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Ancient Roman monument-turned-eyesore gets needed makeover

Associated Press logo Associated Press 5/2/2017 By TRISHA THOMAS, Associated Press
A view of the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome during a special opening for the press, Tuesday May 2, 2017. The mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Augustus, a decrepit eyesore fenced off in the center of Rome for decades, is finally being restored in a multi-million euro project set to be completed in 2019. (Ettore Ferrari/ANSA via AP) © The Associated Press A view of the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome during a special opening for the press, Tuesday May 2, 2017. The mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Augustus, a decrepit eyesore fenced off in the center of Rome for decades, is finally being restored in a multi-million euro project set to be completed in 2019. (Ettore Ferrari/ANSA via AP)

ROME (AP) — The mausoleum of Emperor Augustus, a towering monument when it was built in 28 B.C. but long a decrepit eyesore in Rome's historic center, is being restored. The 10-million-euro ($10.9 million) public-private facelift is expected to be completed in 2019.

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi, second from right, wears a protective helmet during a visit to the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome, Tuesday May 2, 2017. The mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Augustus, a decrepit eyesore fenced off in the center of Rome for decades, is finally being restored in a multi-million euro project set to be completed in 2019. (Ettore Ferrari/ANSA via AP) © The Associated Press Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi, second from right, wears a protective helmet during a visit to the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome, Tuesday May 2, 2017. The mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Augustus, a decrepit eyesore fenced off in the center of Rome for decades, is finally being restored in a multi-million euro project set to be completed in 2019. (Ettore Ferrari/ANSA via AP)

The structure, located along the Tiber River, is made up of circular, vaulted corridors with the sepulcher in the center. It has been covered with trees, weeds and garbage and closed to the public since the 1970s because of safety concerns.

A view of the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome during a special opening for the press, Tuesday May 2, 2017. The mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Augustus, a decrepit eyesore fenced off in the center of Rome for decades, is finally being restored in a multi-million euro project set to be completed in 2019. (Ettore Ferrari/ANSA via AP) © The Associated Press A view of the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome during a special opening for the press, Tuesday May 2, 2017. The mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Augustus, a decrepit eyesore fenced off in the center of Rome for decades, is finally being restored in a multi-million euro project set to be completed in 2019. (Ettore Ferrari/ANSA via AP)

Its restoration is being financed by the city of Rome, the culture ministry and a 6 million-euro donation from the TIM phone company.

A view of the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome during a special opening for the press, Tuesday May 2, 2017. The mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Augustus, a decrepit eyesore fenced off in the center of Rome for decades, is finally being restored in a multi-million euro project set to be completed in 2019. Emperor Augustus had the mausoleum built in 28 B.C. for his bones and ashes and those of his dynasty. Emperors Vespasian, Nero and Tiberius are among the many of the imperial family there. (Ettore Ferrari/ANSA via AP) © The Associated Press A view of the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome during a special opening for the press, Tuesday May 2, 2017. The mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Augustus, a decrepit eyesore fenced off in the center of Rome for decades, is finally being restored in a multi-million euro project set to be completed in 2019. Emperor Augustus had the mausoleum built in 28 B.C. for his bones and ashes and those of his dynasty. Emperors Vespasian, Nero and Tiberius are among the many of the imperial family there. (Ettore Ferrari/ANSA via AP)

On Tuesday, Mayor Virginia Raggi donned a protective helmet and paid a visit. "I hope the mausoleum will be given back as soon as possible to the people," she said.

A view of the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome during a special opening for the press, Tuesday May 2, 2017. The mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Augustus, a decrepit eyesore fenced off in the center of Rome for decades, is finally being restored in a multi-million euro project set to be completed in 2019. Emperor Augustus had the mausoleum built in 28 B.C. for his bones and ashes and those of his dynasty. Emperors Vespasian, Nero and Tiberius are among the many of the imperial family there. (Ettore Ferrari/ANSA via AP) © The Associated Press A view of the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome during a special opening for the press, Tuesday May 2, 2017. The mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Augustus, a decrepit eyesore fenced off in the center of Rome for decades, is finally being restored in a multi-million euro project set to be completed in 2019. Emperor Augustus had the mausoleum built in 28 B.C. for his bones and ashes and those of his dynasty. Emperors Vespasian, Nero and Tiberius are among the many of the imperial family there. (Ettore Ferrari/ANSA via AP)

Augustus had the mausoleum built for himself and the imperial family, and it also houses the bones and ash of Emperors Vespasian, Nero and Tiberius, each indicated with a marble plaque.

A view of the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome during a special opening for the press, Tuesday May 2, 2017. The mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Augustus, a decrepit eyesore fenced off in the center of Rome for decades, is finally being restored in a multi-million euro project set to be completed in 2019. Emperor Augustus had the mausoleum built in 28 B.C. for his bones and ashes and those of his dynasty. Emperors Vespasian, Nero and Tiberius are among the many of the imperial family there. (Ettore Ferrari/ANSA via AP) © The Associated Press A view of the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome during a special opening for the press, Tuesday May 2, 2017. The mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Augustus, a decrepit eyesore fenced off in the center of Rome for decades, is finally being restored in a multi-million euro project set to be completed in 2019. Emperor Augustus had the mausoleum built in 28 B.C. for his bones and ashes and those of his dynasty. Emperors Vespasian, Nero and Tiberius are among the many of the imperial family there. (Ettore Ferrari/ANSA via AP)

The structure, originally 90 meters (295 feet) in diameter and 45 meters (147 feet) high, originally featured a bronze sculpture of Augustus on the roof. Its location a stone's throw from the Tiber gave it maximum visibility around the city of Rome.

A view of the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome during a special opening for the press, Tuesday May 2, 2017. The mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Augustus, a decrepit eyesore fenced off in the center of Rome for decades, is finally being restored in a multi-million euro project set to be completed in 2019. Emperor Augustus had the mausoleum built in 28 B.C. for his bones and ashes and those of his dynasty. Emperors Vespasian, Nero and Tiberius are among the many of the imperial family there. (Ettore Ferrari/ANSA via AP) © The Associated Press A view of the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome during a special opening for the press, Tuesday May 2, 2017. The mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Augustus, a decrepit eyesore fenced off in the center of Rome for decades, is finally being restored in a multi-million euro project set to be completed in 2019. Emperor Augustus had the mausoleum built in 28 B.C. for his bones and ashes and those of his dynasty. Emperors Vespasian, Nero and Tiberius are among the many of the imperial family there. (Ettore Ferrari/ANSA via AP)

Over the centuries it was used as a fortress, for bullfights and for concerts. Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, eager to revive Roman imperial glory, restored the area and built a square piazza around it called Piazza Augusto Imperatore, which today houses upscale restaurants and shops.

Restorers work in the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome during a special opening for the press, Tuesday, May 2, 2017. The mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Augustus, a decrepit eyesore fenced off in the center of Rome for decades, is finally being restored in a multi-million euro project set to be completed in 2019. (AP Photo/Gloria Maria Bellu') © The Associated Press Restorers work in the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome during a special opening for the press, Tuesday, May 2, 2017. The mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Augustus, a decrepit eyesore fenced off in the center of Rome for decades, is finally being restored in a multi-million euro project set to be completed in 2019. (AP Photo/Gloria Maria Bellu')

But the mausoleum itself was shut down in the 1930s, fenced off and left in disrepair.

A view of the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome during a special opening for the press, Tuesday May 2, 2017. The mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Augustus, a decrepit eyesore fenced off in the center of Rome for decades, is finally being restored in a multi-million euro project set to be completed in 2019. (Ettore Ferrari/ANSA via AP) © The Associated Press A view of the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome during a special opening for the press, Tuesday May 2, 2017. The mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Augustus, a decrepit eyesore fenced off in the center of Rome for decades, is finally being restored in a multi-million euro project set to be completed in 2019. (Ettore Ferrari/ANSA via AP)

In the first phase of the restoration, workers cleaned out the garbage and cut back the trees and weeds that grew up inside. Phase two involves installing electricity and a cover.

A worker stands in the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome during a special opening for the press, Tuesday, May 2, 2017. The mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Augustus, a decrepit eyesore fenced off in the center of Rome for decades, is finally being restored in a multi-million euro project set to be completed in 2019. (AP Photo/Gloria Maria Bellu') © The Associated Press A worker stands in the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome during a special opening for the press, Tuesday, May 2, 2017. The mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Augustus, a decrepit eyesore fenced off in the center of Rome for decades, is finally being restored in a multi-million euro project set to be completed in 2019. (AP Photo/Gloria Maria Bellu')

The restored mausoleum will have an adjoining museum, elevators and a shop, making it a convenient stop alongside the nearby Ara Pacis altar which received a Richard Meier-designed protective covering a decade ago.

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi wears a protective helmet during a visit at the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome, Tuesday May 2, 2017. The mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Augustus, a decrepit eyesore fenced off in the center of Rome for decades, is finally being restored in a multi-million euro project set to be completed in 2019. (Ettore Ferrari/ANSA via AP) © The Associated Press Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi wears a protective helmet during a visit at the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome, Tuesday May 2, 2017. The mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Augustus, a decrepit eyesore fenced off in the center of Rome for decades, is finally being restored in a multi-million euro project set to be completed in 2019. (Ettore Ferrari/ANSA via AP)

Augustus was 35 when he had the mausoleum built, shortly after his victory in the naval Battle of Actium, where he defeated the fleets of Antony and Cleopatra, consolidating his power and making him the undisputed leader of the Roman Empire.

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