Located just between the Coliseum and the most central hill of Rome, namely, the Palatine Hill, also in the proximity of the Roman Forum, the Arch of Constantine is one of the most celebrated monuments of ancient origin of the capital. The triumphal arch was built by order of the Roman Senate in 315 AD in honoring the battle of the Milvian Bridge (312 AD), notable for its Christian symbolism: the battle culminated in the victory of Constantine the Great over the pagan Maxentius, emperor of Rome between 306 and 312.

The 21 meters high arch is structured on 3 arches, of which the central one is both the tallest and the widest. The upper section is represented by an attic sectioned, at its turn, in three registers corresponding to each of the three arches. Above the central arch there is an inscription (on both sides of the arch) honoring Constantine’s victory over the paganism and praising his contribution to the welfare of the Empire and to the raising of Christianity. These inscriptions are difficult to read at present, since they are more of a trace of the former decorations.

The central section of the attic is flanked by bas-reliefs and statues (on top of the four columns which border the side arches) evoking the military achievements of emperors Marcus Aurelius and Trajan (the statues are said to render Dacian prisoners following Trajan’s wars against the ancient Dacia). In fact, a small part of the decorative patrimony of this triumphal arch hints on the Christian symbolism, most of the architectural ornaments calling forth the military achievements of the former emperors of the Antonine dynasty. This situation is explained by the fact the overall structure of the arch was built with materials brought from other ancient monuments, including entire sections of the arches. All in all, the Arch of Constantine remains one of the must-visits of Rome, a sight to remember for both its monumentality and for its symbolism.

Arch of Constantine (Arco di Costantino)
Via di San Gregorio, 00186, Rome, Italy