Traditional place

Roman Colosseum in Italy

Located just east of the Roman Forum, the huge stone amphitheater known as the Colosseum was commissioned around 70-72 AD. C. by Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty as a gift for the Roman people. In the year 80 d. C., Vespasian’s son, Titus, opened the Colosseum, officially known as the Flavian Amphitheater, with 100 days of games, including gladiatorial fighting and wild animal fights. After four centuries of active use, the magnificent sand fell into carelessness, and until the 18th century it was used as a source of building materials. Although two-thirds of the original Colosseum have been destroyed over time, the amphitheater remains a popular tourist destination, as well as an iconic symbol of Rome and its long and tumultuous history.

Even after the decadent Roman emperor Nero took his own life in 68 AD. C., its disorder and its excesses fed a series of civil wars. No less than four emperors took the throne in the tumultuous year after Nero’s death; the fourth, Vespasian, would end up ruling for 10 years (69-79 AD). The Flavian emperors, as Vespasiano and his sons Titus (79-81) and Domitian (81-96) were known, attempted to mitigate the excesses of the Roman court, restore Senate authority and promote public welfare. Around 70-72, Vespasiano returned the lush land to the Roman town near the center of the city, where Nero had built a huge palace for himself after a great fire that swept Rome in 64 AD. On the site of that Golden Palace, he decreed, a new amphitheater would be built where the public could enjoy gladiatorial fighting and other forms of entertainment.

After almost a decade of construction, a relatively fast period of time for a large-scale project, Titus officially dedicated the Colosseum in 80 AD. C. with a festival that includes 100 days of games. Titus, a beloved ruler, had earned the devotion of his people with his handling of recovery efforts after the infamous eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. C., which destroyed the cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii. The final stages of construction of the Colosseum were completed under the reign of Tito’s brother and successor, Domitian.

At 620 by 513 feet (190 by 155 meters), the Colosseum was the largest amphitheater in the Roman world. Unlike many previous amphitheaters, which had been excavated on the slopes to provide adequate support, the Colosseum was an independent structure made of stone and concrete. The distinctive exterior had three floors of arched entrances, a total of about 80, supported by semicircular columns. Each story contained columns of a different order (or style): at the bottom there were relatively simple Doric order columns, followed by Ionic and topped by the ornate Corinthian order. Located near the main entrance of the Colosseum was the Arch of Constantine, built in 315 AD. C. in honor of the victory of Constantine I over Maxentius in Pons Milvius.

The Colosseum saw about four century of active use, until the struggles of the Western Roman Empire and the step by step change in public tastes put an end to gladiatorial fighting and other great public entertainment in the 6th century AD. C. At that time, the sand had suffered damage due to natural matter such as lightning and earthquakes.

In the coming centuries, the Colosseum was fully void and used as a quarry for numerous construction projects, including the cathedrals of St. Peter and St. John Lateran, the Palazzo Venezia and the protection fortifications along the Tiber River. However, from the 18th century onwards, several popes sought to preserve the sand as a sacred Christian site, although in fact it is not clear whether the first Christian martyrs found their destiny in the Colosseum, as has been speculated.

By the twentieth century, a summation of weather, natural disasters, neglect and vandalism had dilapidated almost two-thirds of the original Colosseum, including all the marble seats in the arena and their Figurative elements. Restoration efforts began in the 1990s, and have outstretched over the years, as the Colosseum continues to be a leading attraction for tourists from around the world.

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