Piazza Augusto Imperatore

Aerial Views and Diagrams

As part of his massive restructuring of Rome and in celebration of the 2000th anniversary of Augustus' birth, Mussolini created the Piazza Augusto Imperatore with the Mausoleum of Augustus at its center. He had the densely populated neighborhoods surrounding the Mausoleum destroyed and new buildiings constructed on the 4 sides of the Piazza. Only the churches were allowed to remain. The story of this radical transformation is superbly told in Kostoff, 1978.

Office buidings were constructed on 2 sides and a college on a 3rd. On the 4th side, the new pavilion to house the relocated and reconstructed Ara Pacis was built between the Mausoleum and the major avenue beside the Tiber embankment. Within this pavilion, Mussolini had the Ara Pacis itself reconstructed not at the level of the Via di Ripetta, the ground level of buildings in the area, where it might have retained closer relationship to the Mausoleum. Instead, for added visibility and prestige, he had the Ara Pacis reconstructed at the level of the Lungotevere in Augusta, the top level of the early 20th century embankment along the Tiber River.

Ever since, the extreme difference in height between the base of the Mausoleum, at its original ancient ground level, and the base of the Ara Pacis, relocated on the much higher land of modern Rome, has made it impossible to successfully integrate the 2 monuments or to create a coherent urban space between them. While this created an enduring urban-design problem, it should be noted that this location recreated aspects of the original location of the Ara Pacis, near to and on the same level as a major north-south avenue, reviving public awareness of the monument and providing direct access.

The current redesign will improve the urban design situation by raising the level of the land surrounding the Mausoleum. Although masking the lowest portion of the Mausoleum from some viewpoints, this will allow the creation of a landscaped pedestrian area around much of the mausoleum at the level of the surrounding streets.

Though not part of the Piazza Augusto, there is a major related project for the opposite side of the museum. The plan is to lower the Lungotevere in Augusta, the busy avenue between the museum and Tiber River, into an underpass. This would reduce traffic noise and allow removal of part of the wall currently protecting the area in front of the museum. This would also create some additional landscaped, pedestrian area on the west side of the museum building.