Last Updated on January 16, 2015 by
Il Vittoriano stands in the heart of Rome like a pillar of divine light cast down by the Gods.
This enormous and sharply detailed building functions as the ultimate point of directional guidance when traveling around Rome. It was initially constructed as a building in the glory of the king Vittorio Emanuele II, celebrating the unity and freedom of the Italian state. This building invokes awe in any audience, yet beyond its pure massiveness and celebratory purpose, it is immensely useful for physically orienting oneself in Rome. Il Vittoriano can be seen from every high-point view in the area. Countless times has it given me a sense of a direction and location upon seeing it from an elevated view in the city.
Its winged chariot pilots are the center of visual focus and can never be missed. These duel chariots were constructed on each side of Il Vittoriano as a symbol of victory. When joining their authoritative view over the city of Rome, not only does standing adjacent to these victorious angels invoke a feeling of pride, but also from a distance reminds the viewers of the city’s natural strength and orients them back into the plaza at the heart of the city. Il Vittoriano indeed induces a sense of triumph when utilizing it to successfully navigate throughout the city, like the sound of the final bell in a boxing ring after knocking out an opponent with a colossal haymaker.
From the perspective of art criticism, journalists nicknamed Il Vittoriano “the typewriter” and “the wedding cake” because of its exaggerated classicism. Despite its elegance, Roman citizens were displeased with the building because medieval buildings and monuments on the Capitol were torn down in the process. Citizens were further angered because the material used to construct the building was white marble from northern Italy, brighter than the more favored local Roman stone. However, its symbolic value of victory eventually surpassed the displeasure of the citizens and has stood its ground in Roman history as one of the city’s most revered monuments.