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The Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland) also known as the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II) or “Il Vittoriano” is a controversial monument built in honour of Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy, located in Rome, Italy. It occupies a site between the Piazza Venezia and the Capitoline Hill.
The eclectic structure was designed by Giuseppe Sacconi in 1885; sculpture for it was parceled out to established sculptors all over Italy, such as Leonardo Bistolfi and Angelo Zanelli. It was inaugurated in 1911 and completed in 1925.
The Vittoriano features stairways, Corinthian columns, fountains, an equestrian sculpture of Victor Emmanuel and two statues of the goddess Victoria riding on quadrigas. The structure is 135 m (443 ft) wide and 70 m (230 ft) high. If the quadrigae and winged victories are included, the height is to 81 m (266 ft). It has a total area of 17,000 square meters.
The base of the structure houses the museum of Italian Unification. In 2007, a panoramic elevator was added to the structure, allowing visitors to ride up to the roof for 360 degree views of Rome.
The monument, the largest in Rome, was controversial since its construction destroyed a large area of the Capitoline Hill with a Medieval neighbourhood for its sake. The monument itself is often regarded as conspicuous, pompous and too large.
It has been described as being “chopped with terrible brutality into the immensely complicated fabric of the hill.” The structure is not designed in a “Roman” style, but is a mingling of Greek and Teutonic styles, with inspiration drawn from the German architect Leo von Klenze.
It is clearly visible to most of the city of Rome despite being boxy in general shape and lacking a dome or a tower. The monument is also glaringly white, built from “corpse-white marble” imported from Botticino in Brescia making it highly conspicuous amidst the generally brownish buildings surrounding it, and its stacked, crowded nature has lent it several nicknames. Foreign people sometimes refer to the structure by a variety of nicknames, such as torta nuziale (“the wedding cake”), whereas Romans commonly call it “the typewriter”, although zuppa Inglese (” English soup”, a type of dessert) and pisciatoio nazionale (“national urinal”) are also used. Despite all this criticism, the monument still attracts a large number of visitors.