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History

The Palazzo della Civiltà: the so called Square Colosseum

28th Jun 2015

Did you know there is more than one Colosseum in Rome? The lesser known version, commonly called the ‘Square Colosseum’ by the locals, or its correct name which is ‘Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana’ is situated about 20 minutes out of the city centre by metro in the district known as the Esposizione Universale Roma or EUR.  

Many visitors will spot this historic landmark on their way into Rome from Leonardo da Vinci (Fiumicino) international Airport, as it’s situated not too far off the highway.

Initiated by Italy’s infamous dictator Benito Mussolini over 80 years ago, it was built on the site for the 1942 world’s fair to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Fascism. The fair actually never took place due to the Second World War.

The structure is considered one of the most representative examples of fascist architecture in the area. Inspired by the 2000 year old original Colosseum, the building also has a series of superimposed loggias, shown on the facade as six rows of nine arches each and at the top of the building, you will notice an inscription which reads “One nation of poets, artists, heros, saints, thinkers, scientists, navigators and travellers”.

The palace is entirely clad in travertine marble, which is similar to many of the buildings in the EUR district. Although nothing like the original Colosseum in size, the base does cover an area of 8,400 square meters and stands 20 metres taller at 68 metres in height.

While it is truly an interesting piece of architecture, it may not be on the top of your ‘To Do’ list when visiting Rome. Although it does make for fantastic photo opportunities, it’s probably better saved for when you find yourself with some extra time on your hands. If it’s your first time to Rome, then I would highly recommend taking time out to experience the ‘Real’ Colosseum. I recently took an Underground Colosseum Tour, where I got to delve deep beneath the arena floor and into the tunnels where gladiators would wait before facing their death just metres above. From here you can just imagine the sound of thousands of screaming spectators. I also found it fascinating to go to the complete opposite end of the spectrum and climb to the top third tier. From here you have spectacular views over the stadium and surrounding ancient ruins. You will also witness many more of dictator Benito Mussolini’s famous structures in the the not too far distance.

Although Mussolini was never liked by his people, I have to say that I personally really enjoy many of his architectural achievements that stand today scattered around the city.

– By David Dodd –