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Also known as the Flavius Amphitheatre, the Colloseum is the Roman world’s most imposing and biggest building. Its construction was started by then Emperor Vespasian of Flavia family and was then opened in 80 A.D. by Vespasian’s son, Titus.
The opening ceremony of the Colosseum was highly ostentatious that it lasted for 100 days! It was during this time when the people in Rome saw great gladiator fights, shows, and even hunts that involved the killing of 5000 animals. As part of the building’s kick off ceremony, its arena space was filled with water for one of the Roman times’ most fantastic events, the naumachias – real sea battles that seem to reproduce the past’s great battles.
Where the name came from?
The term “Colosseum” did not exist until the famous prophecy of medieval monk, Venerable Beda, prophesized, “Rome will exist as long as the Colosseum does; when the Colosseum falls so will Rome; when Rome falls so will the world”. Many believe the monk got the name after Emperor Nero’s enormous statue called the Colossus which is 35 meters in height and which
stood next to the amphitheatre. (The statue was completely destroyed some time ago).
What did it look like?
One of the most imposing buildings in the ancient times, the Colosseum was originally all white with splendid travertine stone slabs as covering. Its shape is elliptic – which is just perfect to hold a lot of spectators! The Colosseum has four floors; the first three floors had eight arches on each.
The arches on the second and third floors, aside from its eight arches were also decorated with gigantic statues.
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Today, the Colosseum still stands firm, although it’s apparent that what we see is just the skeleton of what used to be the ancient world’s greatest arena. Three-fifths of the Colosseum’s outer surrounding brick walls are missing.
During the Middle Ages, when the Colosseum was no longer in use, it was transformed into a huge marble, iron, and lead quarry that the Popes used to build the Piazza Venezia, Barnerini Palace, and yes, even the St. Peter’s.
The amphitheatre was large enough to accommodate up to 70,000 spectators, with its tiers of seats inclined in such a way that everybody gets a perfect view wherever they were seated.
Everybody was free to come and witness the events, however, the Colosseum was divided into places to seat people according to their social status – those seats located on top were designated for the laymen (it had distinct sections though for the males and females); the closer the seat to the arena, the higher the social status was. The front row was reserved for vestals, priests, senators, and of course, for the emperor.
Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Colosseum in Rome and get the chance to get a peek of the city’s rich historic culture. There is plenty of accommodation around, with the option of staying in one of the many Rome apartments and hotels, it will be easier to find your lodging close to this emblematic monument.
A selection of guided tours, tips and reviews about visiting the Colosseum can be found here.