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Arch of Constantine

Important Ancient Rome History

Arch of Constantine is Rome's best-conserved arch. This is one of the important ancient Rome attractions for its historical significance.

It is located between the Colosseum and the Forum. To see the ancient Rome Tourist attractions....start at the Colosseum, then stop at the Arch of Constantine and proceed on to the Roman Forum walk.

Arch Constantine was built to celebrate Constantine's victorious battle over Maxentius at Ponte Milvio or Milvian Bridge. It's date of completion was around 315-316AD.

Arch of Constantine Rome Italy

Constantine Converts to Christianity

The story is told that on the night before battle Constantine was commanded in a dream to put a "heavenly divine symbol" on the shields of his soldiers.

The next morning he put a P with a superimposed X (Chi-Rho symbol), which are the first two letters in the Greek word for Christ, on the shields. He attributed his victory to the God of Christians....his mother and sisters were Christians. This was said to be the beginning of his conversion to Christianity.

This quote written on both sides of the Arch eludes to this....

Arch of Constantine quote Rome Italy
To the Emperor Caesar Flavius Constantinus, the Greatest, pious, fortunate, the Senate and people of Rome, by inspiration of divinity and his own great mind with his righteous arms on both the tyrant and his faction in one instant in rightful battle he avenged the republic, dedicated this arch as a memorial to his military victory.

Constantine legalized Christianity and the Arch of Constantine marks the conversion of the Empire of Rome.

Arch of Constantine Description

The ancient Arch of Constantine was built like a patchwork monument. It was constructed from pieces of other arches including Trajan and Marcus Aurelius. It celebrates these past successful emperors and also includes Hadrian on the round reliefs and Marcus Aurelius in the square reliefs. The statues on top are Trajan and Augustus.

Arch of Constantine Trajan Relief
This rectangular Trajan relief originated from a 30 meter long frieze in the Forum of Trajan.

It combines two scenes....first is Trajan standing between Virtus and Victory, who is about to place a wreath on his head and in the second behind Victory, Roman soldiers on horseback defeat Dacians

Arch of Constantine Hadrian Relief
Here is one of the pair of round Hadrian reliefs above the lateral archway.

The "SIC XX" above the relief is part of a quote that gives a clue to the date of the arch. It says.... Solemn vows for the 10th anniversary – for the 20th anniversary and as for the 10th, so for the 20th anniversary. This refers to Constantine's 10th anniversary of his reign from 306AD. This was celebrated in Rome in the summer of 315AD. It can be assumed that the arch honouring his victory was inaugurated during his stay in the city.

Arch of Constantine Constantine Frieze

The most important piece is the Constantine Frieze going around the monument under the round panels. It is a historical frieze depicting scenes from the campaign of Constantine against Maxentius.

In the Middle Ages the Constantine Arch in Rome was made part of the Frangipane Fortresses. This helped it survive future attacks on Rome. In 1804, the surrounding buildings were demolished.

Here are some other pages that might be of interest to you:
Colosseum in Rome
The Roman Forum
Roman Pantheon
Baths of Diocletian
Caracalla Baths
Rome Catacombs

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