Arch of Dolabella Rome

Arch of Dolabella, Rome, Italy.

The Arch of Dolabella (Arco di Dolabella) in Rome was built in the 10th century, in a spot where originally a part of the Mure Serviane (Servian Walls) was located. It is assumed that the Arco di Dolabella was the old Porta Celimontana (or Caelimontana) in these Servian Walls.

Arch of Dolabella Rome

Useful information

Address: The Arco di Dolabella is located where the Via Claudia and the Via San Paolo della Croce meet.

History and description

Arch of Dolabella Rome
Arch of Dolabella with Nero’s side branch of the Claudio Aqueduct.

The Servian Walls were the first walls that were built around Rome, in the 6th century BC, and included 6 of the famous 7 hills. (The Palatine Hill was left outside the walls.)

The Arch of Dolabella and Silano was built in 10 A.D. by consuls Cornelio Dolabella and Gaius Junius Silano, as indicated in the inscription on the  monument.

Arch of Dolabella, Rome, Italy.
Arch of Dolabella

On the right side of the arch some blocks of tuff stone from a location called Grotta Oscura were used. This proves that it used to be part of the Servian Walls, since the same stone was also used for other parts of this wall, for example the section that can still be seen in front of Termini station. Other monuments that used the Grotta Oscura stone were the Theater of Marcellus and temples A and C in the Largo di Torre Argentina. After the 1st century this stone stopped being used in Rome.

Later Emperor Nero incorporated the arch into a side branch of the Aquedotto Claudio. Nero had this branch constructed to get water to his Domus Aurea.

When, in the 1st century, the power of the Roman Empire became immense, the walls were deemed unnecessary and gradually were dismantled or fell into disrepair.

In 211 A.D., during the restoration works at the behest of Septimius Severus and Caracalla, the original arch was used to support the large arches that were built on top.

In the 10th century the gate was rebuilt, by orders of the Senate.

There is a small shrine decorated with medieval mosaics to the right of the arch.

Saint Giovanni de Matha had two small rooms created inside one of the supporting pillars and lived ther from 1209 till his death in 1213. This space is behind the small window in the monument. Giovanni de Matha was the founder of the Trinitarian Order, whose mission it was to free slaves held captive by Muslims.

Over the course of the centuries the ground level in Rome has been raised and the Arch, which used to stand 6,50m tall, now measures only 4,50m.

Arch of Dolabella – Via di San Paolo della Croce, Rome

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