Arch of Titus - History and Facts | History Hit

Arch of Titus

Rome, Lazio, Italy

The Arch of Titus is a Roman triumphal arch built by the Emperor Domitian to commemorate the victories of his elder brother, Emperor Titus.

About Arch of Titus

The Arch of Titus is a Roman triumphal arch in Rome built by the Emperor Domitian to commemorate the victories of his elder brother, Emperor Titus, and was completed shortly after Titus’ death in 81 AD.

Decorations adorn the arch, with some of the most interesting being the depictions of the spoils of the Temple of Jerusalem, including the Menorah, being carried away by Roman soldiers.

The Arch of Titus is free to view and is situated near the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. There are also 2 similar triumphal arches in Rome: the Arch of Constantine and the Arch of Severus.

Arch of Titus history

Though only Emperor for 2 years, Titus had fought many campaigns under his father, Emperor Vespasian. The Arch of Titus commemorates his deification, as well as his victory in the Jewish War, which lasted from 66 AD until the fall of Masada in 73 AD.

The panels decorating the arch show the triumphal procession celebrated when the Romans captured and destroyed the city and Temple of Jerusalem. Resultantly, the arch also had meaning beyond the Roman period. Despite its celebration of the defeat over the Jews, the structure also became a symbol of the Jewish diaspora. A menorah pictured on the arch acted as a template for the emblem of the state of Israel.

Additionally, the Arch of Titus provided a model for many arches built after the 16th century, most famously the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

During the Middle Ages, the royal Frangipani family added another level to the vault and converted the arch into a fortified tower. Pope Paul IV made the Arch of Titus a place of the oath of submission during his papacy (between 1555 and 1559).

Arch of Titus today

Reaching 15 metres high and 13 metres wide, the restored Arch of Titus continues to welcome visitors to Rome with a triumphant reminder of the city’s ancient past. You can walk underneath the inner archway, looking up at the inscriptions to Titus Vespasian Augustus as well as 19th century additions that mention the arch’s restoration under Pope Pius VII.

See if you can spot the menorah on the south inner panel, marking a procession of spoils from besieging Jerusalem. Then, walk through the arch to explore the Colosseum down the Via Sacra.

Getting to the Arch of Titus

You won’t find it hard to spot the Arch of Titus, within the Roman Forum and standing opposite the Colosseum in the city’s ancient heart. The metro stop Colosseo on line MEB and MEB1, also serving buses 51, 75, 85, 87 and 117, is just a minute’s walk away from the arch.

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