Vittoriano
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The fascist period and the Second World War (1922-1945)

The directorship of Armando Brasini

In 1924, the architect Armando Brasini (Rome 1879-1965) was appointed artistic director for the completion of the Vittoriano. An advocate for an artistic style that looked to the past, especially to the Renaissance and Baroque, Brasini was in charge of the monument until 1939.

Il Duce, seated next to Armando Brasini on the carriage of a small train, visits one of the sites of the great works under construction, courtesy of Istituto Luce

Il Duce, seated next to Armando Brasini on the carriage of a small train, visits one of the sites of the great works under construction, courtesy of Istituto Luce

The monument-altar to the Unknown Soldier, dominated by the statue of Goddess Rome, guarded by two carabinieri, courtesy of Istituto Luce

The monument-altar to the Unknown Soldier, dominated by the statue of Goddess Rome, guarded by two carabinieri, courtesy of Istituto Luce

Il Duce, seated next to Armando Brasini on the carriage of a small train, visits one of the sites of the great works under construction, courtesy of Istituto Luce

Il Duce, seated next to Armando Brasini on the carriage of a small train, visits one of the sites of the great works under construction, courtesy of Istituto Luce

The monument-altar to the Unknown Soldier, dominated by the statue of Goddess Rome, guarded by two carabinieri, courtesy of Istituto Luce

The monument-altar to the Unknown Soldier, dominated by the statue of Goddess Rome, guarded by two carabinieri, courtesy of Istituto Luce

The completion of the sculptural scheme

In the 1920s – and in particular under the direction of Brasini – the sculptural scheme was first completed. On 21 April 1925, Rome’s birthday, the statue of the Goddess Rome was inaugurated in the centre of the Altar of the Fatherland; and in 1927, the quadrigae of Unity and Freedom.

Angelo Zanelli, Sketch of the Goddess Rome, from the Drawings of the Monument to Victor Emmanuel II Archive

Angelo Zanelli, Sketch of the Goddess Rome, from the Drawings of the Monument to Victor Emmanuel II Archive

Angelo Zanelli, Sketch of the Goddess Rome, from the Drawings of the Monument to Victor Emmanuel II Archive

Angelo Zanelli, Sketch of the Goddess Rome, from the Drawings of the Monument to Victor Emmanuel II Archive

The Sacellum of the Unknown Soldier

Armando Brasini was also involved in the creation of the Sacellum or Shrine of the Unknown Soldier and in opening it up in front of a chapel. For the mosaic decoration, Brasini commissioned the painter Giulio Bargellini (Calenzano, Florence, 1869 – Rome 1936), who had already proven his talents in the lunettes of the eastern propylaeum.

Sacellum of the Unknown Soldier © Mauro Coen

Sacellum of the Unknown Soldier © Mauro Coen

Sacellum of the Unknown Soldier © Mauro Coen

Sacellum of the Unknown Soldier © Mauro Coen

Sacellum of the Unknown Soldier © Mauro Coen

Sacellum of the Unknown Soldier © Mauro Coen

Portrait of painter Prof. Giulio Bargellini

Portrait of painter Prof. Giulio Bargellini

Sacellum of the Unknown Soldier © Mauro Coen

Sacellum of the Unknown Soldier © Mauro Coen

Sacellum of the Unknown Soldier © Mauro Coen

Sacellum of the Unknown Soldier © Mauro Coen

Sacellum of the Unknown Soldier © Mauro Coen

Sacellum of the Unknown Soldier © Mauro Coen

Portrait of painter Prof. Giulio Bargellini

Portrait of painter Prof. Giulio Bargellini

The Central Museum of the Risorgimento

The most significant intervention by Brasini was certainly the creation of the Central Museum of the Risorgimento, inaugurated in 1935. The architect’s style can be seen, in particular, in the monumental façade along via dei Fori Imperiali.

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Museum of the Risorgimento © Mauro Coen

The Shrine of the Flags

In 1935, on the occasion of an event dedicated to the twentieth anniversary of Italy’s entry into the First World War, the Vittoriano welcomed the war flags of the disbanded regiments that had been housed in Castel Sant’Angelo. This first relocation of flags to the Vittoriano was the origin of the Shrine of the Flags.

Courtesy of the Shrine of the Flags

Courtesy of the Shrine of the Flags

Courtesy of the Shrine of the Flags

Courtesy of the Shrine of the Flags

Courtesy of the Shrine of the Flags

Courtesy of the Shrine of the Flags

Courtesy of the Shrine of the Flags

Courtesy of the Shrine of the Flags

Courtesy of the Shrine of the Flags

Courtesy of the Shrine of the Flags

Courtesy of the Shrine of the Flags

Courtesy of the Shrine of the Flags

Courtesy of the Shrine of the Flags

Courtesy of the Shrine of the Flags

Courtesy of the Shrine of the Flags

Courtesy of the Shrine of the Flags

The Stage of the Regime

The fascist regime (1922-1943) completely appropriated the Vittoriano, transforming it into a key cog in its rhetoric and propaganda machine. From a symbol of unity and liberty, the monument was reduced to being the backdrop for the military parades that took place along the via dell’Impero, today’s via dei Fori Imperiali, and for speeches given by Benito Mussolini from the balcony of Palazzo Venezia.

Jubilant crowd on the Vittoriano awaits the passage of Mussolini on the occasion of the military parade in Via dell'Impero (today Via dei Fori Imperiali) on the tenth anniversary of Fascism, courtesy of the Capitoline Archive and Istituto Luce

Jubilant crowd on the Vittoriano awaits the passage of Mussolini on the occasion of the military parade in Via dell'Impero (today Via dei Fori Imperiali) on the tenth anniversary of Fascism, courtesy of the Capitoline Archive and Istituto Luce

Rome 11.11.1938. Deployment of the Armed Forces on Foro dell'Impero, courtesy of the Capitoline Historical Archive

Rome 11.11.1938. Deployment of the Armed Forces on Foro dell'Impero, courtesy of the Capitoline Historical Archive

Jubilant crowd on the Vittoriano awaits the passage of Mussolini on the occasion of the military parade in Via dell'Impero (today Via dei Fori Imperiali) on the tenth anniversary of Fascism, courtesy of the Capitoline Archive and Istituto Luce

Jubilant crowd on the Vittoriano awaits the passage of Mussolini on the occasion of the military parade in Via dell'Impero (today Via dei Fori Imperiali) on the tenth anniversary of Fascism, courtesy of the Capitoline Archive and Istituto Luce

Rome 11.11.1938. Deployment of the Armed Forces on Foro dell'Impero, courtesy of the Capitoline Historical Archive

Rome 11.11.1938. Deployment of the Armed Forces on Foro dell'Impero, courtesy of the Capitoline Historical Archive

Anti-aircraft shelter

During World War II, the underground areas of the Vittoriano became an anti-aircraft shelter. At the sound of the sirens, hundreds of Romans made their way to the monument. The overhanging rock and the sheer bulk of the monument itself made them safe even from heavy bomb attacks.

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

As hungry as a wolf

The shelter included a first aid station, a supply of drinking water, safety exits, benches built into the walls and toilets.  
“Hungry as a wolf”, “Double hunger” and “Fettuccine”: these are just some of the graffiti found on the walls of the area used as a shelter, attesting to this difficult moment in history experienced by the citizens of Rome. 
 

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen

The air-raid shelter © Mauro Coen