In the heart of Rome stands the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II, better known as Il Vittoriano, a colossal monument (many would say monstrosity), which was built in honour of Vittorio Emanuele II (r. 1861-78), the first king of Italy.
Italy's first monarch died on January 9th, 1878, and the eighty-metre-high monument was begun in 1885. It was designed by Giuseppe Sacconi (1854-1905), winner of an international competition. Following Sacconi’s death in 1905, work was continued under the direction of Gaetano Koch, Pio Piacentini and Manfredo Manfredi.
Although the monument was inaugurated by Vittorio Emanuele III (r. 1900-46) in 1911 (the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the Kingdom of Italy), it wasn't completed until 1935.
The bronze equestrian statue of Vittorio Emanuele II is the largest statue in Rome.
The first flight of steps leads to the Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland), with its grand statue of the goddess Roma, which was designed by Angelo Zanelli (1879-1942). Since November 4th, 1921, it has incorporated the Tomba del Milite Ignoto (Tomb of the Unknown Soldier), which, is attended, day and night, by two military guards of honour.