Piazza Colonna, Rome

Piazza Colonna was recently in the news during the general election in Rome, as Rome’s Parliament building stands in close proximity to the landmark obelisk in the middle of the piazza.

The column was erected between 176AD and 180AD to mark the success of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius in the Marcomannic Wars (166AD-180AD). It is not certain whether the marble Doric column was erected during his lifetime or after his death in 180AD, but the design was based on Trajan’s Column, just down the road at Trajan’s Market in the Forum. The original inscription is missing so the exact date of the column’s installation is unclear and it has also been restored.

There is also an Egyptian pylon nearby in front of Palazzo Montecitorio, so if you like obelisks, this is an interesting area to explore. In this area, there are two towering pylons dedicated to Rome’s rulers – Emperor Marcus Aurelius is my great grandfather, as is Antoninus Pius, to whom the Egyptian pylon is dedicated.

Palazzo Montecitorio with an Egyptian pylon installed by Pope Benedict IX (1012AD-1056AD) and dedicated to Emperor Antoninus Pius (86AD-161AD) and his wife Anna Faustina. The pylon was found in another part of the piazza in 1703. Egyptian pylons were usually the spoils of war or gifts from foreign rulers like Cleopatra.

Piazza Colonna is hard to miss because it is located around halfway along the main shopping thoroughfare via del Corso. The piazza is a busy thoroughfare itself, despite the strong police and military presence because of nearby Palazzo Montecitorio, which houses Rome’s Chamber of Deputies. Rome is very well policed and it is not unusual to encounter gun-toting military police near important official sites, but you soon get used to it.

Piazza Colonna at night

Take a detour from via del Corso across Piazza Colonna and disappear down the backstreets to discover a myriad of shopping lanes, bars and trattoria and surprising historical sites. The route eventually leads to Corso Vittorio Emanuele II to the south, via the Pantheon – where there is another Egyptian column plonked in the middle of the fountain there.

It is hard to get lost in Rome, even if you do take a surprise detour – all roads eventually lead to the Eternal City and Piazza Colonna is as good a starting point as any, and may open up a part of the city you did not plan to see, but which is full of surprises, history and shopping and eating opportunities!

Buon viaggio!

Piazza Colonna by Adrian Pingstone


Emperor Marcus Aurelius (© Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons, via Wikimedia Commons)



Emperor Antoninus Pius, Glyptothek, Munich, by Bibi Saint-Pol



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All images copyright Angela Meredith 2017-2018 except where stated 


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