Altar of the Fatherland/ National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II

Altare della Patria / Il Vittoriano

Altar of the Fatherland is one of the most significant monuments of Rome. This memorial was built in the honour of the first anniversary of the unification of Italy. It occupies a site between Piazza Venezia and the Capitoline Hill. The eclectic structure was designed by Giuseppe Sacconi in 1885. The largest monument in Rome was controversial since its construction destroyed a large area of the Capitoline Hill with a Medieval neighbourhood (including Renaissance palaces). Michelangelo himself lived in this neighbourhood until his death. The equestrian sculpture of Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of the unified Italy, was placed in 1911 and is the central figure of the monument. Two fountains at each side symbolize Adriatic and Tyrrhenian seas that wash the shores of the unified country. The paradox is that Italians do not really like this national monument and it is often regarded as conspicuous, pompous and too large. Because of its size and appearance local citizens call it the "wedding cake", "typewriter" or "inkpot". As the monument is located on famous Piazza Venezia and many tourist routes go through this square, one can hardly visit Italian capital without seeing this tremendous monument. Moreover it often serves as the orienting point and the "lighthouse" for tourists. The monument is designed in classic style and one can reach it by going up the beautiful massive stairway. As any art object, the monument is associated with contradictory feelings. On the one hand it inspires respect because of its enormous size, on the other, the facts of its hanging over the square hits in the eyes. Another remarkable fact is that bronze for the monument was taken from re-melted guns that once defended Castel Sant'Angelo.

Basement of the statue holds a luxurious bas-relief that pictures all the large Italian cities. Apart from the statue of the king this complex monument includes the eternal flame and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier guarded by the guards of honour. This tomb holds the remains of the soldier who fell in the battle during the second decade of the last century. Architectural splendour is emphasized by the wide colonnade of Corinthian columns. There are two museums on the territory of the monument: one is devoted to Italian Unification (which occurred from the end of the XVIII century), the second museum displays the colours of the national fleet. Use the elevator to reach a panoramic viewing platform at the top of the memorial - the 360-degree view from there is magnificent! The height of the memorial is 70 m. The line to the elevator usually is much shorter around 4 pm. The security guys of the complex look like models - very hansome Italian men. Better to come at least 90 minutes before closing time. The elevator to the top of the monument costs €7 for adults, €3.50 for seniors and children.

Address: Piazza Venezia
Opening hours: daily 9.30 am - 5.30 pm
How to reach: metro Colosseo
Coordinates: 41.894587, 12.483064