Colosseum floor where men fought to be restored to its former glory

It’s back to the future for Rome’s Colosseum as the historic landmark’s floor where gladiators fought to the death to be restored to its former glory

  • The floor of Rome’s historic Colosseum is set to be restored to its former glory
  • Italian culture minister promised visitors will ‘see the majesty of the monument’
  • The £16million project will build and install a retractable arena floor by 2023 

The floor of Rome’s Colosseum is to be restored to its former glory, it was announced yesterday.

The ground that saw gladiators fight wild animals and each other will again let visitors see ‘the majesty of the monument’, according to Italian culture minister Dario Franceschini.

Engineering firm Milan Ingegneria has won a £16 million bid to build and install a retractable arena floor, with the project set to be completed in two years. 

Rome’s historic Colloseum is to have its floor replaced in a project set to cost at least £16million

An artist’s impression of what the finished floor of the Colosseum will look like in two years’ time

Mr Franceschini said: ‘In 2023, we will have the splendour of the Colosseum with its arena again.’

The amphitheatre once had a sand-covered wooden floor on top of a network of tunnels and fighters’ waiting rooms.

The floor was removed in the 19th century so architects could excavate the levels below it. It was opened to the public to see the underground area in 2010 and the new stage will be able to cover or uncover the underground networks.

The stage will also be able to host cultural events, Mr Franceschini said.

The original floor had been replaced in the 1800s when it was removed for an archaeological dig to take place

A gladiatorial fight in Rome’s Colosseum, as depicted in ‘Pollice Verso’ an 1872 oil painting by France’s Jean-Léon Gérôme 

The new retractable stage will be able to cover or uncover the underground networks when it opens in 2023

The Colosseum was reopened to visitors last Monday as the region was created a yellow zone 

Visitors at the Colloseum ask for directions as it finally reopened after 41 days closure because of Covid

Visitors to the historic site are restricted to 1,260 a day, compared to its usual 25,000 in pre-pandemic 2019

The Colosseum was reopened to visitors last Monday.

The stage was original to the first-century amphitheater and existed until the 1800s when it was removed for archaeological digs on the subterranean levels of the ancient structure, Franceschini said.

The project should be completed by 2023. The mobile system will be able to quickly cover or uncover the underground structures below, to both protect them from rain or allow them to be aired out. 

The project is reversible, meaning it can be removed if plans for the Colosseum change in the future.

Since the Colosseum reopened to the public last week after a 41-day closure because of rolling pandemic restrictions, officials set up a one-way itinerary as part of safety measures, and visitors are limited to 1,260 a day, compared with as many as 25,000 a day in 2019, pre-pandemic.


Pictured: Rome’s Colosseum

The Colosseum is an oval-shaped amphitheatre — the largest ever built — that stands in the centre of Rome.

Its construction was built during the reign of emperor Vespasian in 72 AD and completed under the rule of his successor, Titus, in 80 AD.

It is believed that it could have housed between 50,000–80,000 spectators, who would have could to see shows of gladiatorial combat, wild animal hunts, acrobats and executions by beast.

Some accounts suggest that, early in its history, it was possible to flood the arena using water from a nearby aqueduct, as to re-enact naval battles.

This practice, however, was likely halted after the emperor Domitian ordered the construction of the ‘hypogeum’ — the elaborate substructure beneath the arena floor which would have housed animals, props and slaves. 

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