Rome > Colosseum


The Flavian Amphitheater, which since the Middle Ages it was called the Colosseum for its enormous size is one of the symbols of Rome, such as the basilica of Saint Peter, Castel Sant'Angelo and the monument to Vittorio Emanuele.

It was built between the 72 and the 80 A.D. by the emperors of the Flavi dynasty (Vespasian, Titus and Domitian), in the place where before there were the gardens of the Domus Aurea of Nerone. In the Colosseum there were fighting between fairs and gladiators and the circus games, which often lasted weeks, and were already organized in the republican era; the entrance was free. In the imperial age had the state to bear the costs of the games that became more and more spectacular.

On the occasion of the inauguration of the Colosseum the festivities lasted for three months and were killed 5000 animals while the number of the gladiator’s dead is not known. The gladiators were mostly prisoners of war, chosen for stature and physical strength and trained in special schools. Sometimes ended up in the arena also those condemned to death. According to more recent research, only a few Christians died in the Colosseum, because most of them suffered martyrdom in other arenas.

The fights between gladiators were only ended in 404 A.D. the huge building is an example of the high quality of the roman building which, through the use of pozzolan and lime, had already developed a kind of construction with the concrete. The bleachers that encircled the arena in three floors laid on a barrel vault and on huge pillars.

The 50,000 spectators that the Colosseum could contain passed through eighty inputs and accessed to their seats by stairs large, even if steep. The external facade is similar to that of the Marcello Theater: in both find Doric columns on the ground floor, Ionic columns on the first floor and Corinthian semi-pillars between the times of the second.

The wall that rises on the third floor, divided only by pilasters and small windows, accentuates the feeling of the immense size. In the vaults of the facade there were statues and on board were large pillars which supported a tarpaulin gigantic above the enormous area. The arena, which can be seen today only the base, allowed special effects of high technical level, as the appearance of people or animals by means of a stage in the hydraulic lift at different points. In the basement there were also the cages of the animals that were conducted in the arena through a well thought out system of galleries.

A tunnel linking the Colosseum with the Ludus Magnus, the barracks of the gladiators whose remains are seen to Piazza del Colosseum between Via Labicana and Via San Giovanni. In place of the imperial loggia was erected a commemorative cross of Christian martyrs. The lower seats, closest to the arena, were reserved to the authorities of Rome, the senate, to the military leaders, rich, to the priests and to the Vestals. Nearest were placed the Roman citizens, exclusively men however, since women had to be satisfied with the successive tiers. On most distant seats from the arena were slaves. Discontinued The tradition of the circus games, the Colosseum was repeatedly damaged by strong earthquakes, the last time in 1349. For centuries it was the fortress of the families of the Frangipani and Annibaldi.