New “Majestic” Views for Colosseum Visitors
The Italian Government has recently approved the long-anticipated plan to refurbish the Colosseum’s arena. The new plan will give visitors the chance to stand exactly where gladiators and wild animals once fought.
In the Eternal City of iconic and ancient monuments, the Colosseum amphitheater is the most known; looming large as the symbol of Rome. Inaugurated in 80 AD by Emperor Titus, the freestanding structure of stone was the hub of entertainment where 35,000 barbarous Romans would fight. The arena originally had a wooden floor, atop an underground network of tunnels where wild animals were caged, and stage sets prepared for the gladiators.
Cut to 1,934 years later, and the first idea of re-constructing the arena for regular, less bloody cultural events is first mentioned and supported by Roman officials and Culture Minister Franceschini. Presently, the monument arena is without a floor, having been removed in the 6th century after the final gladiator battles were staged. The basement was also filled in, though later excavated by 19th century archaeologists, exposing the subterranean levels to the public for the first time. Today’s visitors can look down into this excavated and complicated basement, but struggle to fully comprehend its history. Due to the lack of proximity, it is difficult to feel impacted by the place where over a million animals and half a million gladiators died.
Reconnecting the thread of time, we are finally returning to the public the same view that people had from the stage of the monument during antiquitysaid Alfonsina Russo, director of the Colosseum and its archaeological park.
The exciting construction was announced by Culture Minister Dario Franceschini. The aim of the refurbishment will be for the public to fully understand and utilize the “icon of the ancient world”, and to be used for modern theatre, music, and sporting events:
It will be a major technological intervention that will offer visitors the opportunity to not only see the underground rooms, but also appreciate the beauty of the Colosseum while standing in the center of the arenasaid Franceschini.
The arena has actually been used already for a handful of intimate concerts, including a performance by Sir Paul McCartney of The Beatles, who entertained just 400 people in 2003!
The Engineering and Architecture firm Milan Ingegneria won the contract of 18.5 million euro to design the new stucture. It was one of ten firms competing for the highly sought-after bid. Their winning design involves installing hundreds of sustainable, rotational and wooden planks around a 3,000 sq-meter floor. This will allow light and air into the underground excavations. The work is expected to start next year, and is likely to feature trap doors and hidden lifts. Franceschini further mentioned that the new flooring must be able to quickly cover the underground networks below, in order to protect from the rain.
It’s an ambitious project that will help the conservation and protection of the monument and improve its usabilityMinister Franceschini added.
Prior to the pandemic, the monument attracted around 7.6 million people per year. Easing coronavirus restrictions means that the Colosseum is now open to the public, allowing a limiting 1,260 visitors per day. There is expectation that by 2023, the surface should be complete, and the visitor count will return to its thousands per day.