Dimensions: height 21 m, width 25.7 m and depth 7.4 m
Construction start / opening date: 315 year
Original name: Arco di costantino
The Arc de Triomphe of Constantine in Rome is located between the Palatine and the Colosseum, two of the city’s main attractions. It was erected in 315 to commemorate the victory of the Roman emperor in the battle that took place at the Milvian bridge in 312. This is the latest arch of all surviving, which traces the decorative elements previously used in more ancient monuments.
The Triumphal Arch of Emperor Constantine symbolizes the decline of the great Roman Empire, although it looks squat. Against the background of its arched decorations, the Corinthian columns stand out especially – it seems that the whole arch rests only on them.
On the attic, a decorative wall above the cornice, there are eight marble statues borrowed from the Forum of Trajan, the last of the imperial forums in Rome. Smaller spans are decorated with medallions, on which you can see hunting scenes.
Construction of the Arch of Constantine took three years and was completed only in 315. The structure is 21 meters high and consists of three spans. The main part of the arch is made of impressive white marble blocks. The overall design is similar to the design of the Arch of Septimius Severus, located here in Rome. Both have sculptural panels, entablatures are beamed spans, and eight columns adorn the two fronts of the arch.
The columns of the arch are made of yellow marble, on the bases one can see reliefs depicting captive barbarians, Roman soldiers and the goddess of victory Victoria. The goddess is also depicted on the vault of the main span. All reliefs belong to the era of Constantine.
Medallions, two meters in diameter, dating back to the reign of the Roman emperor Hadrian, are located above the side arches. They depict the hunt for a boar, lion and bear, making sacrifices to the gods Apollo, Hercules, Diana.
In the hunting scenes located on the north side, the heads of Hadrian are replaced by those of Constantine, in the sacrifices – Licinia and Constance Chlorus; vice versa on the south side. Constantine’s campaign against Maxentius illustrates the relief frieze. The medallions on the sides of the arch depict the deities of the Sun and Moon on chariots.
The attic is made of eight bas-reliefs made in pairs, taken from the monument of the era of Marcus Aurelius. On the north side are depicted: the return of the emperor to Rome, the emperor leaves the city, distributes money to the people, interrogates the prisoner.
On the south side – the German leader in front of the emperor, an appeal to the troops, the sacrifice of a sheep, a pig and a bull to the gods. The tops of the columns are crowned with figures of Dacians – a group of Thracian tribes. There is an assumption that they are taken from Trajan’s forum. The bas-reliefs located on the side walls of the attic of the Arch of Constantine were also borrowed from there. They illustrate the celebration of the victory over the Dacians.
The decor for the arch was used the same as in the previously erected Roman buildings, the alleged reason is that the creators of the structure (due to the need to quickly erect the arch) did not have time for its sculptural design.
Historians offer another explanation – the symbolic union of Constantine with the rulers of the past. On some elements of the decor, images of the earlier ruling Roman emperors are guessed – they were given a resemblance to Constantine.
How to get there
Arch of Constantine is located on Via Sacra. You can get there by metro to the Colosseum station on line B. It is just two stops from Termini station. Already leaving the metro, you can see how massive this structure is. There are also buses and trams running to the area. If you wish, you can order a taxi – the driver will quickly deliver you to your destination.
The arch is accessible to tourists every day, without breaks and weekends. Admission is free for everyone.
- Arch of Constantine became a model for many similar structures erected in later periods.
- During the reign of Nero, a fountain was installed around the arch, in which gladiators bathed after the battle. Only particles of the foundation in the form of a semicircle have survived from it to this day.
- Arch of Constantine in Rome is the only one built in honor of the victory in the civil war.