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Arch of Constantine

The largest and most magnificent of Rome's triumphal arches, with a curious history in its sculpture.

TravelCurious Tip

Do like the conquering Roman generals and take the triumphal route through the ancient city, starting at the Arch of Constantine, around the Palatine Hill, through the Arch of Titus and along the Via Sacra.

Constant celebration

The Arch of Constantine is situated at the end of the ancient Roman main street, the Via Sacra, in between the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Built in 315 AD, it is the most recent and best-preserved imperial monument to be erected in the area beside and is undoubtedly the most magnificent of the triumphal arches of ancient Rome.

The arch celebrates the victory of the Emperor Constantine I over his rival and co-ruler of the Eastern Empire Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312 AD. With this decisive defeat Constantine the Great became the Emperor of both the East and West Empire. The two sides of the arch tell two different stories. The north side of the arch which faces the Colosseum displays images of war and the camps of Constantine’s army; the south face of shows reliefs of what life was supposedly like after the victory of Constantine, with images celebrating peace and humanity.

Mixed messages

Interestingly, by the 4th century the quality and skill of Roman carving and sculpture had significantly declined: the majority of decorative sculpture on the arch was in fact pilfered from earlier monuments and rededicated to Constantine. The four imposing guards standing at the top of the north face of the arch are actually Dacian prisoners, taken from a monument to Trajan. The four reliefs at the bottom originally celebrated the military victories of Marcus Aurelius, and the four round medallions in the middle were taken from a monument to Hadrian and include representations of his lover, Antinous. Similarly the reliefs on the back were intended to honour the military success of Trajan.

The back of the monument displays scenes of Roman gods and goddesses, which is hardly fitting considering Constantine’s fame as the first Christian Emperor - his victory in the battle of the Milvian Bridge was supposedly due to a vision which directed him to fight under the sign of the Cross.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Rome
Colosseum
The Roman Empire’s largest amphitheatre, and one of the world’s most awe-inspiring ancient monuments.
Underground Colosseum
Exclusive access to the underground chambers and tunnels of this ancient amphitheatre - an unforgettable experience.
Palatine Hill
This hill is where the Roman State began, and where Rome's Emperors used to live. Today it boasts many remains from their magnificent palaces.
Domus Aurea
Emperor Nero's enormous private villa complex beside the Colosseum.
Basilica of Santi Cosma e Damiano
An early Christian church in a converted Temple of Romulus, with some mosaic masterworks inside.
Arch of Titus
One of Rome's most iconic triumphal arches, and the model for the Parisian Arc de Triomphe.

Related Tours

Empire and Power Private Walking Tour inc Tickets: The Colosseum & Roman Forum
On this three-hour tour, you will time travel back 2,000 years and visit sites that were of significance to the Roman Empire and do as the Romans do. 

  • Take a step back into history and walk through the Roman Forum.
  • Learn about the fascinating history of the Roman Empire.
  • Hear stories about some of the empire's greatest emperors, like Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar, and stories of its' cruelest emperors: Nero and Caligula.
  • Explore the iconic Colosseum where gladiators fought to the death.
Walk through the Roman Forum where you will come across remnants of magnificent temples, law-courts, palaces and marketplace, while your guide informs you of daily life in the heart of the Roman Empire. The tour will eventually lead you to Palatine Hill – the birthplace of the Roman Senate, and where Rome’s Emperors lived and ruled from. You will then discover the famous Colosseum, where you will learn more about this ancient amphitheatre; the Gladiators; and why violence was such a fundamental part of everyday Roman life. 
Gladiators and Games Private Walking Tour inc Tickets: The Colosseum and Forum for Kids
On this three-hour tour, you and your family will time travel back 2,000 years and visit sites that were imperative to the Roman Empire. Discuss the myths & legends of centuries past, uncover dynamic gladiatorial games, and marvel at the spectacular Colosseum.

  • Take a step back into history and walk through the Roman Forum.
  • Learn about the fascinating history of the Roman Empire.
  • Marvel with your kids at the history of Palatine Hill, where the Roman Senate began. 
  • Explore the iconic Colosseum where gladiators fought to the death.
Walk through the Roman Forum where you will come across remnants of magnificent temples, law-courts, palaces and marketplace, while listening to stories of great emperors like Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar and stories of insane and cruel emperors like Nero and Caligula. The tour will eventually lead you to Palatine Hill – the birthplace of the Roman Senate and where Rome’s Emperors used to live. Eventually you will end up at the Colosseum, where you will have the opportunity to walk around this ancient amphitheatre and learn more about the gladiators’ role and why violence was such a fundamental part of everyday Roman life. 
Colosseum & Ancient Rome Group Walking Tour
  • With 10 people or less per group, your journey through the world’s biggest Open-Air Museum will be personal and at a slow pace, while always maintaining full interaction with your experienced tour guide. 
  • A no-line quick access means you’ll enter the sites before the general public without wasting any time of your precious holiday. 
The tour will start with an introduction at the top of the Oppian hill, where a scenic view over the Colosseum and the Arch of Costantine will bring you face to face with one of history's greatest example's of architecture, the Flavian Amphitheatre. Once inside, your friendly and professional English-speaking tour guide will illuminate the history of the greatest “Show on Earth”: you will be almost be able to feel the vibration from the lion’s roar and the screaming crowds, as if you were yourself one of Ancient Rome’s victorious gladiators. 

During a short pause to admire the beauty behind the structure of the Arch of Constantine you will hear the tales of triumphal parades that fuelled the egos of the Emperors, you will discover the secrets of Rome’s mysterious and gory sacrifices and learn about Ancient Rome’s everyday life. While exploring the Sacred Way and its many ruined temples you will reach the heart of the Roman Forum: the Altar, where the body of Julius Caesar was once cremated. Today inside the Forum is the reconstructed rostra siting on that site near the Temple of Saturn. Next to the body, was a torso of Caesar made of wax, which showed all 23 of his stab wounds. 

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We built this tour because 
the Colosseum is recognised as Rome's architectural centre, and so your experience will be enriched  with art history.
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