A triumphal arch is a monumental structure in the shape of an archway with one or more arched passageways, often designed to span a road.
Triumphal arches are one of the most influential and distinctive types of architecture associated with ancient Rome. Thought to have been invented by the Romans, the triumphal arch was used to commemorate victorious generals or significant public events such as the founding of new colonies, the construction of a road or bridge, the death of a member of the imperial family or the accession of a new emperor.
Triumphal arch is also the name given to the arch above the entrance to the chancel of a medieval church where a rood can be placed.
The development of the triumphal arch is often associated with ancient Roman architecture.
The modern term "triumphal arch" derives from the notion that this form of architecture was connected to the award and commemoration of a triumph to particularly successful Roman generals, by vote of the Roman senate. The earliest arches set up to commemorate a triumph were made in the time of the Roman Republic. These were called fornices and bore imagery that described and commemorated the victory and triumph. Lucius Steritinus is known to have erected two such fornices in 196 BC to commemorate his victories in Hispania. Another fornix was built on the Capitoline Hill by Scipio Africanus in 190 BC, and Quintus Fabius Maximus Allobrogicus constructed one in the Roman Forum in 121 BC. None of these structures has survived and little is known about their appearance.