|Europe » Italy » Rome »|
The National Monument of Victor Emmanuel the 2nd, often known as “Il Vittoriano”, is dedicated to the unification of Italy. More precisely, it honors the first king of the unified Italy; Victor Emmanuel II.
As King of Sardinia, Victor Emmanuel was a front figure in the movement for a united Italy. After his army joined forces with the political and military leader, Guiseppe Garibaldi, they together defeated the opposing Papal army. Shortly after this, the Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed in 1861 with Victor Emmanuel as king.
The planning for the monument
Shortly after Victor Emmanuel’s death, 17 years later, it was decided to construct a large monument in his honor. A design competition was arranged which was eventually won by the young Italian architect Guiseppe Sacconi.
The designated location for the monument was at the northern slope of the Capitoline Hill - the central and sacred hill of Ancient Rome. In order to make room for the monument, several old Roman ruins and medieval churches were destroyed. Needless to say, this caused a lot of controversy and debate.
The construction itself took place between 1885 and 1911. The monument was dedicated on June 4th the same year of its completion. This was the date for the fiftieth anniversary of the Unification of Italy and the successor, Victor Emmanuel the 3nd, was present during the inauguration. The monument was however not fully completed until 1935, when all the statues and sculptures were in place.
Why visit Vittoriano ?
The building was designed by Sacconi in a typical neoclassical style, built around massive stairways and tall Corinthian columns. Throughout the monument, visitors to the Vittoriano will find statues, sculptures and beautiful relief made by established sculptors from all over Italy.
The centerpiece of the monument is the huge equestrian statue of Victor Emmanuel the 2nd. Surrounding the base of this bronze statue, one can find 14 relief statues, each one of them representing a historically important Italian city.
The altar relief
A massive relief is located right underneath the equestrian statue. The whole monument is sometimes called “L'Altare della Patria”, but this is actually referring to this specific part of the monument. This part is known as “Altare Della Patria” – the Altar of the Fatherland.
The eternal flame
In front of the altar relief, visitrs can see an eternal flame. The flame is guarded by soldiers and burns to mark the grave of an unknown soldier from World War One. The body of the Unknown Soldier was chosen from amongst 11 unknown remains a mother whose only child was killed during the war. The grave represents not only this unidentified soldier, but all soldiers who died and whose bodies never were identified.
On either side of the staircase stands the monumental fountains "Due Mari", representing the two seas surrounding Italy; the Adriatic- and Tyrrhenian Seas.
Unity and Liberty
By looking at the roof of the structure, visitors will see two more large bronze statues. These ones depict a quadriga - that is a chariot pulled by four creatures - ridden by the Roman victory goddess Victoria. Together, they symbolize the unity and liberty of Italy.
One of its kind
The monument has been highly controversial ever since its construction. Not only due to the destruction of the old Roman areas in order to make space for the monument, but also due to the monument itself. Many regard it as pompous and way too large.
The monument is built in pure white marble from Botticino, making it highly conspicuous amidst the generally brownish buildings surrounding it. It is clearly visible from most parts of Rome, despite the fact that it lacks a dome or a tower and is rather boxy in shape.
A landmark of the region
This has given the monument several nicknames, such as “the wedding cake” or “the false teeth”. When the Allied troops entered Rome during the Second World War, they labeled it “the typewriter” – a nickname which still sticks around today.
More than a pretty outside
The monument has much to offer, more than just beautiful statues and sculptures. The 135 meter tall building also provides an excellent observation point. From the rooftop, one will get an unmatchable overview of the city and its geography.
Another thing not to miss is the museum housed in the base of the monument. This museum is dedicated to the unification of Italy and is definitely worth a visit for anyone interested in history.
Vittoriano is located in Rome, Italy. The monument is situated in central parts of the city, next to Piazza Venezia, close the Roman Forum. For the exact location of Vittoriano, check out the location map to the right.
Overlooking the city. (public domain)
Vittoriano statue. (public domain)
Interactive location map. For a larger and more detailed map, check out our Italy map.
Do You like Vittoriano?
Click below to download your Vittoriano audio guide.
(If your broswer won't download the guide, right-click the botton and choose "save target as..")
|Europe » Italy » Rome »|