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Top Levels of Colosseum Open After Restoration

Monday, October 9, 2017

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The fourth and fifth levels of one of Rome’s most iconic monuments are now open to visitors for the first time in 40 years.

Following the first phase of the Colosseum’s extensive cleaning and restoration work, officials are now offering guided tours of what was once considered “the cheap seats.”

© iStock.com / nickgavluk

Following the first phase of the Colosseum’s extensive cleaning and restoration work, officials are now offering guided tours of what was once considered “the cheap seats.”

“It’s not been possible to visit this part of the Colosseum for 40 years. This restores another part of the monument to the public and provides incredible views of not only the Colosseum but also Rome,” said Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini.

Restoration

Work on the landmark was spurred by a governmental call for private investors to help save historic monuments (as many have fallen into disrepair because of a lack of funds). Shoe manufacturing company Tod’s stepped up to the plate, with its owner Diego Della Valle putting up 25 million euros ($29.3 million) for the project.

In the initial phase, crews worked to remove centuries of soot and grime, strengthened the northern and southern facades and replaced metal gates and barriers in the arches of the ground level.

The work is reportedly the most extensive that the structure has ever seen. It’s also the first time that it’s been cleaned.

© iStock.com / allekk

Work on the landmark was spurred by a governmental call for private investors to help save historic monuments (as many have fallen into disrepair because of a lack of funds). Shoe manufacturing company Tod’s stepped up to the plate, with its owner Diego Della Valle putting up 25 million euros for the project.

Crews used water misters and hand brushes to remove the grime from the travertine stone. The work lasted three years, as the site was still open to the millions of tourists that come through each year, with crews putting up scaffolding in just one section at a time. The Associated Press reports that the exterior cleaning alone cost about 6.5 million euros.

Architect Gisella Cappni directed the restoration and said that all the grime made the monument look like it was in more ruin than it actually was.

The structure was blackened, mostly from years of soot in the air. To combat that happening again, the government has enacted an ordinance forbidding private vehicles on the nearby boulevard. Taxis and buses are allowed on weekdays, and on weekends the boulevard is only open to foot traffic and bicycles.

"If the heavy traffic, which did the damage, returns, all you'll need is three, four years to coat the Colosseum again in soot," said Colosseum director Rossella Rea.

Future Plans

With the massive cleaning in the past, upkeep now will consist of an annual “checkup,” when crews will remove weeds and perform other work.

© iStock.com / zorazhuang

With the massive cleaning in the past, upkeep now will consist of an annual “checkup,” when crews will remove weeds and perform other work.

The next phase includes plans to create a new visitor center and renovate the underground vaults as well as the arena floor. The last of the improvements is seen as especially important because it will allow different events to be held at the historic site.

Under Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, the government has pledged 18 million euros for this phase, which is slated to be complete by the end of 2018.

   

Tagged categories: Architectural history; Architecture; Historic Preservation; Historic Structures; Stone

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (10/9/2017, 9:36 AM)

That level of soot deposition makes you think about the high levels of particulate pollution (largely from diesel vehicles and coal power plants) - and what it's doing to people as well. Apparently almost half million Europeans die every year from particulate pollution. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-38078488


Comment from Jesse Melton, (10/10/2017, 7:59 AM)

You've got a point there Tom. 2,000 years of constant exposure to the elements, a bunch of big earthquakes, and the sacking of Rome and in about 100 years we've trashed the place with the same air we've got to breathe. Sadly, the air here in the US isn't any better and we've got an airborne heavy metals problem that's far worse than in Europe. Fortunately, the idea of eternal structures never caught on here, so all our buildings will have fallen down before the effects of our atmosphere start to show.


Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (10/11/2017, 4:48 PM)

At least we seem to be on the cusp of significant improvements - coal fired power plants are being shut down, wind and solar are taking off, and electric cars have had prices coming down with capability going up. Taken together to logical levels, we should see a massive improvement in air quality for very little net cost, or even for less money. Wind is already the cheapest power here in Texas, and my power-co-op is putting in their own field of solar panels because it's cheaper than the grid power contract they have.


Comment from Michael Halliwell, (10/13/2017, 11:57 AM)

Unfortunately, outdoor air quality is better than indoor in many western countries. So just think....if the outdoor air quality is that bad, just what are you breathing at home, school or work?


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