The National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II (Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II), commonly known as Vittoriano or Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland), is a large monument located in Piazza Venezia, on the northern slope of the Campidoglio Hill, in Rome.
The monument, which can be seen from almost every point in the city, is dedicated to Victor Emmanuel II of Savoy, the first king of the unified Kingdom of Italy, and to the idea of Risorgimento, the process of national unity and liberation from foreign domination.
After the death of Victor Emmanuel II on 9 January 1878, there have been several initiatives to build a permanent monument to celebrate the king. On September 23, 1880, it was launched an international competition for the project of the monument, in which 311 competitors took part. The competition was won by the French architect Henri-Paul Nénot, but his project was later abandoned.
After a second and a third competition, it was chosen in 1884 the project of the young architect Giuseppe Sacconi. After the death of Giuseppe Sacconi, which took place in 1905, the works continued under the direction of Gaetano Koch, Manfredo Manfredi and Pio Piacentini.
The construction of the equestrian statue of Victor Emmanuel II, the first element and architectural fulcrum of the entire monument, was entrusted after another competition held in 1884 to Enrico Chiaradia, but it was completed by Emilio Gallori, since its creator died in 1901.
The monumental complex was inaugurated in front of an immense crowd on 4 June 1911, during the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Unity of Italy, by King Victor Emmanuel III.
The Vittoriano complex is 70 meters high, 135 meters wide, 130 meters deep, and it occupies an area of 17,550 square meters. The entrance staircase is 41 meters wide and 34 meters long. The terrace where the Altare della Patria is located is 66 meters wide. The maximum depth of the monument’s basements reaches 17 meters below street level. The colonnade consists of columns 15 meters high and the length of the portico is 72 meters.
One of the architecturally predominant elements of the complex are the external staircases, which consist of a total of 243 steps. Another architectonically relevant element is the large colonnade of the Corinthian order situated at the top.
Leaning against the external base of the monument, on either side of the entrance gate of Piazza Venezia, are the Fountains of the Two Seas (Fontane dei Due Mari), dedicated to the Adriatic Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea, the two major Italian seas.
HOW TO GET THERE
The closest Metro station is Colosseo, about 900 meters away, on the Metro Line B. The closest bus station is Piazza Venezia, adjacent to the monument, on the bus Lines 46, 60, 80, 190F, 782, 916 and 916F.