Lonely Planet Writer

A mausoleum built for Rome's first emperor will be restored and opened to the public

One of the most significant monuments of ancient Rome is going to get a makeover thanks to a €6 million donation from an Italian telecommunications company.

Telecom Italia has put forward the funds to repair the Mausoleum of Augustus.
Telecom Italia has put forward the funds to repair the Mausoleum of Augustus. Image by Telecom Italia

The Mausoleum of Augustus, which is the resting place of Rome’s first emperor, was built in 28 BC. The massive mausoleum and world’s largest circular tomb – at 45 metres wide and 90 metres high – had fallen into disrepair, was covered with weeds and litter, and no longer held its place as an imposing monument.

Now, it will enter phase two of its restoration after receiving the necessary funds from Fondazione TIM, which will be used to make the site safe enough for public access and to plan a future museum.

Right now, some fencing around the site has become a permanent installation with panels that explain the history of Augustus and how the sepulchre has been used over the centuries. There are twelve printed panels and five masks that depict the face of Augustus, designed to give “the optical illusion of movement in the images”.

Mausoleum of Augustus, the tombs of imperial family, in Italy.
Mausoleum of Augustus, the tombs of the imperial family, in Italy. Image by DEA / G. DAGLI ORTI / Getty Images

The mausoleum will also be lit up each night so that visitors and locals can get a glimpse of the building. And for history buffs around the world, a new website will also provide information about the history of the emperor, the life of the mausoleum and the restoration at www.mausoleodiaugusto.it. Not only does the crypt hold the remains of Augustus, but other famous and infamous emperors like Claudius and Caligula.

The first phase of the restoration work began last October, funded by Mibact and Rome Capital. Those works were aimed at preventing further deterioration of the conditions of the buildings and to guard against the possibility of collapse.

This isn’t the first example of a company stepping up to save Italy’s many historical treasures: Fendi funded the restoration of Trevi Fountain, Bulgari paid for the restoration of the Spanish Steps, and new plans to restore Venice’s Royal Gardens will be partially paid for by the Generali insurance company.