In the heart of Rome stands the monumental Column of Marcus Aurelius, which was erected in honour of the eponymous Roman emperor (r.161 to 180) and philosopher, who penned a set of his personal thoughts known as the Meditations.
The height of the column is 39.7 m (130 feet), but 3 m or so of its base still lies underground. In 1589 Pope Sixtus V (r. 1585-90) commissioned Domenico Fontana to restore the column and adapt it to the ground level of the time. Sixtus V also re-dedicated the column to Saint Paul. The bronze statue of the apostle is by Leonardo Sormani and Tommaso della Porta.
The shaft of the column is made up of 28 blocks of Carrara marble, each 3.7 m in diameter. The blocks are cut away on the inside, creating a spiral staircase. The reliefs on the exterior tell the story of the emperor’s wars north of the Danube. The column was once crowned by a bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius.
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
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