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This fascinating model of Rome “wasn’t built in a day”

ROME MODEL
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Italian archaeologist spent his whole life building 55x55-foot reconstruction of Eternal City.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, the old saying goes. And this extraordinary model of the city certainly wasn’t either.

It took archaeologist Italo Gismondi a lifetime to construct a plaster model known as the Plastico di Roma Imperiale.

MODEL OF ANCIENT ROME
seier+seier | CC BY 2.0

Commissioned by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini in 1933, the 1:250 scale model depicts Rome in the 4th century, at the time of Constantine I.

The initial core of the model, which was partially based on a 1901 map, was completed for a large exhibition celebrating the 2,000th anniversary of the death of Augustus. In the 1950s, it was installed permanently in the Museum of Roman Civilization, with Gismondi continuing to expand the model up until 1971, according to My Modern Met.

ANCIENT CITY MODEL OF ROME
Jean-Pierre Dalbéra | CC BY 2.0

It now sits in the Museum of Roman Civilization, a museum opened in the 1930s to demonstrate the history of ancient Rome.

Who would want to “waste” time seeing a model of Rome if you are in the Eternal City itself, one might ask? Well, for one thing, it can help the visitor put into perspective the architecture one is able to see today, to imagine how it would have fit in with Rome’s overall layout 2,000 years ago.

MODEL OF ANCIENT CITY OF ROME
Jean-Pierre Dalbéra | CC BY 2.0

“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,” explained My Modern Met. “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, Gladiator.”

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