Things to know about the Colosseum in Rome, Italy
It was almost midnight when the Swiss International Airlines flight from Zurich landed in Rome’s Fiumicino airport which is also known as Leonardo da Vinci airport. I disembarked from the aircraft and followed the stream of passengers towards the baggage carousel to collect my baggage. After almost 15 minutes of waiting patiently, I realized with some degree of exasperation that my baggage was not on the belt, by this time almost all of the passengers who had traveled who were with me on the flight from Zurich had found their baggage and made their way to the exit. I found a customer service counter and explained my predicament to the girl manning it, who with an air of practiced nonchalance thrust a form into my hand and asked me to fill up a form with the address of the place that I would be staying in Rome.
“We will get the baggage and send it to your address in a day or two”, she said, giving me a broad smile. I was in no mood to reciprocate her pleasantries and stared sombrely at the form in my hand, thinking that I may not be in Rome when the baggage arrives. Just then luck smiled at me. One of the ground staff whom the girl had dispatched to look for my baggage before she thrust the form in my hands returned wheeling my ‘bundle of joy’, my suitcase! I now profusely thanked him and gave the counter girl one of my broadest smiles and made my way to the exit of the airport to enter a city that I had dreamt of as a kid, Rome.
The Colosseum in Rome had fired my imagination as a kid as I think would be the case for most boys. The Colosseum’s ancient history, the Gladiators vs Lions fights, and other Colosseum facts for kids had indeed fueled my dreams and here I was about to realize my dream of seeing with my own eyes the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.
As we drove through the streets of Rome towards the hotel that we had booked, I peered out of the window. “The city looks like any other city in the world”, I thought. My fertile imagination had conjured up a city lined with marble statues and fountains, gladiators strutting about in their shining armour, Roman noblemen walking the streets in their flowing robes with beautiful damsels clinging to their arms! My adult mind shoved my juvenile imagination aside as we reached our hotel and I thankfully sank into a comfortable bed thinking about my Roman holiday and slept peacefully dreaming about the Colosseum in Rome, Italy, Europe.
A Brief History of the Colosseum in Rome
The Colosseum was ordered to be constructed by Emperor Vespasian in the year 72 AD. The construction of the largest amphitheater in the world began at the site where stood the personal and grandiose palace built by Emperor Nero. The palace known as Domus Aurea was pulled down and the Colosseum rose in its place, a symbolic gesture by Emperor Vespasian against the hedonistic tendencies of Emperor Nero. The Colosseum was completed in the year 80 AD by Titus who was the son of Vespasian. It is said that after the grand inauguration a festival of games was held that lasted for 100 days and these included the recreation of famous battles, gladiatorial combats, animal hunts, animal hunts, fights between different animals and executions.
Colosseum – Ancient History, Interesting Colosseum Facts
What is special about the Colosseum Rome that it fires the imagination of young and old alike? What is it that makes the Colosseum in Rome one of the seven wonders of the world?
- The Colosseum or Coliseum is also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre
- The Colosseum in Rome is the largest amphitheater ever built
- The Colosseum in Rome was completed way back in the year 80 AD
- The Colosseum in Rome had the capacity to accommodate between 50,000 to 80,000 people in its heyday
- The name Colosseum is believed to have originated from the fact that a huge 30-metre statue known as the Colossus of Nero of Emperor Nero stood in the vicinity
- The Colosseum in Rome used to be the venue for gladiatorial contests, animal hunts, and executions
- The Colosseum in Rome had a Hypogeum or underground chambers which were used to hold gladiators and animals before the contest, a network of tunnels led outside of the Hypogeum and was used to bring in the gladiators and animals
- The base area of the Colosseum in Rome is 24,000 square meters and the elliptical structure is 189 meters long and 156 meters wide
- The architecture of the Colosseum in Rome continues to be an enigma with many a secret in its folds
The Colosseum Experience
I looked at the huge beast as it growled angrily, it was indeed huge and I was pitted against it. The 50,000 strong crowd roared in unison and the intensity of that sound itself chilled my bones to the marrow. We looked at each other taking our attacking positions, me stretching out my left hand with the shield as far as it could go. The beast made the first move as it lunged at me. My shield recoiled with the impact as the wild animal hit it with a thud and I lost my balance and fell to the ground. I watched him taking his stance for the next attack from the corner of my eye, I struggled with all my strength to get back on my feet, but my efforts were in vain as I caught a glimpse of the animal in mid-air. The crowd had gone berserk now and the shouting had reached a crescendo as they bayed for my blood. They shouted louder and louder, and suddenly their hoarse voices were transformed into the shrill ringing tone of a cell phone; I woke up in a sweat to the alarm going off on my cell phone. I was in my hotel room in Rome and it was time to get up and get ready to pay an early morning visit to the Colosseum in Rome.
After being fortified by a decent breakfast we found ourselves on the roads of Italy – outside the Colosseum in Rome. I looked with a sense of deja vu at a couple of ‘gladiators’ who stood there, deep in an early morning conversation, probably discussing strategies to increase revenues by getting more tourists to pose with them for photographs. I was sure they would not be discussing strategies to tackle a wild beast in the midst of the amphitheater!
We soon found ourselves near the ticket counters and there were huge queues though it was quite early in the day and we had deemed it the best time of day to visit the Colosseum. It is always advisable to opt to skip the line Colosseum tours as this will ensure you do not waste time at the ticket counters. If you are looking for tickets to the Colosseum in Rome, you have many options to book Colosseum tours and tickets on the internet. We had booked our Colosseum tickets online and hence got through the formalities pretty quickly and were soon inside the Colosseum. As I looked at the dark walls my imagined images for Colosseum flashed through my mind and I wondered as to what secrets of the Colosseum would be revealed today.
The Colosseum looked impressive in spite of its ancient and weather-beaten appearance. What immediately catches your attention are the innumerable arches that that grace each storey. If you are wondering how many arches are on each floor of the Colosseum, then do note that there are four arcaded floors in the Colosseum and the first three floors have 80 arches each. The arches are framed by Corinthian, Doric, and Ionic columns. An attic is the fourth storey and this consists of Corinthian Pilasters which frame bays which have windows and large decorative shields of gilded bronze. Above these jutted out Corbels that were used to support wooden masts.
It was from these wooden masts that awnings were suspended. Just imagine a gladiator fight going on in the middle of the amphitheater and the blazing Mediterranean sun beating down, but hey, not to worry a huge awning made from either canvas, linen, or cotton would be hoisted and the spectators could watch the ‘show’ in indulgent comfort. The awning suspended from 240 masts and a system of ropes and pulleys ensured that the spectators were able to watch the proceedings sheltered from the vagaries of the weather.
Do you want to understand the process of how the awning was raised in the Colosseum?Then watch this delightful computer-animated video:
We wandered around the Colosseum marveling at the world’s largest amphitheater and clicking pictures as a childhood dream had seen the light of day.
The Colosseum was filled with the excited buzz of tourists whose chatter was probably nothing compared to the din of over 50,000 voices shouting and cheering the entertainment that took place in the center of the amphitheater.
As we peered down at where the arena floor which was just above the hypogeum we could not but helps thinking about the bloody games and bloodshed that the place had witnessed centuries ago.The place is supposed to have been a mute witness to gladiator fights to the death, bloody animal hunts, crucifixions and much more. It is estimated that in the course of 4 centuries a million human lives were snuffed out here, each season saw the death of 11,000 animals that included tigers, lions, elephants, and much more. In fact, it is thought that the Balkan Lion and the North African Elephant were expedited on the path to extinction because of their use in the events of the Colosseum.
Today, of course, the Colosseum forms the backdrop for more sedate activities like wedding photography.
Secrets and Questions About The Colosseum in Rome
The Colosseum was an entertainment arena for the Romans and it was here that incredible effects of wild animals suddenly and magically appearing from nowhere into the arena and charging at a gladiator or condemned prisoner was orchestrated. Research hypothesizes that the underground chambers served as resting places for the wild animals in their cages which were then hoisted by a lift and released through trap doors into the arena through a complex rope and pulley system.
There were innumerable questions buzzing in our minds, the audio guide answered many of them and we recommend that if you are on your own then do opt for an audio guide. The questions that plagued us and the answers that we found were as under:
Q. Why is the Colosseum one of the Seven Wonders of the World?
A. I don’t think that there was any doubt left in our minds after we set foot in the Colosseum.
Q. How many people were killed in the Colosseum?
A. A million or more.
Q. What happened to the animals in the Colosseum?
A. The answer is obvious, they met their nemesis.
Q. Why was the Colosseum important to the Roman Empire?
A. The Colosseum stood as a massive icon of Roman supremacy, power, and military might.
Q. How long did it take to build the Colosseum?
A. The Colosseum took approximately 6 to 8 years to be completed.
Q. How long and wide is the Colosseum
A. The proportions of the Colosseum are epic with a length of 189 meters and a width of 156 meters. The height of the outer wall of the Colosseum is 48 meters which are approximately equal to that of a 12 storeyed building.
Q. When was the last gladiator fight?
A. The last known gladiator fight was in the year 404 AD.
Q. Where did the Romans get the lions?
A. Animals including lions were captured from Asia and Africa by the Roman soldiers as well as hunters and these were then sent to the Colosseum.
Q. What do you call a female gladiator?
A. Women gladiators who fought in the Colosseum and other bloody theatres were called Amazones.
If you are fascinated by the Colosseum and its secrets and want to learn more about this intriguing structure and its hidden stories, and learn interesting facts about the Colosseum in Rome then do not fail to watch this amazing documentary by National Geographic:
We left the Colosseum deep in thought, marveling at the ingenuity of Man who had engineered a marvel in stone known as the Colosseum. At the same time, we also felt sad for the millions of lives lost in the bloody spectacles that served as entertainment in the medieval times.
The Colosseum, Rome’s icon had been visited but there was much more to see in Rome and we were looking ahead to some more exciting times as we lost ourselves in the fables and myths of medieval Rome. Just around the corner of time, beautiful Florence and fascinating Fiesole also beckoned us with their timeless beauty.
Have you visited the Colosseum? What were your feelings when you were there?
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