Trajan Arch of Ancona - History and Facts | History Hit

Trajan Arch of Ancona

Ancona, MAR, Italy

The Trajan Arch of Ancona is an Ancient Roman monument to the Emperor Trajan.

Peta Stamper

22 Apr 2021

About Trajan Arch of Ancona

The Trajan Arch of Ancona (L’Arco di Traiano di Ancona), in Italy, is a 2nd century monument built in honour of the Emperor Trajan. Designed by Apollodorus of Damascus and constructed in 115 AD to thank the emperor for his renovation of the local harbour, the Trajan Arch of Ancona would have been adorned with friezes and statues.

Despite many of the arch’s decorative features having disappeared, it is still an impressive monument that looms over the city.

Trajan Arch of Ancona history

Ancona was possessed by the Romans when Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49 AD due to its having a harbour of considerable importance and was closest to the region of Dalmatia (modern day Croatia).

The settlement was enlarged by the Emperor Trajan, who constructed the north quay with his Syrian architect, Apollodorus of Damascus. Trajan financed the expansion himself, improving the docks and fortifications. It was also from this point that he departed for the successful war against the Dacians.

At the entrance to the Roman quay, a triumphant marble arch was constructed dedicates to Trajan in his honour in 115 AD, by the Senate and Roman People. Again, Apollodorus was contracted to design the marble arch that stood 18.5 metres high on a podium approached by a wide flight of stairs.

The 3 metre-wide archway was marked by 2 pairs of fluted ornate Corinthian columns, and was made so tall that the bronze figures of Trajan on horseback accompanied by his wife Plotina and sister Marciana would be seen by ships approaching this great Adriatic port.

The gilt bronze inscriptions, along with the friezes and statues, were removed by the Saracens in 848 AD.

Trajan Arch of Ancona today

Today, the Trajan Arch of Ancona remains a proud and incredibly well-preserved monument within the coastal landscape. Recent restorations have enhanced the arch by removing the 19th century gates and adding lighting. Located within the historic heart of the city, the triumphal arch stands as testament to the significance of Ancona in ancient Roman history.

The best time to see the arch is undoubtedly when it is lit up at night, raising its profile as a beacon for those around. During the daytime, the approaching steps are a great spot to take a seat, admire the sea view and soak up some sunshine.

Getting to the Trajan Arch of Ancona

For those using public transport around the bustling Italian town, the nearest bus stop is Cantiere Navale on the 10 route, which is in front of the arch. On foot, the arch is easily found on the far end of the harbour, around 30 minutes walk from the historic centre of the town. For those driving, there is a 24 hour car park at Parcheggio Stamira, 25 minutes walk from the arch.