The chronology of Augustus's Mausoleum

28 a.C.

Augustus, aged just thirty, began the construction, in the area of Campus Martius in Rome, of what was to be his tomb and that of his family. Thus Augustus declared to the Roman people his eternal fidelity to the city that was to become the capital of the first empire of the Western world.

12th century

The Mausoleum was fortified by the family of the Colonna princes, who chose it as their residence.


Pope Gregory IX destroyed the castle built on the Mausoleum and expelled the Colonnas. City gardens grew on the abandoned site.


In the garden adjacent to the Mausoleum, where Augustus’ ashes had been burnt, so too was the corpse of Cola di Rienzo, who, having sought to establish a municipal government in Rome, proclaimed himself “Last Tribune of the Roman people”.


Pope Leo X redesigned the zone where the Mausoleum stands. Via Leonina was built, which today has taken the name Via di Ripetta. The work to redesign the district was supervised by Raphael and Antonio da Sangallo.

16th -18th centuries

On the ruins of the ancient tomb, the Soderini family, who lived in the adjacent building, constructed a hanging garden adorned with statues and housed an important collection of Roman antiquities inside the Mausoleum.


The Mausoleum was acquired by Portuguese Marquis Benedetto Correa de Sylva, who transformed the Soderini Garden into an amphitheatre to host the “Giostra della Bufala”, a spectacle similar to Spanish bullfights, along with tournaments and firework displays.


The Mausoleum, now known as the “Anfiiteatro Corea”, became the property of Marquis Francesco Saverio Vivaldi Armentieri, who replaced the wooden steps with permanent stairs. The entertainment continued.


In 1802 the Apostolic Chamber, a financial body of the Papal State of which Rome was the capital, became the owner of the amphitheatre. A stage was built for theatre performances. The location was rented out to various managers until 1873, when it became Crown Property of the Kingdom of Italy.


Inside the amphitheatre, which was now used for banquets, circuses and various spectacles, a reception was offered to Giuseppe Garibaldi.


Count Giuseppe Telfner rented the Corea and built an iron and glass roof structure to cover the amphitheatre. The security exits were considered inadequate and the Mausoleum was closed to the public and used by the Crown to hold the sketches for the monument to Victor Emmanuel, which was under construction.


On 11th July 1907 the Anfiteatro Corea was acquired by the Municipality of Rome; on 16th August the Royal Commissioner decided upon the restoration of the amphitheatre and the annexed premises and the construction of a new stage to transform the structure into a hall for popular concerts, public spectacles, conferences and for private uses. After an agreement with the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, it was turned into a concert hall, which was inaugurated on 16th February 1908.

Soon afterwards it was rechristened the Auditorium Augusteo.


The period abounded with interventions under the town planning scheme for the area: projects were presented envisaging the isolation of the Mausoleum and archaeological excavation campaigns were also begun below ground. In June 1934 Vittorio Ballio-Morpurgo proposed projects for various designs for the square and the surrounding buildings.


The Augusteo, one of the most famous temples of music in Europe, hosted its final concert: Bernardino Molinari conducted music by Rossini, Martucci, Paganini-Molinari, Respighi, Wagner and Verdi.

It was 13th May 1936.

The structure was destined for destruction, along with the surrounding area, to make way for the new Piazza Augusto Imperatore. The iron roof was dismantled in 1937.

The Mausoleum was to have become Mussolini’s tomb, but this did not happen and the important monument was abandoned.