingdom of Italy. The four are 6 meters high and are located to the right and left of the entrance to the terrace of the Altar, two on each side.

They are placed to the side of the statues of Thought and Action and in correspondence with the fountains of the two seas, along the parapets facing Piazza Venezia. This is no coincidence: the concepts expressed by these four sculptural groups, Strength, Concord, Sacrifice, and Civil Right, are the consequent derivation of the two statues mentioned above.

The triangular, sharp-edged Strength, by Augusto Rivalta, is situated to the left of the parapet above the Adriatic fountain. The statue is represented by a young and mighty Roman centurion dominating a medieval archer, and by a worker holding a pickaxe.

Again, the choice of subjects is not random: the Middle Ages were a time when Italy, as we know it today, did not exist, but consisted of many small, divided States. In Roman times, however, the nation was united under the rule of the empire.

The Concord, by Lodovico Pogliaghi, is located to the right of the parapet above the Adriatic fountain. It is represented by a central female figure with a cornucopia accompanying a Roman senator, who represents Princedom (i.e. the Savoy monarchy), and a young man, who instead symbolizes The People.

Another sculpture that emerges is that of the Family, in the guise of a woman holding a child in her arms, representing the birth of the new State. In general, the sculptural group metaphorically considers the birth of the Kingdom of Italy as an understanding between the Savoy monarchy and the Italian people.

Sacrifice, by Leonardo Bistolfi, is to the left of the parapet above the Tyrrhenian fountain. The sculptural group is made up of four figures with a dying young fighter in the center, supported by a freed slave (with the chains on his wrists broken) a symbol of the regaining of freedom and dignity. These are obtained thanks to the sacrifice of the Warrior, who receives a symbolic kiss from the Genius of Liberty, leaning towards him.

The sculptural group is completed by a woman who personifies, once again, Family: women, during the unification period and elsewhere, were seen as one of the most important examples of sacrifice, as they had to sacrifice themselves for the good of the family unit. The statue as a whole is connected to the previous sculpture, Strength, as the latter is indispensable to find within oneself the spiritual energy needed to make sacrifices.

Civil Right, by Ettore Ximenes, is located to the right of the parapet above the Tyrrhenian fountain. In the center is Freedom, who has just pierced Tyranny with a sword. Civil Right, meanwhile, looks at her as if to claim her role, rejected by totalitarian governments. The figure representing The People is supported in its fight for the national cause.

The Sommoporticus and Propylaea

The Sommoporticus is the portico of the Vittoriano, so-called because of its high location. It has already been mentioned earlier in this article, as it houses the frieze in which the 16 statues representing the symbols of the Italian regions appear.

It is 72 meters long and is crowned by 16 columns, each 15 meters high. The ceiling was designed by Gaetano Koch in 1907 and finished two years later by Giuseppe Tonnini, decorated with paintings and allegories representing the sciences.

Both the summit portico and the propylaea make up the highest point of the Vittoriano.

Each propylaeum (portico in front of the gates) is dominated by two bronze statues of chariots. These are two-wheeled chariots drawn by four horses, driven by Winged Victories, bearers of divine victory in battle.

The two chariots bear Latin inscriptions. ‘CIVIUM LIBERTATIS’ on the right and ‘PATRIAE UNITATI’ on the left. The first metaphorically symbolizes the freedom of citizens and is the work of Paolo Bartolini. The second is an allegory of the unity of the country and was created by Carlo Fontana.

Thanks to two triumphal entrance staircases, which are located on a platform connected to the terrace of the liberated cities, it is possible to reach the interior spaces of the sommoporticus and the propylaea.

At the base of the entrance stairs to the propylaea are four statues of Winged Victories on triumphal columns, built in 1911. In front of the left propylaeum is the Winged Victory with Palm and Serpent, by Nicola Cantalamessa Papotti. To the right of the left propylaeum is the Winged Victory with Sword by Adolfo Apolloni. Opposite the right propylaeum, on the right and left respectively, are two Winged Victories with Laurel Wreaths by Arnaldo Zocchi and Mario Rutelli.

The interior spaces of the propylaea are also decorated with metaphorical representations of virtues and sentiments in the form of mosaics.

The decoration of the ceiling of the left propylaeum was entrusted to Giulio Bargellini, whose mosaics figuratively represent four figures. One is Faith, rendered by the depiction of the people consecrating their children to the homeland, with a city reminiscent of Jerusalem in the background. Another is Strength, a warrior accompanying a young man to a meeting with a woman armed with a sword. And the last two are Work, personified by a family of farmers, and Wisdom, represented by a teacher in a chair in front of his pupils sitting at their desks.

The decoration of the ceiling of the right propylaeum was entrusted to Antonio Rizzi. He depicted Law, composed of allegories of Justice seated on the throne, Wisdom, Wealth, Prudence, Fortitude, and Temperance, each with their own distinctive characteristics.

We then find Valour, a young man tempering his sword on the wings of Freedom and surrounded by the founders of the Italic race, including Aeneas and Ascanius. Then is Peace, a female figure holding a sheaf of wheat and other figures bearing the fruits of the earth; and Union, given by the encounter between a young man and Poetry.

The inner doors leading from the two propylaea to the summit portico are adorned with allegorical sculptures representing the arts. Architecture and Music by Antonio Garella are located in the left vestibule. Painting and Sculpture, which are located in the right vestibule, were made by Lio Gangeri.

The interior of the vestibule has a paneled ceiling which, as mentioned above, was designed by Gaetano Koch, called the “ceiling of science”. The latter owes its name to Giuseppe Tonnini’s bronze sculptures representing the Allegories of Science.

They are female figures representing the sciences: Geometry with compasses and a square; Chemistry with a retort and a still; Physics with a lantern and a barometer; Mineralogy with a quartz crystal; Mechanics with a cogwheel; Medicine with a cup and Asclepius’ cane, Astronomy with a zodiac globe and Geography with a protractor and a globe.

Other sculptures in the portico are the Trophies of Arms, consisting of a set of shields, cuirasses, halberds, lances, flags, arrows, and quivers. One trophy shows the emblems of the House of Savoy, that is the crown of Italy: the eagle with the cross shield and the collar of the Annunciation.

The Altar of the Fatherland

The Altar of the Fatherland, located at the top of the entrance steps, is a large votive altar to the nation and is the most well-known part of the Vittoriano. It is so well known that the entire Vittoriano monument is often referred to as the Altar of the Fatherland.

The statue of the goddess Rome, in the center, dominates the altar together with the Unknown Soldier. The project was designed by the same architect as the Vittoriano, Giuseppe Sacconi, and executed by the Lombard sculptor Angelo Zanelli.

Zanelli won a call for proposals which was launched in 1906 and was still in progress when the Vittoriano was inaugurated on 4 June 1911. Zanelli’s design, presented at the time, won public acclaim over the other finalist, Arturo Dazzi. Zanelli then delivered the work in 1925.

In addition to the Goddess Rome and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, there are also two bas-reliefs on the sides, both conceived as processions. Their general design recalls Virgil’s Bucolics and Georgics, which complete the triptych of the Altar of the Fatherland with the statue of the Roman goddess.

The allegorical link to Virgil’s works is due to the desire to conceptually render the Italian soul. In the Georgics there is a reference to the Aeneid, which tells the legendary story of Aeneas, progenitor of the Roman people. In both Virgil’s works, there is a reference to Italian industriousness.

The bas-relief on the left of the altar represents the triumph of Labour and converges towards the goddess Rome with the following allegories. To the left, Agriculture, represented by the figures of Herding, Reaping, Harvest and Irrigation. Next to it, the Winged Genius of Labour, given by a figure climbing a large triumphal plow. Finally Industry, a beam from which hangs a heavy anvil, on which a female hand lays an oak crown, the symbol of strength.

The second bas-relief, to the right of the statue of the goddess Rome, represents the Triumph of Love of the Fatherland and also converges spatially towards the statue of the Roman deity. It is composed of several allegorical figures.

Female figures are carrying honorary crowns to Rome, the Genius of Love of the Fatherland and the Hero, whose cloak is raised by two female figures, leaning on the great sword of the Titans. Finally, the Brazier of the Sacred Fire of the Fatherland also presents symmetrically in the procession of the Triumph of Labour, hanging from a beam.

From the terrace on which the Altar of the Fatherland stands, there is access to the two Museum Doors, i.e. the entrances to the rooms used to display material from the unification period. At the top are four sculptures (1900-1905): Politics by Nicola Cantalamessa Papotti; Revolution by Ettore Ferrari; Philosophy and War by Eugenio Maccagnani.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

It is essential to clarify the figure of the Unknown Soldier, which has been mentioned several times in this article, because of its importance concerning the Altar of the Fatherland and the Vittoriano in general.

His tomb is one of the monuments located inside the Altar of the Fatherland and the initial idea to build it came from Colonel Giulio Douhet, who proposed to bury the remains of an unknown soldier to symbolically embody all the Italian dead and missing in the First World War.

The tomb was built as a memorial and the soldier himself became a symbol of the homeland. The government headed by Ivanoe Bonomi, after several postponements, made a law, in August 1921, to build the tomb, an idea put forward by War Minister Luigi Gasparotto.

It was decided that the body of the fallen soldier should be chosen among those most affected by the conflict, in the north-eastern areas of Italy. The body would then be solemnly transported by train to be finally buried in the Vittoriano.

Eleven corpses from different battle zones were selected and gathered in the cathedral of Aquileia. The body was chosen by a woman from Trieste, Maria Bergamas, the mother of a fallen soldier who had gone into battle voluntarily. Since it was not possible to identify the corpse due to the serious wounds, she chose the soldier at random, on 28th October.

The Soldier arrived in Rome after crossing the country. Amidst popular homage, the coffin of the Hero of the Nation carried on the shoulders of 12 recipients of the Gold Medal for Military Valour, climbed the white steps of the Vittoriano.

On 2 November 1921, the Day of the Dead, a mass was celebrated in the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli and two days later, the date of National Unity and the feast of the Italian Armed Forces, the coffin was buried in the Vittoriano, with a great commemorative ceremony.

In the background were the war flags of the regiments that had taken part in the conflict. Among the large crowd were lined up troops, veterans, the wounded, and even King Victor Emmanuel III, with all the high offices of State. On that day, the “Unknown Soldier” became the symbol of the 650,000 fallen of the Great War and of all those who had sacrificed themselves for the country.

The tomb is guarded by armed forces, stationed day and night, accompanied by the eternal flame placed on the brazier under the Altar of the Nation.

Central Risorgimento Museum

The Vittoriano, following various renovations, has been hosting exhibitions and events of historical and artistic nature. The Museo Centrale del Risorgimento is part of the exhibition areas.

The current itinerary of the Museum aims to illustrate the main moments of the historical events that led to the Unification of Italy from the end of the 19th century to the First World War. The visit thus becomes a voyage into the memory of the Risorgimento (i.e. the period regarding the unification of Italy) with some materials that can be useful today for the reconstruction of the recent Italian past. These include paintings, uniforms, engravings, relics, photographs, and weapons.

The Museum’s origins date back to 1906, the year of its foundation when it was incorporated into the Vittoriano while construction was still in progress. It is located inside the Brasini Wing, behind the Ara Coeli Basilica.

About 500 works of art are exhibited in the rooms of the Museum, divided into various sections. The first section concerns the main protagonists of the Risorgimento and houses an archive full of material that narrates the events of the time.

There is also a gallery divided into sections devoted to the stages of the Risorgimento struggles: the Restoration, the establishment of the Roman Republic (1849), the Exploits of the Thousand Soldiers (1860), and the reunification of Rome with Italy (1870).

There are also thematic blocks on display, covering historical issues such as brigandage, political satire, the Italian flag, coins, etc. The last section is entirely devoted to relics from the First World War, including the tank used to transport the body of the Unknown Soldier in 1921.

The Shrine of the Flags

The Tricolour - the flag with the colors green, white, and red - is the symbol of Italy. The Sacrarium, completed in 1935, preserves the War Flags of the Italian Army, from the first of 1861 to those of the Regiments dissolved after the First World War. It includes both the flags of war that were already in Castel Sant’Angelo and those still in the custody of the Commands to which they belonged.

The place chosen for this exhibition was the interior of the Vittoriano, next to the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, precisely to give the flag an almost sacred role.

Today, the Shrine still houses and displays the flags of all the armed forces of the State. Inside the large showcases, the flags are grouped according to their various affiliations: Army (Infantry, Cavalry, Engineers, Artillery, Bersaglieri), Navy, Air Force, Carabinieri, Finance Police, and Public Safety Guards.

In addition to the flags, the Shrine also contains a large collection of weapons and war equipment, such as the Anti-Submarine Motorboat, better known by its acronym M.A.S., the wreck of the Adua Class coastal submarine Scirè, the Slow Running Torpedo SLC, or the Bleriot X, an early 20th-century airplane with an engine designed by an Italian engineer.

The Great Exhibits Hall

Thanks to its size (700 square meters), the Salone delle Grandi Mostre is the largest and most prestigious exhibition space in the Brasini Wing, traditionally hosting major art exhibitions since its opening. It is located on the first floor of the Vittoriano and is accessed via an imposing staircase or lift, mostly reserved for the disabled and protected categories.

The spatial characteristics of the room mean that it is divided into numerous rooms, making it suitable for hosting complex exhibitions, divided into themes and sections. A second mezzanine level in the central space provides a fascinating view of the lower floor, allowing the works to be viewed from different points of view and perspectives.

In recent years, the space has hosted exhibitions of international standing, such as those dedicated to Pollock, Andy Warhol, Monet, etc.

The Central Hall

The Central Hall is located on the ground floor of the Brasini Wing and covers an area of about 400 square meters. Its function is usually to host temporary exhibitions.

The elegant staircase, which welcomes visitors to the Hall can be used as an entrance area to the exhibition and is visible from the entrance to the monument.

The square-shaped Hall has four regularly arranged pillars, suggesting an external frame and a central area. The space, therefore, lends itself to a variety of installations, achieved through the insertion of removable walls and partitions.

The Jubilee Hall

This area is opposite the Central Hall and is adjacent to the staircase leading to the space dedicated to major art exhibitions, thus enjoying a privileged position and extraordinary visibility.

The space is divided into two adjacent areas, a corridor with two opposite walls entirely covered with paneling that opens into a lovely hall, with a total area of 150 square meters. The Jubilee Hall can host both small temporary exhibitions and special events.

Curiosities

Read on to discover the reasons behind many of the nicknames given to this monument, as well as the story of its fall from grace and subsequent revaluation.

The Biggest Typewriter in the World

As mentioned, the monument has long been mythologized as the temple of the national spirit, the essence of the values of freedom, patriotism, and unity.

Respected and valued, this piece has also been questioned more than once, both ideologically, aesthetically, and urbanistically. This is because many buildings dating back to Mediaeval Rome were taken down to make room for it. The whole floor plan of Piazza Venezia had to be reassessed. The whole operation cost a lot more than what was initially budgeted.

It is also often negatively associated with Fascism, even if the monument was built in the last decades of the 1800s, long before Mussolini declared himself Head of State, at the beginning of the 1920s. This association derives from the fact that Fascism, in a rather pompous (and predictable) way, appropriated many of the values represented in the monument.

In light of this, the Vittoriano ended up being scorned by Romans and thus nicknamed the typewriter or wedding cake. These terms aim to make fun of its color, shape, and maybe excessive dimensions. Regardless of these associations, the Monument is one of the most important works of art dating back to the Italian Unification.

The Dungeons

Not everyone knows that the Victorian has a vast and fascinating underground area. Most of it is occupied by the remains of a tufa quarry, which was used from the age of Emperor Trajan (98-117) for the extraction of building material.

The quarry came to light during the construction of the Vittoriano, forcing the architect Giuseppe Sacconi to revise the project and build massive foundations to support the building.

Particularly noteworthy is the use that was made of the basement when it came back into use, during the Second World War. Many of the rooms were converted into air-raid shelters, equipped with first-aid posts, drinking water supplies, emergency exits, benches attached to the walls, and toilets.

On the stone walls, several inscriptions can be identified that bear witness to this difficult time: “Hungry like a wolf”, “Double hunger” or “Fettuccine”.

The Unknown Soldier’s Interior Crypt

As mentioned in the previous sections of this article, the body of the Unknown Soldier was buried under the Altar of the Fatherland on 4 November 1921, as a tribute to all the fallen of the conflict.

What many people do not know, however, is that, a few years later, it was decided to also build a crypt inside. It was inaugurated in 1935, under Armando Brasini’s guidance.

The altar inside corresponds perfectly with the tombstone outside. It is decorated with an inscription justifying the Gold Medal for Military Valour (Italy’s highest military decoration).

“Worthy son of a valiant lineage and of a millenary civilization, he resisted unflinchingly in the most contested trenches, lavished his courage in the bloodiest battles, and fell fighting with no other prize to hope for than victory and the greatness of the Fatherland."

The door of the simulacrum bears instead of the following epitaph, which was written by King Victor Emmanuel III of Savoy himself:

“His name unknown - his spirit thunders - wherever Italy is - with a voice of tears and pride - countless mothers say: - he is my son”.

Opposite the crypt is a chapel with a Greek cross floor plan. The floor is made of slabs of Karst marble, the altar was carved from a block of rock from Monte Grappa. Both are in memory of the places where WWI was fought.

Both the tomb and the chapel are decorated with a cycle of mosaics made by the Tuscan painter Giulio Bargellini before 1934. The crypt features a Crucifixion on the back wall. The chapel instead has a Madonna of Loreto in the dome and Saints protectors of the various Arms in the drum: St Martin, St George, St Sebastian, and St Barbara.

Giuseppe Garibaldi’s Stretcher and the Blue Jeans

As mentioned before, the Central Risorgimento Museum houses relics that marked important events in the history of the Italian Unification. Among them are the original trousers that Giuseppe Garibaldi wore during the feat of the Thousand and the real stretcher with which he was rescued in Aspromonte in 1862.

The trousers were made from the fabric used by Genoese sailors. It is thought that the city of Genoa and the color blue gave blue jeans their name.

The trousers preserved in the Museum are the ones Garibaldi wore in 1860 during the feat of the Thousand and with which he led the war in Sicily. This rare relic was donated by his sons. A symbolic tricolor ribbon was placed around the buttons.

The stretcher dates back to the events that took place after the Unification of the majority of the peninsula. At that time, the problem of how to conquer Rome - the ideal capital of Italy - became explicit, as Rome remained under the temporal rule of Pius IX.

Thus began the enterprise led by Giuseppe Garibaldi who, in 1862, decided to go up the peninsula with a group of volunteers to conquer Rome. To avoid international consequences, the government decided to stop Garibaldi by force. Twelve of Garibaldi’s men died, but he was wounded on the leg on Aspromonte and carried to safety on that same stretcher.

All the objects linked to this episode were preserved and donated to the museum: the boot with the bullet hole, the bullet, the bloody bandages, the stretcher, and the blanket.

The relics of Saint Pope John

Another museum in the Vittoriano where illustrious memorabilia is on display is the Shrine of the Flags. A relic and some objects belonging to Pope John XXIII are displayed here.

Born Giuseppe Angelo Roncalli, he was elected Pope on 28 October 1958 and is remembered as the ‘Good Pope’. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 3 September 2000 and canonized together with John Paul II on 27 April 2014 by Pope Francis. He is the patron of the Italian Army since 2017.

Roncalli served as a soldier in the 73rd Infantry Regiment, achieving the rank of Corporal. He was later recalled to service with the rank of Health Sergeant and finally, during WWI he served, at his specific request, as a military chaplain at Bergamo Hospital. His personal effects as a soldier, together with a relic, have been kept in the Shrine of the Flags since May 2017.

The First King of Italy

Victor Emmanuel II (1820 - 1878) was the most beloved of the kings of the House of Savoy, also because of his human qualities. Having become King of Sardinia in 1849, he placed Piedmont, his native region, at the head of the unification project, crowned in 1861 and then again in 1870 with the capture of Rome.

Among the various proposals put forward in the Risorgimento, in the end, the monarchical path prevailed, linked to the Savoy dynasty, King of Sardinia, and then of Italy.

When he died on 9 January 1878, he was hailed as the gentleman king and the Father of the Homeland. The following days were crucial in organizing the funeral rite and commemoration. While the king’s body was buried in the Pantheon, the government soon began planning the future Vittoriano.

A Stage for the Regime and the March on Rome

For a long time in the past, and sometimes still today, Vittoriano has been sadly associated with Fascism and its leader, Mussolini. This section will attempt to explain the reasons for this and above all to deconstruct this myth.

During his rise, Mussolini did not yet have a founding site in Rome to symbolically represent his power. The dictator, therefore, chose to appropriate the values and national-patriotic tradition represented by the Vittoriano, as the emblem par excellence of the country’s unification.

Choosing the monument as a means of self-celebration and as a propaganda poster for the regime, Mussolini decided to choose the Vittoriano and Palazzo Venezia as the final stage of the famous March on Rome.

The term “March on Rome” refers to the armed demonstration of 28 October 1922, organized by the National Fascist Party, the success of which led to the party’s rise to power in Italy. On that date, some 50,000 fascist soldiers marched on the capital threatening to seize power through violence.

When they arrived at the Vittoriano, Mussolini paid his respects at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and accepted the commission to form the government, granted by King Victor Emmanuel III.

It was then from Palazzo Venezia (as described in our article on this monument) that the dictator made his bellicose statements that led Italy into the Second World War.

We should therefore not make the mistake of assuming that the very foundation of the monument is linked to the Fascist party. The Fascists came to power only in the 1920s, when the monument had already been inaugurated more than a decade before, and its construction almost complete.

The Bombing and the Vittoriano on Trial

In the post-war period, the Monument, precisely because it had been the stage for the Fascist Regime, was the object of deep criticism and misfortune, which lasted also in the following decades.

There was a revival of the popular criticism already mentioned: ‘typewriter’, ‘wedding cake’ and other nicknames became customary.

On 12 December 1969, at 5.30 PM, at the same time as the Piazza Fontana massacre in Milan, two bombs exploded inside the Vittoriano. The attack caused heavy damage to the building, but fortunately no victims. To prevent further attacks, it was decided to close the monument to the public.

The decline of the building continued in the following years. The situation did not improve with the opening of the Museo Centrale del Risorgimento in 1970, which in turn was closed after only nine years, in 1979.

In 1986, the nearby Palazzo Venezia hosted a curious “trial” of the Vittoriano, whose aim was its demolition. Intellectuals and critics then accused it of “extraneousness and overpowering the surrounding city”.

The court finally rejected the prosecution’s petition for demolition. Thus ended the trial of the monument to Victor Emmanuel II, accused basically of aesthetic offense.

The Reopening

After being closed for almost 30 years, from 1969 to 1997, the entire Vittoriano complex was re-evaluated. Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, the tenth President of the Italian Republic, began to bring the monument back into the lives of citizens.

The President made it the basis of his policy based on the re-appropriation of places and symbols of the country’s history. After careful restoration work, the Monument was reopened to the public on 24 September 2000, in conjunction with the opening ceremony of the school year.

The President’s work was then taken up and continued by his successor, Giorgio Napolitano, with particular emphasis during the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy.

On that occasion, the celebrations on 17 March began at the Vittoriano, which was opened extraordinarily for the occasion. Mameli’s anthem was performed by the Ministry of Defence’s Interforce Band.

Afterward, Gruppo IX Invicta performed marvelous period fireworks, which lit up the capital’s sky from the Parco del Celio, reproducing the pyrotechnic art of 19th-century Italy.

Tickets

The Vittoriano is a monument of considerable size, which has several areas, each serving a different function. The need to book or buy tickets depends on the day of the week and the areas you intend to visit.

Below are the options.

Type of access
Ticket
Need to book in advance
Details
Type of accessIstituto Autonomo Vittoriano and Palazzo VeneziaPanoramic Lifts/Terrace and Central Risorgimento Museum
TicketNot necessary€ 12,00 standard ticket€ 2 for 18-25 y.o. visitors
Need to book in advanceFor visits on Saturday and Sunday, reservations must be made by sending an e-mail by noon on Friday to the following [email protected]For visits on Saturday and Sunday, reservations must be made by sending an e-mail by noon on Friday to the following address:[email protected]
Details-There is no need to wait for a reply for your ticket reservation, simply go to the ticket office at the entrance.For all the details regarding discounts and who is eligible, check the official website.

For all norms and COVID regulations, it is always a good idea to consult the monument’s official website, so as not to have any surprises when entering.

Another fact to keep in mind is that the entrance ticket to the Museo Centrale del Risorgimento and the visit to the Panoramic Terrace are not included with the Roma Pass.

Opening Hours

Every day from 9.30 AM to 7.30 PM. The last admission allowed is at 6.45 PM.

Please note, however, that the ticket office always closes one hour before closing time, and that the departure of the last accompanied tour of the Renaissance Museum is at 6 PM.

Useful Tips

  • Remember that a visit to the Vittoriano is often included in a broader tour that includes possible exhibitions in the surrounding area of Piazza Venezia.
  • We recommend visiting the monument early in the morning so that you can use the lift service to the panoramic terrace. Concerning this, it is also advisable to avoid weekends, so as not to get stuck in a long queue in front of the lifts.
  • If you are interested in visiting other museums or attractions in the city, you can buy a city card and save on entrance fees.
  • If you are traveling by car, we recommend that you take a look at the nearby car parks in advance and reserve a parking space if necessary.
  • Compared to the time needed for a satisfactory visit of the whole square, we recommend half a day.
  • Concerning the time of the visit to the monument alone, we believe that if you wish to include the panoramic terrace, it should last no less than one hour.
  • It is useful to know that there is a special entrance for people with disabilities. It is located on the right-hand side of the monument, near the service lift leading to the middle terrace.
  • The other entrances to the Vittoriano are: Piazza Venezia (main entrance to the monument); left side entrance (Via di San Pietro in Carcere); right side entrance Via del Teatro di Marcello (Aracoeli side).

How to get to the Vittoriano

The Monument to Victor Emmanuel II is located in Piazza Venezia. Thanks to its central position in Rome it is very easy to reach, either by public transportation, by cab or by foot.

By metro

The Vittoriano isn’t far from the stop Colosseo on metro line B. Once you reach the metro exit, you will only need to follow Via dei Fori Imperiali for 950 meters (12 minutes on foot), and you’ll reach Piazza Venezia, with the Vittoriano on your left.

A single ticket (B.I.T.) costs € 1.50, but the metro also offers tickets for 24, 48, or 72 hours or even for a week.

See more info about the Rome metro.

See details on tickets and subscriptions for public transportation in Rome.

By tram

As for the tram, the best option is Piazza Venezia, on line 8 of the Tram Line. Once you arrive at the stop, you’ll find yourself in front of Piazza San Marco, with the Vittoriano to your right.

Rome’s tram network also uses the 1.50 euro single-ride BIT tickets, as well as other available passes.

See more info about the streetcar in Rome.

See details on tickets and subscriptions for public transportation in Rome.

By bus

This is the means of transportation that offers the most options. The buses in Rome allow you to reach Piazza Venezia with several lines. The ones here indicated stop right in front or to the side of the Vittoriano.

Line
Closest stop
Itinerary
Line119857062851118831606340646080
Closest stopVeneziaPiazza VeneziaPiazza VeneziaPiazza VeneziaPiazza VeneziaPiazza VeneziaPiazza VeneziaPiazza VeneziaPiazza VeneziaPiazza VeneziaPiazza VeneziaPiazza VeneziaPiazza Venezia
ItineraryAn almost circular route, starting from Piazza Venezia, going around Piazza del Popolo, and then back to the terminal.It links the Termini area to Piazza Venezia and the Colosseum. It extends to the southeast of Rome, to areas of little tourist interest.It travels a short distance in the center of Rome, from stops Clodio to GiolittiIt links two areas to the north and south of Rome, passing through the center and following the course of the Tiber for a stretch.It links the San Giovanni metro station to an area close to the Trevi Fountain, via Piazza Venezia.Useful for visiting places of interest such as the Colosseum, Piazza Venezia, Circus Maximus, the Roman Forum, and even the Baths of Caracalla.It connects two areas outside the center of Rome, from north-east to south, passing through the center and stopping at Piazza Venezia.It crosses Rome from north to south, linking Villa Borghese with Montagnola, and stopping at Piazza VeneziaCollega una zona esterna, nel nord-est di Roma con il centro, facendo capolinea in prossimità dell’Isola Tiberina.It connects Termini Station with Castel Sant’Angelo, stopping at key points in the center such as Piazza Venezia and Largo di Torre Argentina.It connects Termini Station with the Vatican, crossing the center of Rome on the way.This line connects an area in the northeast of Rome with the center, terminating at Piazza Venezia.It links a peripheral area, north of Rome, with the city center, terminating at Piazza Venezia.

The city buses use the same tickets that are also valid for the metro, trams, and suburban trains. The cost of a single bus ticket is therefore always €1.50 (BIT) and is valid for all other means of public transportation.

Find more info about buses in Rome.

See details about tickets and subscriptions for public transportation in Rome.

By taxi

Cabs are obviously the most comfortable option, but they are also the most expensive and are not guaranteed to be the fastest way to get to Piazza Venezia due to the heavy traffic in the central area of Rome.

However, this means of transport is a good option if you feel like chatting with a cab driver, who can tell you a few secrets of the city or entertain you with his typical Roman humor.

The best way to get a cab in Rome is to book it by phone, mobile apps, or simply by going to a cab stand. For instance, there is a cab stand along the east side of Piazza Venezia.

See detailed information on taxis in Rome.

By foot

Walking is undoubtedly the option that ensures you enjoy the monumental beauty of the Eternal City to the fullest. Fortunately, the Vittoriano in Piazza Venezia is close to many other interesting sites.

You could, for example, consider taking a walk to visit the various monuments belonging to the Renaissance-Baroque-Rococo period in Rome. Some of the stops could be the Vittoriano, Venice Palace, Piazza Navona, Sant Angelo’s Bridge and Castle, the Spanish Steps, and the Trevi Fountain.

Nearby places of interest

The Vittoriano is, as mentioned, surrounded by other attractions and in an excellent location compared to the main streets of Rome. Here’s a list of sights that you can visit within walking distance of it.

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.

The Vittoriano is at the southern end of Piazza Venezia.

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 located 850 metres south of Piazza Venezia and the Vittoriano.

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 of the Palatine is located 1,3 km from the Vittoriano(a 16-minute walk).

Arch of Constantine

Among the three arches of triumph that still exist in Rome, this is the best-preserved one. The striking monument was built in the early fourth century to commemorate the victory of Constantine I at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 AD.

It’s the last great monument of Imperial Rome and was inaugurated on the 10th anniversary of Constantine’s reign. It’s an imposing 21 meters high and 25.6 m wide and stood on Rome’s triumphal route.

The Arch of Constantine is 1 km from the Vittoriano (a 12-minute walk).

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 110 meters south of Piazza Venezia and the Vittoriano.

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 located 800 meters southeast of Piazza Venezia and the Vittoriano (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 VR 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 Area is 1 km east of the Vittoriano (a 14-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 1,3 km east of Piazza Venezia and the Vittoriano (a 16-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 1,5 m from the Vittoriano (19-minute walk).