On our first full day in Rome my parents and I set out for the Roman Forum and along the way we passed the Victor Emmanuel II Monument. Also known as the Altar della Patria—“Altar of the Fatherland” in English—the monument is a giant block of neoclassical white marble in the middle of Rome that serves several functions. Primarily it commemorates Italian unification in the 1800s and Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of unified Italy, but it also holds the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at its base and is the site of several national celebrations. The equestrian statue of Victor Emmanuel II in the center of the monument is gigantic and if I remember correctly it is one of the largest equestrian statues in the world. Due to its color, locals sometimes refer to the monument by nicknames such as “the wedding cake” or “the dentures.” Personally I like the look of the Victor Emmanuel II Monument, though I can understand some of the criticisms that say it’s too large, bright, and/or pompous.
During our second stay in Rome my parents and I paid another visit to the Victor Emmanuel II Monument and that time we actually went up and into it. Inside is a museum, as well as restrooms. We opted not to use the elevator to get to the top of the monument since the views from the free areas were good enough, though if we had gone to the top we would have been able to see a bit more of the city. If you’re visiting Rome I’d say that the Victor Emmanuel II Monument isn’t a high priority item for sightseeing, but it’s certainly worth stopping by if you can squeeze it in to your schedule.