roman monuments



Carnuntum, Austria

4th century CE

15 m. in height

Between 354 CE and 361 CE a huge triumphal monument was erected next to the camp and city. Contemporary reports suggest that Emperor Constantius II had it built to commemorate his victories. When the remains of Carnuntum disappeared after the Migration Period the monument remained as an isolated building in a natural landscape and led Medieval people to believe it was the tomb of a pagan giant. Hence, they called it “Heidentor” (pagan gate). 


Monument of the Incantadas

Thessaloniki, Greece

2rd-3rd century CE

~13 m. in height

The monument called the “Enchanted Ones” or the “Idols”, Las Incantadas in Judeo-Spanish (Ladino), probably belonged to an important public building in the center of Roman Thessaloniki. It dates to the late 2nd or early 3rd century CE, and was positioned somewhere between the church of Panagia Chalkeon, The Paradise Baths, and Agios Nikolaos, along modern-day Aristotelous Street. In the 17th and 18th century the monument, known from travelers and painters of the era, was an impressive sight for the city’s residents and visitors.

Its façade, which was about 13 meters in height, was a two-story colonnade with Corinthian columns on the lower level and pillars on the upper one. The four pillars were decorated on their two main faces by eight reliefs of mythological figures. A Maenad, Dionysus, Ariadne, and Leda and the Swan-Zeus were depicted on the inner sides, while Nike, Aura, one of the Dioskouri, and the abduction of Ganymede were depicted on the outer ones. Until the 19th century, the monument survived in the heart of the Jewish quarter of Rogos, incorporated into the courtyard of a merchant. 

As noted in travelers’ texts, this merchant broke off small pieces of the monument and sold them to tourists.  In 1864 the French paleographer Emmanuel Miller, with a permit from the Ottoman government and in spite of the general reaction by the city’s population, dismantled the monument, brutally cutting it into pieces and transporting the sculptures to France, where they are today on display at the Louvre.

This structure is also known as “Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II” (“National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II)  to honor Victor Emmanuel, who was the first king of a unified Italy. 

Altar of the Fatherland, Rome, Italy 


Pompey’s Pillar  

Alexandria, Egypt

300 CE

30 m. high

Its name is misleading. This single column standing on a rocky hilltop in the middle of Alexandria has nothing to do with the Roman Consul and General Gaius Pompey who was Julius Caesar’s rival in a civil war and was murdered by a Ptolomaic pharaoh in 48 BC when he fled to Alexandria.

This legend was started by Crusaders, who thought the 100-foot (30 meter) red Aswan granite pillar marked his burial site. The pillar is instead the a triumphal monument erected around 300 CE for the Roman Emperor Diocletian, but the true significance of this archeological site is what stood here before the pillar.
It is the site of the Serapeum, Alexandria’s acropolis. 


Roman Monuments: The Pantheon as it appears today was rebuilt (after the previous temple on this location burnt down) by emperor Hadrian in 126 AD.

For more than 1700 years, its cupola was the largest in the world. A special blend of Roman concrete was used for the construction, explaining its toughness and the reduced weight of the whole structure. By 609 AD, the Pantheon was used as a Christian church. Nowadays, it is one of the best preserved structures from Roman times, and still a marvellous example of architectural and engineering brilliance.


Tombs of the Trebi

Aquileia, Italy

1st - 3rd centuries CE

A small cemetery has been found outside the western limit of Aquileia. It consists of five enclosures separated by brick walls. The sarcophagi/monuments in each enclosure belonged to members of the same family.
A small sculpture (original at the Archaeological Museum) portrays a (dead) woman being comforted by Psyche, a very young girl with wings who accompanied the dead to the underworld. 

Many of the sarcophagi/monuments are finely decorated. Some of their reliefs show jars, most likely a reference to funerary ceremonies. A relief with dolphins around a trident, which was very popular in many contexts, when placed on a tomb might have indicated that the dead was a seaman or a ship owner or that he was about to begin his last journey to beyond the Pillars of Hercules, which the living were not allowed to cross.

Silver Denarius: issued by Julius Caesar when he was fighting a civil war with the supporters of Pompey. It shows a kind of victory monument the Romans set up on battlefields. The equipment shown here is typical of the Celts of Gaul. The political message is clear: ‘Support me, I am the man who conquered Gaul for you’.

Roman, 48 BC - 47 BC

“Place people in sight of the pyramids of Egypt, and they will tell you, ‘Here has passed a grand and barbarous civilisation.’ Place them in sight of the Grecian statues and temples, and they will tell you, ‘Here has passed a graceful, ephemeral, and brilliant civilisation.’ Place them in sight of a Roman monument, and they will tell you, ‘Here has passed a great people.’ Place them in sight of a cathedral, and on beholding such majesty united to such beauty, such grandeur to such taste, such grace to such delicacy, such severe unity to such rich variety, such measure to such boldness, such heaviness in the stones, with such suavity in their outlines, and such wonderful harmony between silence and light, shade and colour, they will tell you, ‘Here has passed the greatest people of history, and the most astounding of human civilisations: that people must have taken grandeur from the Egyptian, brilliancy from the Greek, strength from the Roman, and, beyond the strength, the brilliancy, and grandeur, something more valuable than grandeur, strength, and brilliancy—immortality and perfection.’”
— Juan Donoso Cortés


Mausoleum of the Candia

Aquileia, Italy

1st century CE

The mausoleum, reconstructed within the ancient city in 1956, was discovered in pieces in the Roncolon area along the Roman road to Tergeste (Trieste). It comprises an enclosure protected by two lions, with a high base with relief decorations, surmounted by a circular, temple-like structure that guards the statue of the toga-clad deceased. Although heavily patched up with modern materials, the mausoleum is an example of a great Augustan burial monument, one that would have belonged to an eminent figure in the city.