Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine

Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine

Date ca. 307 CE

Movement Roman

Located at Rome, Italy


Utilizing the barrel vault structure of the Baths of Caracalla, Maxentius commissioned an even grander building as his own Basilica, which would have been the largest building in Rome at the time. This would have been used as a judicial seat of the city, in which court officials would dispense the rule of the emperor.


Three barrel vaults comprise the width of the basilica, while another three comprise the wider and taller central aisle, or nave. Given the barrel vaults’ structure, the architects were able to create a clerestory upon the building’s top walls. The building had two entrances: one from steps to the south, leading to the Roman Forum; and another at the east, from which the viewers would have seen a statue in the opposing apse. Upon taking the throne from Maxentius, Constantine renamed the basilica after himself and placed his own, massive portrait in this apse.