Visitors will be able to stand in the arena, just as Christian martyrs did.
Plans are underway to install a floor in Rome’s ancient Colosseum, the site of Christian executions and gladiator contests.
Within two years, visitors will be able to stroll out into the center of the arena and imagine themselves in the position of a Christian, dressed up in animal skins and ready to be devoured by Nero’s dogs.
The $18 million project will install a retractable 32,300-square-foot floor, with rotating wooden slats that will reveal the chambers underneath.
Italy’s culture minister, Dario Franceschini, told Reuters that the new floor will make visiting the Colosseum more of an immersive experience.
“You will be able to walk on it and go to the center of the Colosseum, seeing it in the same way as visitors used to up to the end of the 19th century,” Franceschini told Reuters.
In Ancient Rome, a sand-covered wooden floor topped a subterranean network of tunnels and chambers where animals and fighters were held until they were brought out.
The idea for restoring the arena’s floor came from archaeologist Daniele Manacorda in 2014 in Archeo. At the time, critics fretted that the storied ancient ruin could be turned into a rock concert venue or soccer stadium.
Italian culture minister Dario Franceschini supported the idea, and invited architects to submit designs for a new floor.
“Where is it written that you can’t protect the value of the Colosseum while also making it more dynamic and useable?” he said at that time.
With the acceptance of a proposal for a new floor, Italy moves a step closer that dream. Whether this means that tourists can buy tickets for historical reenactments of gladiator fights or executions remains to be seen.