Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II in Rome: 30 sculptures on Italy’s birthday monument


Italy's 150th birthday celebrations are being kicked off on March 17th at the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II – aka the Vittoriano- and it will be the seat of the birthday celebrations in Rome this year. But you didn't miss the party if you're reading this after March 17th – there are a few more important birthday dates on the calendar: namely April 25th, Liberation Day; June 2nd, birthday of the Republic; and November 4th, the day of national unity; not to mention events that will be held the rest of the year. But I recommend that travelers visting Rome anytime stop and at look at this monument.


Il Vittoriano Argenberg flickr crop

It's much more than just a monument

Although the Vittoriano gets over 2 million visitors a year, it isn't usually on the must-see list of foreign tourists – nor is it lovingly spoken about by Italians, who refer to it as the wedding cake or the typewriter, or resent it because if its use as a stage for fascist rhetoric during the Mussolini era. But if you're walking from Piazza Venezia to the Campidoglio or the Roman Forum, the 400+ foot wide structure is hard to miss. It contains some significant unification museums, including several new exhibits in honor of this year's birthday celebrations. And the top of the monument has great views over Rome, accessible by the elevator. All good stuff.  


Or, just admire it from the outside

If you aren't interested in adding more museums to your itinerary, and you were completely satisfied with the views over Rome from the top of St. Peter's, just spend a few minutes to look at the monument as you're walking by. The first thing you'll probably notice is that it's in stark contrast to the surrounding architecture. Inaugurated in 1911 for Italy's 50th birthday, the statues and carvings were done by some of the best local artists of the 19th century. I've mocked up the photo above so you know what the statues represent, and if you notice what is juxtaposed on the right and left sides of the monument, it's pretty interesting. (And I didn't put an arrow, but the tomb of the unknown soldier is under Dea Roma).


Vittoriano mock up

 Photo by Argenberg

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Posted by on Mar 16, 2011 in Architecture, Rome | 4 Comments


  1. Bluegreen Kirk
    March 18, 2011

    Such much work with so much meaning thanks for pointing out what wouldnt have been obvious. it does look like a wedding cake though.

  2. Madeline
    March 21, 2011

    thanks! Yes, I agree it does look like a wedding cake – especially once you start noticing how the layers are consistent. It *is* about the official union of previously independent/single states though, so maybe wedding cake is a perfect analogy 🙂

  3. Dennis
    July 1, 2011

    It is a great place. I went to many places but I have not seen such a beautiful place here. I never went to Italy, if I
    have a chance to go to Italy, firstly I will visit Venice city .I think I will plan to vacation here this summer.
    Thanks so much for posting this article.

  4. Aditya
    July 29, 2012

    Lucky! I would love to go to Rome and it’s awesome that you noectid and remembered it. I’m dying to do some world traveling and experience the cool little things like that


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