Walking all the way to the end of Via dei Fori and just north of Capitoline Hill we came across with Piazza Venezia. I don’t know why but I was expecting to see an impressive square but it turned out to be just a busy traffic intersection (via del Corse is one of the main roads that pass from here).
Pic 1 shows piazza Venezia with the Palazzo Venezia to the left which was built at the end of 15th century. It was used first as the residence of the cardinals that appointed to the church of San Marco (also located on the square) but later it turned into a residential papal palace. It belonged for a long period to Venice(1594-1797) after that it Austria used it as an embassy and much later Mussolini as his official residence. In our days it houses the Venezia Museum(It is open Tuesday to Sunday 9.00-14.00 but we didn’t visit it)
Of course the square is dominated of a huge monument which is of course Vittorio Emanuelle II monument (pics 2-3) a huge structure that was built at the end of 19th century to commemorate the first king of united Italy which was Victor Emmanuel II.
The memorial is 135metres long and 70metres high with monumental fountains and numerous statues on it(the big one is the largest in Rome and shows Victor Emmanuel of course). In the middle you can see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with the eternal flame guarded by soldiers as expected. There’s a lift that will take you up to top but we didn’t go up because we were on the streets all day so we preferred to give the money (there’s a fee for the lift) to a near by café where we enjoyed a hot chocolate.
We have to return some day though because the monument also houses the Museum of Italian Independence and Museum of Flags. It’s open daily from 10.00am and there’s no entrance fee.
Love it or hate it, you sure can't miss this huge white monument in the centre of Rome's busiest piazza. Though many tourists are awed by it, most of the locals actually can't stand it. Why? A few reasons:
1) It's not that old compared to its surroundings (it wasn't completed until 1911), and many older structures were destroyed in order to erect it here.
2) It is considered by many to be rather gawdy and garish, and the bright white of its marble clashes with the mellow brown tones of the buildings nearby
3) It completely obstructs the view of the Roman Forum and the Capitoline Hill
4) It honours the Savoy dynasty, the same royal family who helped Mussolini come to power and who were forced into exile after World War II
5) For all the expense and demolition of historic buildings that took place in order to build it, it serves no real purpose. While many people assume it's a palace of some sort, it's actually a mostly empty monument, with nothing but a lacklustre military museum inside (in my opinion it's the worst museum in Rome).
5) Many people connect it with Mussolini as well; one of its nicknames is 'The Typewriter' because Mussolini used to stage huge military parades in which his fascist troops, dressed all in black, marched up and down the steps of the white monument, and with the clicking of their shoes it looked and sounded like a typewriter.
The more common nickname for it is 'The Wedding Cake,' for obvious reasons. The official name is The Vittoriano, as it is a monument to King Vittorio Emmanuele II, the first king of unified Italy.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I lies here, and the eternal flame burns next to it. It is guarded at all times by two uniformed soldiers who stand perfectly still for hours on end; if you pass by around 9pm you may see the changing of the guard take place.
This enormous monument, originally honoring the first King of Italy, took 26 years to build. Later dubbed the "wedding cake" or the "typewriter", climb the many many steps for great views of Rome. On one of the busiest intersections in the City, you may feel you're taking your life in your hands crossing the street. See my updated comments for crossing the street in "warnings and dangers".
This huge monument on the Piazza Venezia was designed by Sacconi and constructed to conmemorate the unification of Italy. It took 40 years to build it, from 1885 to 1925. It holds the tomb of the unknown soldier and it shows how magnificent Italy can be.
Now every roman hates it, as it doesn't fit with the architecture surrounding it. It's huge, it's imponent, but it's not very pretty. But it's there, so visit it. And climb it, as you'll have great views of Rome from the top.
A good central point .Of particular interest and one of our favourites was Il Vittoriano.
A huge monument to the First King of Italy and also where a 24 hr guard and eternal flames are situated near to the tomb of the "Unknown soldier".
Amazing views of most of central Rome from the rooftop which also has a [ unpublicised ] cafe /bar . A MUST .
Atop the huge Vittoriano is a newly opened terrace which gives a magnificent view of Rome and the huge Quadrigas.
The rest of the Vittoriano building is just amazing and comprises the tomb of the unknown warrior, the Altar of the Homeland, Hall of Regimental Colours, museum and bookshop.
In the forecourt is the equestrian statue of Victor Emmanuel 11 - the father of modern Italy. The bronze horse is so huge that when completed the 40 workmen had a celebratory drink INSIDE the body of the horse (photo included)
Suggest allow at least 4 hours to see entire building.
Entrance to Rome from the Sky is by glass sided elevator, which is at the rear of the Vittoriano (follow signs). Entrance fee 7 Euro, or 3.50 Euro for seniors and children 10 - 18. Children under 10 free. Open Monday to Thursday and Sunday 9.30am - 7.30pm, Friday and Saturday 9.30am - 11.30pm
I would consider the Victor Emmanuel Monument a "Don't Miss". Being right next to the Roman Forum makes it an easy sight to see. In my opinion the best feature of the Monument is the view from its rooftop. I thought it to be the absolute best and most beautiful view of Rome. We were there in late afternoon, but early morning or evening would be best. The Colosseum and Trajan's Column are beautiful from this rooftop.
The equestrian statue within the center of the Monument is dedicated to Italy's first king and is the largest equestrian statue in the world. However, I was more impressed with the dual winged chariots that graced the top of the Monument and which are visible from surrounding neighborhoods.
The Museum of the Risorgimento was free and interesting, but we didn't linger long. This museum details the unification of Italy.
There was a temporary Picasso exhibit within a section of this Museum, which we paid admission to and spent a long time within.
I would also recommend quickly visiting Mammertine Prison, which is right next to the Victor Emmanual Monument and easy to miss if you aren't looking for it. We popped in on the very short walk from the Forum to the Monument. It only takes a few minutes to visit.
There is a restroom on the rooftop here, but there was at least a half hour wait in line. Instead, I found the restroom at the bottom floor of the Museum described below, which had no line.
Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II - Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II or Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland) or Il Vittoriano is a monument to honour Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy.
It occupies a site between the Piazza Venezia and the Capitoline Hill. The monument was designed by Giuseppe Sacconi in 1895. It was inaugurated in 1911 and completed in 1935.
The monument is built of pure white marble from Botticino, Brescia, and features majestic stairways, tall Corinthian columns, fountains, a huge equestrian sculpture of Victor Emmanuel and two statues of the goddess Victoria riding on quadrigas.
The structure is 135 m wide and 70 m high. If the quadrigae and winged victories are included, the height is to 81 m.
The monument was controversial since its construction destroyed a large area of the Capitoline Hill with a Medieval neighbourhood for its sake.
The monument itself is often regarded as pompous and too large.
The base of the structure houses the museum of Italian Reunification.
The monument holds the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with an eternal flame, built under the statue of Italy after World War I following an idea of General Giulio Douhet. The body of the unknown soldier was chosen from amongst 11 unknown remains by Maria Bergamas of Gradisca D' Isonzo whose only child was killed during World War I and whose body was never recovered. The selected unknown was transferred from Aquileia, where the ceremony with Bergamas took place to Rome in late October to early November of 1921.
The Romans are saying that this monument is the ugliest building in Rome and maybe in all Italy, it is like wedding cake. I don't agree with them. For me as for tourist it is pompous and great building. And it is look much better at night ...
The Vittorio Emanuele monument overlooks Piazza Venezia. He was the king who united Italy for the first time in the 1860s. The 19th century monument is a stark contrast from the older, smaller peach and gold colored buildings that surround it; it is a huge, gleaming white mountain, visible and recognizable from anywhere in Rome.
“On the Capitoline Hill, which recalls the glories of Ancient Rome, the Italians inaugurate a monument to the father of the country which typifies the struggles, the sacrifices, martyrdoms, and heroism which made the Italian resurrection possible.”
— Italian Prime Minister Giovanni Giolitti (1842-1928)
Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II) honors Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a united Italy. It faces Piazza Venezia and backs on to the Capitoline Hill. Designed by Giuseppe Sacconi in 1895 artists from throughout Italy contributed sculpture other works of art for it. In 1911, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the new kingdom, the new symbol of a united Italy was inaugurated; one millions spectators witnessed the dedication. The monument was finally completed in 1935 at a cost of $20,000,000.
At the center of the monument is the 40-foot-long, 40-foot high bronze equestrian sculpture of Vittorio Emanuele II created by Enrico Chiaradia. Rome’s largest statue had to be cast in 13 parts. The 13-foot long sword weighs 700 pounds; the horse weighs 4,000 pounds; the king’s pistol holders are over six feet long; and the head and helmet of Vittorio Emanuele weigh more than two tons.
From the very beginning the monument was controversial, in part because its construction destroyed a Medieval neighborhood at the foot of the Capitoline Hill. The monument is thought to be pompous and oversized. Because it is built from such pure white marble from Botticino, Brescia, Vittoriano sticks out amidst its neighboring reddish-brownish buildings.
Also known as Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland) it has acquired a number of unflattering nicknames. Romans refer to the building by such irreverent slang expressions as Zuppa Inglese (English soup), the wedding cake, and the false teeth. When American servicemen liberated Rome in 1944 they labeled it the typewriter, a nickname also adopted by the locals. Former Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi pushed for il Vittoriano to be opened to the public as a vantage point over the Eternal City. A museum of military paraphernalia is housed within its walls.
The monument shelters the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with an eternal flame, built under the gilded figure of Italy after World War I (see von.otter’s Rome Local Customs Tip “Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown”).
On the South side of Piazza Venizia is a truly monumental structure dominating the whole piazza; dedicated to king Vittorio Emmanuele II, the first king of unified Italy, it is officially known as the Altar of the Fatherland. It was constructed between 1885 and 1905 and changed the whole appearance of the area - the whole area and its surroundings had to be cleared, including many ancient and medaieval structures. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is also now housed in this structure, incorporated in 1921.
Off to the left behind the monument is the Risorgimento Museum which is dedicated to the movement for Italian unification that culminated in the establishment of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861 with the joining together of many little states under the House of Savoy.
Not everyone likes the structure - I believe it is popularly known as the wedding cake, or the typewriter - but it has one use: you get a great view of the city from the balcony outside the museum, and there are picture boards telling you what you are looking at. Very handy indeed.
The true hub of the city. This gleaming white marble structure dominates the Piazza Venezia. It is officially known as the Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland) but is often referred to by locals as the "Wedding Cake" or the "Typewriter". It is a memorial to King Vittorio Emanuele II of the House of Savoia (under whom Italy was first united) begun in 1885, the day after his death. The eternal flame at the top of the steps is guarded night and day by two members of the armed forces. Behind it is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and above is an impressive equestrian bronze of the man of honor. Brave the many stairs for an excellent view of the city, and a close look at all sorts of 19th-century allegorical reliefs.
Off to the left behind the monument is the Risorgimento Museum which is dedicated to the nationalist movement that brought about the "resurgeance" of the Italian movement which led to the unification of Italy in 1861 with the welding together of many little states under the House of Savoy.
Without a doubt the most dominant building on Piazza Venezia and maybe even of the whole city is Il Vittoriano. This massive building is a monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, who was the first king of united Italy. There is a big (12 m long) statue of him on a horse right in the centre.
Housed in the building is the Risorgimento Museum, that shows all the events that eventually led to this united Italy. There is also a spectacular view from the balcony. The locals refer to Il Vittoriano with words such as typewriter or weddingcake, for it is so huge and not very loved.
Open: Tue-Sun 9:00-17:00
The balcony however closes somewhat earlier.
This large square has seen a lot of transformation and a lot of events passing on its sole.
The enormous building that dominates Piazza Venezia is named "Altare della Patria" in english "the Altar of Native Country". It is built completely with marble, in the middle of which different bronze statues and bas-reliefs stand out. At its foot in 1921 the grave of the Milite Ignoto ("unknown soldier") was placed, in memory of the Italian soldiers who died during the First World War.
Piazza Venezia is a large rectangular piazza, where the majority of the main roads in Rome lead. It is very close to the Forums, Capitol Hill and the Colosseum. In the piazza there is the large monument to Vittorio Emmanuelle II (the first King of Italy) designed by Enrico Chiaradia. And another monument is just below the depiction of the king, a tomb of an unknown soldier. This is meant to represent the irrationality of war, as it was built after World War I.
However, also on the square is Palazzo Venezia, one of Rome’s first Renaissance public buildings. However since 1916 it has no longer been owned by the public but by the state, and it is famous for when Mussolini ruled and made speeches from the balcony in the middle.
Also, just to note, don’t sit on the grass next to the main gates of the monument to Vittorio Emmanuelle II or the guards will yell at you to get off.