Sunday, July 26, 2015
A Monumental Monument
There are monuments and then there are MONUMENTS! This one falls in that latter category. The Altare Della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland) or the Victor Emmanuel monument as it is known to most travelers, stands head and shoulders above any monument I've seen before. First of all it is HUGE and second, it's white in a city where shades of brown monopolize the landscape. It completely dominates a busy intersection just a stone's throw away from the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.
Riding high above the street in the center of the monument is Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy. He and his prancing horse strike a very commanding pose in front of this grand testament to his glory.
Below the Victor Emmanuel statue and located under a colossal statue of the goddess Roma, is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier complete with an eternal flame of honor and the constant vigil of two fellow soldiers. The tomb was added to the monument after Wold War I.
Looking straight up from street level, I felt dwarfed by the magnitude of this monument. As one might expect about a monument of this scale, its construction created some controversy. The biggest controversy had to do with the site of the monument since quite a bit of Capitoline Hill (one of the seven hills of Rome) and the Medieval structures that stood there were destroyed. Other controversies centered around it being a bit pompous and way too large, an opinion I wouldn't argue with.
In recent years, an elevator was added to the back of the monument letting people ride to the top to take in some spectacular views of the city. I missed that. It will have to be on the agenda for my next trip to Rome.