Column of Marcus Aurelius

A detail from the column of Marcus Aurelius. (Photo by Jebulon)

This triumphal column reads like an ancient Roman comic strip of the Emperor's accomplishments

Column of Marco Aurelio in Rome
The Colonna Antoninia. (Photo by Mulier Fortis)

Trajan's column was such a hit that Marcus Aurelius had one made for himself starting in AD 176 (though it was mostly executed by his son and successor, Commodus, between AD 180 and 192).

It is bascially a comic strip–like scroll of marble panels carved in high relief that showcase the emperor's achievements and battles, wrapped around a towering column like a candy cane.

The column is 30m (98 feet) high—though, once you include the tall base, it rises 43m (138 feet) off the piazza.

If the carved relief panels were unwrapped from it cylindar and laid out flat, they would stretch 110m (361 feet) long.

Incidentally, that is not a statue of Marcus Aurelius at the top anymore. In 1589 Pope Sixtus V replaced the statue of the pagan emperor with a more prim and proper one of St. Paul.

(If you do want to see a great statue of the real Marcus Aurelius, there's one at the Capitoline Museums.)

Tips & links

How long does the Column of Marcus Aurelius take?

Planning your day: You might take 3–5 minutes to scrutinize the carvings near the bottom (bring binoculars to see more of it, and better details). That's it. » Rome itineraries

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