Projected by Mussolini as part of his grand exhibition, now the suburb of EUR, this museum uses replicas and models to create a history of Rome.
If it weren’t for space restrictions in the city, this museum would be an ideal visitor centre to the Roman Forum. As it is, the trip to EUR, although fascinating, deters short-stay tourists and means they miss out on a helpful and interesting account of the development of Rome.
In a grand purpose-built palazzo, the Museo della Civiltà Romana (Museum of Roman Civilisation) tells the story of Rome: from a collection of huts on the seven hills, to a huge city of temples and palaces. Models of the city and monuments at different stages of history help to give a good idea of Rome as it was; more than you can get from surveying ruins and fragments. Replicas of the most important artefacts and monuments (such as the carvings from Trajan’s column), are chronologically-arranged, although a lack of background knowledge may make you feel as though you are reading an illustrated history book minus the text.
There are two different sections of the musuem, one in the building on the right, the other on the building on the left. The star exhibit, a model of Rome in the time of Constantine, is situated just inside the left-hand entrance. You should be prepared to find sections closed for refurbishment or repairs (long overdue).
If you’re in a hurry, with a hitlist of monuments to visit, you’re probably better off staying in central Rome. But if you have time to spare after seeing the original marbles and sites, and you have a serious interest in history, you’ll find the museum a useful resource. It charts the progress and developments of the Roman Empire in a much more comprehensive way than all the scattered marbles in other museums. And if you’ve got an idea of the geography of Rome, the models will keep you fascinated for ages (sites are not labelled so taking a map of modern Rome can help you).
The Museo della Civiltà Romana is in the unusual Rome suburb of EUR. The Metro station Fermi (Linea B) is a short walk from the museum. The museum should be open Tuesday-Sunday with opening hours from 9am to 6.45pm (1pm on Sundays) – but check the latest times, which can be subject to staff availability.
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