Rome reopens Mausoleum of Augustus: 'A dream becomes reality'

Mayor Virginia Raggi attends reopening of the tomb of Rome's first emperor.

Rome reopened the Mausoleum of Augustus, the largest circular tomb of the ancient world, in the presence of the city's mayor Virginia Raggi on the morning of 1 March.

Describing it as a "a dream that becomes reality," Raggi said: "We are returning to the whole world a jewel of the heritage of humanity, a symbol of Rome and its history."

The reopening of the tomb of Rome's first emperor follows extensive restoration works, largely financed by Italian telecommunications company TIM, and comes after decades of neglect.

The mausoleum opens to the public tomorrow, 2 March, and today the mayor welcomed a symbolic selection of guests from sectors "severely tested" by the coronavirus emergency, from health workers and teachers to restaurateurs and civil protection volunteers.

"This first day of the visit is dedicated to them," said Raggi, "because the reopening of the mausoleum is a symbol of rebirth for Rome and for Italy."

The mayor also acknowledged that the redevelopment works of Piazza Augusto Imperatore are still ongoing but once completed will return the area to its "former glory."

Works are also still underway inside the ancient site which is free to everyone until 21 April, Rome's 2,774th birthday, and after that it will remain free to all residents of the city.

However the visiting slots sold out not long after they became available to reserve online a few days before Christmas, with covid-19 restrictions to blame for the unexpected overbooking.

The city's superintendency has promised that new bookings will become available again from today, with availability up to 30 June.

When the time slots were made available late last year, all museums and archaeological sites were closed in Italy due to covid-19.

Museums reopened last month, in Italy's yellow zones, however only from Monday to Friday, something that could not have predicted when the first mausoleum visits were booked.

The city is now reportedly struggling to re-accommodate all the people (almost 1,000 according to Italian newspaper La Repubblica) who reserved their visits at weekends.

In the meantime the lucky few who booked a weekday ticket can visit in groups of 10 and will be able to explore the site with a guide on a 50-minute tour, from 09.00-16.00 (last entry 15.00).

In addition to more than €6 million in sponsorship from TIM, the restoration of the 13,000-sqm mausoleum was funded with around €4 million from the city and Italy's culture ministry.

The works, which began five years ago under the administration of former mayor Ignazio Marino, will also see the gradual pedestrianisation of the surrounding area and the relocation of the existing bus terminus.

Constructed in 28 BC, the mausoleum is the capital’s largest circular tomb and has been closed to the public for much of the last 80 years, with access stopped completely in 2007.

The structure was used as a concert hall in the late 19th- and early 20th century, and in the late 1930s the surrounding mediaeval buildings were demolished by Mussolini.

Over the years the monument has been the subject of numerous stalled renovation projects, one of which would have seen it ready in 2014 in time to mark the 2,000th anniversary of the death of Augustus.

The mausoleum is located in Piazza Augusto Imperatore alongside Richard Meiers’ Ara Pacis museum, which contains Augustus’s Altare della Pace to commemorate the peace created by the emperor.

For full details and booking see the Mausoleo di Augusto website. Photo Sovrintendenza Roma.

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Address Piazza Augusto Imperatore, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

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Rome reopens Mausoleum of Augustus: 'A dream becomes reality'

Piazza Augusto Imperatore, 00186 Roma RM, Italy