The Esposizione Universale Romana or EUR for short is a suburb, about 20-minute ride away from Rome, built by Italy’s infamous dictator Benito Mussolini as a site for the 1942 world's fair to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Fascism and the beginning of the Fascist era. The fair never took place due to the Second World War, and Mussolini’s regime was toppled in 1943. More than 70 years later, the monuments at EUR still stand in all their creepy glory, and the most famous building amongst it is Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, better known as Colosseo Quadrato or the Square Colosseum.
Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana is an icon of Fascist architecture. Decidedly inspired by the 2000 year old elliptical amphitheatre, the Colosseum, Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana 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 facade as six rows of nine arches each. Many people believe these numbers correspond to the number of letters in Benito Mussolini’s name - "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.
Because of its bold appearance and iconic status, the building has appeared in a number of films, including The Last Man on Earth, Hudson Hawk, Titus and Equilibrium.
EUR is now another suburb of Rome. Many of the unfinished buildings were completed and other office buildings have sprung up, but the Square Colosseum still stands in its original form. I’ve read that each Sunday a flea market is set up right under its arches.
Aerial view of EUR under construction in 1953. Photo credit