I was intrigued by a story in The Times of London today, demonstrating yet again the ingenuity of Italian architects in adding new touches to the ancient buildings. The newspaper reports: “The Colosseum in Rome is about to get its floor back after 1,500 years, allowing visitors to stand on the spot where thousands of gladiators met a gory death.”
The good news is that they will not be reintroducing Roman games! The idea is simply to give visitors an idea of exactly Colosseum once looked and what it must have been like to be a gladiator or thrown to the lions. It will also enable the arena to stage ‘high-culture’ events.
The new €15 million floor, designed by the architectural firm Milan Ingegneria, has revolving wooden slats that retract along runners, so that the arena can host events without permanently covering its ancient foundations, including the cells and cages where animals Christians were kept.
The new ‘usable, but removable’ solution is made of wooden slats which can be turned 90 degrees to a vertical position and then retracted along runners like a Venetian blind, opening apertures in the floor, which covers a space to some 3000 square metres.
The Times reports: “After entertaining Romans for centuries with bloody contests between gladiators and wild animals, the curtain came down at the Colosseum at the end of the 5th century AD as the Roman Empire collapsed.
“Soon the wooden arena floor vanished, and earth began to fill the basement rooms where the animals were once kept. That earth floor was slowly dug out at the end of the 19th century, meaning that modern visitors looking down from the tiered seating areas into the basement might struggle to imagine where the fighting once took place.”
When new floor is finished you will be able to stand in the centre of the Colosseum and look up and around at the crowds. Just hope your friends and relatives don’t give you the thumbs down!