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The Tomb of Augustus, Rome’s First Emperor, Is Opening This Spring

News Archaeology
by Eben Diskin Jan 27, 2021

Rome certainly has no shortage of attractions to draw visitors from all over the world, but now it’s adding one more to its already impressive roster. The tomb of Augustus, the first emperor of Rome, will finally reopen to the public after a 13-year restoration process. It has largely been closed for the past 80 years, with the exception of brief periods of opening.

The Mausoleo di Augusto is the largest circular tomb of the ancient world, at 295 feet in diameter and 147 feet in height. It’s served many different purposes throughout history, apart from its function as a tomb, including a medieval fortress, an amphitheater, a concert hall, and a bullfighting and jousting ring.

Augustus, who was born in 63 BCE, ordered work on the tomb to begin in 28 BCE after his victory over Mark Antony and Cleopatra. Although built to house the emperor and his family, the tomb was nearly as large as nearby Pincian Hill. Today, only a third of the original structure remains.

Restorations were completed in two stages and cost over $12 million. The burial space has been restored, a spiral staircase leading to the monument’s roof has been reconstructed, and the area has been landscaped appropriately. Even the Piazza Augusto square outside the mausoleum is being updated.

The mausoleum will open on March 1, 2021, with tickets free to the public until April 21. Due to the pandemic, tickets will be for designated 50-minute time slots to avoid overcrowding.

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