Rome’s Colosseum Getting a Facelift

Rome’s most famous monument, the Colosseum, is getting a much-needed renovation. In its 2,000 years, the Colosseum has suffered from centuries of earthquakes and neglect, leaving its structure partially damaged and its walls covered in grime. Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno told Ansa News that the extensive project would focus on the cleanup and restoration of the landmark’s exterior walls. New barriers similar to those at the Roman Forum will replace the unattractive fences currently in place between the lowest-level arches, and a permanent illumination system will be installed to light up the Colosseum at night.

Original construction on the Colosseum, officially called the Flavian Amphitheatre, started around 70 AD under the direction of Emperor Vespasian and was completed in 80 AD by Vespasian’s son Titus, who funded its construction with the loot he gained from the war against the Jews in 66-70 AD. It gets around 4 million visitors per year

The project is expected to cost 20 million euros and take about a year, and is being funded entirely by private sponsors from around the world. Alemanno expects the renovation to make the monument safe for years to come, calling the project “epoch-making” and comparing it to the 1984-1994 renovation of the Sistine Chapel.

Work is currently being done to restore the Colosseum’s upper attic, third tier, and underground tunnels, where gladiators and wild animals waited to fight in the arena, making these areas safe for visitors. Colosseum Culture Undersecretary Francesco Giro said that a restoration for the first and second tiers, along with an installation of a state-of-the-art fire safety and security system, is also planned. — Elaine Murphy