The Roman Colosseum, one of the wonders of the world, is among the mightiest and the grandest of all the structures that were built in Rome. Also referred to as Falvian Amphitheater, the building has intimate connections with Catholic Church and today, it stands as a major tourist attraction.
The history of its construction is as fascinating as the structure itself. Erected by Flavian rulers, the Colosseum’s construction was initiated in 72 AD by an emperor named Vespasian. Built purposely near Domus Aurea, the structure was completed during the reign of Titus, Vespesian’s son. The presence of a nearby colossus of Nero gained it the name The Colosseum. The cardinal importance of the Roman Colosseum can be estimated from the fact that this prized possession was well preserved over centuries. Located strategically within the city’s center, it occupied both symbolic as well as literal significance.
With the arrival of medieval age, the Colosseum underwent radical changes. The portion of the arena was transformed to a cemetery. The space between the arcades got occupied by churches, palaces and forts.
As far as the architecture of Roman Colosseum is concerned, it is among the finest examples of skill, dexterity and highest level of artistry of its time. Built in the shape of an ellipse, the circumference of the structure is about 545 meters. The central portion, which resembles an oval, is 287 feet in length and 180 feet in width. The wall of the exterior was made up of travertine stone and mortar. The interior is much more impressive and grandiose.
The building was so spacious that it could shelter more than 87000 people at a time. The seating arrangement was highly tiered with separate chambers built for Emperor and his royal harem. Similar tiers were present that served senators and knights. These were known as maenianum primum and maenianum secundum respectively. A gallery for accommodating poor, women, and slaves occupied the topmost portion of the interior.
Another fantastic edifice that was part of this larger-than-life structure was Arena. With the dimension of 83 m by 48 m, Arena comprised on a floor of wood that once stood above ‘hypogeum’ or underground structure. A huge network of cages as well as tunnels here was meant for holding gladiators. For accessing caged animals, vertical shafts and hinged platforms were used. A plethora of supportive buildings were erected in Roman Colosseum that were used for competitions and games. ‘Ludus Magnus’ was a morning school that offered training for gladiators. At ‘Ludus Matutinus’ gave training to animal fighters. Armamentarium was the storehouse of stone weapons; the Sanitarium provided medical services to injured gladiators. Those who died during the fights were disposed of in Spoliarium.
Apart from holding bloody gladiatorial events, the amphitheater also organized shows that went by the name ‘munera’. These religious ceremonies were the ostentatious affairs that boasted about family prestige and might. Elaborate sets were used to hold animal hunt shows. Imported animals from different parts of the world used to take part in the ceremonies many of which lasted for over hundred days.
As you throw a glance over this ruined structure today, you tend to get overwhelmed by its enormous presence. Roman Colosseum is frequented by lakhs of visitors every year. In order to preserve the structure, a lot of refurbishment has been done. Several Catholic ceremonies are hosted here. A grand restoration plan is under consideration, Deigo Della, the shoe magnate of Itlay agreed to sponsor the restoration process.