Rome’s Controversial Attraction – The Il Vittoriano

Il Vittoriano

Il Vittoriano – Photo: Brian Kachejian ©2018

On my first trip to Rome, I was in a taxi being driven to see the Vatican. As the taxi sped through the streets at breakneck speeds, my body was being flung back and forth furiously in the back seat. At one particular moment, as my neck was being snapped quickly to the left, I noticed an incredible breathtaking stately building that I did not recognize. I asked the cab driver to name the building, but I could not understand his response. However, I do remember him making  a strong point to tell me that Mussolini once lived there. On the next day as I was completing my visits to the Roman Ruins, I ran into that building at the end of my self guided tour. I soon discovered that the magnificent building was non-other than Italy’s Altare della Patria or as others call it the Il Vittoriano. It’s a little confusing as many people in Italy seem to describe the complex in various ways, some even calling the place Italy’s “Wedding Cake,” In the end, through our research we learned that the complex is known as the Il Vittoriano and the large marble statue that was added to the building at a later date is called the Altare della Patria

It turns out that the Il Vittoriano first began construction in 1885. The building was erected to celebrate the unification of Italy and pay tribute to Italy’s first king Vittorio Emanuele II. However many Italian citizens have a tremendous derision for the building. Some of that mockery stems from the fact that Rome’s residents feel that the Il Vittoriano does not blend in well with Rome’s beautiful historic architecture. The fact that in an area where so many of the sites are thousands of years old, a building that is little over one hundred years old, incredibly huge, and made of marble, stands out dramatically. Nonetheless, the real disdain that is felt among Rome’s residents is because of the connection between the building and the fact Mussolini once lived there.

Il Vittoriano Against The Classic Architecture Of Rome’s Beautiful City

Il Vittoriano

Photo: By Federampa [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

In 1969, the building was actually closed due to terrorist attacks against it. The history of Mussolini and his Fascist regime forced the Italian government to close the building for forty years. It was not until the year 2000 that the building reopened as a museum to celebrate Italian history outside of the Mussolini Era.

To non-residents of Rome, the Il Vittoriano turns out to be a fascinating complex that features a museum, a crypt, some incredible marble statues, and a rooftop observatory that stands as one of the best in Rome. Tourist are extremely taken back by the building, and for the most part surprised when they run into it. It’s not a place that is usually showcased when selling people on visiting Rome.

The main attraction for many tourists when visiting the Il Vittoriano is the rooftop observatory. Many people have trouble finding the elevator to the rooftop. When entering the building, tourist must go up one level and then exit outside and head towards the back of the building where the elevator is waiting to take people to the rooftop observatory. The views are breathtaking of Rome from up on top. Seeing the colosseum in the distances is a moment in time you will never forget. It puts so much into perspective when your staring at the Roman ruins from high above. It’s like a trip back in time. Do not pass this up. It’s only about 15 Euros to travel to the top. It is so worth the cost to go to the top.

The  Il Vittoriano also features the Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier. The Tomb is a tribute to all the Italian soldiers that lost their lives fighting for Italy. The Tomb is constantly guarded by two Italian Soldiers all day long.

Tourists, and just about anyone else who desire to photograph the complex have a difficult time of capturing the entire building in one shot. Because of Il Vittoriano’s tremendous size, photographers must stand far away from the building. I was standing a few hundred feet in trying to capture the featured photograph in this article. There are some buildings in Rome that are almost impossible to capture in a photograph. The Il Vittoriano is one of them. It must be seen in person.

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