Often forgotten among all the better-known architectural wonders of Rome, the triumphal arches deserve your attention. What are triumphal arches? They were special monuments erected as gateways in the city to celebrate certain military victories. Triumphal arches grew out of the practice of parading victorious armies through the city of Rome—often beginning underneath a splendid and sacred arch.
Only three from the Roman Empire period remain in Rome today. They are the Arch of Titus, the Arch of Septimius Severus, and the Arch of Constantine. But why should you be eager to see them? Here are three reasons to include them on your Italy tour.
Biblical Significance. The Arch of Titus is important for any Bible student or scholar because it was erected in 81 AD to commemorate the victory of Vespasian and Titus over the Jews in Jerusalem a decade earlier. On the arch's sides, you can still see faded sculptures of the Roman soldiers clearing out the temple of its treasures, including a menorah and silver trumpets, to parade them through the city. Up until this point, sacred utensils from the Most Holy section of the temple in Jerusalem would have only ever been seen by the High Priest during his duties.
Architectural Importance. Few people understand the importance of the invention of the arch. This relatively new architectural feature allowed the building of multiple stories and wider walkways or entries because it directs pressure downward and outward to sturdier points than the top of the arch. It is the foundation for massive buildings and the Roman construction boom. While there are many arches in Roman architecture, few are seen as well and studied as easily as the triumphal arches.
Design Inspiration. Once you see the design of a triumphal arch—usually with one or three walkways below and a tall, decorative cross piece above—you will see how it inspired many other buildings. The world-famous Trevi fountain, for instance, uses a triumphal arch as the background of its stunning water scene. Similarly, the Basilica of Sant'Andrea in Mantua features a huge triumphal arch for its front facade. They serve as inspiration for buildings in Paris, London, and New York as well.
Like many buildings in Rome, the triumphal arches have a long and storied history. They also have many things to teach Christians today, from Bible history to architectural triumphs that led to changes in the world. And they remain simply beautiful architectural marvels. For additional travel ideas, contact a company like Friendship Tours.