Ara Pacis is a common name for Ara Pacis Augustae (The altar of Augustian Peace). This monument was constructed by the Senate on the northern part of the Mars Field with the aim to honor the first Roman Imperator Augustus and the prosper he brought to Rome.
The Roman Senate decided to build an altar dedicated to Pax, the Roman goddess of Peace. The decision was made to honor the return of the first Roman Imperator Augustus from Spain and Gaul. The Senate supported his efforts to visit Spain at peace, establishing control over the Alpine passes and found new colonies. The inauguration of the monument took place on 30th January, 9 BC.
At first, the Senate planned to build an altar within Curia (Senate headquarters in Rome). However, it was Augustus’ decision the altar to be built in the northern part of the Field of Mars, where he decided to build his Mausoleum.
Ara Pacis consists of an open air altar at its center, surrounded by walls with two openings to the east and west. The external decorations emphasize the cortege of the members of the Imperator’s household, allegorical themes of peace, Roman civic rituals, members of the Senate etc. The monument was associated with abundance that resulted from peace and prosperity that Augustus brought to Rome. Many considered that it also served as a part of the regime propaganda.
Over time, the level of the land in the northern part of the Mars Field rose due to inundations of the river Tiber. In order to protect Ara Pacis, the wall was constructed with the aim to stop the ground level from rising any further. In the end this method proved inefficient because the entire area continued being flooded and the monument was waiting its inevitable destruction.
The recovery of Ara Pacis began only in the 16th century. After many successful excavations and attempts of refurbishing, on 23rd September 1938, Benito Mussolini inaugurated the monument.