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Arco della Pace (Arch of Peace)By Anthony Parente
Napoleon Bonaparte, during his rule over the Kingdom of Italy, commissioned the arch as a tribute to his victories. Architect Luigi Cagnola designed the arch in a neoclassical style. Construction began in 1807 at the beginning of the Corso Sempione, which is a road that connects Milan to Paris along the Simplon Pass. The project was abandoned when the Austrian Empire conquered the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy. Under Emperor Francis II work resumed in 1826 and dedicated the arch to the Congress of Vienna in 1815, which sought a long-term peace plan for Europe following the Napoleonic Wars. Unfortunately, Cagnola died in 1833 before its completion. The project was taken over by Francesco Londonio and Francesco Peverelli who completed it in 1838.
The triumphal Arch has a similar design to the Arch of Septimius Severus located in the Roman Forum. It is 25 meters (82 feet) high and 24 meters (78.74 feet) wide. It features a central passageway flanked by two smaller arches. The monument was built using Baveno granite. It is decorated with a number of bas-reliefs, statues and four Corinthian columns made up of a number of materials including bronze, marble, and stucco. Many of the decorations are dedicated to major events in Italian and European history, which include the Battle of Leipzig, Battle of Kulm, Congress of Prague, Congress of Vienna, and The Foundation of the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia.
On the top of the Arch is a bronze statue sculpted by Abbondio Sangiorgio called the Sestiga della Pace. It is the Goddess of Peace on her chariot drawn by six horses triumphantly entering the city. At each corner of the Arch is a statue created by Giovanni Putti titled The Victories on Horseback offering a laurel wreath to the Goddess. Originally they were to face Paris, but when Napoleon was defeated the bronze statues were turned to face Milan. Just below the statue is a representation of the four rivers located within the Lombardy-Veneto kingdom: Po, Ticino, Adige and Tagliamento.
The Arco della Pace is a remarkable architectural achievement. The monument is a reminder of the city's rich history and its enduring commitment to peace.
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