For decades one of Rome’s biggest heartaches has been the Tiber – the gorgeous river snaking through its heart has been totally overlooked. Until now, that is – and renowned South African artist William Kentridge is creating lots of buzz with a mural bigger than the one in the Sistine Chapel.

The largest public art work in Rome since the completion of Michaelangelo’s masterpiece, Kentridge’s 550-metre-long, 10-metre-high frieze, “Triumphs and Laments: A Project for the City of Rome”, will adorn the embankment walls along the Tiber – at least for a while, before it naturally vanishes with the elements. It officially opens on April 21. In a video in which Kentridge plays a double role opposite himself, he explains “Triumphs and Laments”.

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Photos: Tevereterno.

Read our travel story on cycling around Rome and along the Tiber.

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The project is backed by Tevereterno, a nonprofit that since 2004 has produced cultural events that promote the potential of Rome’s Tiber River.

“Exploring dominant tensions in the history of the Eternal City from past to present, a procession of figures, up to 10 meters high, will represent Rome’s greatest victories and defeats from mythological time to present, forming a silhouetted procession on Piazza Tevere, between Ponte Sisto and Ponte Mazzini,” the Triumphs website says.

A gorgeous video of what the Tiber is and what it’s becoming:

Best known for his prints, drawings and animated films, Kentridge’s exhibitions include, among many others, a recent retrospective organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in the United States; and at Castello di Rivoli, MAXXI, and Villa Medici al Madre a Capodimonte in Italy.

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A shot of the Tiber embankment on the Triumphs and Legends website.