Reviewing Augustus’ Tomb

Yesterday I checked out the restoration in progress at the Mausoleo di Augusto, Augustus’ tomb. I was lucky to get in. On December 21st, when they launched the invitation to Roman residents to join free guided tours, I had jumped online and booked before they “sold” out. Now they’ve extended booking through the summer but it is again sold out.

Skylights illuminate new interior walkways.

The 50-minute tour was well-organized and the group of about 10-15 people well-behaved (in covid terms, social distancing, masks, etc.).

Big thanks to la FONDAZIONE TIM that funded the project.

In addition to the inner ring I remember from the old days when it was enough to call the custode in advance to arrange entry, there is now access to the upper levels. The restoration follows the “critical conservative” principles of Brandi and seems to be carried out well so far.

It will be a good venue when educational exhibitions are installed explaining the rich history of the monument. At the moment, these are outside on the construction fence, worth looking at before or after the guided tour which lacks much graphic illustration.

I was concerned for the fate of the pavement at the entrance with the etched trace lines supposedly used as staging for the Pantheon, something I always used to point out to my students. The guide told me they have been protected and will be again visible in the Piazza.

As for that Piazza, designed by Francesco Cellini, with Mario Maniera Elia and others and long in construction, signs of it are finally emerging. The photos taken from within the monument give a good sense of the space that will become available to Romans and visitors. When? It looks like 2023 might be a reasonable date for that. As for reconnecting the Mausoleum to the Tiber, now hidden behind Meier’s wall and a high speed motorway, no solution is in sight.

View from the entrance

Reference: my friend Nino Saggio’s article helps provide a context for this project.

Also, there was an article by another friend John Seabrook which shed light on the vicissitudes of the site in the late 90s.

And a short essay I wrote at the time of the Ara Pacis Museum inauguration.