By Tim Binnall
An ambitious new project will provide visitors to the Roman Colosseum with a whole new perspective on the site as the Italian government plans to build a retractable floor for the famed arena. The remarkable undertaking, which was unveiled by the Italian Culture Ministry at a press conference over the weekend, was first conceived back in 2014 by archaeologist Daniele Manacorda. Since that time, a series of studies were conducted and the idea was determined to be feasible, leading to the Italian government soliciting bids from designers and ultimately awarding an $18 million contract to engineering consulting company Milan Ingegneria.
The original Colosseum floor had been removed by researchers around 1870 as they sought to excavate and study the elaborate underground tunnel system which served as the proverbial 'backstage' of the events held at the area. As seen in the video above, the new stage is set to be constructed out of a series of wooden slats that can be rotated in a manner akin to window blinds, allowing for ventilation as well as observation of the underground area. Measuring approximately 32,300-square-feet, the new floor will not necessarily be a permanent fixture as, much like its predecessor, it can be completely removed in the future should the Italian government decide to make additional changes to the site.
Construction of the modern-day stage is set to begin shortly and should only take about two years to complete. "In 2023, we will have the splendor of the Colosseum with its arena again," Italian culture minister Dario Franceschini reportedly rhapsodized at the press conference on Sunday. His enthusiasm was echoed by Colosseum director Alfonsina Russo, who marveled to reporters that "we are finally returning to the public the same view that people had from the stage of the monument during antiquity." To that end, future visitors will able to experience the site in a manner unlike anything possible in over a century as they'll have the opportunity to stand at the center of the floor and look out upon the area as the performers in the distant past once did.