Thursday. 23.05.2024

The Mausoleum of Augustus, the long-neglected resting place of the first emperor of ancient Rome, is scheduled to reopen to the public on 1 March after a major restoration.

"This unique monument is reopening to the world after 14 years," Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi said in a Friday press conference. "It is a historic moment."

She said visits would be free until 21 April, the day Rome celebrates the anniversary of its foundation. According to tradition, the Eternal City's history started in 753 BC.

Augustus, who lived from 63 BC to 14 AD, is credited with bringing peace and stability to the Roman empire after the assassination of his great uncle, Julius Caesar.

He avenged the death by defeating Mark Antony and Cleopatra in 31 AD.

His mausoleum, a circular structure 87 metres wide and 45 metres high, survived through the centuries as it was put to different uses, such as a garden and a theatre.

Fascist Benito Mussolini

In the early 20th century, a concert hall was built on top of it, but Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, who saw himself as a modern-day emperor, had it destroyed in the 1930s as part of his grand designs to dig up the vestiges of Rome's ancient civilization.

After World War II, the site gradually fell into disrepair.

The mausoleum was often held up as an example of Italy's inability to properly look after its precious monuments. The late heritage campaigner Antonio Cederna used to call it Rome's "rotting tooth."

Public grant, donation

The monument was restored thanks to a 4.3-million-euro (5.3-million-dollar) public grant and an undisclosed donation from TIM, an Italian telecoms firm.

Part of the attraction of the spruced-up site is a new open-air walkway on the top, offering a spectacular bird's-eye view of the monument and its surroundings.

The city of Rome is redeveloping and partially pedestrianizing the square around the mausoleum, characterized by Fascist-era architecture. Works are due to be completed by the end of 2023.

Resting place of Rome's Emperor Augustus to reopen in March 2021