Triumph of Titus
The Arch of Titus was built by the Emperor Domitian in 81 AD in order to commemorate the victories of his late older brother, Titus. Titus had quashed a rebellion in Jerusalem and all but razed the city to the ground in 70 AD after the Jews had revolted against the rule of the Roman Empire. Naturally, they had to be taught a lesson in that respect. The Romans crushed the resistance, with disastrous results for the Jewish community.
In the bas-relief on the inside of the arch, Roman soldiers are depicted carrying heaps of treasure as well as the great Jewish menorah candlestick which they had stolen during their sack of the sacred Temple of Solomon. Unfortunately, this great menorah has been lost for centuries but the memory of its sad end is engraved forever on this imposing Roman monument.
A model arch
This single span triumphal arch has been the model for triumphal arches from the 16th century onwards: most notably the famous Arc de Triomphe in Paris
, built in 1836, was modelled on the Arch of Titus. During the Middle Ages the Frangipane family, a powerful Roman patrician clan, fortified it and turned the arch into a defensive tower. In 1821 Pope Pius VII had it restored, removing the edifice of the tower and turning it once more into an arch.
The arch is at the summit of the Velian Hill on the ancient Roman main road, the Via Sacra, opposite the Colosseum
. If you visit the Roman Forum
today it is one of the first things you will see. The huge arch acts as a kind of visual doorway to the Forum, and to walk up the Via Sacra with the Arch of Titus ahead of you feels like walking into the past.