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The Colosseum is one of the most popular attractions in Rome. And it's about to get even more interesting. The Italian government recently revealed that it's planning to add a retractable floor to the ancient amphitheater to host performances and give visitors the chance to see the basement.
Colosseum Archaeological Park and Italy's Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Activities and Tourism worked together to develop a plan to revamp the disintegrated floor. The overall goal was to make the previously unusable arena floor functional again.
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The two-story hypogeum consisted of 80 lifting mechanisms used to transport animals and gladiators into the ring after the structure's completion in 80 AD. At the height of the Roman Empire, some 50,000 to 80,000 people would attend events in the arena. But it would eventually fall into disrepair after the civilization fell from grace. Incredibly, the forum lasted for centuries afterwards, although the hypogeum became exposed over the years after the wooden floor decayed.
This retractable floor would be a multi-pronged solution. The plans show that it will be installed above the hypogeum to view the historical space while also protecting it from the elements. Plus, it enables performances to occur and allows visitors to view the Colosseum from the center.
For now, design teams are being asked to submit their bids by February 1 to have a chance to create the unique mechanism that's estimated to cost $22.6 million. The plan is to install the retractable floor by 2023, including elevators, to the arena's underground portion.
"The reconstruction of the Colosseum arena is a great idea which traveled around the world," said Italian Minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities Dario Franceschini in a statement. "It will be a great technological intervention which will give visitors the chance not only to see the basements but to admire the beauty of the Colosseum from the center of the arena."