The Colosseum or Coliseum is also known as the Flavian Amphitheater. It was built using concrete and stone and is oval in shape. It is located in the center of the city of Rome, Italy. This is the largest amphitheater ever built and considered one of the greatest works of architecture and engineering. Today, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations around the world because it is an iconic symbol of Rome and its long, tumultuous history.
This historic structure was specially made around A.D. 70-72 as a gift to the Roman people by Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty. In A.D. 80, Vespasian’s son Titus opened the Colosseum with 100 days of games that include gladiatorial combats and wild animal fights. Measuring some 620 by 513 feet (or 190 by 155 meters), it is considered as the largest amphitheater in the Roman world. And unlike earlier amphitheaters that were dug into hillsides to provide adequate support, the Colosseum is a freestanding structure. The exterior had three stories of arched entrances – with a total of around 80 – supported by semi-circular columns. At the bottom were columns of the relatively simple Doric order, followed by Ionic and topped by the ornate Corinthian order. Near the main entrance, the Arch of Constantine is located. It is built in A.D. 315 in honor of Constantine I’s victory over Maxentius at Pons Milvius. The Colosseum can seat more than 50,000 spectators. It has coverings at the top story that is used to protect the audience from the sun as they watch gladiatorial combats, hunts, wild animal fights, and mock naval engagements. The majority of the participants in the Colosseum games were men, though there were some female gladiators. These gladiators are generally slaves, condemned criminals, or prisoners of wars.
By the 6th century A.D, with the struggles of the Western Roman Empire and the gradual change in public taste it put an end to the gladiatorial combats and other large public entertainments at the Colosseum. It was later used for other purposes such as housing, workshops, a quarter for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry, and a Christian shrine. Over time, two-thirds of the original Colosseum had suffered damage including the arena’s marble seats and its decorative elements due to natural phenomena, such as lightning and earthquakes; neglect, and vandalism. Restoration efforts began in the 1990’s and have proceeded over the years. Today, the Colosseum continues to be a leading attraction for tourists from all over the world.