A triumphal arch is a free-standing monumental structure that has the shape of an archway with one or more arched passageways, it spans a road and in its simplest form, a triumphal arch has two massive piers connected by the beautiful arches crowned with a flat attic where a statue might be mounted. The top and piers are decorated with carvings, sculpted reliefs and triumphal arches also have multiple archways. 

Roman Architecture has given a beautiful contribution to the world through the most influential triumphal arches. It was invented by the Romans to felicitate any significant event such as the death of any family member who had an imperial family history, new colonies, etc.

Triumphal arches must not be confused with city gates and memorial gates such as India Gate in New Delhi, Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, which is patterned after triumphal arches it was built to memorialize war casualties, to commemorate a civil event. It is also the name given to the arch above the entrance to the chancel of the medieval church. The process and origin of the triumphal arch were associated with Roman Architecture. 

The key elements of the triumphal arch are a round-topped arch and a square entablature which had architectural elements in ancient Greece.

1. The Arch of Titus in Rome 

The Arch of Titus is on the Sacra, Rome it is a 1st century AD arch that was constructed by Emperor Domitian after the death of his older brother Titus to commemorate Titus’s official deification together with his father. It soon became a symbol of the Jewish diaspora and the menorah which is depicted on the arch and serves as a model. 

This arch stands as the general model for many other triumphal arches since the 16th century. The beautiful spandrel of the upper left and right arch contains the personifications of victory of winged women. There is the keystone on which there stands a female on the east side and a male on the west. The Soffit of the archway is coffered with the apotheosis of Titus at the center.

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The Arch of Titus, Rome ©colosseumrometickets.com
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The Arch of Titus, Rome ©colosseumrometickets.com
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The Arch of Titus, Rome ©colosseumrometickets.com

2. The Triumphal Arch of Orange in Orange France

The Triumphal Arch of Orange is in the town of Orange, Southeast France. The arch contains an inscription of Emperor Tiberius in AD 27 which was made in the emperor’s memory. This arch has military themes, including naval battles and spoils of war inscriptions made on it. In addition, the beautiful decoration of Germanic and Gaul’s. 

These beautiful features were designed by Augustine Carlisle and it was originally constructed using large unmortared limestone blocks. It comprises three arches, the center one is larger than the flanking ones. This beautiful structure is 19.57 meters long, 8.40 meters wide, and 19.21 mt in height. The columns belong to the Corinthian style, resembling Roman architecture.

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The Arch of Orange in France, Classical Antiquity ©ancientworld.hansotten.com
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The Arch of Orange in France, Classical Antiquity ©ancientworld.hansotten.com
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The Arch of Orange in France, Classical Antiquity ©ancientworld.hansotten.com

3. The Porte Noire in Besançon France

The Porte Noire in Besancon France was built during the Roman Empire ruled by emperor Marcus Aurelius in the 2nd Century. Arch is ornamented by fine sculptures which represent deities of Greek and Roman mythology and scenes of fighting which are mostly erased by time. The gate might be much damaged, but it is one of the most beautiful monuments of Besancon. 

This monument is 16m high for only two depths and a height under the bay of over 11 m. It is surely not a gate but an honorary arch that is detached from other buildings.

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Porte Noire de Besancon – ©Photononstop – Nicolas Thibaut
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Porte Noire de Besancon – ©Photononstop – Nicolas Thibaut

4. The Arch of Septimius Severus at Leptis Magna

The Arch of Septimius is in Libya; it is associated with the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus. The emperor Septimius was the first emperor born in the provinces since Hadrian and Trajan, he was praised for his military success. To celebrate Parthian victories, two arches in Rome and Leptis Magna. 

The arch is uniform from all sides and framed by eight Corinthian columns that support a broken pediment. The arch depicts the ornate featuring the Hellenistic elements. All the eight spandrels bear victory, which is holding a wreath and a palm branch.

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Arch of Septimius Severus, Leptis Magna, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Libya, North Africa, Africa
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Arch of Septimius Severus, Leptis Magna, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Libya, North Africa, Africa

5. The Arch of Septimius Severus in Rome

The Arch of Septimius in Rome is a white marble triumphal arch that was dedicated to commemorate the Parthian victories of the Emperor and for his two sons Caracalla and Geta. Three archways rest on piers in front of which there are detached composite columns on pedestals. 

The arch is 25 meters in width and 23 meters in height. A staircase in the south pier leads to the top of the arch where lie statues of the emperor and his two sons.

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The Arch of Septimius Severus, Rome ©2015 Richard Ebert

6. Arch of Caracalla in Tebessa Algeria

The Arch of Caracalla is a tetra pylon Roman triumphal arch in Tebessa Province Algeria. Arch is cubical of 10.94m on the side and the pylons beside the spans are pairs of articulated columns with Corinthian style capitals which are completely detached from the wall. 

The main entablature is above the pairs of columns and Medallions are on the top of the spans. There are three sides dedicated to the emperor Septimius Severus, Julia Domna, and Caracalla.

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Arch of Caracalla , Tebessa , Algeria ©pinterest.com
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Arch of Caracalla , Tebessa , Algeria ©pinterest.com

7. Arch of Galerius and Rotunda in Thessaloniki

The Arch of Galerius of Kamara and Rotunda is located near Central Macedonia of northern Greece. During the 4th Century Roman emperor, Galerius commissioned the two structures as elements of the imperial precinct. These three arches are connected by a road that purposely ran through the arch. 

On the northwestern side, three of the eight pillars and the southernmost one of the western pillars are lost. There is a representation of the Tigris River on the pillars.

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Arch of Galerius and Rotunda , Thessaloniki  ©www.greekboston.com

8. The Arch of Constantine in Rome

The Arch of Constantine is a triumphal arch in Rome dedicated to the emperor Constantine, the Great. It was commissioned by the Roman Senate to commemorate the victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in AD 312. There is a three-bay design with detached columns. They were first used for the Arch of Septimius Severus. 

The arch was constructed between 312 and 315 AD and was dedicated to Trajan, Hadrian, and Marcus Aurelius. On the top of each column, large sculptures represent Dacians.

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Arch of Constantine, Rome ©colosseumrometickets.com
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Arch of Constantine, Rome ©colosseumrometickets.com

9. The Triumphal Arch of Castel Nuovo

The triumphal Arch of Castel Nuovo is at the entrance of Castel Nuovo in Naples. It was constructed to celebrate the conquest of the kingdom of Naples in 1443. The top of the arch has a work that represents Naples’s contribution to the Italian Renaissance. The first design proposal was designed, perhaps by the Pisanello exponent of International Gothic. There is an illustration of the square of Madrid under the vault, whereas the internal passage has a decoration of relatives and officers of Alfonso. The triumphal Arch of Castel Nuovo is also known as the “climate of the arch.”

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The Triumphal Arch of Castel Nuovo, Naples ©napleitaly.com
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The Triumphal Arch of Castel Nuovo, Naples ©napleitaly.com

10. The Porte Saint-Denis in Paris 

The Porte Saint-Denis is an explicit triumphal arch in the 10th arrondissement. It is the gate of the Wall of Charles V that was constructed to protect the Right Bank of Paris. They have two gates that are surmounted with four towers. This triumphal arch is inspired by the Arch of Titus in Rome. 

This Parisian monument is 24.65 meters in height, 25 meters wide, and 5 meters deep. One of the main arches is flanked by obelisks which apply to the wall face bearing sculptural groups of trophies of arms.

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The Porte Saint-Denis, Paris ©structurae.net
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The Porte Saint-Denis, Paris ©structurae.net

References

Arch of Titus in Rome: History Facts, Tour & Tickets Info (visit-colosseum-rome.com)

Visit Porte Noire on your trip to Besancon or France • Inspirock

The triumphal arch of Porte Saint-Denis in Paris – French Moments

Triumphal Arch at Castel Nuovo, Naples Italy

The Arch of Constantine, Rome – World History Encyclopedia

The Arch of Caracalla, Theveste, Algeria – The Soul of Romanized Africa | Ancient Origins (ancient-origins.net)

14 Facts About The Arch Of Septimius Severus | Ultimate List (listerious.com)

Author

Ar. Ritu Gosavi is a published co-author of the two anthology " A poet's Pulse" and "Slice of life" , graduated from College of Architecture Nasik .A brilliant content writer since 2019 bringing light on social and patriarchal norms through her writing page called "Ruminant". An architect, author, and audacious , a classical and japanese literature lover.

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