Rome Proposes TV-Monitored Security Zone Around Colosseum

The Associated Press

After a series of terror threats and acts of vandalism, Rome authorities are considering proposals to create a video-monitored buffer zone around its most iconic monument: the Colosseum.

The Colosseum, or Flavian Amphitheater, was completed in the year 80 AD and in its nearly 2,000-year history has survived barbarian invasions, onslaughts and earthquakes. A series of recent events, however, have led authorities to consider stepping up its security.

Last August, police set up a high-security zone around the Colosseum, after the Islamic State issued a new threat to “conquer” Rome in a propaganda video.

New entrance gates were installed around the Colosseum to enable better surveillance and control by law enforcement, a move that was repeated around Saint Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, two other likely terrorist targets.

In October, thousands of Muslims gathered outside the Colosseum to protest the closures of a number of “garage mosques,” a measure aimed at keeping young people becoming radicalized, authorities said.

During the demonstration, an imam led the group in chanting “Allahu Akbar,” as they prostrated themselves on the ground.

The next security measure would involve creating a no-go zone monitored by surveillance cameras, which would be active day and night, officials said.

“We are considering the idea of creating a no-access zone, a red zone,” said Francesco Prosperetti, the special superintendent for the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.

The chained-off area would have a radius of 50 feet under permanent surveillance of CCTV cameras.

“Our idea is to create a ring-shaped area during closure time safeguarded by an anti-intrusion system,” Prosperetti said. “The trouble is finding a way to distinguish between animal and human intrusion, otherwise you’ll have a cat triggering the alarm.”

The new discussion follows on an incident Monday when two Brazilian men attempted to climb over a gate to access the Colosseum. The men, who apparently were inebriated, lost their balance and fell some 13 feet down. One of the men escaped without injuries, but the other fractured his hipbone.

In a possibly unrelated event, on Monday afternoon two words—“Balto” and “Morte”—were found spray-painted on a Colosseum pillar.

The Colosseum recently underwent a massive, $7.2 million restoration, leaving the structure gleaming white and more imposing than ever under the Italian sun.

This first stage in the restoration process involved extensive cleaning to remove decades of grimy buildup that had left the ancient arena looking tired and neglected.

“It’s a beautiful day for Rome, the Colosseum and Italy,” said Italian Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini last July, at the conclusion of the three-year project.

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