The Vittoriano, symbol of national unity in the heart of Rome
8 June 2022
The Vittoriano is the Roman monument that has become a symbol of the Unification of Italy and a place used for many state celebrations throughout the year: the history, architectural features and reasons that have made it so important nationally
An immense monument built in half a century
The Vittoriano is one of the most visited monuments in Rome. Located behind the Campidoglioand in the center of ancient Rome, it overlooks Piazza Venezia.
The construction works began in 1885 and lasted for 50 years as the construction site was closed in 1935, in the midst of the Fascist period, but in 1911, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Unification of Italy, the monument was inaugurated and open to the public.
From an architectural point of view, the complex was conceived as a sort of forum of modernity, with stairways joining a central square built on three levels which are in turn surmounted by an arcaded colonnade.
Why do we call it the Altar of the nation
Designed by architect Giuseppe Sacconi, it became a secular temple that symbolizes the unification of Italy to the point of being also called the Altare della Patria. There are many reasons why it is the monument that best celebrates freedom and patriotic ideals. First of all, it is dedicated to Vittorio Emanuele II, the last King of Italy. Since 1921 it has kept the remains of the Unknown Soldier, to testify the sacrifices in terms of human lives of the Italian people during the First World War.
But behind these two historical themes also the original purpose of the project hides, that of collecting images that refer to our country in a single sculptural complex. In fact, we find the bas-reliefs of Work and Love for the Homeland, the fountains that symbolize the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian Seas, the statues of the Regions.
The plant symbols are also impressive, including the palm tree for victory, the oak tree for strength, the laurel for peace, the myrtle for sacrifice and the olive tree for harmony.
In June 2007 a terracewas set up in the rear part of the monument from which you can enjoy a wide view of the city. It can be reached with an elevator or by walking up the steps that start from the colonnade.
From Fascism to a Republic, the center of state celebrations
After the end of the First World War it became a symbol of military redemption and of the war power of the Italian people. Then it became the stage for many demonstrations of the regime or to be the platform for Mussolini’s speeches from the balcony of Palazzo Venezia located in the adjacent square of the same name.
Another reason that prompted Vittoriano to enter the collective imagination of the Italians was the fascist propaganda, in particular the cinema with many screenplays that had the capital as location.
With the advent of the Republic, the importance of the Vittoriano as a symbol of national identity was not defined, on the contrary it has become the place used for many celebrations that follow one another throughout the year at it, including the Republic Day, Liberation Day and National Unity Day in which the President of the Republic pays homage to the shrine of the Unknown Soldier by placing a laurel wreath in memory of the fallen and missing Italians in the two world wars.
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