Rome, Italy

Roman Forum: Basilica of Maxentius

At the highest point of the Forum there is the Basilica of Maxentius, one of the last monuments built here and perhaps one of the most fascinating.

It was truly immense, held up by huge arches and covered with incredibly high vaulted ceilings. It was another of the Basilicas of the Forum and was built by Maxentius in the 4th century AD.

Constantine, having conquered Maxentius, then used this monument to celebrate his victory; Maxentius’ statue was substituted with a colossal statue of Constantine — the idea was that, as you entered the Basilica, you practically felt crushed by such power, and so paying homage to him came rather spontaneously.

It was so huge that the head alone — now in the Capitoline Museums - was almost three meters high!

The columns separating the Basilica into naves have all been lost except for one: one of the popes had it brought to the piazza of Santa Maria Maggiore, and it’s still there, as the base of the statue of the Madonna.