EUR…(or Esposizione Universale Roma) a suburb of Rome. It was started in 1935 by Mussolini and was supposed to open in 1942 to celebrate twenty years of Fascism (the planned exhibition never took place due to World War II).
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Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana (1938-1943), also known as the “Colosseo Quadrato” (Square Colosseum).
This area always leaves me a little tongue tied in that i find it aesthetically breathtaking and i particularly love the contrast here of its vast scale, crystal clear lines of the rationalist architecture and town planning, with the chaos and very different kind of compressed yet frou-frou beauty of central rome, where it there is just SO much of EVERYTHING in a relatively small space. But of course behind it all there is the ugliness of the period and the principals by which EUR was constructed.
Saint Peter and Paul’s Church
Italians are always split down the middle in their opinions of rationalist architecture…and it can be polemic.
In a bar along from the square colosseum, i get chatting to a barman, when i tell him how much i like the architecture, he agrees and says that his politics lie to the right….and suddenly he launches into…that Benito Mussolini did some really good things for the people (the right?how far right???). So before he went further i told him that i just liked the architecture, not the politics, that i was pretty much to the left myself…but he carried on extolling the virtues of Mussolini…really shocking to hear this being said so matter of factly…So anyway i said it was a free country (well sort of…Berlusconi cant live forever can he?) and everyone had a right to their own opinions, but the irony was lost on him. So its kind of dangerous this topic of rationalist architecture around here, ‘cos if you like it, it seems to be a given that you also “like” the politics behind it. In the past i have had only rational (ha) discussions mainly with architects about this topic, but then its easy for me as an outsider to divorce the past from the architecture it leaves behind.
You see very few tourists in EUR (it’s a wee bit on the peripheries, but the metro goes there), i had the buildings more or less to myself, also i got stared at a LOT for taking photos…like i said, like the architecture…
Yes that is a giant silver man in the middle of a roundabout scrambling out of the earth beneath a giant obelisk…and it really is HUGE