Ancient Roman monument gets makeover

2017-05-02 23:00
(Ettorre Ferrari, AP)

(Ettorre Ferrari, AP)

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Rome - The mausoleum of Emperor Augustus, a towering monument when it was built in 28 BC but long a decrepit eyesore in Rome's historic centre, is being restored. The  €10m public-private facelift is expected to be completed in 2019.

The structure, located along the Tiber River, is made up of circular, vaulted corridors with the sepulcher in the centre. It has been covered with trees, weeds and garbage and closed to the public since the 1970s because of safety concerns.

Its restoration is being financed by the city of Rome, the culture ministry and a €6m donation from the TIM phone company.

Mayor Virginia Raggi on Tuesday donned a protective helmet and paid a visit. "I hope the mausoleum will be given back as soon as possible to the people",  she said.

Augustus had the mausoleum built for himself and the imperial family and it also houses the bones and ashes of Emperors Vespasian, Nero and Tiberius, each indicated with a marble plaque.

Convenient shop

The structure, originally 90m in diameter and 45m high, featured a bronze sculpture of Augustus on the roof.

Over the centuries it was used as a fortress, for bullfights and for concerts. Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, eager to revive Roman imperial glory, restored the area and built a square piazza around it called the Piazza Augusto Imperatore, which today houses upscale restaurants and shops.

The restored mausoleum will have an adjoining museum, lifts and a shop, making it a convenient stop alongside the nearby Ara Pacis altar which received a Richard Meier-designed protective covering a decade ago.

Augustus was 35 when he had the mausoleum built, shortly after his victory in the naval Battle of Actium, where he defeated the fleets of Antony and Cleopatra, consolidating his power and making him the undisputed leader of the Roman Empire.

Read more on:    italy  |  archaeology

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