Column of Marcus Aurelius

The Column of Marcus Aurelius it thought to have been built to show how well he did in his lifetime as Emperor of Rome.

Marcus Aurelius was the rule from 161 AD to 180 AD.  After his death, his son was crowned as Emperor.  The column has been in a similar way to the Column of Trajan, but it’s a little bigger.

Who was Marcus?

Marcus was born into a rich and famous family.  He was named as heir or the person be the next ruler of the Roman Empire with his adopted brother, Lucius.

At first, Marcus and his adopted brother did rule together.  After Lucius died in 169, Marcus was on his own.

Marcus was known as the last Emperor of the Pax dynasty.  Pax meant peace, so this means that the Romans didn’t fight many wars.

But, they did still fight people, and Marcus was well known for this.  Marcus died fighting in a war.

The Column

The column is like Trajan’s column, but also not like it at all.  Marcus’ column is much taller than Trajan’s column.

There is also a 10-meter base above ground and a 3 meter base below ground.  The column itself is about 29 meters high, but in total it is 42 meters tall.

Inside, it has a staircase with about 200 steps that go all the way to the top.  There are windows on each side of the column to let light in.

When the column was first built, it had a statue of Marcus at the very top.

But this was taken down and lost or broken at some point.  In 1586, a statue of St. Paul was put at the top to match the St. Peter’s figure on Trajan’s column.

Column Pictures

The pictures on the outside of the column show some of the wars that Marcus was in.  On the Colum of Marcus Aurelius, the details of the images are very clear.

The pictures have been made to stand out more, which makes them easier to see.

Some of the pictures are nearer to the top of the column.  Being close to the top has meant that they have been damaged by the weather.

The column has also been struck by lightning over the years because it is so tall.

Repair work

In 1589, the Pope wanted the broken parts of the column to be fixed.  This was done with limestone as marble cost a lot of money.

When the work to fix it was finished, the builders left a note behind which was cut into the stone.  The sign wrongly called the column, the column of Antonius.

Column of Marcus Aurelius Facts

  • The door to the inside of the column is now closed.  This means that people can’t go up or down the stairs inside.
  • The column is made from 27-28 marble blocks.  These would have had to have been lifted into place one-by-one.
  • The column was built after Marcus has died
  • It took 13 years to make the column
  • The pictures on the column tell the story of Marcus from about 166 AD until his death in 180 AD
  • The goddess of victory is also in the pictures on the outside of the column
  • In 1589, the Pope wanted parts of the column to be fixed.  Limestone was used to fix parts of the column
  • Around 1589 the statue of St. Paul was placed at the top.  The Statue of Marcus has been lost for many years


  • What was the name of Marcus’ brother?
  • What is the total height of the column?
    42 Meters
  • Who is at the top of the column?
    St. Paul
  • The column was built by Marcus to show how great he was.  True or False?
  • There are about 200 steps inside the column.  True or False?