The Colosseum ,also called Coliseum, is the largest amphitheater ever built by the Roman Empire. It is the most popular symbol in Rome and probably Italy too .
The monumental structure has fallen into ruins, but even today it is an imposing and beautiful sight. The effects of pollution and general deterioration over time prompted a major restoration programme carried out between 1993 and 2000, at a cost of 40 billion Italian lire ($19.3m / €20.6m at 2000 prices).
Construction of the Colosseum began under the rule of the Emperor Vespasian in around 70–72AD. It was devastated by the Great Fire of Rome in AD 64. The huge amphitheater was built on the site of an artificial lake, part of Nero‘s huge park in the center of Rome which also included the Golden House (Domus Aurea) and the nearby Colossus statue. This giant statue of Nero also gave the building its current name.
Vespesian ordered the Colosseum to be build on the site of Nero’s palace, the Domus Aurea, to dissociate himself from the hated tyrant.
His aim was to gain popularity by staging deadly combats of gladiators and wild animal fights for public viewing. Massacre was on a huge scale , at inaugural games in AD 80, over 9,000 wild animals were killed.
It has 80 arched entrances allowing easy access to 55,000 spectators, who were seated according to rank. The Coliseum is huge, an ellipse 188m long and 156 wide. Originally 240 masts were attached to stone corbels on the 4th level.
Bread and circus
It’s well known that these shows were held in order to manipulate the population because they thought that people only needs ‘ bread and circus ‘ .
Roman gladiators were usually slaves, prisoners of war or condemned criminals. These combats were attended by the poor, the rich, and frequently the emperor himself. As gladiators fought, vicious cries and curses were heard from the audience around the Roman Colosseum. One contest after another was staged in the course of a single day. Should the ground become too soaked with blood, it was covered over with a fresh layer of sand and the performance went on. The gladiatorial games continued until Christianity progressively put an end to those parts of them which included the death of humans.
Another popular type of show was the animal hunt, or venatio. This utilized a great variety of wild beasts, mainly imported from Africa and the Middle East.
Such events were occasionally on a huge scale; Trajan have celebrated his victories in Dacia , in 107 with contests involving 11,000 animals and 10,000 gladiators over the course of 123 days.
Popular tourist attraction
The Colosseum is today one of Rome’s most popular tourist attractions, receiving millions of visitors annually.
Entrance for EU citizens is partially subsidized . Visitors under-18 and over-65 can see the Colosseum free of charge . There is now a museum dedicated to Eros located in the upper floor of the outer wall of the building. Part of the arena floor has been re-floored. Beneath the Colosseum, a network of subterranean passageways once used to transport wild animals and gladiators to the arena opened to the public in summer 2010.