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The history of the church that was never built inside the Colosseum

2017-04-14

This is the church that was to be built inside the Colosseum dedicated to Christian martyrs. The project was never carried out, but it would have forever transformed this symbol of Roman culture. 

FRANCESCO PROSPERETTI
"There is a beautiful model that shows a shrine to the Christian martyrs, designed by Carlo Fontana, that would have forever transformed the Colosseum's atmosphere into a Christian dimension, celebrating these Christian martyrs, but it only remained in the project phase."

Though the church inside the arena was never built, every Good Friday the Colosseum remembers these Christian martyrs, by holding the Way of the Cross, presided over by the pope. 

These and other stories explain the "Colosseum. An Icon” exhibition, in which the Colosseum, for the first time, is explaining itself. 

FRANCESCO PROSPERETTI
"This time we wanted to tell the story of the Colosseum's image, a powerful, and very strong, image. It is a  name that has been imposed throughout centuries, in millennia, as the name of a unique place. With this exhibition, we are trying to go through its life, because it is really a life that lasts two millennia, a monument that has changed its functions many times.”

Functions include, for example, being a family home during the Middle Ages. These remains bear witness to it. Inside the Colosseum, hundreds of people who used these vessels and jugs, discovered during excavations in the 19th century, worked, traded and lived. 

FRANCESCO PROSPERETTI
"Really the shape of the Colosseum, the architecture of the Colosseum, is stronger than its own function that has changed so many times over the millennia."

The Colosseum was a factory, a loom, hospice,  stable for animals, a quarry and, after the fourteenth earthquake that destroyed half of it, was even a fortress. In fact, there were these colossal statues and columns that were part of its decoration, which are now carefully preserved as stone witnesses of all the structure's past life. 037WD00 019JR00 0347Q00



The exhibition also talks about its future life, as this structure's potential has inspired artists and architects of all times, even so far as to imitate it. This is the case of the so-called square Colosseum, an attempt by fascism to be used as a symbol of Rome. Benito Mussolini ordered it to be built for the World's Fair of 1942, which was never celebrated because of World War II.


The Colosseum is unique and unrepeatable, it only takes one look to know that there will never be another building that represents so much for civilization.


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