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Rome Travel Guide:

Best Places to Visit in Rome -  The Colosseum

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The Colosseum

The Colosseum at night is a spectacle

The Colosseum    was commissioned by Vespasian in the 1st century, opened during the reign of his son Titus, and was completed by Domitian. Other emperors augmented the Colosseum, but when the Empire ended, it suffered from lack of maintenance, damage from earthquakes, and the use of its materials to construct other monuments.

The arena was designed to seat over 50,000. The Roman emperors believed that providing spectacles, even violent ones went a long way in pacifying the common people and bolstering the reputation of the emperor.  The Colosseum served as much for social control as it did of the love of sport.

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The Colosseum is an immense oval-shaped building, nearly two football fields long, over 16 stories high and equipped with 80 entrance/exits, which helped to fill it and flush it very quickly.  We were surprised to learn that the Colosseum was originally equipped with a moveable awning (Velarium) that provided relief from the sun.

Below are photographs of the interior of the Colosseum viewed from the east (top) and the west (bottom). The numerous chambers and passages beneath the floor of the arena housed gladiators, animals and slaves who accessed the arena through a series of gated passages that kept them separated until the "games" began.

Interior and underground details of the Colosseum

 

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For a detailed, although unofficial website on the Colosseum, follow this link to the BBC's excellent history of the Colosseum.

 

 

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