Though Mussolini met his bloody end in 1945, Gismondi’s work continued until the model was finally finished in 1971 (for reference, this is more than three times the amount of time it took to construct the Colosseum of Rome).
The plaster model is a 1:250 scale facsimile of the imperial city of Rome circa 306-337 AD, at which point the city had reached its largest dimensions.
The model can be found in the Museum of Roman History in Rome and is more than 200 meters (220 yards) long from end to end (at the time of writing, the museum is closed for renovation).
The enormous model is an invaluable resource for academics who want to understand what life was like in the Roman Empire and a great attraction for tourists.
Gismondi’s amazing work has been the basis for every consequent attempt to make a reconstruction of Rome, including a fully-3D digital model by the name of “Rome Reborn”.
Gismondi’s painstakingly accurate model includes some of the most famous Roman landmarks, some of which can still be visited, others are long since gone.
There are two legends about the foundation of Rome. The most famous is that of twins Romulus and Remus who built the city, after which Romulus killed his brother and gave the city his name.
The second legend states that the city was founded by Aeneas, the leader of the Trojan diaspora after the fall of Troy as described in Homer’s Iliad.
Acclaimed Hollywood director Ridley Scott made use of the stunning model in his award-winning Gladiator (2000) as can be seen in the opening shots of this scene:
Rome rose to prominence in the 3rd century through a series of successful wars against Carthage and Macedonia, quickly becoming the major power in the Mediterranean.
At its greatest extent, the Roman Empire had full control of the Mediterranean Sea and covered all of southern and western Europe, the entire North African coastline and the Levant.