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Rome: the Basilica Ulpia and the Colossus of Constantine (rebuilt) are reborn and watch over the capital again

Updated: Feb 16


The capital tries the card of reconstruction to make people understand the grandeur of the past: one can be in favor or against these reconstructions, personally I am in favor because it is often necessary to work with great imagination to understand the majesty of such architectural beauties.



The Basilica Ulpia in Rome is therefore reborn: the double colonnade of Apollodorus has been rebuilt in Trajan's Forum. Two years of work and one and a half million euros have allowed the reconstruction in "anastylosis" of a suggestive portion of the Basilica Ulpia, the largest in Ancient Rome, designed by the famous architect from Damascus for the emperor Trajan.




And the rebuilt Colossus of Constantine once again watches over the city from the garden of Villa Caffarilli, near the Capitoline Museums of the Campidoglio.

The impression, upon meeting the gaze, in the impressive difference in scale between the visitor and the surprising thirteen meter mass, is that of being overwhelmed by a giant: this must have been the sensation that the subjects of Rome felt in the presence of the original statue of Emperor Constantine, one of the most significant examples of late ancient Roman sculpture, dating back to the 4th century AD.

The Colossus rediscovered in the 15th century in the Basilica of Maxentius and of which today remain the head, the right arm, the wrist, the right hand, the knee, the shin, the right and left foot, marble fragments preserved in the courtyard of Palazzo dei Conservatori, at the Campidoglio.

This extraordinary reconstruction will remain in the garden of Villa Caffarilli for the whole of 2025 and will then be transferred, in all likelihood, to the Museum of Roman Civilization which will reopen its doors.

The Colossus is the result of the re-adaptation of an older statue.

According to a recent hypothesis, it was the cult statue of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, located inside the temple dedicated to him on the Capitoline Hill, the most important in Roman times, which served as a model for the creation of the Colossus.

The sculpture is an "acrolith", with the bare parts made of marble, mounted on a load-bearing structure covered in gilded bronze or precious colored marble drapery.

The god, sitting on the throne, is wrapped in a cloak that leaves his torso, arms and knees exposed. After the victory over Maxentius in the battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312 AD, Constantine became the absolute master of the western part of the empire and of Rome.

And the creation of the Colossus, one of the most impressive manifestations of Constantinian art, dates back precisely to these initial years of his reign.

The celebration of the emperor therefore takes place through the reuse of an already existing colossal statue through which the emperor himself shows himself as comes (companion) of the gods, identifying the very nature of his power as divine.

Are you for or against these reconstructions?

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