ROME — It is a view that gladiators would once have experienced as they prepared for mortal combat: staring into the banked crowds of the Colosseum, perhaps under the gaze of the mighty Roman emperor himself.
Nearly 2,000 years later, visitors to the Colosseum will again be able to stand in almost the same place and imagine the spectators’ roar, after the Italian Culture Ministry on Sunday announced the winning project in a competition to build a replacement floor for the landmark in Rome.
The chosen design features a lattice of specially treated wooden slats that can be rotated to allow air to circulate and to expose the beehive of subterranean corridors. It was created by a team led by Milan Ingegneria, an engineering consulting company, and is expected to cost about 15 million euros, or $18 million. The surface is expected to be in use by 2023.
At the moment, most of the underground chambers are exposed to view, with only a small section of floor at one end. That section — about 650 square meters, or 7,000 square feet — was installed in 2000 and was used for the first time that year for a staging of “Oedipus Rex,” by Sophocles.
underground pulleys to raise the beasts to the arena floor. Those and other areas were buried until the late 19th century, when the hypogeum, or underground area, began to be excavated.
Mr. Franceschini noted that the floor of the arena had been intact at that time and referred to one photograph, from about 1870, that showed the hypogeum totally covered.