The Colosseum in Rome will be getting a new arena floor, allowing visitors to see the nearly 2,000-year-old structure from the point of view of the gladiators who once fought there.
Italy's culture minister unveiled the winning design on Sunday, with the project slated to be completed by 2023.
What are the plans?
An engineering firm from Milan beat out 10 competitors with their design for a wooden-slat stage.
The 3,000-square-meter (32,300-square-foot) structure will extend over the currently floorless Colosseum, covering the remains of walls and tunnels that were once below the floor of the arena.
The new stage will be lightweight and flexible, able to provide ventilation for the ruins beneath it.
A video of the design posted by the Culture Ministry shows the structure can be completely retracted if needed.
The rainwater that gathers in the lower levels will be collected and used for the toilets at the Roman monument.
Once installed, visitors will be able to stand in the heart of the Colosseum, the same perspective that gladiators and slaves forced to fight saw in ancient Rome.
According to the ministry, the new stage is also entirely reversible — meaning it can be easily removed in the future should plans for the monument change.
Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said the project will allow the public "to see the majesty of the monument."
"It's another step forward toward rebuilding the arena, an ambitious project that will aid the conservation of the archaeological structures while getting back to the original image of the Colosseum and its quality as a complex scenographic machine," Franceschini said.
He added that it will also be used to host cultural events in the Colosseum in the future.
A symbol of Italy
The Colosseum, the largest ancient amphitheater still standing, was constructed in the first century AD.
The original arena floor was removed in the 1800s when archaeological digs were carried out on the lower levels of the monument.
Starting last week, visitors were once again permitted inside the Colosseum. It had been shut for over 40 days due to coronavirus restrictions.
Currently, up to 1,260 people are allowed to visit per day and must adhere to a one-way path through the structure.
Prior to the pandemic, the monument saw as many as 25,000 visitors a day.
rs/sms (AP, AFP)