Square Colosseum

Photo by Massimo Faccioli Pintozzi

{The Square Colosseum. So creepy. Even a photo of it gives me chills.}

Of the 30 million people who visit Rome each year, most go to see the legacies of the Emperors and Popes. And when you’re busy wishing at fountains and craning your neck to gawk at paintings on ceilings, it’s easy to forget there’s a darker side to Italy.

But there is. And you can find it by taking a 20 minute metro ride out to a suburb known as EUR – a place where crumbling Roman ruins give way to imposing marble shrines to Fascism.

The Esposizione Universale Romana – or EUR for short – was a mini city built for the 1942 world fair. It was meant to provide a vision of what the country could look like, and more importantly, was dictator Benito Mussolini’s way of trumpeting Fascist Italy to the world. He never got his chance. World War II began before the exhibition could take place, and Mussolini’s regime was toppled in 1943.

More than 60 years later, the monuments still stand in all their creepy glory. The most famous of the buildings is the Palazzo della Civilta e del Lavoro, now better known simply as The Square Colosseum.

While obviously designed with Rome’s other colosseum in mind, the Square Colosseum is more than just an architectural reinterpretation of its predecessor. It’s a monolithic cube punctured by symbolic archways – many people believe the six rows of nine arches correspond to the number of letters in Benito Mussolini’s name.

While office buildings have sprung up throughout the suburb (which has developed into a second CBD for Rome), the Square Colosseum itself has been closed off for years due to construction, adding to the eerie feeling.

EUR is easy to reach by metro with several stops on Line B (Magliana, Palasport or Fermi). And here’s a tip if you don’t have enough time for the detour: keep your eyes peeled on the train ride between Rome and the airport – that big, square hunk of history is hard to miss.

Statue by the Square Colosseum

Photo by Rafal Prochniak


The Colosseum in EUR

Photo by Fabrizio Sciami