On one side of the Capitoline Hill is the Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland), a national monument built in honour of Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of the unified Italy.
It is also called the ‘Il Vittoriano’, or more irreverently by its detractors, ‘The Wedding Cake’, ‘The False Teeth’ or ‘The Typewriter’.
The monument was designed in 1885 by Giuseppe Sacconi in Neoclassical style but sculptures by many other artists were added up until 1925, so some of the decoration is Art Nouveau, such as the mosaics on the ceiling of the colonnade.
At the centre is the Tomba del Milite Ignoto (Tomb of the Unknown Soldier), guarded over by an Art Nouveau statue of the goddess Roma, itself surmounted by an equestrian statue of Victor Emmanuel II. Designed by Angelo Zanelli it was unveiled in 1921 to honour the dead and missing of WW1.
The two fountains at ground level at either side of the monument represent the seas on each side of the Italian peninsula, the Adriatic and the Tyrrhenian.
Click on the pics for the best view.
On the roof, two quadrigas (chariots drawn by four horses) represent ‘the unity of the homeland’ and ‘the freedom of the citizens’ while the statues above the pediment are personifications of the regions of Italy. Various other geographical and allegorical references to the motherland abound.
Many people visit the monument for the panoramic view of Rome from the top, which is best on a clear day. The glass lift that takes you to the roof from the mid levels costs €7. Unfortunately I’ve never been up, either due to Covid most recently, or in the past just lack of time, but I hope to next time I’m in town.
There are two staircases going up the hill around the side of the Altare della Patria.
The first takes you to the impressive Basilica di Santa Maria Scala dell’Arce Capitolina. The current Romaneque-Gothic building dates from 1250. In addition to being a place of worship, the church was once the center of political life in Rome and municipal assemblies were once held here.
There are quirky Baroque artworks everywhere you look. Again, click on these pics to best appreciate them.
This was one of my favourites.
I’ve broken this post up into two as it was huge! Please see the next post for what’s up the second staircase…