The Romans really did not do things by halves. They built incredible roads, architecture, and are actually largely responsible for some of our most modern ways of living. Their entertainment, however, is often looked back on as being fairly gruesome! For example, the Colosseum remains an incredible artifact showing just how people came together to entertain themselves in Rome in centuries past.
The Colosseum is a colossal theatre which is perhaps most famous for being the arena of many a gladiator battle. Whether you’ve read about gladiator warfare briefly or mainly know of the ‘games’ at the Colosseum from the Russell Crowe movie, there are still plenty of things for you to uncover about the incredible monument.
Did you know that death battles at the Colosseum occurred regularly and were stopped sooner than you think? Did you know that you can still explore the grounds, and that you can get in for free one day a week? You might also not be aware of the famous tussles surrounding Nero’s lake nearby.
In any case, it’s time to give a big ‘thumbs up’ and to find out more about the Colosseum – and take a huge sigh of relief at the fact that we perhaps live in more enlightened times! Regardless, the history is still fascinating, so here’s some facts to really dive into.
It is thought that the Colosseum was built between the years 72 A.D. and 80 A.D.
The Colosseum holds the record for being the largest ‘amphitheatre’ in the world.
The Colosseum was built in an oval shape. It measures 50 metres high, 189 metres long
and 156 metres wide.
The Colosseum has been damaged by fires, earthquakes, and vandalism. Much of the
Original building has been destroyed over time, but today, the building is protected with security personnel and caretakers.
Rome’s Police also patrol the vicinity of the Colosseum.
A ‘Velarium’ was constructed in Ancient Roman times to cover spectators in the Colosseum. This roof cover gave shade and helps protect people from scorching temperatures.
36 tap doors were made to help create visual effects at the Colosseum.
Gladiators and animals waited in underground rooms before their turn came to fight or perform.
‘Games’ involving gladiators took place at the Colosseum until the 5th Century.
Music often accompanied the Games and crowds were roused to support teams and individuals, some known by name.
Animal spectacles, mostly along the lines of ‘hunts’, continued to entertain Romans until the 6th century.
Colosseum, Roma, Italy
As many as 10,000 animals were killed per day to provide entertainment for Emperors and their party.
The Colosseum could hold approximately 50,000 people.
80 entrances provided access into and around the Colosseum.
Emperor Titus held the first known games at the Colosseum in the year 80 A.D.
To gain popularity, Emperors often held events which were free of charge. They sometimes provided free drinks and food, too.
One series of games at the Colosseum could last for up to 100 continuous days.
Slaves were used to construct the Colosseum, which was built from sand and stone.
The last of the games involving the mass slaughter of animals were held in the year 532. The last of the games involving the promised demise of gladiators, however, stopped in the year 432.
It has been estimated that over one million animals died in the years animals were used
as bait or for hunts at the games.
The colosseum was built by emperors as a ‘gift’ to the people in the hope of garnering public support.
The Colosseum is sometimes known as the Flavian Amphitheatre because the Flavian Emperors ordered and ensured it was constructed.
Amphitheatres constructed earlier than the Colosseum were often built so they were more than one story deep underground or built adjacent to hills for support.
The Colosseum is constructed as a free standing building, though there are rooms beneath the surface.
In 2012, Italian authorities decided to raise funds for necessary restoration work on the Colosseum. The economy of Italy at the time was in poor shape and the cost for renovation and repairs expected to reach £30 million!
The Colosseum had been built on the site of a man-made lake, constructed by Emperor Nero.
Emperor Nero committed suicide in the year 68 CE. Due to his unpopularity, all traces of him were agreed to be removed, and his lake was filled.
Emperor Vespasian, who desired popularity, decided to create a monument for the people to enjoy. This, of course, became the Colosseum.
The Emperor brought back 1,000 slaves from Jerusalem to build the Colosseum.
Around 24 elephants were used to move a statue at the Colosseum. This was a statue Nero had had made to depict him as a figure to be revered.
Upon his death, Emperor Vespasian had the statue moved from a position of prominence at the Colosseum.
In order to find their seats, spectators at the Colosseum were given numbered tickets. These ‘tickets’ were shards of stone!
The Colosseum was also used for executions. These were usually held at midday.
In the latter part of the 16th century, the Pope Sixtus the 5th decided to engage prostitutes in a different mode of employment! He wanted to turn the Colosseum into a factory working with wool. He died, however, before realising this ambition.
Much of the ancient stone of the original Colosseum was recycled in the 15th century to help build St Peter’s Basilica.
Second only to the Vatican, the Colosseum is one of the most frequently visited historic sites
in Italy. Between four and five million visitors head here each year.
As of today, a standard ticket to tour the Colosseum costs 12 Euros. However, on the first Sunday of each month, entrance to the Colosseum is free.
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about the Colosseum that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!