Trajan Arch of Benevento - History and Facts | History Hit

Trajan Arch of Benevento

Benevento, Campania, Italy

The Trajan Arch of Benevento is a 2nd century AD triumphal arch built for the Emperor Trajan.

Peta Stamper

30 Apr 2021

About Trajan Arch of Benevento

The Trajan Arch of Benevento, Italy (Arco di Traiano di Benevento) is one of several Arches of Trajan built in honour of this famous Roman emperor.

Originally located along the Appia Antica, one of the oldest roads leading to Rome, the Trajan Arch of Benevento was constructed between 114 AD and 116 AD and like its counterparts was built in honour of Rome’s 13th emperor, Trajan.

A marble structure depicting events in the emperor’s life, including real as well as mythological depictions, the Trajan Arch of Benevento is very well preserved.

Trajan Arch of Benevento history

Constructed during 114 to 117 AD over the Via Appia Antica, the Trajan Arch of Beneventum commemorated the completion of the Via Traiana that extended the Appia. The arch also celebrated Trajan‘s social works, conquests (such as against Dacia) and imperial divinity (illustrated in the sacrificing of bulls to the Victories) depicted on the great marble arch.

Anyone passing through the gateway into Beneventum along this thoroughfare would have been reminded of the prestige and benevolence of the emperor. Built in limestone and covered in slabs of Parian marble, the arch measured 15 metres in height and over 8 metres in width, featuring a richly sculpted facade with columns on either side.

During the Lombard period, the arch was incorporated into the southern part of the city walls and became known as Porta Aurea – ‘Golden Gate’. Nearby, the church of Sant’Ilario was built. In Renaissance times, the arch was studied by Italian architect Sebastiano Serlio and later drawn in the 18th century by Italian Classical artist, Giovanni Battista Piranesi.

It was during the 18th century the marble arch was restored after an earthquake that crumbled the architrave in 1713. On the occasion of Pope Pius IX’s visit to the city, the Trajan Arch was isolated when the adjoining buildings were demolished.

Trajan Arch of Benevento today

Today, while you cannot walk underneath the arch, you can still stand in front of the magnificent triumphal arch and look up at the crowned Emperor Trajan in the facade’s centre. Roped off by chains, the arch is still the most prominent ancient structure remaining in Benevento and a noticeable local landmark.

Getting to the Trajan Arch of Benevento

For those using public transport, the Benevento Bus Station is just a 5 minute walk away, and serves the SAPS (Italia-Germania) line and FlixBus. The train station is also a 20 minute walk from the arch. If driving, the arch is just off the SS90bis road after exiting the SS372 at Benevento Centro or Benevento Est.