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Colosseum to get major clean-up

Restoration, illumination project to kick off this year

10 March, 13:20
Colosseum to get major clean-up (ANSA) - Rome, March 10 - The Colosseum is to be restored, protected and lit up permanently in a project starting later this year.

The 2,000-year-old symbol of Rome will be cleared of decades of grime, said Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno.

The grungy and precarious state of the monument has been a "daily worry", Alemanno said.

The complete restoration of the almost 13,000 square meters of exterior walls will take some 20 million euros and about a year to complete.

Given the high cost, the project will be funded by private sponsors from Italy and abroad which Rome is already seeking. As well as the clean-up, unsightly barriers between the lowest arches will be removed and replaced by protective fences like the ones around the Roman Forum.

Then the monument, which is already lit up occasionally for special events, will get a permanent illumination system designed by a leading 'architect of light', Alemanno said.

The major project will follow work under way to open up and make safe the Colosseum-topping attic, with its Corinthian columns and small windows, as well as the third tier and, far below, the underground network of tunnels, whose remains are visible, that took gladiators and wild beasts up to the arena.

The work on these parts has already been funded to the tune of 1.8 million euros, said Colosseum commissioner Roberto Cecchi, who recently approved the plan.

Next in immediate line, said Culture Undersecretary Francesco Giro, will be "cleaning up the second tier and restoring the sightliness of the first tier".

Giro said this was "urgent intervention made necessary to fight the monument's ongoing decay".

But the comprehensive revamp which Alemanno is putting together is also "essential", Giro stressed.

"The Colosseum, naturally, also needs a complete restoration, especially of its exterior," the official said.

This project would include new fire and security systems and state-of-the-art metal detectors which, like the fence, would be positioned "at some distance" from the monument.

'EPOCH-MAKING' WORK.

Alemanno recently called the planned project "epoch-making" and said it would make the monument safe for years to come.

The Colosseum would make ''a leap" that will stave off all conservation concerns, he said, likening the project to the one that restored the Sistine Chapel from 1984 to 1994.

The Colosseum or the Flavian Amphitheatre (its proper name) is perhaps the most visited archeological site and museum in the world with some four million visitors a year.

Construction on the city's iconic monument started between 70 and 72 AD under the Emperor Vespasian.

It was completed in 80 AD by his son Titus, who financed the project from the booty his armies seized in the war against the Jews in 66-70 AD.

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