Officially known as the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II, the huge white marble monument dominating Piazza Venezia was built as a tribute to the first king of a united Italy. Victor Emmanuel had become a symbol of the Risorgimento, the movement for Italy’s unification.
The construction of the monument started in 1885 after a design by Giuseppe Sacconi. The northern slope of the Capitoline Hill was cleared to make way for the monument. Roman ruins and medieval churches were destroyed in the process. The new monument and national symbol of Italy was inaugurated in 1911, at the fiftieth anniversary of the kingdom. The monument is sometimes referred to as the Altare della Patria (Altar of the Nation) and is decorated with numerous allegorical statues, reliefs and murals, created by artists from all corners of the country.
Victor Emmanuel II Monument is about 80 meters high and 120 meters wide and consists of a large flight of stairs leading up to a massive colonnade. To the right and left of the main entrance – which is closed off by a gate at night – are two fountains, allegorical representations of the two seas that border Italy. The left one depicts the Adriatic Sea and the right one is the Tyrrhenian Sea.
At the сenter of the monument is the colossal equestrian statue of Victor Emmanuel. The statue is the work of sculptor Enrico Chiaradea and weighs fifty tons. It rests on a pedestal decorated with allegorical reliefs representing Italian cities. At the foot of the statue is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, inaugurated in 1921. Guards of honor alternatingly selected from the marine, infantry and air divisions, stand on guard here day and night.
Inside the monument are large rooms, half of which are used for exhibitions. The other half houses the Museo centrale del Risorgimento, a museum dedicated to the history of the unification of Italy.
Location: Piazza Venezia, Rome
Nearby sights: Santa Maria in Aracoeli, Capitoline Museums, Piazza del Campidoglio
How to get there: Subway: Colosseo (B)
Nearby hotels: Navona apartments – Piazza Venezia area, Hotel Piazza Venezia , Hotel Cosmopolita