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Rome's Colosseum Got a Massive Exterior Restoration

A gladiatorial undertaking

The Colosseum in Rome—the largest amphitheater ever built—has just undergone one of the largest cleanings in its history. Looking brighter than it has in centuries, the nearly 2,000-year-old structure was celebrated this past weekend at the conclusion of a major facade restoration that commenced in 2011.

At a cost of more than $33 million, the project used a gentle spray system to cleanse 31 arches and roughly 143,160 square feet of the structure’s famous Travertine stone. Moss and algae were brushed away and older repairs were replaced with more appropriate materials. Then, many of the stones were repointed in order to prevent excess moisture from working its way into the walls. A new gate system was also installed.

A second restoration phase will construct a new visitors center for the site in addition to cleaning and securing several underground vaults and passages.

Both phases of the multi-million-dollar initiative are being funded by Italian leather-goods maker, Tod’s. Italy has been criticized in recent decades for encouraging private companies and philanthropists to fund cultural restoration projects instead of creating a more robust government system to do so.