Getting to the Arch of Constantine by train
Taking the train to Rome?
You can easily reach Rome by train from any Italian major city thanks to the frequent high-speed rail connections operated by Trenitalia and Italo. The most popular routes are from Venice to Rome (3h 15m), Milan to Rome (3h 10m), Florence to Rome (1h 18m) and Naples to Rome (1h 08m). For more information about travelling to Rome by train, check out our dedicated page to trains to Rome.
Which station is nearest to the Arch of Constantine?
Once you get off at Roma Termini station, you can take either the Metro or a local bus.
The nearest metro station is Colosseo, named for its proximity to the Colosseum. Jump off here, and you’re a couple of minutes away from the Arch of Constantine. Colosseo is on Metro line B, the blue line.
Buses also stop at Colosseo, so this could be an option if you’d prefer a slower, more scenic journey through the city.
The nearest tram stop is called Parco Celio, also just a few minutes away from the Arch of Constantine. You should take line 3 to get there, although you can hop on another one and change if you aren’t near a line 3 stop.
Exploring the Arch of Constantine
The Arch of Constantine stands at an impressive 21 metres high and 27 metres wide. Its design is typical of a triumphal arch, with a large central archway and two narrower ones carved into the marble on either side.
Let’s take a look at the different parts of the Arch of Constantine, so you can appreciate the monument with a little more context.
The original colouring
Most of the monument is carved out of grey and white marble. However, the four Corinthian columns are cut from a yellow variety. These columns were taken from a 1st-century Flavian monument. Because of fading over the years, it can be tough to differentiate the types of stone today. Still, visitors can imagine what the contrast would have looked like when the Arch of Constantine was first erected.
More colour was added by using a rich purple-red porphyry, a type of stone, as a background for the circular panels above the smaller arches. The statues themselves were also purple. Green porphyry was used for the main decorative band, or frieze, and also for the four statue pedestals.
The large central panel above the middle archway features a Latin inscription, so you probably won’t be able to read it when you visit. This panel is the same on both sides. When the monument was first built, the letters would have been gilded with bronze to make them stand out. The inscription roughly translates to:
To the emperor Flavius Constantine the Great
pious and fortunate, the Senate and People of Rome
because by divine inspiration and his own greatness of spirit
with his army
on both the tyrant and all his
faction at once in rightful
battle he avenged the State
dedicated this arch as a mark of triumph.
Try to imagine the beautiful bronze lettering in its heyday and think about what the Arch of Constantine would have meant to the people of Rome. Pretty impressive stuff!
The reclaimed sculptures
The Arch of Constantine features parts of Roman sculpture from earlier 1st and 2nd century monuments. Look for the rectangular marble panels. There are four on each side of the archway, right at the top. These were taken from the Arch of Marcus Aurelius, which was built in 176 AD. They show scenes of the emperor at war and conducting his civic duties.
A little further down, eight circular panels, or medallions, are taken from a monument in honour of Hadrian. The original has been lost, but these carvings remain, depicting a lion, boar, and bear hunt, and sacrificial ceremonies to Hercules, Apollo, and other gods.
Inside the central arch are two reliefs which were taken from the Basilica Ulpia in Trajan’s Forum. These were tweaked to suit the Arch of Constantine. The first shows Trajan charging a horse towards a group of barbarians. The figure of Trajan was altered to make it look like Constantine when it was taken for the new memorial. The second relief shows Constantine being crowned by Victory with two females either side, possibly representing Honour and Virtue.
The unique panels
While it might seem like the Arch of Constantine took all its most impressive carvings from other monuments, there are some unique pieces to see too. The one-metre frieze scenes, which sit below the circular medallions, show some of Constantine’s most celebrated military victories. These include the siege of Verona, the battle with Maxentius, Constantine addressing the public in the Roman Forum, and leading a gift-giving ceremony.
Extensive cleaning and restoration in the early 21st century helped restore the Arch of Constantine to some of its former glory. Thanks to this project, visitors today can imagine what the monument might have looked like when it was first built.
Arch of Constantine History and Facts
Emperor Constantine, sometimes called Constantine the Great, is a prominent historical figure for lots of reasons. He helped transform the Roman Empire, formed Constantinople, and supported Christianity throughout his reign. The Arch of Constantine is a perfect reflection of the changes to art and architecture during his time as emperor. Not to mention his respect for Roman Imperial traditions.
Constantine winning Rome
Before his victory, Emperor Constantine ruled parts of the Roman Empire. These didn’t include Rome itself, which was governed by Emperor Maxentius. In the year 312 AD, Constantine went into battle with Emperor Maxentius for power over Rome.
Constantine’s army was much smaller than Maxentius’. To make up for size, Constantine and his troops carried the symbol of the cross into the Battle of Milvian Bridge. Constantine’s victory over Maxentius made his power whole and eventually led to the Roman Empire’s conversion to Christianity. Safe to say this was a significant event for the Empire. You can see a carving of Constantine’s victory on the Arch of Constantine.
Following his win, the Senate of Rome commissioned the triumphant archway to celebrate Emperor Constantine. The monument would span the Via Trionfale, the road taken by the emperor when returning victoriously to Rome. It was built quickly and dedicated to Constantine in the year 315.
Restaurants, Bars, and Shops near the Arch of Constantine
Since its neighbours are the Colosseum and Palatine hill, there isn’t anywhere to eat or shop right beside the Arch of Constantine. You’ll need to walk a short distance before you reach restaurants, bars, and shops, and even then you’ll be in the tourist centre of Rome. Prices can be a little steep here, but there’s plenty of good food and retail if you know where to look for it. If you’re after a more authentic experience, you can always hop on a bus or Metro to get away from the crowds.
The best restaurants near the Arch of Constantine
These are some of the best spots near the Arch of Constantine, so you can grab a bite without heading too far out of the historic centre.
- Trattoria Luzzi – for an authentic Roman atmosphere and affordable prices
- Taverna dei Quaranta – for a memorable atmosphere and quality food
- Hostaria da Nerone – a local trattoria with a selection of traditional Roman food
- Hostaria al Gladiatore – for an outdoor terrace and views of the Colosseum
- Crab – for excellent seafood
- Goloseum – the perfect spot for a quick lunch
- Divin Ostilia – a wine bar serving delicious pasta and antipasti
- La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali – for quality classics. Al Pacino has eaten here!
- Aroma – a rooftop spot with views of the Colosseum below
- Li Rioni – for fantastic Roman-style pizza and a great atmosphere
The best bars near the Arch of Constantine
As well as lots of excellent restaurants, there are plenty of sleek and more traditional bars around the Arch of Constantine. These are perfect for a glass of wine after your visit, which is something we recommend at every opportunity during your time in Rome. Here are some of our favourites:
- Wineconcept Wine Shop – for exceptional wine, of course
- La Terrazza – a rooftop bar with great views of the historic centre
- The Race Club – a speakeasy-style cocktail bar with unique décor
- 47 Circus Roof Garden – for speciality Italian wines and more
- American Bar – another rooftop spot with comfortable seating and a varied menu
There are a few better ways to wrap up a visit to the monument, or anywhere else in Rome for that matter, than with a glass of delicious Italian wine. Treat yourself!
Shopping near the Arch of Constantine
From its position in the historic centre of Rome, the Arch of Constantine boasts excellent proximity to lots of significant shopping areas. Find independent and vintage bits on the small streets around the centre, while name brands and luxury designers are also never too far away.
Opening Times and Prices
This one’s easy. Since the Arch of Constantine is outside, it’s totally free to visit! It’s also available to view any time. Simply head to the monument day or night, rain or shine, and enjoy views of the Arch of Constantine in all its historical glory.
Because it’s situated right beside the Colosseum, you’ll probably want to get both attractions in on the same day. The Colosseum opening hours are between 08:30 and an hour before sunset, which varies between 04:30 and around 19:00 seasonally. It can be a good idea to plan your visit to the Arch of Constantine around this, so you can enjoy the Colosseum too while you’re in the area. We recommend you get there for the day’s opening to enjoy the best of the landmarks without so many tourists around.
Whatever you’re doing in Rome, stopping by the impressive Arch of Constantine is never a bad idea. With so much history behind it and undeniable beauty to its architecture, it’s as exciting for photographers as it is for historians.