Vittoriano
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The genesis of the Vittoriano: the two competitions

The decision to build the Vittoriano

The Italian government, presided over by the leader of the historical liberal party, Agostino Depretis, immediately started work on legislation regarding the construction of a monument to Victor Emmanuel II in Rome. It was passed on 16 May 1878, less than four months after the king’s death. 

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Portrait of Agostino Depretis

The first competition

On 23 September 1880, the competition to choose the design project for the monument was announced: neither the place in Rome where it should be built nor the form it should take were specified. This led to the 311 competitors submitting the most varied proposals. In the end, the project by the Frenchman Henry-Paul Nénot (1853-1934) was victorious, who had envisaged a column inside an exedra at Piazza Termini. 

Henri-Paul Nènot

Henri-Paul Nènot

Winning project of the first competition by P.H. Nènot, L’Illustrazione italiana, 1911 - BIASA

Winning project of the first competition by P.H. Nènot, L’Illustrazione italiana, 1911 - BIASA

Henri-Paul Nènot

Henri-Paul Nènot

Winning project of the first competition by P.H. Nènot, L’Illustrazione italiana, 1911 - BIASA

Winning project of the first competition by P.H. Nènot, L’Illustrazione italiana, 1911 - BIASA

The second competition and the victory of Giuseppe Sacconi

A number of factors, not least the changed political climate, resulted in Nénot’s project never being executed. On 18 December 1882, a second announcement was published, which was much more precise: the monument was to be located on the Capitoline Hill and should take the form of an equestrian statue of the king with an architectural backdrop. In 1884, the design by Giuseppe Sacconi (Montalto delle Marche 1854 – Collegigliato, Pistoia, 1905) was proclaimed the winner. 

Portrait of Giuseppe Sacconi, Gilardi Photo Library

Portrait of Giuseppe Sacconi, Gilardi Photo Library

Project by Giuseppe Sacconi, L’Illustrazione italiana, 1911 - BIASA

Project by Giuseppe Sacconi, L’Illustrazione italiana, 1911 - BIASA

Portrait of Giuseppe Sacconi, Gilardi Photo Library

Portrait of Giuseppe Sacconi, Gilardi Photo Library

Project by Giuseppe Sacconi, L’Illustrazione italiana, 1911 - BIASA

Project by Giuseppe Sacconi, L’Illustrazione italiana, 1911 - BIASA

The basic functions of the Vittoriano monument

The Vittoriano is the most important of the many monuments erected to honour and remember Victor Emmanuel II, the first King of Italy. From the beginning, this memorial exemplified the values of unity and liberty of the fatherland. In 1921, an essential element was added to and intertwined with the king’s memorial monument, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, to honour the memory of the fallen in World War I.

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Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, courtesy of the Central Institute for Cataloguing and Documentation