Ara Pacis Museum (Museo dell'Ara Pacis)
No matter the controversy, there is no disputing the magnificence of its star exhibit—the Ara Pacis, or Altar of Peace. Commissioned by Emperor Augustus to symbolize peace in the Roman Empire, the elaborate Carrara marble sculpture dates to 9 BC and stands 35 feet (11 meters) high. Preserved and displayed in its full glory, the original structure is augmented by reproductions of the panels on display in the Villa Medici, Vatican, and the Louvre.
Travelers may enjoy Ara Pacis Museum as part of a half-day, full-day, private or group, walking or with a fun mode of transport (Segway, hop-on hop-off river cruise, electric bicycle) and focusing on various themes like following in the ancient footsteps of Caesar, Augustus, and Nero, visiting thexa0 Imperial Forum, the Pantheon, and the Theater of Pompey—or going in the opposite direction to see Rome’s striking and always controversial modern architecture by Zaha Hadid and Renzo Piano.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Suitable for history buffs and art lovers of all ages.
- Admission fee is about US$12 for adults.
- Passersby may see the Ara Pacis monument through the exterior glass walls.
- The museum is wheelchair-accessible.
How to Get There
Ara Pacis Museum is located next to Piazza Augusto Imperatore along the Tiber River, in central Rome. Take a taxi, drive or take one of many buses (#70, #81, #117, #119, #186, #626) that stops nearby. The museum is easy walking distance from many sites including the Spanish Steps at Piazza di Spagna and the Egyptian obelisk at Piazza del Popolo.
When to Get There
Ara Pacis Museum Tuesday - Sunday, 9am - 7pm. Come before the sun starts to set so that the monument is still bathed in natural light. Avoid Rome’s dense tourist throngs by traveling during the pleasant shoulder seasons of spring and fall. Even better for avoiding crowds is the winter, though temperatures can dip to freezing.
Peace and Sacrifice
Inspired by the victorious battles of Emperor Augustus in Hispania and Gaul, the altar was built and used to sacrifice one ram and two oxen each year to honor Pax, the goddess of peace. Originally standing by the river's edge at Campus Martius, the structure became submerged in mud over time, where it remained for more than 1,000 years. Some remains were found in the 16th century, with its total reconstruction not beginning untilxa01938.
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