Ara Pacis – Augustus’ altar of peace

The Augustus Alter of Peace, which can also be called by it’s Italian Latin name the Ara Pacis, was built for Augustus. Ara Pacis simply means altar, which is the main part of the building.

Augustus was the ruler or Emperor of Rome at the time.  The altar was built to remember Augustus’ victories and his safe return to Rome because he had been away for three years.

During those three years, Augustus had battles with the Hispania and the Gauls (now the Spanish and the French)

What is it?

An altar is a large and raised table or stone block that is used to offer gifts to gods.  The Romans would kill animals on their altars as gifts to their gods.

The Altar of Peace is an altar with big, thick, high walls around it, but no roof.  It was built in 13 BC and is over 3 meters tall.  The walls around the altar are about 11 meters tall.

Ready to see

The Senate or the people who made the laws of Rome, asked for the Altar to be built for Augustus.  The Ara Pacis took about four years to make.

It took so long because the stone walls had to be carved to create the pictures on them.  It was finally shown to Augustus and the Roman people as part of a big party on 4th July 13 BC.

The Alter is made from marble but has become famous because of how good the images on the walls are.

The walls of the alter show many of the important people in Rome at that time, and Augustus’s family, who were also known as the royal family.

Carved Walls

The wall around the Altar of Peace have had pictures of people, and other things carved or cut into the stone walls.

It takes a lot of skill to be able to cut stone so that pictures are formed, and this is why it took so long to make the Ara Pacis.  The walls have different images on them.

On one side, are pictures of Augustus, his family and other important people at the time.  On another wall, there are pictures of fruit and flowers.

The walls also have pictures of people from stories, such as the gods the Romans believed in, as well as Romulus and Remus and Mother Earth.

Why was it Built?

The Ara Pacis was built for Augustus as a way to remember how well he had done in the battles against the Gauls and the Spanish.

The Altar was also a gift to the Pax, the Roman god of Peace.  When Augustus returned to Rome after these battles, the Senate wanted to thank him, but also ask gods to stop future battles.

Facts about the Ara Pacis

  • The Altar of Peace was not found until the 16th Century (the 1500s) because it was covered in a lot of dirt
  • It was first built just outside of Rome on the banks of the River Tiber.  It was found hidden in the dirt, and it was then moved to its new home in the center of the city
  • This new home is a museum, so the Altar isn’t outside anymore
  • It is thought to be one of the most important buildings in Rome
  • The top parts of the walls show pictures of people or gods who meant a lot to the Romans.  The bottom parts of the walls have pictures of fruit and flowers carved into them
  • After the Altar was built, there was peace in Rome for about 27 years
  • The Altar was mainly made from a tough stone called marble
  • The actual Altar part of the building was very small


  • Who was the Ara Pacis built for?
  • What does Ara Pacis mean?
  • Pax was the god of flying.  True or False?
  • The walls around the Altar have pictures of Augustus on them.  True or False
  • The Altar has always been where it is now.  True or False