The Art of Rome: EUR, from urban complex for the 1942 EXPO to business district
One of the mandatory stops in your stay in Rome the Eur district can't miss, today a residential and business area, but once, at the time of its design and creation, symbol of the new Rome of the fascist Italy, leaning towards a future of well-being and a futuristic and modern world. Discovering the Eur and its history will be one of the most interesting experiences you will have during your stay in Rome and, once back home, you will surely be led by the desire to learn even more about a neighbourhood that despite having become primarily business, remains fascinating from a historical and architectural point of view.
The project of the Eur: making Rome the fascist "caput mundi"
When the fascist regime began to think about building a new neighbourhood, it took into account the prevision by Gustavo Giovannoni, an important architect of the time: in 1980, Rome would have counted about 3 million inhabitants. Mussolini therefore needed to modernize and expand the city in order to solve possible future urban problems. The other aspect to lead the regime to the creation of a new neighbourhood was propaganda: the fascist city planning actually needed to share the message of Rome as the future capital of world civilization, like a real fascist "caput mundi". You should know they essentially were the reasons why the regime changed an urban policy mainly characterized by demolition of different areas of Rome in the 1930s into a policy aimed to expansion of the city borders, till the sea. It was not the first time Mussolini proposed projects of building cities or neighbourhoods from scratch, because in those years some places had already been built after the reclamation of the Agro Pontino. However, the regime needed to take a further step in the field of urban planning and it was therefore decided to work on Rome, its enlargement and consecration as a symbol of fascism and of the radiant future fascist leaders wanted for Italy.
The first steps in designing the Eur
The opportunity to move from theory to fact in the construction of the Eur arrived in 1935: Mussolini actually decided to name Rome as the site of the EXPO that should have been held in 1941. The idea was actually launched by Giuseppe Bottai, then governor of the city, and the regime, after having decided to give life to the candidacy, thought to move the exhibition to 1942, in order to make it coincide with the 20 years of the "March on Rome". However, after the initial enthusiasm, they realised it was necessary to immediately begin to take the first steps of the project of Rome as the city hosting the EXPO: so reflections about where the exhibition should have been hosted started. It will be interesting, when you will discover the EUR, to know that according to historical sources, Mussolini himself ordered to build the structures for the event currently remained 5 km south of Rome, in the area of Tre Fontane.
The construction of the Eur for the EXPO of 1942 and what you can still see about the fascist era
The project of the built of the Eur for the EXPO of 1942 - which once finished would have had to have the features of a neighbourhood with rational, geometric shapes, able to give the idea of eternity and grandeur - was entrusted to Marcello Piacentini, in addition to Via Cristoforo Colombo project, a road you will surely drive on during your stay in Rome.
The basic idea of the project was to build majestic buildings, such as the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, the Armed Forces and the Piazza dell'Impero, you currently now know as Piazza Marconi. The built of the Eur started in 1937, by the construction of the neighbourhoods that would have hosted the experts and the workers. However, the original project, as you can imagine, underwent a stop then permanent, due to the outbreak of the Second World War. But today, as we walk around the Eur, there still are many remains of the fascist era. What will you be able to see of the original project? Surely, the Palazzo degli Uffici is very interesting, where even today we can admire a statue depicting a young man with his right arm raised. You should know this statue is called "The Genius of Fascism" and the creator wanted to represent "the essence of Italianness that greeted the rest of the world". After the war, a wrestler's glove was added to the young man's hand and its name was changed to "Il Genio dello Sport". Before Italy's went to war, only the Palazzo degli Uffici was finished, and it was soon clear that the EUR as well as the whole project would have never been completed, if not after the end of the war. And so it was: the district you still know today, named Eur - an acronym for Universal Exposition of Rome - would have been completed only after the end of the Second World War.
The Eur: from the end of the Second World War
After the Second World War, the authorities of the new Italian Republic immediately realized it was necessary to complete the Eur. The occasion to do ti was another important event, the 1960 Olympic games. Less than 10 years had passed since the end of the war and the works vigorously resumed, by the built of various buildings, such as the Palazzetto dello Sport, as well as the small lake that still today is one of the symbols of the neighbourhood. Today, the Eur district is also called Europe, but all the Roman citizens refer to it by its original name: it is still characterized by majestic and imposing buildings, such as the Square Colosseum that is the Palace of Italian Civilization: however, today it has become a residential area of primary importance, hosting offices of important companies and institutions, such as Confindustria and the Ministry of Health. Finally, among the various interesting places, there are also some museums, such as the Astronomy Museum, open to the public in 2004.
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