The Colosseum in Rome has received a very special Christmas present – director of the amphitheatre, Alfonsina Russo, has announced that a new retractable floor will be added to turn the Colosseum into a prime arts venue for concerts and events.
The Colosseum has been without a retractable floor for more than 1,000 years, after playing host to gladiatorial events when it opened in 80AD. The exposed floor now reveals the tunnels and holding chambers for the gladiators, slaves, Christians and the wild animals used in fights.
Tenders for the new retractable floor are being received up to 1 February 2021 – and it is hoped work will be completed by 2023. The current platform stage (see far end of image above) was installed in the Colosseum in 1951 to enable it to host events and concerts, but now visitors will be able to walk in the steps of the gladiators themselves.
As many as 35,000 ancient Romans gathered at the Colosseum to watch the bloodthirsty sports – including the spectacle of gladiators fighting not only each other, but wild animals such as lions and tigers. Christians were also thrown to the lions until Emperor Constantine (ruled 306-337AD) and his mother Helena adopted Christianity and spread it through the Roman Empire.
Alfonsina Russo told The Times newspaper:
“The arena will be used for high culture – meaning concerts or theatre – but no gladiator shows.”
So it will be a happy Christmas for the Colosseum – and the Emperor’s thumbs up to the works proposed.
Buon viaggio e buon natale!
Note: If you like historic images, there is a press photo of workers fitting the 1951 Colosseum floor currently for sale on eBay.
Featured image A. Meredith