The Italian government announced plans to give Rome’s ancient Colosseum a new floor. The construction would allow future visitors to stand where gladiators once stood.
An Italian engineering firm won the contract, for the equivalent of $22 million, to design the floor.
The Colosseum currently does not have a floor. It was removed in the 19th Century by archaeologists to expose the underground network of tunnels, machinery and hiding chambers where gladiators and animals were held before being hoisted up to the arena floor.
Italy’s Cultural Minister, Dario Franceschini, tweeted a picture of what the new floor would look like, next to an undated older photo of the Colosseum before the floor was removed.
Il #Colosseo tornerà ad avere la sua arena. Dopo anni di studi è stato proclamato il progetto vincitore. Sarà reversibile, consentirà di visitare i sotterranei e di vedere la maestosità del Colosseo dal centro, come è stato per secoli sino a fine ‘800 https://t.co/DG6UOKRcB4 pic.twitter.com/dI9XtY9dxV— Dario Franceschini (@dariofrance) May 2, 2021
The new floor is made of slats of wood that can be rotated to allow light, air and visitors to see down into the passageways and chambers. The floor will also be reversible to allow visits to those underground tunnels, and allow future generations to make new floor design plans.
In addition to the new floor, CNN reports the restoration project could also get some of the ancient machinery working again under the floor.
Once the new floor is in place, Franceschini said the Colosseum could host cultural events
Bloody battles took place inside the Colosseum during the Roman Empire in front of large crowds, some estimate around 50,000 people could attend. It remains a popular tourist attraction in Italy, being visited by 7.6 million people in 2019.
Construction of the new floor is to be completed in 2023.