Essential Architecture-  ROME

Mausoleum of Augustus

architect

unknown

location

Rome, Italy (located on the Piazza Augusto Imperatore)

date

25

style

Ancient Roman

construction

System cut stone bearing masonry- in the form of a huge cylinder. Originally topped with evergreen trees and a bronze statue of Augustus. 

type

Tomb
 
 
 
  mausoleum-augustus-02.jpg - 30382 Bytes
  The Mausoleum of Augustus was built in 28 BC and was the burial place of several members of the imperial family beside Augustus himself.
  civilta-12.jpg - 46038 Bytes
  Model of Rome in the days of Constantine the Great
Museo della Civilta, Rome
   
The Mausoleum of Augustus was a large tomb built by the Roman emperor Augustus in 28 BC on the Campus Martius in Rome. The Mausoleum is still open to tourists, located on the Piazza Augusto Imperatore, although the ravages of time and carelessness have stripped the ruins bare. However, the ruins remain an impressive and dominating landmark on the northern side of the Campus Martius.

The Mausoleum was one of the first projects intiated by Augustus in the city of Rome following Augustus' victory at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC. The mausoleum was circular in plan, consisting of several concentric rings of earth and brick, planted with cypresses and capped (possibly, as reconstructions are unsure at best) by a conical roof and a statue of Augustus. Vaults held up the roof and opened up the burial spaces below. Twin pink granite obelisks flanked the arched entryway; these now stand, one at the Piazza dell'Esquilino (on the northwest side of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore) and other at the Quirinal fountain. The completed Mausoleum measured 90 meters (295 feet) in diameter by 42 meters (137 feet) in height.

A corridor ran from the entryway into the heart of the Mausoleum, where there was a chamber with three niches to hold the urns enshrining the ashes of the Imperial Family. Remains buried inside the Mausoleum include those of Marcus Claudius Marcellus (who was the first to be buried there), Augustus, Livia (his wife), Marcus Agrippa, Germanicus, Agrippina the Elder (the wife of Germanicus), Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Britannicus (the son of Claudius), and Nerva, the last for whom the mausoleum was opened.

In 410, during the sack of Rome by Alaric, the pillaging Goths rifled the vaults and scattered the ashes, without damaging the structure (Lanciani). In the Middle Ages the artificial tumulus was fortified as a castle— as was the mausoleum of Hadrian, turned into the Castel Sant'Angelo— and occupied by the Colonna family. After the disastrous defeat of the commune of Rome at the hands of the Count of Tusculum in 1167, the Colonna were disgraced and banished, and their fortification in the Campo was dismantled. Thus it became a ruin.

In the 19th century, the ruins were used for bullfights, and later as a concert hall (Young). It was not until the 1930s that the site was opened as a preserved archaeological landmark along with the newly moved and reconstructed Ara Pacis nearby. The restoration of the Mausoleum of Augustus to a place of prominence featured in Mussolini's ambitious reordering of the city of Rome which strove to connect the aspirations of fascist Italy with the former glories of the Roman Empire. Mussolini viewed himself especially connected to the achievements of Augustus, seeing himself as a 'reborn Augustus' ready to usher in a new age of Italian dominance.

transport

 

links

Aerial Photograph of the Mausoleum of Augustus from Google Maps
www.essential-architecture.com