COLOSSEUM ANCIENT ROME
Rome’s Colosseum, originally referred to as the Flavian Ampitheatre, is one of the greatest pieces of Roman engineering and architecture in existence today. It’s located just east of the Forum, and was built starting sometime between 70 and 72 CE, with work finishing in just eight to ten years. However, additional modifications were made in the decades to follow.
The Colosseum was capable of seating as many as fifty thousand people, and hosted public spectacles, such as animal hunts, battle reenactments, drama, mock sea battles and executions, as well as gladatorial games. By the medieval period, the building was no longer used as a place of entertainment, and throughout history it was reused to house people, as workshop space, to quarter religious orders, as a fortress, as a quarry and as a shrine.
By one estimate, around five hundred thousand people and a million wild animals were killed as part of the games in the Colosseum during the period when it served as a place of entertainment. Over nine thousand animals were said to have been killed during just the inaugural games, according to Dio Cassius.
The ampitheater originally had wooden upper levels, but a major fire in 217 CE destroyed them, and they were not fully repaired until nearly a century later. Earthquakes and other natural disasters have further damaged it over the years, as has the theft of some of its stone. It is currently partially ruined, but remains an iconic symbol of the permanence of Rome, and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.
The Colosseum was declared a sacred site in 1749, when Pope Benedict XIV declared that use of the building as a quarry would not be allowed. Later Popes removed the extensive vegetation that had overgrown the entire structure, reinforced it with brick wedges, and repaired the interior through the ninteenth and early twentieth centuries. The substructure of the arena was also excavated, with the final work done during Mussolini’s regime in the 1930s.
Parts of the outer wall were cleaned between 1993 and 2000, because of significant damage by car exhaust. This restoration cost forty billion Italian lire. The building has become a symbol of the fight against capital punishment, and every time a criminal has a death sentence commuted or is released, the Roman authorities change the building’s night time lighting from white to gold.