Altare della Patria

Visit Rome’s most controversial monument.

Some think Rome’s Altar of the Fatherland is beautiful and informative, others say it’s pompous and gaudy, but one thing’s for certain – this site is unmissable! Come visit one of Rome’s more modern monuments and find out for yourself.

Highlights

  • Admire (or scoff) at the architecture and decipher all the different allegorical elements the monument contains.
  • See 360-degree panoramic views of Rome from the top of the terrace.
  • Pay your respects to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a man fallen during WWI.

Tickets & Prices

Although access to the monument and the museum it contains is free, there is a small fee to pay to use the glass elevator to access the panoramic terrace at the top. The 360-degree spectacular views of the Eternal City are one of the monument’s main attractions and totally worth the price of the ticket.

Full Price ticket

This ticket is intended for all adults over the age of 18.

Reduced ticket

This ticket is intended for youths below the age of 18 and seniors over the age of 65.

What to see and do 

Visiting the Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland), also known as the National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II, or simply as the ‘Vittoriano’, is a great way to explore a more modern side of Rome’s history. Below is a list of some of the things this monument has to offer.

The Architecture

The Altare della Patria is the largest monument to have ever been built in Botticino marble, a moldable and light marble from Brescia. It was built in the Neoclassical style, using innovative techniques. It’s meant to resemble a Roman forum on a larger scale.

A monumental staircase leads up to the main altar, from which the entire monument gets its name. On the upper level, there are two identical porticos on either side of a Corinthian colonnade. 

The architecture has received mixed reviews to this day. Many think because of its size and the white starkness of the marble, that it doesn’t fit in with the surrounding architecture, others hail it as an iconic modern monument of Rome.

The Statues and Symbolism

Every element of the monument is intended to be symbolic. It celebrates the unity of Italy, the greatness of its capital city, Rome, and the freedom of its citizens.

The bronze equestrian statue of King Victor Emmanuel II, the unifier of Italy, is the centerpiece of the monument. The statue is so big that a dinner party, consisting of 20 people, was once held inside the hollow belly of the horse, in order to celebrate its completion.

Below the bronze horse is the statue of the goddess Roma, in battle gear, standing against a golden background. The winged statues riding Roman chariots atop the porticoes are representations of the goddess Victory.

On either end of the monument are two fountains representing the two seas surrounding Italy, the Adriatic Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea. The friezes at the top of the monument depict statues personifying the regions of Italy.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The monument also holds the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the remains of a man fallen in battle. His identity remains unknown to this day and his tomb is symbolic of all the Italians who died during the war.

The tomb, underneath the statue of the goddess Roma, is flanked at all times by two soldiers and is the place in which the eternal flame always burns.

The Panoramic Terrace

Located at the same height as the Roman chariots is a panoramic terrace that offers 360-degree views of Rome. The Colosseum and the Roman Forum are both prominently visible, as well as the view down Via del Corso, a very long street leading to Piazza del Popolo.

A panoramic elevator, added in 2007, is the only way to reach the top, but it’s worth the price of the small asking fee, as it’s one of the top attractions of the monument.

The Museum

The interior of the monument holds the Museum of the Risorgimento, a small museum dedicated to the unification of Italy. On display are weapons, flags, and other objects related to this important moment in Italian history. 

Anyone interested in learning more about Italy’s more recent history should definitely pay this museum a visit.

Directions

The Altare della Patria is located on Piazza Venezia, a busy square right in the city center of Rome.  It’s within walking distance of many major sites such as the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. It’s easily accessible by public transport.

Metro: Line A – Barberini (15-min.)

Line B – Colosseo (12-min.)

Tram: Line 8 has its terminal at Piazza Venezia, right across the street from the monument.

Bus: Lines 40, 44, 63, 64, 70, 75, 81, 84, 87, 95, 160, 170, 204, 628, 630, 716, 780, and 810 all stop on or near Piazza Venezia.

Did you know that: (4 Interesting Facts!) 

  1. The monument is known by many different names, some less serious than others. Among them are: “The Typewriter”, “The Wedding Cake” and “The False Teeth”.
  2. The most ancient thing found during the excavation work to build the monument was not a Roman ruin, but the skeleton of an ice-age elephant!
  3. Many journalists and art critics found the monument to be a bit too ostentatious. Some viewed its construction as a failed attempt to revive the Roman Empire.
  4. The piazza the monument was built on used to be a part of an old Medieval quarter. Many Medieval buildings, and a portion of the Capitoline hill, were destroyed to erect the altar, much to the dismay of many Romans.

History

  • After the death of Victor Emmanuel II in 1878, the first king of a united Italy, plans were initiated to erect a monument in his honor.
  • In 1880 an International competition for the design of the monument was held and won by a Frenchman, but nothing came of it. 
  • Two years later a new competition was announced, but this time only Italians were allowed to participate. It was won by a young architect named Giuseppe Sacconi.
  • Sacconi intended the monument to be reminiscent of a Roman forum, and rife with symbolism. It was built in the Neoclassical style and continued by other artists and architects after his death in 1905.
  • It was inaugurated on June 4th, 1911, during the 50th anniversary of the unification of Italy at the Universal Exhibition, though the monument was not yet fully complete.
  • In 1921, after World War I, the monument was chosen to host the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
  • Years later, in 1935, work on the Altare della Patria was finally completed.
  • Today, the monument has become a notorious modern icon of the city of Rome. It remains a symbol of the Italian Fatherland and now also hosts a museum dedicated to the history of Italian unification.
Altar of the Fatherland map

Address: Altar of the Fatherland, Piazza Venezia , 00186 Roma, Italy · view larger map

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