The monumental Arch of Janus (Arco di Giano), the only four-sided (quadrifrons) arch to have survived in Rome, dates back to the 4th century BCE. Many scholars think that the traditional attribution of the arch to Janus, the two-faced deity and god of doors and passages, is not correct.
It has been suggested that the arch was, in fact, dedicated to the emperor Constantine the Great (r. 306-37), who was deified after his death, and was known as the Arco Divi Costantini.
Each pier of the arch has two rows of three niches, and it seems reasonable to assume that some, or all, would once have housed statues, although none has been identified.
In the Middle Ages, the Frangipane family transformed the arch into a fortress, and so it survived intact until 1830, when the attic and top part were torn down in the mistaken belief that they did not belong to the original structure.
Blogging about Rome,
its art, history and culture.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private and
small-group walking tours
Search Walks in Rome: