The ColosseumAlthough the name originally didn't refer to the structure itself, that's what it is: a colossus. It is huge! It is the largest amphitheater ever built and for many the prime symbol of Imperial Rome. Imagine the atmosphere of an audience of up to 80,000 people cheering for their favorite gladiator or for the emperor in a theatrical, reenacted battle.
If you walk down Via dei Fori Imperiali, you will already not know what to gaze at first: Remnants of a glorious past to your left and right. The Colosseum is visible from afar and it's easy to feel the excitement of a crowd heading towards the building for fun and distraction. "Bread and games" is what people need, they say.
Walk around the building to experience its dimensions. Once inside, you still see the necessary infrastructure of the old Rome's main entertainment facility. The underground quarters of gladiators and animals, different kinds of seating, and the foundations of supportive technology. In the early days it was even filled with water for the recreation of sea battles.
Don't forget that the Colosseum wasn't a fun place for everyone. It was a place of torture and death for perceived enemies of the Emperor, let alone the gladiators themselves. Tens of thousands of animals were killed for joy here as well. Today, the Colosseum also serves as a symbol of the international campaign against capital punishment.
The place supported an industry once, remains of adjacent buildings attest to that: a school for gladiators, a clinic, and a place that dealt with the dead.
The BeginningsConceived by newly elected Emperor Vespasian as a gesture to the people of Rome, the "Amphitheatrum Flavium" far surpassed any venue that had ever been built - it became the mother of all modern stadiums... ?
Panem et Circenses: Bread and Circuses at the ColosseumWild beasts from exotic colonies, war ships, martyrs, and of course gladiators: there was a wide range of entertainment at the Colosseum. But the members of the macho, military-crazy Roman society expected all of them to involve fighting - and more often than not, death...
The Colosseum under WaterCould the gigantic Colosseum really be flooded with water? Historian and politician Cassius Dio describes how sea battles were indeed staged in the heart of the city. What do modern experts think? And where would the water have come from?
Behind the ScenesA day at the Colosseum would start with venationes, or beast hunts. Exotic animals from far-away colonies were released via a machinery that included stage elevators. But animals didn’t only die on stage – they also performed death sentences…
After the Fall of the EmpireMore than three centuries after the Colosseum's inauguration, deadly shows had gone out of fashion. With the stunning decline of the city of Rome, the Colosseum fell into disrepair - until it was rediscovered by the Catholic church...
The Colosseum on its Way into the Age of ModernityIn the Middle Ages, Rome was a city in ruins; its population had shrunk from 1.5 million to a mere 20,000. People had forgotten about antiquity; the amphitheatre was believed to be a former temple. Then the fate of Christian martyrs was remembered…
- PPiazza del Colosseo
- 1 8:30-15:30 daily.