Arch of Septimius Severus

Arch of Septimius Severus

The triumphal arch

The arch of Septimius Severus was built in 203 AD in honor of the Roman Emperor. It is one of two remaining triumphal arches on the Roman Forum with the other being the Arch of Titus. The triumphal arch was built to commemorate the victories of Emperor Septimius Severus in Pathia (now partly Iran and Iraq).


The arch measures 23 meters high and 25 meters wide. There are three arched passages in the arch. The central one is 12 meters high and the others 7 meters 80 cm. The relief panels at the top show different stages of the war between the Romans and the Pathians. Other panels depict Romans capturing barbarians. Originally the arch was topped by a bronze quadriga with statues of Emperor Severus and his two sons, Caracalla and Geta. Bronze inscriptions in the attic dedicated the arch to Septimius Severus and his sons. Soon after Septimius’s death, Caracalla killed his brother Geta and had his name removed from the arch.

The Arch of Septimius Severus is one of the best preserved monuments on the Roman Forum due to its incorporation in an old church in the Middle Ages. The church later moved to another location but it was still owner of the arch, thus protecting it from destruction. While parts of other monuments like the Colosseum were used for the construction of Renaissance palaces, the Arch of Septimius Severus was left untouched.

During the Middle Ages and until the eighteenth century, when the excavation of the Roman Forum started, a large part of the arch was covered in soil and debris. Nowadays it is one of the most preserved and spectacular Roman monuments on the ancient forum.


Location: Forum Romanum, Rome

Nearby sights: Curia, Forum Romanum, Piazza del Campidoglio

How to get there: Subway: Colosseo (B)

Nearby hotels: Hotel Forum, Richmond, Nerva Boutique Hotel

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