One of the most famous (and, for many Romans, infamous) landmarks in Rome, the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument is home to the Complesso del Vittoriano museum complex, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the Roma dal Cielo elevator that connects to the panoramic rooftop terrace overlooking The Eternal City.
The Vittorio Emanuele II Monument (or Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II) overlooking Piazza Venezia in central Rome—also known as the Altare della Patria, or simply the Vittoriano—was inaugurated in 1911 to honor the first king of the newly united Italy. Today, the enormous and, some might argue, ostentatious building is home to Italy’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Museo Centrale del Risorgimento (Museum of Italian Unification), the Sacrario delle Bandiere gallery of Italian military flags, and an important art exhibition space in the eastern wing (Ala Brasini). The Roma dal Cielo elevator, which transports visitors up to the Terrazza delle Quadrighe scenic rooftop terrace, was added in 2007.
Located near the Palatine Hill, the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument is included in many hop-on-hop-off bus tours tours of Rome, as well as guided walking, bike, or Segway tours that also include skip-the-line-access to the nearby Colosseum and Roman Forum. The monument’s white-marble staircase and facade are particularly striking at night, so consider joining an evening tour to see the building at its most dramatic.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Ala Brasini exhibition space, which hosts temporary art exhibitions, is an interesting stop for art enthusiasts.
- The monument is accessible to wheelchair users through the Via del Teatro di Marcello entrance on the right side of the building.
- Bring your camera—you’ll want to capture the views from the monument’s rooftop terrace.
How to Get There
The Vittorio Emanuele II Monument’s three entrances—Piazza Venezia, Via di San Pietro in Carcere on the left side of the building, and Via del Teatro di Marcello on the right—are all easily accessible from Piazza Venezia, one of Rome’s main squares and a transit hub for buses and trams.
When to Get There
The museum complex at the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument is open daily into the evening hours, so visit at the end of a day after the midday crowds have thinned. For the best picture, catch the elevator to the rooftop terrace either first thing in the morning or in the late afternoon.
The Famous (or Infamous) Vittoriano
The Vittoriano has been one of Rome’s most controversial monuments since it was completed at the beginning of the 20th century, both because a historic quarter of the city was destroyed to make room for its construction and because of its pompous architecture. Over the decades, Romans have given the monument a number of unflattering nicknames, including “the typewriter”, “the wedding cake”, “the dentures”, and “the trifle”.