Many travellers visit Rome to see the must-see attractions: The Colosseum, the Roman Forum, & the Trevi Fountain. While all of these are certainly amazing wonders, there is one monument in the city centre that can leave a unique lasting impression: It’s the National Monument of Victor Emmanuel II or Altare della Patria, the Altar of the Fatherland, commonly known as Il Vittoriano, a monument to honour the Italian unification and the first King of Italy. It has a massive neoclassical white structure overlooking the ruins of Ancient Rome and towering over all nearby buildings and monuments.
There’s definitely a lot to take in at first glance. This imposing landmark features a large bronze sculpture of King Vittorio Emanuele II on horseback in the centre flanked on both sides by grand staircases. There are fountains, numerous large sculptures, mosaics, and massive Corinthian columns that defy belief in its size.
Resembling the neo-Hellenistic style and structured as an elevated square in the heart of Rome, the Eternal city of Caesars and Popes, celebrated the unification of Italy with in its majestic 70 meters high, excluding the extra 11meters of the quadrigas with the personification of the Victory, the Nike.
Thanks to its massive structure the monument has earned several nicknames like the “typewriter” or “the wedding cake”, these ironical monikers testify the ambiguous relationship that the Romans have with the Altare della Patria.
The Vittoriano, design by Giuseppe Sacconi, is located on the Capitol Hill where a Medieval neighbourhood used to lay before being erased to leave space for this enormous monument. Started in 1885 and inaugurated in 1911 though it was actually completed only in 1925.
In 1921, the Vittoriano has also been dedicated to the unknown soldier to pay a tribute to the service of the military force in particular after World War I. Giuseppe Sacconi original project was to create a new “Forum”, a space where the Romans could meet with a museum and a library. The idea was to create a connection between the Modern Rome, capital of the new Reign, and the Ancient Rome, capital of the Roman Empire.
During the years of Fascism, Altare della Patria has been used just as a scenographic background for Mussolini’s speech or official events, so it completely lost the original purpose of its architect.
Just from the early 2000 il Vittoriano again has become a place for people to meet and enjoy art and cultural events. Know also as Complesso del Vittoriano for being a system of different museums and cultural venues, every month a different exhibition takes place either in the Ala Brasini or in the Museo del Risorgimento dedicated to the long process of the Italian unification. Nevertheless, if you want to keep a living memory of the Altar of the Fatherland do not miss at list once in your life to visit one of the highest and most impressive points of the city: the terraces of the quadrigas. The panoramic elevator, skyrocketing rapidly to the very to top terrace of the monument right below the Quadriga, will offer a spectacular 360 degrees view over the landscape of Roma. To try at sunset!
9:30AM – 5:30PM Daily
NEARBY: Capitoline Hill & Museum, Campidoglio, Roman Forum, Colosseum, Arco di Constantino, Circus Maximus, Palatine Hill, Baths of Caracalla
“Many travellers visit Rome to see the must-see attractions: The Colosseum, the Roman Forum, & the Trevi Fountain. While all of these are certainly amazing wonders, there is a monument that can leave a lasting impression: a massive, majestic white structure in the city centre overlooking the ruins of Ancient Rome.”
– Walks Inside Rome