Rome reveals Hadrian's hidden Athenaeum

Ancient Roman site had been obscured by hoarding in recent years.

Hadrian's Athenaeum is once again visible to passersby after the city removed the concrete barriers and hoarding that had long obscured the ancient site in Piazza della Madonna di Loreto.

The sunken ruins are now protected with a new fence and the surrounding pavements have been repaved sampietrini cobblestones as part of city works carried out in the Piazza Venezia area.

The news was announced by Rome mayor Virginia Raggi who is seeking re-election later this year.

When the excavation of the 900-seat auditorium was completed in 2013, archaeologists hailed it as the city's most significant discovery since the Roman Forum was unearthed 80 years ago.

The ancient arts complex or Athenaeum, which lies 5.5m underground, dates to 123 AD and its construction is believed to have been funded by Emperor Hadrian, a keen patron of the arts.

It comprises three halls whose 13m-high arched ceilings and terraced marble seating once provided space for Rome's noblemen to listen to poetry and philosophy.

After the fall of the Roman empire, archaeologists believe that the complex was used to smelt ingots and mint coins during the Byzantine era, while from the 16th- to the 19th centuries one of the halls served as a hospital cellar.

An earthquake in 848 AD led to a large part of the structure’s roof collapsing onto the floor of one of the halls, where it still remains.

The archaeologists' discovery follows years of excavations and came about as a result of digging for Metro C, the capital’s third underground line. Photo Virginia Raggi.

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Address Piazza della Madonna di Loreto, Roma RM, Italy

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Rome reveals Hadrian's hidden Athenaeum

Piazza della Madonna di Loreto, Roma RM, Italy