The imposing monuments stand at the crossroads between the Imperial Forums and the Boarium Forum, in an area that for centuries was a trade node for products arriving from all over the Mediterranean and where there are testimonies of all ages of ancient Rome, from the Iron Age to the 12th century. Known as the arch of Janus, it dates back to the 4th century and is probably to be identified with the Arcus Costantini mentioned in ancient sources.
In the nearby church of San Giorgio al Velabro some fragments of a monumental inscription are preserved, which seems to allude to a tyrant defeated by an emperor: it could therefore refer to Constantius II and his victory over Magnentius, or to Constantine. Recent restorations of the arch have made visible again an inscription of which the first three letters remain: COS.
A splendid testimony to the 4th century art, the arch is four-faced, therefore with four passages, consisting of four pillars with niches on their external faces holding statues. Minerva and Ceres standing and Rome and Juno seated are depicted at the center of the external arcades, the only preserved remains of the original decoration.
In the Middle Ages the arch was used as the basis of a tower of the Frangipane family who closed the arches and used it as a real fortress. The tower was demolished in 1827 together with the remains, at the time unrecognized, of the original attic which was made of bricks covered with marble.
Photo: Soprintendenza Speciale Roma Official Facebook
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