During the ancient Roman Empire, the Colosseum (Colosseo) had a similar appearance and could hold up to 60.000 spectators. It was the origin of professional gladiators, who were trained to battle to the death with all kinds of wild creatures, that heightened the terror. The Colosseum was also the place where Christians were crucified during the reign of Emperor Nero.
The original structure was built in 80 A.D. by the emperor Vespasian as a monument to the gods. Over time, it has been modified but still bears many traces of its original form. Today, the Colosseum is a popular tourist attraction in Rome.
The facade was designed by Michelangelo and was originally painted red, white and blue. These colors represent the three days during which Jesus Christ hung on the cross at the center of Jerusalem. In 1598, when Pope Clement VIII opened up the interior of the Colosseum for public viewing, he found it covered in pictures that showed the history of Rome from its founding by Romulus in 753 B.C. until his own time. Some of these paintings are now in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence while others are stored in the Vatican Museum.
The arena itself was completely enclosed by a wall with an entrance on each side.
At different stages in its existence, the Colosseum could house an estimated 50,000 to 80,000 spectators, with an average attendance of around 65,000. It was used for gladiatorial competitions and public spectacles including as animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of great wars, and plays based on Roman mythology, and it could hold 20,000 people for a short time. In addition, it was also used for religious ceremonies, such as the annual games held during the Roman festival year.
The Colosseum was built by the Emperor Vespasian to replace the older Flavian Amphitheatre, which had been destroyed by fire. The new structure was originally called the "Circus Flaminius" after its location near the Circus Flaminius but this name wasn't adopted until later. In 1598, the present name was given to honor the memory of Nero Caesar, who had recently died. Like many other famous buildings and structures in Rome, parts of the Colosseum are incorporated into more recent buildings; for example, the arena is part of what is now a public park. However, even today, some elements within the building remain intact including the original entrance gates and parts of the original wall circuit.
In addition to being used for entertainment purposes, the Colosseum was also used as a place of execution. This happens several times in history, most notably in A.D. 192 when Septimius Severus and his family were murdered there before their bodies were taken outside the city walls and fed to wild animals.
Historians disagree on the origins of gladiatorial games. Many people believe the notion evolved from the Etruscan practice of offering human sacrifices to commemorate the death of a lord. Let's look at the facts and discover more about this gladiator and the Colosseum. The word "gladiator" comes from Latin, meaning "warrior." These men fought with swords and spears before the introduction of firearms. There are many stories as to how these battles began but probably around 250 B.C. some Roman nobles who lived in Italy at that time wanted to find a way to identify whom they were fighting against in battle so they invented the sport of gladiatorial combat.
The first recorded game took place between two men from different cities who were both convicted of murder. The murder charges weren't confirmed but since there were no jails back then, they must have been found guilty by a jury. The man who lost the fight was killed while his opponent was given safe passage home. This event took place in 493 B.C. and it was called "the Battle of Lake Trasimene".
The next record we have of gladiators coming from outside of Rome is in 91 B.C. when the city was invaded by foreign soldiers who brought with them their own forms of entertainment such as wrestling and boxing matches.
Titus, Vespasian's son, launched the Colosseum in 80 AD with 100 days of games, involving gladiatorial combats and contests amongst wild beasts. The Colosseum was the biggest amphitheater known in ancient Rome, measuring approximately 190 by 155 meters. It served as the primary venue for entertaining Roman residents. All that remains of the original structure is its shell; what has been preserved includes only part of the arena floor.
The Colosseum was built over a period of about 10 years. It replaced an earlier stadium called "Forum Boarium" which had been used since about 70 BC. The new structure was much larger and could hold up to 150,000 people - thus becoming one of the largest stadiums in world history.
The emperor who sponsored the games was given charge of building the arena. He paid for all construction costs out of his own pocket while the state provided food, water, and other necessities for the visitors. Titus died before the project was completed and his son Vespasian finished the job.
In 5th century AD Constantinople constructed a large cathedral on top of the Colosseum. Over time this church became too small to contain all the pilgrims visiting the site so it was demolished and not rebuilt. What remains today is only the foundation of the original Colosseum.