Mausoleum of Augustus

Rome, Italy

The Mausoleum of Augustus is a large tomb built by the Roman Emperor Augustus in 28 BC. The interior of the mausoleum is not open to tourists. The mausoleum was one of the first projects initiated by Augustus in the City of Rome following his victory at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC. The mausoleum was circular in plan, consisting of several concentric rings of earth and brick, planted with cypresses on top of the building and capped by a conical roof and a statue of Augustus. Vaults held up the roof and opened up the burial spaces below.

In the Middle Ages the tumulus was fortified as a castle and occupied by the Colonna family. After the disastrous defeat of the Commune of Rome at the hands of the Count of Tusculum in 1167, the Colonna were disgraced and banished, and their fortification in the Campo was dismantled. Thus it became a ruin.

It was not until the 1930s that the site was opened as a preserved archaeological landmark along with the newly moved and reconstructed Ara Pacis nearby. The restoration of the Mausoleum of Augustus to a place of prominence featured in Benito Mussolini's ambitious reordering of the city of Rome which strove to connect the aspirations of Italian Fascism with the former glories of the Roman Empire.

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Founded: 28 BC
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Italy

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4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Jian Du (2 months ago)
Not so many people, the big altar stand in a very delicate and pure space designed by famous architect Richard Meier. If you like architecture or history of Rome, this is the place you have to visit
Chris Scott (2 months ago)
It looked with a visit, but you cannot get a good view our photo. It was also closed so unable to go in.
Alex Dasa (5 months ago)
Try passing bye when going to plaza del popolo. It's an interesting site, even from the outside.
Ajay Sharma (6 months ago)
This was the family tomb of Rome's first emperor, Augustus. Originally the tomb resembled an artificial round, terraced hill with trees on the upper terrace in imitation of the tombs of leaders Augustus admired. The tomb broke convention by being built within the city when at the time all burials took place outside of the city. Over the years the mausoleum was used as a fortress, garden and as a venue for bullfights, circus performances and concerts until restoration began under Mussolini who identified himself with Augustus. Today visitors can see the overgrown ruins of the mausoleum's brick inner core The first person buried in the mausoleum was Marcellus, Augustus's nephew, in 23 BC. Many emperors were buried here, among them Augustus himself, Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius. The last person to be buried in the mausoleum was Emperor Nerva in 98 AD. The next emperor, Trajan, was buried at the base of the Column of Trajan and his successor, Hadrian, built a new mausoleum, now the Castel Sant'Angelo.
Stefano Prina (6 months ago)
This monumental mausoleum – a dramatic 45m wide and 90m high – was built in 28 BC and is the final resting place of Augustus, buried here in AD 14, and his favourite nephew and heir Marcellus. Mussolini had it restored in 1936 with an eye to being buried here himself, but since then it has fallen into sad disrepair. Apparently they are working on the mausoleum these days to restore it as it deserves.
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The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

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