The floor of Rome’s Colosseum, where gladiators once fought against each other and wild animals, is set to be restored to its former glory.
Milan Ingegneria, a structural engineering and architectural firm, has won a bid of € 18.5 million. (£ 16m) To build and install a retractable arena floor that allows visitors to “see the majesty of the monument” from its center, Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said on Sunday.
“In 2023, we will have the Colosseum with its arena again,” Franceschini added.
The Roman amphitheater, completed under Emperor Titus in AD80, once had a wooden floor covered with sand, built on top of a network of tunnels and spaces where gladiators and animals waited before entering the arena.
But the floor was removed in the late 1800s when archaeologists began excavating the underground levels of the structure. The underground area was opened to the public in 2010 and visitors can also see the tunnels as they look down from what were the differentiated rows of seats.
The new high-tech scene will be able to quickly cover or uncover the underground networks below so they can be protected from rain or sent out.
Franceschini said the floor would be sustainable and reversible, meaning it could be removed if plans for the Colosseum, which was built to host up to 60,000 spectators, were changed in the future.
The stage could also host cultural events, Franceschini added.
“It is an ambitious project that helps preserve and protect the monument and improve its usability,” he said.
The idea of rebuilding the arena in the Colosseum, the largest amphitheater built during the Roman Empire, was first put forward by archaeologist Daniele Manacorda in 2014. The idea was supported by Franceschini, who said at the time that the arena could also be used for restoration. resolutions of the gladiatorial fights. In Roman times, crowds would fill the Colosseum to watch gladiators defeat animals, including bears, tigers, elephants and rhinos.
In 2014, the monument underwent a € 25 million restoration, paid for by the luxury brand Tod’s.
The Colosseum reopened to visitors on Monday as coronavirus restrictions were eased. Before the pandemic, it would accommodate up to 3,000 people at a time. Currently, only groups of 14 can enter, with staff having to ensure a 15-minute interval between each group.