Leaning in Italy: Now the Colosseum Is Tilting, Too

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Max Rossi / Reuters

People walk during a heavy snowfall in front of the Colosseum in downtown Rome February 10, 2012.

Maybe it’s time we just take a closer examination of Italy’s tilt as a whole, because now scientists have learned the ancient Colosseum of Rome is leaning, too.

With Venice sinking and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, well, leaning, the ground in Italy clearly has some issues. And now the Colosseum of Rome, yes, that storied hall of travertine stone, has started dipping about 16 inches lower on its south side.

(MORE: The Colosseum: Next Time You’re in Rome)

Officials noticed the slippage last year and have taken a closer examination of the 2,000-year-old gladiator hall to find the source of the tilt. They asked Rome’s La Sapienza University to study the issue and hopefully figure out a remedy for the Colosseum.

Professor Giorgio Monti told Reuters that the concrete slab under the circular building may have developed a fracture. If that is true, crews may need to stabilize the foundation to prevent further slanting, a process that the tower in Pisa has already experienced and forced a closure for over a decade (it has been open since 2001).

Just like Pisa, the ancient Colosseum has seen its share of tough times, with much of the original structure already vanished and officials needing to baby the popular attraction to keep picture-happy tourists from causing any further damage. This latest find, however, may force a full closure of the storied building. And possibly quite soon. The La Sapienza study will also examine the effects of heavy traffic near the stadium.

In the meantime, a planned restoration of the Colosseum, the first in over 70 years, will start in December and finish in 2015. Along with cleaning, the project should open up a few new areas to visitors.

While it’s much too soon to know when or if the Colosseum will close for a fix, we know it will need a gladiator-like strength to continue holding up.

MORE: Pisa Straightens Up, While Other Towers Battle for ‘Leaning-est’