Rome was once considered to be one of the leading cities in the entire world; art, science, and music all have significant beginnings in this major Italian metropolis. Of all of Rome’s contributions to the modern world, its’ architecture is believed by many historians and scholars to be the most significant; and while there are a number of stunning architectural sights in Rome and the surrounding area, the Colosseum is perhaps the most famous. Individuals who are interested in learning more about the Colosseum can do so by reading books and journals dedicated to the subjects, or by speaking with historians and other experts in the field.
Though some historians still disagree about its specific dates of origin, most believe that the construction of the Colosseum was started between 70 and 72 AD. Originally built in a large, open grassy space, the area was densely inhabited by 200 AD. Over the years, the Colosseum has been damaged by a number of fires and earthquakes, including those in the second and 13th centuries. Over the past several decades, many Roman officials and supporters have taken steps to ensure the long-term renovation of this historical site.
The Colosseum is an elliptical building approximately 614 feet long and 510 feet wide. The walls of this massive building are built from travertine stone, which were originally held together with a series of metal clamps. Unfortunately, major earthquakes—such as those described previously—resulted in the destruction of many parts of the exterior of the Colosseum. Today, only the northern-most side of the original exterior wall of the Colosseum is still standing.
According to early documents, early Roman historians believed that the Colosseum could hold as many as 87,000 people. Current estimates put this number closer to 50,000. Seats within the Colosseum were arranged in a tiered manner, which reflected ancient Roman hierarchy. These tiers included assigned seating arrangements for senators, non-senatorial noble citizens, soldiers, foreign dignitaries, scholars, and so on. Similarly, women, slaves, and other poor members of society were expected to sit within assigned tiers in the Colosseum.
The arena floor was composed of wood, which was then covered with a thick layer of sand. Today, little of the original Colosseum floor still remains—however, visitors are able to view the hypogeum, which was an underground series of tunnels and cages in which gladiators, animals, and other objects were stored. The tunnels within the hypogeum led to a number of Colosseum access points, through which animals, fighters, and other performers could enter and exit. Similarly, tunnels designed specifically for use by the Emperor and other local or visiting dignitaries ensured that they did not have to pass through the crowd to obtain access to the Colosseum.
While the arena is the major focal point of the Colosseum, a number of other nearby buildings also exist. Some of these include a training school for gladiators, a weapons building, and a small hospital. The purpose of a series of tall posts, found around the exterior of the Colosseum, still remain a mystery to many historians. Some researchers believe that these structures may have been used for ticket sales, awning structures, or religious boundaries.
The Colosseum has gone through a variety of uses during its long history. In its’ early years, the Colosseum was used to host gladiator contests, animal hunts, and even simulated sea battles. In other cases, artists would create visually stimulating artistic scenes, which could then serve as the backdrop for a musical concert or play. Finally, in some cases, the Colosseum was used for the execution of local criminals. Today, the Colosseum is one of the most popular tourist sites in the world, with tens of thousands of individuals from a variety of countries visiting the locale each year. Recently, it has also been used as the backdrop for a variety of movies and music videos.