May 3 (UPI) -- The ancient Roman Colosseum will get a new gladiator floor, which will give visitors a chance to see what spectators saw when gladiators did battle there.
Architects in the early 19th century had the floor removed to get a clear view of the underground passageways under the Colosseum. The grand stadium opened about 2,000 years ago in 80 A.D.
The Italian engineering firm Milan Ingegneria will spend $22 million putting the floor back onto the Colosseum, which is scheduled to be done by 2023.
"One more step forward toward the reconstruction of the arena, an ambitious project that will help preserve and protect archaeological structures while recovering the original image of the Colosseum and also giving it back its nature as a complex stage machine," Italy's Ministry of Culture said Sunday in a statement.
The floor will be made of Acoya wood, obtained with a particular process that increases resistance and durability along with sustainability.
It will protect the underlying facilities from the atmosphere. Organizers said the work will restore full viewing of the monument and "allow the public to fully understand the use and function of this icon of the ancient world, including through high-level cultural events," the ministry said.
"The complex underground system under the wooden pavement, thanks to hatches, hoists and mobile types of machinery, allowed men, beasts and props to be brought up to the arena floor," Colosseum director Alfonsina Russo said, according to CNN.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic limited world travel, the Colosseum was Italy's most visited site, with 7.6 million visitors in 2019.