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Arch of Augustus, Rome
The Arch of Augustus (Italian: Arco di Augusto) was the triumphal arch of Augustus, located in the Roman Forum. It spanned the Via Sacra, between the Temple of Castor and Pollux and the Temple of Caesar, near the Temple of Vesta, closing off the eastern end of the Forum. It can be regarded as the first permanent three-bayed arch ever built in Rome. 
The archaeological evidence shows the existence of a three-bayed arch measuring 17,75 x 5.25 meters between the Temple of Caesar and the Temple of Castor and Pollux, although only the travertine foundations of the structure remain. 
Ancient sources mention arches erected in honor of Augustus in the Forum on two occasions: the victory over Antony and Cleopatra in 31 BCE, and the recovery of the standards lost to the Parthians in 20 BCE.
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Aosta, city, capital of Valle d’Aosta region, northwestern Italy, at the confluence of the Buthier and Dora Baltea rivers and commanding the Great and Little St. Bernard pass roads, north-northwest of Turin. It was a stronghold of the Salassi, a Celtic tribe that was subdued by the Romans in 25 bc , and a Roman town (Augusta Praetoria) was founded there by Augustus in 24 bc . A bishopric from the 5th century, the town was always the most important centre of the Valle d’Aosta it became the regional capital in 1945. It was the birthplace of St. Anselm (1033/34–1109), archbishop of Canterbury.
Aosta retains the walls, two gates, and the street plan of its Roman predecessor, as well as a triumphal arch in honour of Augustus and remains of the theatre, the amphitheatre, and the road from Eporedia (modern Ivrea). The rectangular street plan, laid out in equal blocks (insulae), is an outstanding example of Roman formal city planning. Of later monuments, the cathedral is notable for its treasury and 12th-century floor mosaics, and the collegiate church of S. Orso for its Romanesque cloisters and Gothic choir stalls. Aosta is a commercial centre and has a metallurgical industry. Pop. (2001) 34,644.
WHERE: in the crossroads between Sant'Anselmo street and Chabod, Garibaldi and Ivrea avenues.
HISTORY: Raised along the road that led to the monumental Porta Praetoria, the main access route to the Roman city, the honorary arch dedicated to the Emperor Augustus was born as imposing symbol of the presence and power of Rome, that in 25 BC had finally defeated the &ldquoSalassi&rdquo, and founded the new colony.
The arch was known by the local community also as &ldquoSaint-Voult&rdquo, because under the keystone was placed a crucifix, that was replaced in 1449 on the occasion of a procession to pray against the flooding of the nearby Buthier river. The current sculpture was placed in 1980, replacing that of the fifteenth century, preserved in the Museum of the Treasure of the Cathedral.
After centuries of neglect, the monument was restored in the years 1913-1914, assuming its present appearance.
Exploring the Past in Aosta Valley
Aosta Valley is a small Alpine region in the north-west of Italy. Popular with hikers in the summer and skiers in the winter, and cultural travellers all year round. The region shares its international border with France and Switzerland. The highest mountain here, in the very north-west corner, is Monte Bianco (or Mont Blanc). Valle d&rsquoAosta is the smallest and least populous region in Italy. Valle d&rsquoAosta means &lsquoValley of Augustus&rsquo, after the Roman Emperor Augustus who seized the area for its strategic mountain passes from the local Celtic Salassi tribe in about 25 BC and established Augusta Prætoria Salassorum (modern-day Aosta). As Italy&rsquos smallest region, it is not further subdivided into provinces. The official names, in Italian is Valle d&rsquoAosta and Vallée d&rsquoAoste in French.
This Medieval castle is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the Aosta Valley. The castle has a typical defensive layout, which includes a pentagonal keep with towers at each corner. The keep is surrounded by a double wall complete with battlements, watchtowers and walkways. Built on top of a small hill and contrary to first impressions, the castle did not have a military or defensive purpose. Rather, it was a prestigious family residence. What visitors see today dates to the early 15th century.
Today the Roman bridge is part of a popular hiking trail in a side valley of the Aosta Valley. In 3 BC this bridge was part of a six kilometre aqueduct that carried water to present-day Aosta for agricultural purposes in the then colony of Augusta Prætoria Salassorum. The top of the bridge is 66 metres above the valley floor, and when built there would have been a roofed control corridor. A Latin inscription on the bridge records that it was constructed by Caius Avillius Caimus from Padova using private funds.
When the Romans defeated the Salassi tribe, it was the strategic mountain passes that they sought to control. In securing the mountainous routes they built a number of roads and bridges. The remains of some of these ancient roads are still visible in many places along the valley, and even the modern railway line follows these ancient routes. The single segmental arch bridge over the Lys River in Saint-Martin is one such Roman bridge. The bridge has a span of 35 metres, and a width of 4.5 metres.
Roman Aosta &ndash Augusta Prætoria Salassorum
Once the centre of the Salassi Celtic tribe, Augusta Prætoria Salassorum was prized for its strategic position and became an important military post. In fact Aosta&rsquos layout still resembles that of a Roman military camp. Many architectural features from the town&rsquos Roman times have survived and some are quite well preserved. The city walls, for example, are all but complete, and six of the original 20 towers are still standing. The remains of the theatre, amphitheatre and forum can be visited, while a triumphal arch to Augustus still has pride of place.
The first castle on this spot is thought to have been built towards the end of the 12th century. then it would have been a very simple structure of basic walls and a few towers. Over the years, and as it changed hands, the castle was added to, renovated and modernised until it looked like it does today &ndash sometime towards the end of the 19th century. The stucco white church at the foot of the castle is the parish church of Saint-Pierre. The castle is now home to the Regional Museum of Natural Sciences.
Top Historic Sights in Aosta, Italy
Angelokastro is a Byzantine castle on the island of Corfu. It is located at the top of the highest peak of the island"s shoreline in the northwest coast near Palaiokastritsa and built on particularly precipitous and rocky terrain. It stands 305 m on a steep cliff above the sea and surveys the City of Corfu and the mountains of mainland Greece to the southeast and a wide area of Corfu toward the northeast and northwest.
Angelokastro is one of the most important fortified complexes of Corfu. It was an acropolis which surveyed the region all the way to the southern Adriatic and presented a formidable strategic vantage point to the occupant of the castle.
Angelokastro formed a defensive triangle with the castles of Gardiki and Kassiopi, which covered Corfu"s defences to the south, northwest and northeast.
The castle never fell, despite frequent sieges and attempts at conquering it through the centuries, and played a decisive role in defending the island against pirate incursions and during three sieges of Corfu by the Ottomans, significantly contributing to their defeat.
During invasions it helped shelter the local peasant population. The villagers also fought against the invaders playing an active role in the defence of the castle.
The exact period of the building of the castle is not known, but it has often been attributed to the reigns of Michael I Komnenos and his son Michael II Komnenos. The first documentary evidence for the fortress dates to 1272, when Giordano di San Felice took possession of it for Charles of Anjou, who had seized Corfu from Manfred, King of Sicily in 1267.
From 1387 to the end of the 16th century, Angelokastro was the official capital of Corfu and the seat of the Provveditore Generale del Levante, governor of the Ionian islands and commander of the Venetian fleet, which was stationed in Corfu.
The governor of the castle (the castellan) was normally appointed by the City council of Corfu and was chosen amongst the noblemen of the island.
Angelokastro is considered one of the most imposing architectural remains in the Ionian Islands.
Arch of Augustus history
This Roman triumphal arch is the oldest of its kind in northern Italy and was commissioned by Emperor Augustus in 27 BC. It marked the entrance to Rimini for travellers on the Flaminian Way built by Consul Flaminius in 220 BC to link Rimini and Rome. The arch stands an impressive 17m high on modern-day Corso d’Augusto.
The arch honours Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus, better know as Octavian or Augustus who was the first Roman emperor from 27 BC to 14 AD.
The whole structure, covered in Istrian stone, presents strong religious and propagandist characteristics and the architecture reflects that of the temple.
The main peculiarity of this arch is that the archway is especially large for a gate of the time, potentially due to the peaceful policies of Augustus. The so-called Pax Romana, made a civic gate that could be closed seem unnecessary since there was no danger of attack.
The gate remained in use after antiquity with some modifications. The battlements on the upper part date back to the medieval period when the city was held by the Ghibellines. The arch remained one of the city gates until the Fascist period, when the city wall was demolished and the arch was left as an isolated monument.
When the fascists were in power in the 1920s, and all things Roman were to be lauded, the local authorities decided to demolish the defensive city walls on either side of this magnificent archway in order to remove it from its medieval context and place it firmly back to the days when Ariminum had a larger role to play. An ideological move which has left the archway looking somewhat stranded in the 21st century
History, literature and wildlife of the Valle d’Aosta
In order to discover history, literature and wildlife of the Valle D’Aosta, the ideal place to stay is in the Il Melo e la Gatta, Aosta.
Thanks to its ideal location, you can not only easily visit various places but also enjoy a relaxing stay surrounded by mountains and clean air.
In the small town of Quart you will be enchanted by the wonderful castle that stands majestically on a cliff. Consisting of a number of buildings, it was formed in the ninth century by a single tower (donjon) surrounded by walls: the Lords of Quart added over the years the chapel and a building called “Magna Aula“, while with the advent of the Savoy were built residential buildings.
Visiting the geo site of Vollein means getting in touch with geological, geomorphological and cultural aspects of great importance such as the dosso montonato, a rock formed in pursuit of the great glaciations and the erratic boulders, i.e. rocks transported by glaciers.
You can also admire magnificent examples of rock art represented by cup marks on the rocks, and the Neolithic necropolis characterized by 66 cist tombs, in the shape of a stone box.
In Sarre, it is worth visiting the Royal Castle built in 1710 by Giovanni Francesco Ferrod of Arvier and purchased in 1869 by the King of Italy Vittorio Emanuele II, who used it as a residence during his hunting trips in Valle d’Aosta.
Arriving in Aosta, one of the first places to visit is the megalithic area. This archaeological site, has returned testimonies of five millennia of history, from the end of the Neolithic to the present day. The term megalithic area means an extensive but well-defined area in which there is the presence of megalithic monumental remains of various kinds: archaeological evidence has established that it was a sacred area intended for important events related to burial and worship.
Another important place is the Collegiate Church of Saints Peter and Orso, a religious building that preserves ancient Ottonian frescoes between the roof of the nave and the roof, as well as a charming cloister decorated with medieval capitals.
Remains of Roman times in the city are visible in the Arch of Augustus. Built in 25 B.C., it consists of a single 11 m high arch decorated with Corinthian capitals and Doric entablature and triglyphs.
The Roman theatre, on the other hand, now has only one façade with arches and buttresses characterized by three orders of overlapping windows.
Continuing the visit to the city, you can visit the Cathedral of Aosta dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta and St. John the Baptist of the eleventh century. This large sacred building has a single nave and two baptisteries. Interesting is the presence of a crypt divided into 3 naves where you can see the tombstone of the tomb of the bishops of Valle d’Aosta: “Sepulchrum episcoporum“. In the attic of the church, however, a cycle of Ottonian frescoes of great artistic value has been brought to light.
Journey with me too
Most people pass quickly by Aosta on the Autostrada on their way to or from the Mont Blanc Tunnel and their onward journey. It is worth a brief stay, however, for it has a charming old centre and is chock-full of history. In particular it retains a lot of its roman heritage. It was constructed by Emperor Augustus in 25BC after he defeated the local Celtic Salassi people because it formed a strategic stronghold before the St Bernard alpine passes. The triumphal arch he built as an entry to the town is still standing, pretty much unspoilt after two thousand years. Ah, the romans and their incredible invention of cement.
Incredibly Aosta has kept its original roman layout, the long main pedestrianised road was once called Decumanus Maximus and the surrounding streets are set out in squared blocks, like a chessboard. The fortified wall is still visible in several places and in the town centre the Porta Praetoria gate remains an impressive sight.
From Augustus’s Arch I walked back along the narrow high-walled roman road out of town, crossing his original stone bridge as I did so, and imagined the romans walking the same path two thousand years ago. Such thoughts always stir me. The layers of time over places people have walked.
The Roman view from the bridge
Of the other roman remains around the town the most spectacular are the Roman Theatre, which used to seat up to 4,000 spectators and looms 22 metres high, and the underground cryptoporticus which was constructed beneath the forum. I marvelled at the vaulted network of subterranean tunnels and arches that were built to last so long.
Other time periods have left treasures too. The churches of San Lorenzo and 11th century Saint Orso, for example. Beneath the former an archaeological dig of an earlier 5th century church complete with the tombs of Aosta’s first bishops is exposed. And beside the latter are its peaceful cloisters, always a favourite of mine, with the columns’ capitals depicting biblical and other religious stories. The capitals are well-preserved and quite beautiful, evidently “one of the most remarkable examples of Romanesque sculpture in the World”.
But it was as I was wandering the history-laden back streets that I came across the lovely church of St Etienne which was not marked on my tourist maps. Its façade was adorned with colourful frescoes and inside light filled the small space and showed off its baroque altars to advantage. It seems the Aostans want to keep this little jewel a well-kept secret. I picnicked on a bench outside so that I could enjoy the frescoes for a while.
St Etienne was much more pleasing on my eye than the more famous cathedral, though the latter’s bright terracotta statues and frescoes on its façade are also striking.
And of course as you explore Aosta all around you tower snow-capped mountains, a wonderful backdrop to a delightful place. If that is not enough to please you there are castles by the plenty in the surrounding valley and hills.
The 16th Century City Cross and surrounding mountains
So if you pass through the Mont Blanc tunnel on your way somewhere ELSE, why not call in to see Aosta – the little Alpine Rome.
And how am I feeling? Well, I am starting to acclimatise a little to being alone on a journey again slightly anxious at times especially when driving (heavy snow in Chamonix on summer tyres on Day One did not help) but liking anew the selfish realisation that I can do completely as I please at any moment of the day – including leisurely hanging around as many historical monuments as I wish without annoying a soul!
- Ponziani, Denise / Ferrero, Enrico / Appolonia, Lorenzo / Migliorini, Simonetta (2012): Effects of temperature and humidity excursions and wind exposure on the arch of Augustus in Aosta . In: Journal of Cultural Heritage , v. 13, n. 4 (December 2012) , pp. 462-468.
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Structurae Version 7.0 - © 1998-2020 Nicolas Janberg. All rights reserved. All data contained herein is subject to change and is provided without warranties.