Arch of Septimius Severus

How to say Septimius – Sept  im us (Im is said like in but with an m)

The Arch of Septimius Severus was built to remember the wars that Septimius and his sons had won.

They had been fighting the Parthians, which is where Iran and Iraq are today.   The arch was built when Septimius was still alive, in 203 AD, so he would have agreed to the work.

Who was Septimius?

Septimius was born to a wealthy family.  When he was old enough, Septimius got a job in the Roman Senate.

The Senate made all the laws for the people in Rome and the Roman Empire.  As he got older, Septimius was able to learn a lot and felt that he should be the Emperor.

He became friends with Captains in the Roman Army, and they said they would help him to become the next Emperor.

With the help of the Roman Army, Septimius was able to kill the Emperor, Didius Julianus and stop his rivals from being crowned Emperor.  In 193 AD, Septimius was the ruler of Rome and the Roman Empire.

To keep his crown, Septimius had to win lots of fights with many countries.  He had fights in Africa, Iraq, and Great Britain.

His last war was in England.  During his time in Britain, he became ill and died.  His sons were both crowned Emperors of the Roman Empire.

Building the Arch

Septimius was not very well liked by the people of the Senate.  They did not like him for getting help from the army to become the Emperor.

It is very likely that he wanted it to be built to show people how great he was.


The Arch is in Rome, but it was built near to where the Senate met.  Septimius had a dream that he had climbed on to a great horse.  He chose that spot for the location of his arch.


The Arch of Septimius was built with a costly and rare Greek marble.  The arch is about 23 meters tall and 25 meters wide.

The walls of the arch have pictures of the battles that Septimius fought and the talks he gave to people.  It also has a picture of Mars, the god of war on the walls as well.

Three Arches

The Arch of Septimius is really three arches.  The main arch in the middle was used for traffic, such as horses and carts to pass through.

The other two arches on the right and left of the middle arch can have people walk through them.

Arch of Septimius Severus Facts

  • There is a staircase inside the walls of the south arch.  It is difficult to get to this now because the entrance is 5 meters above the ground.
  • The attic of the arch is also hollow.  It could once be opened to the roof
  • The three arches set the trend for other arch buildings of the time
  • Over time, buildings were built around or into the arch
  • During the middle ages, some of the walls of the arch became hidden under lots of dirt and mud.
  • The Arch of Septimius was once used as a shop.  Signs of this can still be seen today.
  • A church was built into part of the arch.  The church has kept its part of the arch safe
  • After Septimius died, his oldest son, Caracalla had his younger brother, Geta killed.  Once Caracalla was the Emperor on his own, he had his brothers’ name taken off the arch.


  • What year was the arch built?
    203 AD
  • How high was the arch?
    23 meters
  • How many arches does it have?
  • Septimius was not alive when the arch was built.  True or False?
  • The god of war, Mars, can be seen in pictures on the arch.  True or false?