Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana

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Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, Rome, Italy.jpg

The Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, also known as the Palazzo della Civiltà del Lavoro or simply the Colosseo Quadrato (Square Colosseum), is an icon of Fascist architecture.

The building was designed in 1937 to host the Mostra della Civiltà Romana during the 1942 World Fair by Italian architects Giovanni GuerriniErnesto Bruno La Padula  and Mario Romano.

It lies in the district of Rome known as the Esposizione Universale Roma (also known as 'E.42' and 'EUR'). It is particularly symbolic of this district, exemplifying its monumentality.


View of the building during its construction (1940)

The Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana was constructed as part of the program of the Esposizione Universale Roma, a large business center and suburban complex, initiated in 1935 by Benito Mussolini for the planned 1942 world exhibition and as a symbol of fascism for the world. The Palazzo was designed by the architects Giovanni Guerrini, Ernesto Bruno Lapadula and Mario Romano and constructed between 1938 and 1943. It was inaugurated on 30 November 1940 as the centerpiece of the Esposizione and continues to be its most iconic building. The structure is also considered one of the most representative examples of Fascist architecture at the EUR.

The exhibition was cancelled on June 3, 1941, while the building was being finished. It stood empty, abandoned over a decade. The building opened its doors to the public for the first time in 1953. It hosted the Roma 1953 Agricultural Exhibition (EA53).[1][2]

Between 2003 and 2008, the palace has been closed to the public for restoration. From 2015, it will house the headquarters of luxury fashion label Fendi for the next 15 years at least. Fendi will reportedly pay 2.8 million euros per annum to inhabit the space.[3] The ground floor of the building will reportedly be left clear to house exhibitions celebrating Italian craftsmanship.[4]


The EUR provides a large-scale image of how urban Italy might have looked if the fascist regime had not fallen during the war—large, symmetrical streets and austere buildings of limestone, tuff and marble, in either stile Littorio, inspired by ancient Roman architecture, or Rationalism. Its architectural style is often called simplified neoclassicism. Marcello Piacentini, the coordinator of the commission for E42, based it on the Italian Rationalism of Pagano, Libera, and Michelucci.

The design of the "Square Colosseum" was inspired more to celebrate the Colosseum, and the structure was intended by Benito Mussolini as a celebration of the older Roman landmark. Similar to the Colosseum, the palace has a series of superimposed loggias, shown on the façade as six rows of nine arches each. These numbers are said to be an allusion to the name of the Fascist dictator: "Benito" having six letters and "Mussolini," nine.[by whom?] Atop all four sides of the building runs the inscription taken from a speech of Benito Mussolini on 2 October 1935:"Un popolo di poeti, di artisti, di eroi, di santi, di pensatori, di scienziati, di navigatori, di trasmigratori" (English: a nation of poets, of artists, of heroes, of saints, of thinkers, of scientists, of navigators, of migrants).[5][6][7]

The palace is entirely clad in travertine marble, as is characteristic of buildings in the EUR. It is a parallelepiped on a square base, with six levels rising above a podium. The scale is imposing: the base covers an area of 8,400 square meters, and the building has volume 205,000 cubic meters with a height 68 meters (50 meters from the base).


At the four corners of the podium are placed four equestrian sculptural groups by Publio Morbiducci and Alberto de Felci, representing the Dioscuri, the two mythical Greek heroes, sons of Zeus and Leda. About the base of the building are 28 additional statues of approximately 3.4 meters in height, each under an arch, illustrating various industries and trades. These statues were added in 1942, having been constructed by eight companies specialized in the working of Carrara marble in the provinces of Lucca and Massa-Carrara. Going about the building in a clockwise fashion from the entrance, the statues represent:

In films and on television[edit]

Because of its bold appearance and iconic status, the palace has appeared in a number of films, including (in chronological order):


  1. ^ "Rome 1953" (PDF). BIE Web Site. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-10-27. Retrieved 7 November 2007. 
  2. ^ "Serata di gala all'E.A. 53". Europeana. Retrieved 2015-11-25. 
  3. ^ Fendi's New Headquarters Are a Fascist Icon Blouin Artinfo, July 18, 2013.
  4. ^ Sarah Karmali (18 July 2013), Fendi Relocates To A Roman Palace Vogue.
  5. ^ "Mussolini Justifies War Against Ethiopia". Retrieved 2015-11-24. 
  6. ^ Mussolini, Benito (1935). Scritti e discorsi di Benito Mussolini. Scritti e discorsi dal gennaio 1934 al 4 novembre 1935 (in Italian) IX. pp. 218–220. 
  7. ^ "Edifici storici – Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana". EUR S.p.A. La città nella città. Retrieved 2015-11-24. 

Coordinates: 41°50′12.06″N 12°27′55.11″E / 41.8366833°N 12.4653083°E / 41.8366833; 12.4653083