EUR is a strange and unexpected suburb of Rome; a monument to the ambitions of Mussolini and his Fascist party.
Few tourists get as far as EUR, but if you’re spending more than a few days in Rome, or are interested in architecture, it’s worth spending a few hours visiting the museums and marvelling at Mussolini’s new imperial dreams. Don’t forget your camera, as EUR is full of unusual photo-opportunities.
This new suburb was intended for a Universal Exhibition celebrating Fascist Italy – planned in the 1930s and scheduled for 1942 but abandoned upon the outset of war. Only some of the the plans – by architect Piacentini – had been finished, and after the war work continued in a modernist style but without the same political agenda. The Esposizione Universale Romana is known by its acronym EUR (pronounced as one word: Ay-oor), and is now dominated by offices and wide boulevards where well-off young Romans like to race their sports cars.
The atmosphere here is very strange: it’s hard to escape the sense that this is a failed project, a huge white elephant. Still, shops and bars appear to be thriving, and plenty of companies have office space here; their workers populating the streets during working hours. The museums are interesting, although you are likely to be the only visitor strolling past exhibits that don’t seem to have changed since Mussolini inspected them.
As well as business headquarters, EUR is also home to conferences and exhibitions. One of the most imposing buildings is the congress centre, Palazzo dei Congressi.
The most dramatic building is the ‘square Colosseum’, the Palazzo della Civiltà di Lavoro, a tall and striking homage to the achievements of the Italian race (currently fenced off and seemingly abandoned; an ironic touch).
On the other side of the busy Via Cristoforo Colombo (Rome’s route to the seaside) is another classical-inspired area lined with square colonnades. Here you’ll find an impressive selection of museums – they may look deserted but the majority are opened on a daily basis by their lonely staff. The most interesting exhibit you’ll see here is the large model of Imperial Rome in the Museo della Civiltà Romana (another striking purpose-built structure).
Downhill from the museums, and the other side of the Metro and bus stops, is an artificial lake, surrounded by a well-tended park where you can wander or enjoy a picnic. The flying-saucer building on the far side is the Palazzo dello Sport, now used for concerts and major events.
EUR is easy to reach by Metro, with several stops on Linea B: the station Fermi is the closest to the museums. There are blue buses which run around the area, but you can easily explore the main streets and buildings on foot. There are plenty of restaurants and bars to cater for the office-workers who inhabit the imposing buildings. The main shopping street is Viale Europa, leading up to the imposing basilica. There is a Sma supermarket on Viale Beethoven.
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