Altare della Patria

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The Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland) also known as the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II) or "Il Vittoriano" is a controversial monument built in honour of Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy, located in Rome, Italy. It occupies a site between the Piazza Venezia and the Capitoline Hill.

The eclectic structure was designed by Giuseppe Sacconi in 1885; sculpture for it was parceled out to established sculptors all over Italy, such as Leonardo Bistolfi and Angelo Zanelli. It was inaugurated in 1911 and completed in 1925.<ref name=vidotto>Template:Cite journal</ref>

To date, the Vittoriano is the largest monument in white marble Botticino (Brescia) ever created, and features stairways, Corinthian columns, fountains, an equestrian sculpture of Victor Emmanuel and two statues of the goddess Victoria riding on quadrigas. The structure is Template:Convert wide and Template:Convert high. If the quadrigae and winged victories are included, the height is to Template:Convert.<ref name=vidotto/>

The base of the structure houses the museum of Italian Unification.<ref name=vidotto/><ref name=dAquino>Template:Cite journal</ref> In 2007, a panoramic elevator was added to the structure, allowing visitors to ride up to the roof for 360 degree views of Rome.

Unknown soldier

File:Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II in Rome detail1.jpg
Detail of the Altare della Patria (renovation in progress, summer of 2007)

The monument holds the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with an eternal flame, built under the statue of Italy after World War I following an idea of General Giulio Douhet. The body of the unknown soldier was chosen on 26 October 1921 from among 11 unknown remains by Maria Bergamas, a woman from Gradisca d'Isonzo whose only child was killed during World War I. Her son's body was never recovered. The selected unknown was transferred from Aquileia, where the ceremony with Bergamas had taken place to Rome and buried in a state funeral on 4 November 1921.

Military Colours

The flags of disbanded units of the Italian Armed Forces, as well as the flags of ships stricken from the naval register of the Italian Navy are stored at the Vittoriano in the so-called Shrine of the Flags (Sacrario delle Bandiere). The oldest flag on display is the flag of the 19th-century frigate Giuseppe Garibaldi.


The monument was controversial since its construction destroyed a large area of the Capitoline Hill with a Medieval neighbourhood for its sake. The monument itself is often regarded as pompous and too large.<ref name=dAquino/>

It has been described as being "chopped with terrible brutality into the immensely complicated fabric of the hill."

It is clearly visible to most of the city of Rome despite being boxy in general shape and lacking a dome or a tower.<ref name=vidotto/> The monument is also glaringly white, making it highly conspicuous amidst the generally brownish buildings surrounding it, and its stacked, crowded nature has lent it several nicknames. Foreign people sometimes refer to the structure by a variety of nicknames, such as "the wedding cake", whereas Romans commonly call it "the typewriter", although "the zuppa inglese" is also common. Despite all this criticism, the monument still attracts a large number of visitors. Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi fostered the opening of the Vittoriano as a public forum and viewpoint over the City core. This new accessibility allowed visitors to become familiar with the landmark, enabling it to grow in popular, if not critical, reputation.



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