The Arch of Titus, which was erected shortly after the eponymous emperor's death in 81 CE. Titus had died the year before at the age of fifty, having reigned for only two years. The arch was erected to honour the victories of Titus, and his father the emperor Vespasian (r. 69-79), in the Judaean War, which ended with the sack of Jerusalem in 70 CE.
The two badly weathered bas-reliefs on the inside of the arch depict scenes from the triumph that Titus celebrated with his father on their return to Rome. One shows the goddess Roma guiding Titus's chariot, while the other shows the triumphal procession bearing the spoils of war. In the centre of the arch vault is a relief of the apotheosis of Titus, the emperor ascending to heaven atop an eagle.
The arch was originally crowned with an elaborate bronze statuary group displaying Titus and his father Vespasian in a quadriga (four-horse chariot). The original inscription (east face) reads: SENATVS / POPVLVSQUE ROMANVS / DIVO TITO DIVI VESPASIANI F / VESPASIANO AVGVSTO (The Senate and People of Rome to the Divine Titus, son of the Divine Vespasian, Vespasian Augustus).
Over time the arch was incorporated into other buildings as can be seen in an engraving by Piranesi. On the orders of Pope Pius VII (r. 1800-23), these structures were demolished and the Roman architect Giuseppe Valadier (1762-1839) was commissioned to dismantle the arch and reconstruct what it originally looked like. Valadier used travertine instead of marble to make it clear which parts of the arch were original and which were not.
The inscription on the west face reads: INSIGNE RELIGIONIS ATQVE ARTIS MONVMENTVM / VESTVSTATE FATISCENS / PIVS SEPTIMVS PONTIFEX MAXIMVS / NOVIS OPERIBVS PRISCVM EXEMPLAR IMITANTIBVS / FVLCIRI SERAVARIQVE IVSSIT / ANNO SACRI PRINCIPATVS EIVS XXIII (Pius Seventh, Pontifex Maximus, ordered that this outstanding monument of religion and art, which was deteriorating with age, should be stabilised and conserved by new construction, imitating the original pattern, in the twenty-fourth year of his sacred office).