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Trajan's Arch, Ancona
Trajan's Arch, Ancona

The finest Roman monument in the Marche was erected at the beginning of the 2nd Century AD in honour of Emperor Trajan. Constructed in marble, it was built as part of an ambitious project to create a major sea port linking Ancona with other Adriatic and eastern Mediterranean cities.

The arch stands on the harbour wall itself, built on a high plinth with a travertine stone base. The limited width of the wall, which is only 11 metres wide at this point, made it necessary to create a structure which was tall but narrow so that it was clearly visible both from the land and to ships approaching the harbour from the sea.

It has a single high archway, with a height approximately two and half times its width. It is flanked on each side by two pairs of Corinthian columns. The inscription above the arch on the city side, originally in bronze letters, is dedicated to Trajan who has "given ships safer access to Italy with the construction of this port at his own expense" ("...QUOD ACCESSUM ITALIAE HOC ETIAM ADDITO EX PECUNIA SUA PORTU TUTIOREM NAVIGANTIBUS REDDIDERIT").

The Arch was dedicated to the emperor between December 114 and December 115 AD and was topped by bronze statues of Trajan, his wife Plotina and sister Marciana.

Trajan's Arch is depicted in a scene on Trajan's column in Rome (scene 79) where the Roman army leaves Italy to fight in the Second Dacian War.


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