Whatever you make of its new container, it's a relief that Augustus' great monument has finally been liberated after years hidden beneath scaffolding: its Luna marble glows in architect Richard Meier's luminous space. Outside, the flank of the building towards piazza Augusto Imperatore has been carved with the Res Gestae, Augustus' testament to his 'things done'.
Inaugurated in 9 BC, the altar of Augustan peace celebrated the end of the civil war and strife that had characterised the last years of the Republic, and the wealth and security brought by Augustus' victories. Originally located a few hundred metres away (off via in Lucina, behind the church of San Lorenzo in Lucina), the ara was designed to overlook the urban stretch of via Flaminia (now via del Corso) by which Augustus had re-entered the city after three years' absence in Spain and Gaul. The altar as we see it now was reconstructed by the Fascists in the 1930s, after major excavations under the palazzo that had been built over the altar - its position known from fragments discovered during building work in the 16th century - and an equally major trawl through the world's museums looking for missing bits.