Basilica di Massenzio e Constantino (Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine)
This building is well known for its summer symphony concerts. Maxentius was proclaimed
Emperor by the people after the abdication of joint rulers, Maximian, his
father, and Diocletian, in 305. Almost immediately he began to build a basilica, the
last to be erected in Rome. Built of brick beneath a groined vault, it was different
from the other two basilicas, Aemelia and Julia. It was rectangular and divided into
three by huge pillars flanked by columns; one long side ran parallel to the
Sacred Way and the other followed the line of the present Via dei Fori Imperiali.
The Imperial throne, however, was coveted by Constantine, son of the Emperor
Constantius, who had reigned jointly with Maximian and Diocletian. He
defeated and killed Maxentius at the battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 and completed the
basilica with modifications. The grandiose building housed some colossal statues;
fragments of the statue of Constantine, which stood in the west apse, can
still be seen in the ourtyard of the Palazzo di Conservatori. The gilded bronze tiles
were used in the 7C to roof of St. Peter's Basilica.
Last Revised September 28, 2007