The Colosseum in Rome

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We have always heard many people talking about Italy and its wonderful places and ancient buildings, one such building is the Colosseum or Coliseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, an elliptical amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy.

 

It was the largest amphitheatre of the Roman Empire, and is considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and engineering.

 

The Colosseum could hold, it is estimated, between 60,000 and 80,000 spectators, and was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology.

 

The building ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era. Although in the 21st century it stays partially ruined because of damage caused by devastating earthquakes and stone-robbers, the Colosseum is an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome. It is one of Rome’s most popular tourist attractions and has close connections with the Roman Catholic Church.

 

The Colosseum underwent several radical changes of use during the medieval period. By the late 6th century a small church had been built into the structure of the amphitheatre, though this apparently did not confer any particular religious significance on the building as a whole.

 

The arena was converted into a cemetery. The numerous vaulted spaces in the arcades under the seating were converted into housing and workshops, and are recorded as still being rented out as late as the 12th century.

 

The elliptical building is immense, measuring 188m by 156m and reaching a height of more than 48 meters (159 ft). The magnificent structure was clad in marble and 160 larger-than-life statues graced the arches on the upper floors.

 

Emperors used the Colosseum to entertain the public with free games. Those games were a symbol of prestige and power and they were a way for an emperor to increase his popularity. The southern side of the Colosseum was felled by an earthquake in 847.

 

In 68AD Emperor Nero died and with him the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Vespasian was made emperor by the Senate in the following year and decided the city needed a new amphitheatre. Just like a modern politician, such gestures simultaneously pleased the populace and would leave a lasting monument to the emperor’s greatness.

Colosseum in Rome, Italy

The Colosseum is a huge ellipse with tiered seating, with an elliptical arena within. It combined a mix of materials including concrete for the foundations. The Romans invented the super-strong material, and it allowed them to build larger, more stable buildings.

 

Travertine stone (mined from the hills of Latium around Rome) was used for the piers and arcades. Tufa which is a softer volcanic rock was used as infill between the piers on the walls of the lower two levels.

 

Concrete faced with brick was used for the upper levels and for the ceiling vaults. The characteristic rounded arches that the builders used also provided great strength and support, spreading the weight of the upper tiers.

 

More recent restoration has focused on simply maintaining the Colosseum nobody seriously talks about rebuilding it in its entirety, and a €20m restoration project was completed in 2000. Today, lit from within on a Roman night, the Colosseum never fails to make visitors catch their breath, it is still recognisably the building started nearly 2,000 years ago to entertain the Roman public.