For the first time in 40 years, the Associated Press reports that the upper levels of Rome's famed Colosseum will be open again to the public next month following a years-long restoration effort.
Built in the 1st century AD, the Colosseum was the crowning achievement of the Roman Empire. At its peak, the amphitheater was used to showcase elaborate spectacles of animal and gladiatorial combat to crowds of tens of thousands of people. However, after the collapse of the Roman empire, the Colosseum fell into a state of disrepair—chipped away at to get to its valuable stone, revamped into a wool factory and even used as housing space by an order of monks. By the 20th century, that wear and tear, along with earthquakes, air pollution and general neglect, left the monumental structure in severe need of rehabilitation.
But in recent years, public funding in Italy for cultural heritage has fallen on hard times. In 2010, the government began looking for private sponsors for the Colosseum project, and Diego Della Valle, the chairman of the Italian luxury brand Tod's, stepped forward. His pledge of roughly $33 million in donations to restore the amphitheater initially encountered pushback, but in January 2011, a decision was brokered to allow Della Valle to restore the 2,000-year-old monument.
Over the past five years, the Colosseum has been had its dirtied marble cleaned and dangerously crumbling sections removed or shored up, and visitors can get a premium view of that restoration themselves starting November 1 with the reopening of the fourth and fifth tiers of the Colosseum for tours. Those levels have been closed since the 1970s as the arena became dangerously unstable.
The top level rises roughly 130 feet above the floor of the arena, reports Louis Cheslaw for Condé Nast Traveler, and give visitors stunning views of the city of Rome and other nearby Roman monuments. The seats in these steep upper sections once was wherepoorer Romans would get to sit to watch the action below.
Seeing these sections today will require paying extra, writes Cheslaw. Guided tours of the upper tiers, the only way that people will be able to enter them, will cost about $10.50 (€9) on top of the approximately $14 (€12) admission fee to enter the Colosseum itself.