Heraldry of Rome – Part I

COA Rome

I recently had the pleasure to visit Rome, Italy for a couple of days. What an amazing experience! The beauty of the city is unparalleled and I highly recommend everyone visits.

More appropriate to the subject of this blog, Rome is practically swimming in heraldry! It’s everywhere you look. In every street, you will run into a coat of arms adorning a church or a secular building. It’s a thing of beauty!

Inspired by my short stay in Rome, a series of posts will be published showing the arms I encountered just walking the streets. Note that I did not go out looking for heraldry, I just ran into it!

As this is the first of a series of posts on the heraldry I ran into during my very short visit I will start with a brief history of the arms of the Eternal City itself.


(image originally from www.araldicacivica.it released under GNU to Wikipedia)

The blazon of the arms is: Gules in bend a cross and the letters S P Q R Or

For a city with an outstanding heraldic history and an immense heraldic wealth, we run into a case where the city’s arms are, in my personal opinion, ugly. I have never been a fan of writing/letters in arms and this example doesn’t change my mind.

Having said that, I fully understand the history and meaning of the arms. I also have complete respect for the story behind them. However, I think it would’ve been better if the design did not have any writing on it.

But, as the Romans say: suum cuique

SPQR stands for “Senatus Populusque Romanus” or, in English, “The Senate and the People of Rome”. Though it is not certain when was the first appearance of this phrase, it is found mostly during the Roman Republic period that began in the 5th century BC.

As expected of any city’s insignia, the Roman Coat of Arms can be found everywhere. From fountains to manhole covers to water drains, the simple shield can be seen anywhere.

Interestingly, the initials SPQR are found on other arms as well. A prime example is the northern Italian city of Reggio Emilia whose arms are displayed below:


(image courtesy of Wikipedia)

The blazon of these arms is: Argent a cross between the letters S P Q R Gules

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