EUR Romes Unknown District
14 September, 2016
The Esposizione Universale Roma, better known by its acronym, EUR, is one of those areas lying off the tourist track which would not fit any stock image of the Eternal City. No Roman ruins, Baroque churches, Renaissance palaces or narrow back streets – here you will find broad avenues set along orthogonal axes and a regular layout, and large buildings with simple lines that adhere to the Fascist model on which the district’s design was based, alternating with large, more recent constructions.
The district dates back to the nineteen thirties, when Mussolini decided to commission an urban expansion project on the south side of Rome in preparation for the World Fair of 1942. The idea was also to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Fascist “March on Rome” (1922). The project was originally known as E42 and some of the best contemporary architects were engaged, including Giuseppe Pagano, Luigi Piccinato, Luigi Vietti, Ettore Rossi and Marcello Piacentini, who was the head of the project. The assignment adhered to a design of Fascist ideological inspiration and combined rationalism with a simplified form of neoclassicism.
Work on the project was disrupted by the outbreak of World War II, while the 1942 World Fair was never held. Construction work on the buildings resumed in the fifties and sixties and the area was earmarked for a different purpose, which still holds true today, as it operates as a business district. In this respect it preempted similar projects in such cities as London or Paris.
The most alluring reason for visiting the EUR district nowadays is to see some of the original constructions and to appreciate the contrast they strike with the landmarks in ancient Rome. Among the most noteworthy buildings is the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, also known as the Palazzo della Civiltà del Lavoro (Palace of Labour Civilisation) or Colosseo Quadrato (Square Colosseum), one of the most emblematic exponents of Italian Fascist architecture. Unveiled on 30 November 1940, it was purpose-built to host the Mostra della Civiltà Romana and was designed by the architects, Giovanni Guerrini, Ernesto Bruno La Padula and Mario Romano. In the end, the exhibition was cancelled and the building remained derelict until 1953, when it was finally opened to the public. Ever since restoration work that lasted from 2003 to 2008, the building has housed the headquarters of luxury fashion label Fendi.
Another interesting example of Fascist architecture is the Palazzo dei Congressi (Palace of Congresses), designed by Adalberto Libera. The interior was decorated by Achille Funi and the Futurist artist, Gino Severini. Built from 1938 to 1954, it is now an exhibition area and also hosts congresses and other events.
Other buildings worth seeing on your visit include the Basilica dei Santi Pietro e Paolo, the work of Arnaldo Foschini, and the Palazzo degli Uffici, the only building to be completed before the war, which has an air-raid shelter inside.
Among the museums worth visiting in the EUR is the Museo della Civiltà Romana (Museum of Roman Civilisation), a colossal building which houses a stunning ensemble of model reconstructions of ancient Rome.
Book your Vueling to Rome and treat yourself to a tour of some of the city’s lesser known areas, like the EUR district.
Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS
14 September, 2016