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The Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, also known as the Palazzo della Civiltà del Lavoro or simply the Colosseo Quadrato (Square Colosseum), is an icon of Fascist architecture. It lies in the district of Rome known as the Esposizione Universale Roma (also known as 'E.42' and 'EUR'). It is particularly symbolic of this district, exemplifying its monumentality.

Contents

History

The Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana was constructed as part of the program of the Esposizione Universale Roma, a large business center and suburban complex, initiated in 1935 by Benito Mussolini for the planned 1942 world exhibition and as a symbol of fascism for the world. The Palazzo was designed by the architects Giovanni Guerrini, Ernesto Bruno La Padula and Mario Romano and constructed between 1938 and 1943. It was inaugurated on 30 November 1940 as the centerpiece of the Esposizione and continues to be its most iconic building. The structure is also considered one of the most representative examples of Fascist architecture at the EUR.

Since November 2003, the palace has been closed for restoration and, as such, is currently closed to the public.

Design

The EUR provides a large-scale image of how urban Italy might have looked if the fascist regime had not fallen during the war—large, symmetrical streets and austere buildings of limestone, tuff and marble, in either stile Littorio, inspired by ancient Roman architecture, or Rationalism. Its architectural style is often called simplified neoclassicism. Marcello Piacentini, the coordinator of the commission for E42, based it on the Italian Rationalism of Pagano, Libera, and Michelucci.

The design of the "Square Colosseum" was inspired more to celebrate the Colosseum, and the structure was intended by Benito Mussolini as a celebration of the older Roman landmark. Similar to the Colosseum, the palace has a series of superimposed loggias, shown on the façade as six rows of nine arches each. These numbers are said to be an allusion to the name of the Fascist dictator: "Benito" having six letters and "Mussolini," nine.

The palace is entirely clad in travertine marble, as is characteristic of buildings in the EUR. It is a parallelepiped on a square base, with six levels rising above a podium. The scale is imposing: the base covers an area of 8,400 square meters, and the building has volume 205,000 cubic meters with a height 68 meters (50 meters from the base).

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Statuary

At the four corners of the podium are placed four equestrian sculptural groups by Publio Morbiducci and Alberto de Felci, representing the Dioscuri, the two mythical Greek heroes, sons of Zeus and Leda. About the base of the building are 28 additional statues of approximately 3.4 meters in height, each under an arch, illustrating various industries and trades. These statues were added in 1942, having been constructed by eight companies specialized in the working of Carrara marble in the provinces of Lucca and Massa-Carrara. Going about the building in a clockwise fashion from the entrance, the statues represent:

The Inscription

At the top of each of the four façades there is an inscription in capital letters:

UN POPOLO DI POETI DI ARTISTI DI EROI
DI SANTI DI PENSATORI DI SCIENZIATI
DI NAVIGATORI DI TRASMIGRATORI

(In English)

A nation of poets, of artists, of heroes,
Of saints, of thinkers, of scientists,
Of navigators [and] of travelers

In Films and on Television

Because of its bold appearance and iconic status, the palace has appeared in a number of films, including (in chronological order):

Coordinates: 41°50′12.06″N 12°27′55.11″E / 41.8366833°N 12.4653083°E / 41.8366833; 12.4653083


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