Rome's Other Colosseum

By | June 27, 2019

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Sunlight through the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. Source: (

Rome’s ancient Flavian Amphitheater, the Colosseum, is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world. It has stood for almost two thousand years, and stories of events that unfolded there have shaped Western art, history, and even religion. But just a few miles to the south, in the EUR neighborhood largely overlooked by tourists, lies one of the most fascinating buildings in the entire city: the Square Colosseum.

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Street between buildings in EUR, Rome, Italy. Source: (

The World Fair

Shortly before the outbreak of World War Two in Europe, Fascist Italy was chosen to host the 1942 World Fair. The year was significant because it marked the 20th anniversary of Mussolini’s March on Rome—the bloodless coup that led him to power. In his mind, this was a perfect opportunity to modernize the infrastructure of the Italian capital, contribute to his propaganda efforts, and showcase the alleged superiority of fascism to the world.

In December of 1936, an independent agency was formed to oversee construction of the site for the Esposizione Universale Roma, and the eponymous neighborhood EUR was born. Several plans were considered and modified, but the master proposal from lead architect Marcello Piacentini was finalized in 1939.

Conceived as a new business district with wide geometric streets, modern offices, and new monuments all sharing the austere rationalist style favored by the Italian Fascists, the neighborhood would allow Rome to expand away from the tangled lanes and cramped quarters of the historic center.