This beautiful marble structure in the historical city center of Rome, Italy has many names. Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland), Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II), Il Vittoriano, and also “The Wedding Cake” because of its appearance. It is a monument in honor of Victor Emmanuel, the first king of the united Italy, and is considered to be somewhat controversial because of its location between Piazza Venezia and Capitoline Hill. It was finished in 1925 but the construction destroyed portions of Capitoline Hill with a medieval neighborhood that used to take up some of the space, and a lot of people aren’t happy about the loss of historical area.
The monument is also home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier which is accompanied by an ongoing protected eternal flame. The body to represent all of the unknown soldiers was chosen from 11 unidentifiable corpses by a woman who’s son was killed during WWI and his body was never recovered. The tomb is always guarded by two soldiers, one on either side.
Photos via Steve’s Genealogy Blog
Inside the monument you can see a variety of artifacts on display as well as an up close look at a Winged Victory sculpture, similar to the bronze sculptures on the top of the building. Though you can actually get fairly close to the ones on the roof too, after a long climb upstairs followed by a very short 7 euro outdoor elevator ride to the very top. You’ll also get some pretty epic views of the whole city from up there, including of the nearby colosseum.