The EUR neigbourhood was the planned site for the Universal Exposition of Rome, the 1942 World Fair, which never took place due to the commencement of WW2. It was intended to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the March on Rome and the beginning of the Fascist era. After the war it was reinvented as an out-of-town business district and was finally completed in 1960 for the Rome Olympics.
The buildings from the first phase of development were constructed in the Italian Rationalist architectural style, which can be seen as a kind of simplified Neoclassicism. The most representative and iconic of these structures is the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana. The rows of arches were inspired by the Colosseum so the palazzo is also known as the “Colosseo Quadrato” (Square Colosseum).
Built between 1938–1943, it’s now the headquarters of Fendi, the Italian fashion house. I was hoping to get a peek inside but the security guards wouldn’t let me.
Just up the road is the Basilica dei Santi Pietro e Paolo. Construction of this Rationalist church began in 1939 but it was only completed in 1955.
Fans of the TV crime series Gomorrah will recognise it as the church in which Gennaro and Azzura get married in Episode 11 of Season 2.
From the steps of the church I could see straight down Viale Europa to one of my destinations on the other side of EUR, the Archivo Centrale dello Stato (Central State Archives), but I took a more circuitous route to get there so I could take in the southern part of the neighbourhood.
On the way I walked through the Parco Centrale del Lago, a park with a large artificial lake, the Lago dell’EUR, around which various infrastructures were built for the Olympic games.
I came across this tower just up the road in Piazza Pakistan. Apparently the panoramic views from the restaurant on the fourteenth floor are quite spectacular.
Over the road is the Palazzo dello Sport, another Rationalist building built in 1956 for the Olympics which is now used for concerts and other events.
And eventually I came to the Archivo Centrale dello Stato, another important Rationalist building which began construction before the war but was only completed in the 1950s.
As I was making my way to the Laurentina metro station to return to Testaccio, I stumbled upon an unexpected surprise, a Brutalist church, the Parrocchia San Gregorio Barbarigo, built in the early 1970s.
The stained glass windows were particularly impressive.
I left a few corners of EUR unturned which hopefully I’ll get to see next time.
A walk and a nice lunch on the Via Appia next!