The Colosseum was originally called Amphitheatrum Flavium or Amphitheatrum Caesareum. The name ‘Colosseum’ was in reference to the gigantic statue of Emperor Nero that stood in close proximity to the amphitheater.
The area where the Colosseum is located was once a well-inhabited valley. However, the area was destroyed by the Great Fire of Rome under the rule of Emperor Nero in 64 BC.
The Colosseum's construction began under the rule of Emperor Vespasian in 70-72 BC. It was a gift to Roman Citizens. It was completed in 80 BC by his son Titus. Further constructions, like e.g. the underground tunnels (the hypogeum) were done under Vespasian's younger son, Emperor Domitian.
The wooden upper levels of the Amphitheater were damaged by a fire in 217. An earthquake in 443 caused damage as well. Thus, reparation and construction work was on and off.
Gladiatorial fights took place until 435, while animal hunts were done until the 6th century.
Architecture & Art
The arena was 83 meters long and 48 meters wide. A spectator in the Colosseum was assigned a seat based on his societal ranking. Through numbered archways, people were guided to their seats (cavea). In total, there were 80 archways. Four of them were reserved for the emperor, for political or religious 'celebrities', and the protagonists of the fights.
The cavea could hold something about 50000 to 80000 spectators. It was arranged in 5 areas (maeniana). The seats closest to the arena were reserved to the senators, while the plebs found their seats in the highest area.
Animals and gladiators entered the two-level underground system beneath the arena, the hypogeum, through a tunnel. Elevators and machinery made it possible to raise and lower floors and to lift cages with animals. Connections to an aqueduct made it even possible to flood the arena for naval battles.
At the end of the day, the dead gladiators were dragged through the Porta Libitinensis (‘Gate of Death‘).
Fun & Interesting
More than 600 species of plants have been identified at the Colosseum. Many of the seeds were planted through fecal matter of the exotic animals.
A good advice is to buy tickets online. You can choose a day and a specific time slot to avoid waiting queues. Usually, the tickets are sold as combi tickets that also allow access to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
Type of activities
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