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Rome's Arc de Triomphe: everything you need to know

In the ancient Italian capital the triumphs of the emperors were celebrated in a very special way, the Triumphal Arch of Rome is an example of that. It was built to commemorate a victory of Constantine I and has been very well preserved, so you can visit it on your trip to Rome.

Luisa María Lugo

Luisa María Lugo

7 min read

Rome's Arc de Triomphe: everything you need to know

View of the Arc de Triomphe in Rome | ©Dennis Jarvis

Triumphal Arches were built in many European countries to commemorate military victories. In the capital of Italy there are several, such as the Arch of Septimius Severus, the Arch of Titus and the Arch of Triumph in Rome. This last one is the one I would like to focus on, it is located next to the Roman Colosseum.

The also known as "Arch of Constantine" is one of the most modern Roman monuments, it was created in 315 A.D. Its location and structure makes it the most visited arch in Rome.

Guided tours of the Arc de Triomphe in Rome

Touring the Arc de Triomphe| ©Natemedwards
Touring the Arc de Triomphe| ©Natemedwards

In October 312, Emperor Constantine won the battle of the Milvian Bridge, as was customary in Roman territory, a monument was built. The purpose of the Arch of Rome is to commemorate the victory of that occasion. This arch has many interesting facts and many of them will tell you during the guided tours of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, some of them are the following:

  • Many of the materials used in its construction came from other buildings and statues found in the city.
  • All the images that are in the structure have the same context, namely Constantine's political plan to restore the empire.
  • In the Middle Ages it was moved to a fortress that belonged to a family of Roman aristocrats.
  • In 1804, it was painstakingly restored and returned to the place where it was originally built.

Before you visit this Roman arch, you need to know a little more about it. That way, when you stand in front of it you will be able to see details that uninformed tourists will ignore.

Book a guided tour of the Arc de Triomphe area

How much do the tickets to the Arc de Triomphe of Rome cost?

Triumphal Arch part of the Archaeological Park of the Colosseum| ©Jim Naureckas
Triumphal Arch part of the Archaeological Park of the Colosseum| ©Jim Naureckas

The Roman Triumphal Arch is located within the Archaeological Park of the Colosseum, this is an area where there are ancient sites. Because it is located on a public road , there is no need to purchase tickets to see the Arch.

It should be noted that unlike other arches found in Italy and other European countries, it is not possible to walk under the Arch of Constantine, as it is surrounded by protection. Of course, the protection of the monument does not prevent you from getting close enough to see the details of its design.

How to get to the Arch of Triumph of Constantine

Rome Metro| ©Juan Enrique Gilardi
Rome Metro| ©Juan Enrique Gilardi

The Arc de Triomphe is next to the Colosseum. There are several types of transportation that have stops near the Arch of Constantine, the exact area where it is located is Piazza del Colosseo. If you want to go to this monument, no matter where you are in the Italian capital, the ways to do it are:

  • Bus: take line 51, 75, 81, 85, 87 or 118, all can take you to Piazza del Colosseo.
  • Metro: the line you need to take is the B line, it takes you to the Colosseo stop.

In case you decide to take the last mentioned means of transport, it is advisable to read my guide to the Rome Metro.

Book a guided tour of the Roman Forum and Colosseum

Why visit the Arc de Triomphe in Rome?

Passing through the Arc de Triomphe| ©Jim Naureckas
Passing through the Arc de Triomphe| ©Jim Naureckas

The Arch of Constantine is one of the most visited monuments in Rome, people from all over the world have been encouraged to visit it. The main reason why I encourage you to do the same is because of the architecture of the famous arch. It has an impressive height of 21 meters and a width of 25 meters.

In the monument are arches through which people could pass many centuries ago. The middle arch is the largest, all over the structure there are reliefs of emperors and warriors.

Obviously, the Arch of Constantine does not look the same as it did in the 3rd century, but it is still worth seeing. Another reason why it is a great option to visit it is that it is located in a strategic point of the city, what do I mean? After visiting it you can go to other places of interest, such as the Roman Forum, the Palatine Hill or the Arch of Titus.

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Is it advisable to go to Rome's Arc de Triomphe with children?

Children enjoying Rome| ©Domina Viaggi Evento
Children enjoying Rome| ©Domina Viaggi Evento

Yes, it's a monument they are sure to enjoy seeing, especially if they are attracted to structures like these. Plus, they can walk safely in the area around the arch.

In case you want to do something on your vacation in the capital that is ideal for your kids' ages, what do I recommend? Read another of my articles in which I tell you 10 things to do in Rome for kids.

What to see at the Arc de Triomphe in Rome

Details of the upper part of the Arc de Triomphe| ©Dennis Jarvis
Details of the upper part of the Arc de Triomphe| ©Dennis Jarvis

The structure of the Arch of Constantine is made of various materials. The lower areas are made only with marble and the upper areas have bricks and details with marble blocks. Why were reused elements sought? At the time it was built, the decadence in Rome was high and the end of the empire was at hand.

Despite the fact that it was created in the 3rd century, the Arch of Constantine is very well preserved, thanks to the restorations that have been carried out on it. It is also interesting that the materials have not been reused in other monuments that were built later.

Even today, seeing the Arch is a great experience, it blends in perfectly with the surroundings, as there are other similar places nearby. So do not visit the Arch quickly, I encourage you to spend a few minutes to observe the details.

Read the inscription on the Arch

On the face of the Arch of Triumph of Rome facing the Colosseum is an inscription, which tells you a lot about the empire and the emperor Constantine. For example, the term "divinely inspired" is used , a reminder that Constantine, unlike other emperors, supported Christianity.

On the other hand, when reference was made to the people he defeated, he was not given a name, but was called "the tyrant". In this way, the idea was conveyed to the people that the war that was fought had been just.

This inscription also makes it clear that it was the Senate that solemnly dedicated the Arch to Constantine. Visitors are not allowed to walk under the monument, so I would like to tell you about two inscriptions found inside the larger arch:

  • Liberator of the city.
  • Founder of peace.

Be amazed by the accuracy of the reliefs and observe the statues

The reliefs on the outer walls of the monument are made of marble blocks. These are intended to narrate the wars and victories of the time of Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, Trajan and Constantine. Of course, the main protagonist is the latter emperor.

Among the most outstanding reliefs are the following:

  • Faces of emperors remodeled to appearances similar to Constantine.
  • Marcus Aurelius giving bread to the poor.
  • Roman soldiers in battle.
  • Victorious marches.

As for the statues, they are in the upper area and represent Trajan after defeating the Dacians.

See the columns of the Arch

Bottom view of the Arch| ©KatieThebeau
Bottom view of the Arch| ©KatieThebeau

In the Arch there are four Corinthian columns that before being installed in this monument were in another one that was created in the first century and that was lost with the time. All the columns have as bases sculptures representing winged victories in which one can see captives of Rome, Roman legionaries and palm fronds.

Not all the elements that are in this great arch are reused, some were made especially for this monument dedicated to Constantine. These represent the military acts of the emperor and you can see them in the following areas of the Arch:

  • On the left side of the south facade: the siege of Verona.
  • On the right side of the south façade: the battle with Maxentius.
  • On the left side of the north facade: a scene in the Roman Forum.
  • On the right side of the north façade: a gift ceremony.

Take a look at Meta Sudans

Directly in front of Rome's Arc de Triomphe are the remains of a monumental fountain that was in use until the 5th century. The structure was an impressive 18 meters high, had a base cylinder and was covered with marble. It is said that gladiators came out of the Colosseum to refresh themselves in the fountain and clean their wounds.

Its diameter was about 16 meters and its depth was about one and a half meters. The last photographs of the Meta Sudans date from the 19th and 20th centuries, at that time it was only 9 meters high and no longer had its marble covering.

What was left standing of the monumental fountain was removed in 1936, today only its remains remain and the place it occupied can be clearly seen. If you want to see the remains of the Meta Sudans you only have to take a few steps towards the front of the Arch. In another article I will tell you which are the 5 best fountains in Rome.

Tips for visiting the Triumphal Arch of Constantine

Night view of the Arc de Triomphe| ©Dennis Jarvis
Night view of the Arc de Triomphe| ©Dennis Jarvis

The Arc de Triomphe of Rome is one of the most visited areas of the city, in the high season of the year it is possible that more than 3 thousand visitors arrive. Therefore, if you are one of those people who like to admire a monument up close and see its details, I recommend you to go in the morning or late at night.

Many tourists and even people who live in Rome are encouraged to visit the Arc de Triomphe after dark. The reality is that there are several things you can do in Rome at night.

During those hours you can dedicate the time you prefer to see the Arch and walk around it without too many people around. One last tip I would like to give you is to get to know other monuments in Rome. I hope you make the most of your trip to the Italian capital.