The area among Rome's ancient ruins where general Julius Caesar was assassinated will be open to tourists starting in 2013 following long-running excavation work, local officials told AFP on Thursday.

"Next year we will complete the excavation work and give the area back to visitors," said Umberto Broccoli, the head of cultural heritage for Rome.

"It's good to do excavations but we can't keep digging holes," he said.

Contrary to legend, Caesar was not killed in the Roman Senate but in the lobby of a theatre built by Pompey the Great more than 2,000 years ago.

The site is now Torre Argentina square in the centre of the Italian capital. The area is rarely open to tourists and is better known as a stray cat colony.

Research carried out recently by Spanish archaeologists in the area has mapped out its layout and could help draw visitors to a site where there is only an old sign saying it was the place where Julius Caesar was killed.

An archaeologist working in the area told AFP that a mysterious garland of flowers is left on the site and on Caesar's tomb in the nearby Roman Forum every year on the anniversary of the assassination on March 15, 44 BC.