Arch of Constantine

Arch of Constantine

The Arch of Constantine stands right next to the Colosseum in Rome. It was erected in the early fourth century to celebrate the victory of Constantine over Emperor Maxentius.

History

After many years of civil war, the victory of Constantine’s army in 312 AD brought some peace to the Roman Empire. In order to commemorate the victory, the Senate of Rome awarded Constantine a triumphal arch. The Arch of Constantine is almost 26 meters wide and 21 meters high. During construction many parts from older structures were reused. The statues at the top were taken from the Trajan’s Forum. They depict Dacian captured soldiers defeated by the Trajan army.

Appearance

The relief panels between the statues were created for Marcus Aurelius while the roundels are from Emperor Hadrian’s time. Arch of ConstantineSome figures in the roundels were modified to resemble Constantine. The decorations on the central and lower part were created specifically for this triumphal arch. The frieze depicts the army of Constantine driving the troops of Maxentius into the Tiber. The decorations are visibly of a much lower quality than those from the era of Hadrian and Trajan, showing that the artistic level during the time of Constantine was lower than in the past which is symbolic for the decline of the Roman Empire.

Constantine was sure that this improbable victory over Maxentius was the result of the help of the Christian god. As a result, during Constantine’s reign persecution of Christians ended and Christianity became an official religion in the Roman Empire. He also moved the capital of the empire from Rome to Constantinople (now Istanbul) in 325 AD.

Note

Location: Via di San Gregorio near Piazza del Colosseo, Rome

Nearby sights: Colosseum, Arch of Titus, Palatine Hill

How to get there: Subway: Colosseo (B)

Nearby hotels: Martina al Colosseo, Royal House, Second Floor

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