Arch of Constantine

Via di San Gregorio. (Open Map)


The Arch of Constantine is the largest ofthe three triumphal arches in a good state of preservation in Rome (69 feet inheight). It was erected in the year 315 AD to celebrate the victory of  Constantine over Maxentius at the battle of  the Milvian Bridge in 312. Situated on theroad normally covered by the triumphs in the stretch that goes from the Circus Maximus to the Arch of Titus, the archwas built using in part sculptures and architectural elements removed from moreancient monuments, belonging to the age of Trajan, Adrian and Marcus Aurelius.It can probably be considered as the firstexample of the systematic reuse of spoliation material that will go on in Romeduring all the Middle Ages. It however also represents a precious synthesis ofmore than two centuries of official Roman art. The arch consists of three fornices. Thecentral fornix is the broadest and presents a rich bas-relief on all its sides.Constantine’s exploits in his campaign against Maxentius are depicted  above the minor arches. Higher up scenes ofhunting and sacrifices are depicted in the tondi. Eight statues of Dacians thatcome from the Forum of Trajan dominate the attic. The statues flank the longinscription and the large panels of the age of Marcus Aurelius that depictepisodes of the Germanic war. The bases of the Corinthian columns are decoratedwith allegoric figures. The Arch was incorporated in the fortressof the Frangipane family in the 12th century and was restored starting from the15th century. Large integrations of the missing parts were performed in 1733 under Pope Clement XII.