Arch of Janus

Arco di Giano

The Arch of Janus isn’t a triumphal arch. It is the only remaining Roman object in the tetrapylon style and is an architectural memorial. It is a rectangular structure with four entrances on each side. Tetrapylons were mainly used on crossroads in times of the Roman Empire. It is possible that in old times money-changers and merchants were gathering at the Arch of Janus. The arch is square in the plan, its side walls being 12 m long each and its arch 16 m high. The arch is made of brick and marble and has 12 niches that were originally decorated with statues of Junone and Ceres, along with some other elements that have not survived till nowadays. The statue of the goddess Minerva remains in one of the niches, though. Spolias, which were decorative elements of destroyed ancient structures, were used within construction of the arch.

It is quite possible that the Arch of Janus was erected in honor of Constantine the Great. In the Middle Ages the Arch was part of the Frangipani Fortress, but in 1830 the fortress was destroyed, and the Arch acquired its original appearance. The Arch of Janus was constructed at the beginning of the IV century and witnessed many different epochs. Signs of destruction on its walls didn’t appear only because of natural forces. Much of the damage was made by treasure-hunters, who believed the legend about the hidden treasure and tried to break the walls. There are ancient inscriptions about the Arch of Janus in the nearby church of San Giorgio in Velabro.

Address: Via del Velabro
How to reach: Circo Massimo
Coordinates: 41.889351, 12.482720