The Colosseum is the largest Amphitheatre built during the Roman Empire. It is located just east of the Palatine Hill, on the grounds of what was Nero’s Golden House. Every year around 6 million visitors pay a visit to this Iconic Structure in Italy. It measures around 189 metres long, 156 metres wide and 50 metres in height with building materials mostly consists of stone and concrete. The arena is one of the very few prominent structures from Roman Empire left today in Italy. We will see some of the important points about this ancient amphitheatre in below section.
Colosseum - The World's Largest Ancient Amphitheatre Ever Built
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- It is a large ellipsoid arena built somewhere in the first century CE by the Flavian Roman emperors of Vespasian (69-79 CE), Titus (79-81 CE) and Domitian (81-96 CE).
- The Colosseum building had 80 entrances for spectators who come to watch the sporting events.
- The first game held in the Ancient Amphitheatre was under Emperor Titus(son of Vespasian) in 80 AD and it continued for record 100 straight days.
- Three of the arena’s stories are encircled by arcades framed on the exterior by engaged columns in the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders.
- The structure’s rising arrangement of columns became the basis of the Renaissance codification known as the assemblage of orders.
- The main structural framework and facade are travertine, the secondary walls are volcanic tufa, and the inner bowl and the arcade vaults are concrete.
- There are lot of marble used in building the site. According to some historians, they used around 100,000 cubic meters of marble, transported in 200 bullock carts to the building site.
- The underground area of the Colosseum was known as the Hypogeum. It was two-level subterranean network of tunnels with 32 animal pens.
- There were also 80 Vertical shafts which provided instant access to the arena.
- According to some historians, it was constructed by thousands of Jewish Slaves under Emperor Vespasian.
- At one time, Colosseum had the seating capacity for around 50,000 spectators at a time.
- The Arena had more than 36 trap doors for special effects and also had many underground passages and rooms to hold wild animals and gladiators before game begins.
- Gladiators and Animals were brought in the games from all over the Roman Empire.
- The animals brought in the game included big cats such as lions and tigers, as well as rhinos, crocodiles and bears.
- The games included hand to hand combat between Gladiators, contests between men and animals and even a larger combat like Naval combat for which the arena used to be flooded with water.
- The entry in the Arena was free for all the ancient roman citizens. Sometimes even food served during the entire event was free.
- The Colosseum even had a massive retractable velarium, a type of awning used during the Roman times. This can be pulled over the top of the seating area to protect the spectators from the scorching sunlight.
- The Emperor used to pay for the entire event to gain the popularity among masses.
- Later on due to high cost incurred, gladiators games were stopped in 435 AD and the animals hunts somewhere in 532 CE.
- According to an estimate, more than 400,000 people and over a million wild animals died during the games.
- Most of the Colosseum structure destroyed due Natural Disasters and Vandalism and today only 1/3rd of the structure remains.
- Most of the structure damage was caused during the 847 AD and 1231 AD earthquakes.
- The Preservation of the remaining structure started way back in the early 19th Century with major efforts led by Pius VIII and then later on a full restoration project was taken during 1990s.
- In the medieval times, Colosseum was used as a church, then as a fortress by two prominent Roman families, the Frangipane and the Annibaldi. More on Britannica.