If you are in Rome, the Coliseum is a must.
The Coliseum has always been considered the symbol of the Roman Empire. Its construction was started by Vespasian in 72 A.D. and completed by Titus in 80. Its name probably originates from its colossal dimensions . The Coliseum name is “Anfiteatro Flavio” (Flavian Amphitheater) , and it had a capacity of 50,000 spectators.
The celebrations to inaugurate the Coliseum lasted one hundred days, with thousands of gladiators and animals killed for the occasion.
It is well known that the Romans of ancient times had a strong passion for violent and brutal shows where blood was shed, and they took advantage of all religious celebrations to organize fights and games.
The Sportule were ferocious clashes and fights organized in the Coliseum, where hundreds of gladiators had to kill in a very short time.
The structure of the Coliseum is elliptical, 52 meters high, on an area of 19,000 square meters. Four levels with 80 arches each, seating about 7,000 people each.
The first level was semi- Doric, the second was had Ionic columns, the third had Corinthian columns and the fourth was a solid wall with small square windows . At this level there was the pole that supported a large tent that protected the spectators from the sun, called Velario.
The distribution of the seats in the five areas was done according to the social classes : the upper level , called “summa” (Latin for “top”), was intended for the lowest class, the “plebes”, in the middle seated Roman citizens and the lowest level was reserved to emperor, the” pulvinar” . In the basement of the Coliseum were held various activities related to the shows and there the gladiators waited to fight against ferocious beasts that were brought into the arena with carts.
Spectators used to spend the night on the spot buying blankets, pillows, drinks and sometimes even hot meals from street vendors.
In what was the most famous monument in the world and a symbol of the eternity of Rome, took place not only cruel combats between gladiators and hunting shows , but also executions, during the persecution of Christians.
Fires and earthquakes severely ruined the Coliseum and restoration works became necessary between the second and sixth centuries . In 313 A.D. Emperor Constantine proclaimed Christianity and fighting was banned.
After the last hunting show in 523 under Theodoric , the decadence of the Coliseum began and it started to be used as a travertine quarry to build new buildings.
The Flavian Amphitheater was declared a consecrated place by Pope Benedict XIV in basis of all the martyrs who lost their lives there. Today, the Coliseum is lit up every time a death penalty is suspended throughout the world .