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The Colosseum in Rome

Updated on September 8, 2014

The Roman Colosseum

It's quite amazing that the Roman Colosseum, even 2,000 years after it was built, is still one of the most recognizable of Rome's Classical buildings. Although for centuries the abandoned structure was pillaged for it's building materials, it is still considered an architectural and engineering wonder. Currently, The Roman Colosseum remains as standing proof of both the grandeur and the cruelty of the Roman world.

Wikimedia Creative Commons photo courtesy DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

Colosseum
Colosseum

An upclose photo of the Colosseum as it stands today.

Creative Commons photo courtesy Wikimedia/Andreas Ribbefjord

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Amphitheatrum Flavium
Amphitheatrum Flavium

The Colosseum's History

Construction of the Flavian Amphitheater, the original name for the Roman Colosseum, began in 70 A D under the reign of Emperor Vespasian. Following Vespasian's death in 79 A.D. his son Titus finished and inaugurated the Colosseum in 80 A.D. The lavish grand opening of the Amphitheater spanned some three months.

Both Emperor Titus and his younger brother, Emperor Domitian, made various improvements to the structure, which included adding a series of underground tunnels to hold slaves and animals. Also added was an upper deck to increase the Colosseum's seating capacity to roughly 65,000.

Lightning caused a fire that inflicted major damage to the Colosseum in 217, those repairs took over twenty years to complete. An earthquake in 443 once again badly damaged the building, and about 80 years after that, the Colosseum was virtually abandoned.

The Colosseum remained largely intact until the great earthquake of 1349, when a massive portion of the south side of the structure collapsed. The Colosseum was never rebuilt, as the large amount of stone in the rubble was used to construct various other building in Rome and the surrounding area.

Since the Catholic Church took possession of the Colosseum in the mid 13th century, the structure has been used chiefly for religious gatherings and ceremonies. The Church has long since declared the Colosseum a sacred site, and gone to great lengths to preserve and fortify the ancient building.

Creative Commons photo courtesy Wikimedia/Jimmy Walker

Flavian Amphitheatre
Flavian Amphitheatre

For just under $20, one can visit the interior of the Roman Colosseum.

Public domain photo courtesy Wikimedia/Fubar Obfusco

Anfiteatro Flavio
Anfiteatro Flavio

Architecture

As one can imagine, the Colosseum was an architectural marvel in its heyday., as it was the first free-standing amphitheater ever constructed. It employed an elliptical plan with a length 620 feet, a width of 512 feet, and a height of 158 feet. The middle area of the arena is 287 feet long by 180 feet wide. The stone wall encircling the arena and was 15 feet tall

The principle of the arch was widely used in the construction of the Colosseum. The perimeter walls had 80 arched entrances and corridors that funneled the spectators inside. Many of these same principles can be found in today's modern stadiums and arenas.

Seating in the Colosseum was assigned via social class, meaning the better seats (those closer to the central arena), went to the societies' higher ranking people. The Vestal Virgins and the Emperor himself sat in boxes at the middle areas of the stadium, while the senators would sit at the same lower levels at the stadium's ends. Knights and Noblemen were on the next level up, then the citizens, with the wealthier receiving closer seats than the poor.

Creative Commons photo courtesy Flickr/rmceoin

Virtual Tour - Take an historical virtual tour of The Colosseum.

In today's modern Rome, the Colosseum serves as an historic reminder of the Ancient Roman Empire

Creative Commons photo courtesy Wikimedia/Xerxes

Thoughts on The Roman Colosseum? - Feel free to let everyone know here.

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    • profile image

      RomeFan 

      4 years ago

      This is another great page about Rome. I have been to the Colosseum and it was great. The structure was superbly constructed, very amazing. Thanks for this great info shared with us.

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 

      5 years ago

      Amazing. I so hope to see it in person someday.

    • Rick Wyble profile image

      Rick Wyble 

      5 years ago

      I have always been facinated by the marvel of of this structure. Excellent, informative lens.

    • profile image

      Terrie_Schultz 

      5 years ago

      I've been there twice, on two different trips to Rome. It is awe-inspiring.

    • Phillyfreeze profile image

      Ronald Tucker 

      5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      It is interesting to know that after 2,000 the Closseum seating capacity of 65,000 is 1,000 more than my hometown college's football stadium...quite an achievement for this time and period of Roman history.

    • itravel2004 lm profile image

      itravel2004 lm 

      6 years ago

      I been there...Even seeing the Colosseum in lots of photos, I find myself breath-taking see it close up when came out from METRO.

    • jmchaconne profile image

      jmchaconne 

      6 years ago

      I've been there. This is a very nice lens, especially the images, and the video tor in Italian! I just finished a lens about the Masters of Rome Series by Colleen McCullough. If you haven't read it I think you will enjoy it. Thanks for a great lens.

    • PennyHowe profile image

      PennyHowe 

      6 years ago

      Awesome photos and information. It is on my bucket list. Thanks again.

    • MindPowerProofs1 profile image

      MindPowerProofs1 

      6 years ago

      Rome is history itself

    • profile image

      Edutopia 

      6 years ago

      To me the greatest thing about the Colosseum is the architectural theory that went in to making a structure of that size with out the use of mortar. Crazy to think about.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 

      6 years ago

      A wonderful place to visit with so much history.

    • profile image

      Lindrus 

      6 years ago

      I would really like to see the Colosseum and Rome! Any idea of when the best time (less crowds) would be?

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 

      6 years ago

      The Colosseum is fantastic to visit, you can feel history all around you.

    • nyclittleitaly profile image

      nyclittleitaly 

      6 years ago

      The Colosseum is amazing. To think that after over 2000 years it still stands. What a tribute to history. Great lens.

    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 

      6 years ago

      italy is just 1.5 hrs flight away from rome but i was never been there. somehow, i am afraid to go there. i heard lots of bad things about snatchers and thieves. it is safer at home in vienna, austria so far.

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image

      JoyfulPamela2 

      7 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      The Colosseum is such a fascinating place!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      i was fortunate enough to visit Rome a few years ago for my birthday. I loved Rome!! We were lucky enough to stay in a hotel which was very close to the Colosseum. It was the view I woke up to each morning. When you see the Colosseum, nothing quite prepares you for just how big it is.

    • profile image

      Janethomas 

      7 years ago

      Very nice lens!! Roman coliseum is the great ancient building in Rome and one of the most astounding building you have ever seen .At the entrance of Colosseum you can see the carved roman numerals which gives the number of each entrance. It is very huge and draws attention, and the small exhibition inside it definitely worth's a visit.

    • sorana lm profile image

      sorana lm 

      7 years ago

      Great lens for a fabulous place. I love the Colosseum and Rome.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      I was just watching a documentary last night about the Colosseum on the History Channel. I love your photos. Always a great subject.

    • Brookelorren LM profile image

      Brookelorren LM 

      7 years ago

      I've had the opportunity to go to the Colosseum twice. Great job, and angel blessings to you.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 

      7 years ago

      Rome is so beautiful, 5* and I lensroll to my Vatican City

      Great lens, I have a lot of nostalgia about Rome.

      regards

    • MedievalCostumeA profile image

      MedievalCostumeA 

      7 years ago

      The Colosseum will always be a memorial piece of Roman history, I can just visualize the gruesome battles that took place there, as well as the picture of gladiator helmets that fearsome gladiators wore, great Lens ;)

    • polly72 lm profile image

      polly72 lm 

      7 years ago

      Nice lens I hope to visit rome someday

    • greenerme profile image

      greenerme 

      7 years ago

      Absolutely amazing! I visited there this past summer and pictures just don't do it justice. Great lens!

    • traveller27 profile image

      traveller27 

      7 years ago

      I've visited the Colosseum twice...two years in row a few years back. It's an incredible experience.

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 

      7 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Interesting lens...blessed and added to my December Blessings lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      Great Lens..... love to travel there one day..Thank you from Mayberry Nc

    • profile image

      RanjeetaP 

      7 years ago

      It is one point in my bucket list. Hope I will be lucky enough to get a divine glimpse of the colosseum.

    • diabolus lm profile image

      diabolus lm 

      7 years ago

      I was actually at the Colosseum last month. It was amazing. This Lens makes me want to go back right now!

    • Anahid LM profile image

      Anahid LM 

      7 years ago

      Hi It is great lens, I lived long ago in Rome and I was married at the Vatican City, and the photographer on my wedding day took us to take picture at the Colosseum, your lens gives me new thought to publish a new lens and show my wedding picture at Colosseum. Thanks for visiting my lenses. All the best Anna

    • SylvianeNuccio1 profile image

      SylvianeNuccio1 

      7 years ago

      The Colosseum of Rome is also very impressive in real. HUGE!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      The gigantic Roman colosseums must have looked splendid in their ancient grandeur complete with Romans and the Royals. In fact there is lot to learn from the architectures of past, our buildings corrode and are not as steadfast as the old stone and rock architectures. Beautiful lens that describes the beauty of ancient stadiums.

    • profile image

      Suzane89 

      7 years ago

      There is a certain logic in what has the simplest, easiest, and apparently the strongest of the "columns on lower floors to support her. The columns outside the Coliseum was the so-called "engaged columns." They were not there to support the weight above, as in Greek temples, as it was done by the walls, but they were made to appear as if they did. They were built in the wall look as if a part of the column was hidden. This is a deviation from the Greek ideal and Our explanation of the principle that the forms of architecture should apply, they must have real meaning constructive. Romans here used a Greek form of decoration only, but the walls were so massive that the structure as best for this ornament, and was mounted in appearance to the character of the building.

      http://www.historicaltravelguide.com/

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      Nice lens. I have always wanted to visit. I wonder if they have paranormal activity from all the slaughter that went on here? This is my 900th Squidlike.

    • profile image

      jgelien 

      7 years ago

      This is another of those places I would really love to see in person before I die.

      The structure is amazing and the history is fascinating in an unsettling way.

    • JollyvilleChick profile image

      JollyvilleChick 

      7 years ago

      I think there's alot more to the Colosseum than we'll ever know. The engineering, construction, the activities, and even public opinion about the building itself are probably hidden away forever.

    • pkmcruk profile image

      pkmcr 

      7 years ago from Cheshire UK

      Really super lens and added to my Rome Attractions lens. I had the very good fortune to live in Rome for three years so the historic sites were my daily companions as I went around - and you have captured the Colloseum extremely well.

    • squid-janices7 profile image

      squid-janices7 

      7 years ago

      The Colosseum is a "must-see" in my humble opinion. An architectural marvel and pictures just don't do it justice. I've lensrolled you to my Top 10 Things To Do in Rome lens.

    • blue22d profile image

      blue22d 

      7 years ago

      Can you imagine the voices that were heard back in its time. I would love the stand and view it from the inside.

    • PizmoBeach LM profile image

      PizmoBeach LM 

      7 years ago

      One of my favourite places in Rome.

    • Holley Web profile image

      Holley Web 

      8 years ago

      One day I will see this up close :) Thank you for the information!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      8 years ago from United States

      Visiting the Roman Colosseum was one of the most awesome experiences of my life.

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 

      8 years ago from Australia

      Thanks for this wonderful tour without me having to leave my computer desk!

    • gigifitrakis profile image

      gigifitrakis 

      8 years ago

      My visit to the Colosseum is unforgettable to me! I was really impressed by its size. I find it extremely helpful having made a research for a specific site before visiting it because this helps me focus on the most important aspects of it as well as to recognize its peculiarities. If you are interested in ancient monuments then you might find attractive my lens on Erecthion, in Acropolis of Athens, Greece.

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 

      9 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Wonderfully crafted! Blessed by an angel today

    • profile image

      Cassandrology 

      9 years ago

      nice content here in your lens lots of pictures and information about the well known historic sites of Rome.

      try to visit my lens regarding one of the top tourist destination in the Asia, the Macau

    • Tiddledeewinks LM profile image

      Tiddledeewinks LM 

      9 years ago

      Rome...reminds me of Apostle Paul in the New Testament of the Bible.

    • profile image

      FantasyDesigns 

      9 years ago

      Great lens! 5 *'s

    • AlisonMeacham profile image

      AlisonMeacham 

      9 years ago

      I would love to visit Rome one day. It is on my (long) list of places I want to see!

    • profile image

      GHouse 

      9 years ago

      Hi!! Just come to see your nice lens. I did my travel lens too. It's about my hotel in hua hin Thailand. Hua Hin is a charming town of clean white sandy beach. If you come to Thailand, please visit us.

    • Lizblueberry profile image

      Lizblueberry 

      10 years ago

      I have actually visited this wonderful piece of architecture! Thanks for visiting my lens!

    • CrypticFragment1 profile image

      Tammy Winand 

      10 years ago from McleodGanj HP India

      I'm a huge fan of ancient history, and have always been fascinated by the Romans

      nice work

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 

      10 years ago

      I love the Roman Colosseum... thanks for adding this to Italy Headquarters.

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