About This Print
The Altare della Patria seems to be a surprisingly complicated aspect of modern day Rome. It was built over the span of decades around the start of the 20th century to honor Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy. The monument also known as Il Vittoriano was built to symbolize national unification of the people of Italy. One need only look a the flags and array of statues to pick up on the nationalistic zeal of Altare della Patria.
It’s ironic that a monument to unity has apparently been the subject of division among citizens of Rome. There has been controversy variously over its location on the north slope of the historic Capitoline hill, its size, and its architectural style. From what I’ve read, 100 years on, opinion might be starting to mellow in regards to the presence of “The Altar of the Fatherland” in Rome’s historic center.
Some of that mellowing seems to be the result of alterations to Altare della Patria that have taken place since I visited. Among those changes is the addition of an elevator to access a new panoramic observation deck at the top. Considering the views over the ancient ruins of Rome were already quite nice from lower levels of the monument, I’m impressed from afar! I read that opening more of the monument to the public has helped local public opinion as well as the tourist trade in Rome.
All that said, when I stood there before the Altare della Patria – also known to tourists as The Wedding Cake – I just thought it was a beautiful piece of bold Neoclassical architecture. It may stand out in the center of Rome, but often history shows us the architecture that stands out is the architecture that is best remembered later on. There was an uproar over the Eiffel Tower for instance and now we cannot imagine Paris without it! Perhaps in years to come, the beautiful Altare della Patria will have a similar fate.
This print is based on photos from one of my last days in Rome. The day had started off stormy as you can tell from the wet cobblestones on the streets of Rome, but just as I stood there, the skies began to open up over the Altare della Patria. As the clouds parted, light streamed in, and the scene you see before you materialized. Wet streets, glistening marble and amazing skies… This is how I will remember Rome for some time to come! One detail I have always liked about this print is the staggered feel to the pedestrians. They don’t just provide scale for the scene. It appears as if they were coming in waves across the pavement. I did wait for them to get into a position I liked, but there’s a lot of alignment of the stars in the timing of this print. From the clouds parting to the people coming into a formation I liked… Well, I look at this print and always feel fortunate to have been there prepared for this moment.
Have you stood before the Altare della Patria in Rome? Or perhaps you simply love the feel of this monumental print? I would love to hear what speaks to you most in this print – I hope you will take a moment to share your thoughts.