During our visit to Rome, we walked along the famous Roman street “Via dei Fori Imperiali” which starts at the Colosseum and crosses all the major ancient ruins. Then, at the end, we were captivated by an extraordinary building: the monument erected in honor of Victor Emmanuel II.
What is it about? How do you visit it? What does it celebrate? I tell you everything.
Who was Victor Emmanuel II?
This great building is present to pay tribute to Victor Emmanuel II. I will not hide it, I had no idea who it was.
Vittorio Emanuele II, anglicized in Victor Emmanuel, was the king of Italy between 1861 and 1878. He was the first king of a unified Italy.
What is the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II?
Built in 1885 and finished in 1911, the primary purpose of this gigantic monument was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Italian Unity.
Also known as Vittoriano, Palazzo Imperial or Altare della Patria, the monument also reflects the symbol of a democratic nation with European values (this very political speech is the description made on the official website).
At the end of the First World War, the monument also became a symbol of victory.
Where is the Monument to Victor-Emmanuel II located?
As said in the introduction, the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II is at the end of Via dei Fori Imperiali. It is present between Piazza Venezia and the Capitoline Hill.
To take the most beautiful pictures, we advise you to cross and go to the center of Piazza Venezia. On pedestrian path, stop in the middle and you will have a perfect view of the whole building.
What to see during your visit to the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II?
The architecture and the gigantic size will impress you. Then, once you are there, there are many details to admire like:
- The fountains at the bottom of the building
- The big statue of King Victor Emmanuel II
- The Gates of Liberty and Unity
- The columns and sculptures above
- The Piazza del Bollettino and the panorama that it offers reachable by climbing the stairs…
- A magnificent (and high) staircase.
The list is not exhaustive!
In addition to these architectural elements, you should know that the Monument hosts the Central Museum of the Risorgimento. It is a museum of Independence. It presents the heroes of the Italian nation such as Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi and the history of unification.
Then, another part is dedicated to the First World War. Uniforms, weapons, sculptures are exposed.
With a paying ticket, you have access to a panoramic terrace at the top of the building. An elevator takes you there and leads you to a unique view. At such a height, the view of the Italian capital is extraordinary.
How much does it cost to visit the Vittoriano?
The entrance to the external parts is free. This is what we did. We admired the Vittoriano from afar, up close and then went inside to climb the steps to the Piazza del Bolletino. This square is nice if you want to take some great photos.
Admission to the Risorgimento Museum, including access to the panoramic terrace, is €12. It is free for minors and €2 for visitors between 18 and 25 years old with proof of age.
Why was the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II so impressive?
Strangely enough, the Vittoriano, which is not the most famous tourist attraction in Rome, literally blew us away. I didn’t expect to see it and the mind-boggling measurements push you to surprise.
Out of curiosity, I looked up the dimensions on the Internet. The structure measures 140 meters wide and 70 meters high. For comparison, the Colosseum is “only” 51 meters high. I find that our pictures show part of its size, but only a visit in Rome will make you understand what I want to convey.
The color of the Monument is noticeable from afar. Whiter than the rest of the buildings next to it, it brings modernity to the street among the ancient ruins.
The project celebrated an important moment in Italian nationhood, and as is often the case in solidifying a newly unified people, there is a mixture of homage, pride and propaganda. This is evident in the surplus of things to see. The sculptures, especially the one of the former king, are also amazingly large.
Why are the Romans not enthusiastic about this building?
The measurements that surprise us are also those that led to a hostile reception of the monument by the people of Rome. They found the Monument to Victor Emmanuel II too big and in a style that does not correspond to Italy. Unflattering nicknames such as “the typewriter”, the “Olivetti Monument” or “the washbasin” were given to it.
Even more problematic, its construction required the destruction of a medieval neighborhood. Removing a piece of history to create a new one is rarely a good idea…
However, in almost a century, animosity towards the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II has diminished and Romans now consider it a symbol of the city.
Include a visit to the Vittoriano during your visit to Rome. Anyway, it is close to the main Roman visits (Trajan’s Markets, Roman Forum, Colosseum…), so you will see it from far and the size of the building will make you love it…
With Amélie, we also did a night walk on the Via dei Fori Imperiali. The lighting of the Monument makes it just as beautiful and colossal by day as by night.
As a professional blogger, I take advantage of my flexible schedule to travel a lot. I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list!