January 20, 2021

Dedication: Artist Spent Over 35 Years Creating A Huge Scale Model Of Ancient Rome

The city of Rome attracts millions of visitors each year to explore its ancient ruins and to learn about how the culture and architecture has transformed over thousands of years. Now, after many years of tedious construction, visitors will be able to see the city as it has never been seen before, through a 1:250 model of imperial Rome, known as the Plastico di Roma Imperiale. The plaster model, which was commissioned by Mussolini in 1933 and completed in 1971, depicts Rome as it stood in the 4th century under the reign of Constantine I.

Now located at the Museum of Roman Civilization, the model was constructed by archaeologist Italo Gismondi who spent many years replicating the city exactly as it once stood. Although Mussolini commissioned the model to be built, the lack of available and accurate references to use in the initial design was due to his order to destroy many of Rome’s ancient houses to construct large roadways.

More info: flickr.com | museociviltaromana.it

Photo: Museum of Roman Civilization

“The model gave Fascist modernism a seeming imperial origin,” writes Victor Plahte Tschudi, a professor of architectural history at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. “It also legitimized, even inspired, the regime’s town planning policy and brutal overhaul to redeem Rome’s ancient monuments.”

Whatever its initial purpose as propaganda, the Plastico continues to draw school children and tourists who now use it as an educational tool for envisioning how the ancient ruins they see today once fit into the larger urban landscape. The immense scope and detail of the Plastico, which measures 55 feet by 55 feet, has also been useful for filmmakers, including Ridley Scott, who included a few shots in his 2000 film, The Gladiator.

La maquette de Rome à l'époque de Constantin (musée de la civilisation romaine, Rome)

“The model gave Fascist modernism a seeming imperial origin,” writes Victor Plahte Tschudi, a professor of architectural history at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. “It also legitimized, even inspired, the regime’s town planning policy and brutal overhaul to redeem Rome’s ancient monuments.”

Whatever its initial purpose as propaganda, the Plastico continues to draw school children and tourists who now use it as an educational tool for envisioning how the ancient ruins they see today once fit into the larger urban landscape. The immense scope and detail of the Plastico, which measures 55 feet by 55 feet, has also been useful for filmmakers, including Ridley Scott, who included a few shots in his 2000 film, The Gladiator.

plastico, E.U.R. rom marts 2003
Maquette de Rome (musée de la civilisation romaine, Rome)

The famous plaster model is now on display in the Museum of Roman Civilization. This particular museum in Italy is devoted to feature the history of ancient Roman civilization. Gismondi’s Plastico di Roma Imperiale was permanently installed in the museum in the 1950’s. But Gismondi continued to expand and add touches to the plaster model until it was finally completed in 1971. The scale model was built on a scale of 1:250 and it measures 55 feet by 55 feet.

Maquette de Rome (musée de la civilisation romaine, Rome)
Détail de la maquette de Rome à l'époque de Constantin