Monumental History

In the heart of Rome, at its very center, lies the Vittoriano: a giant monument in honour of Victor Emmanuel II, the king who united Italy. As so many large public construction projects it has a controversial and longwinded history.
What was ordered.

  • 1861: Italy united under King Victor Emmanuel II.
  • 1878: Victor Emmanuel II dies; succeded by Umberto I.

    Law is passed for the erection of a commerative monument in the form of a triumphant arch, the only form worthy of a King.
  • 1880: Public competition for the monument, won by a Frenchman. Outcome deemed unacceptable.
  • 1882: Second competition; open only to Italians. Italian wins. Meaning of "Triumphant Arch" redefined to "forum open to the public".
  • 1885: Construction begins.

    Instead of the originally planned Carrara marble an inferior type from Northern Italy is used; vicinity of origin of marble and hometown of Interior Minister supposedly coincidental.

What the project plan said.

  • 1890's: "Forum" concept abandoned.
  • 1900: Umberto I dies; succeded by Victor Emmanuel III.
  • 1905: Architect dies, project continues.
  • 1911: First inauguration of the Monument by Victor Emmanuel III.
  • 1925: Second inauguration by Mussolini.
  • 1935: Construction of the monument completed, 50 years after it started (in comparision it took the ancient Romans 8 years to build the Colosseum).
  • 1969: Monument bombed, probably by right-wing group. Good intention, bad execution: monument remains intact. Closed down for "renovation".
  • 2000: "Renovation" completed in only 31 years, monument reopened.
What was delivered.


The monument is known as the "wedding cake" (who would want it at their wedding remains a mystery), the "Dollar grin" (due to the mysteries surrounding the provenance of the marble) or the "typewriter" (name given by the Allied Forces in 1944). By many it is regarded as a unique vantage point in Rome, not only because of the superb view from the top, but more importantly because its terrace is the only point in Rome from which the monument itself is not visible...

Lots of things I didn't kmow. And I live right the...

Lots of things I didn't kmow. And I live right there (NOT inside the typewriter, simply in Rome). Thanks!