Colosseum, Rome, Italy

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Regio III Isis et Serapis, Rome, Italy

Built in

70–80 AD

Built by/for

Vespasian, Titus

Type of structure



List of ancient monumentsin Rome

The Colosseum (/ˌkɒləˈsiːəm/ KOL-ə-SEE-əm; Italian: Colosseo [kolosˈsɛːo]), is an oval amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy, just east of the Roman Forum and is the largest ancient amphitheatre ever built, and is still the largest standing amphitheater in the world today, despite its age. Construction began under the emperor Vespasian (r. 69–79 AD) in 72[1] and was completed in AD 80 under his successor and heir, Titus (r. 79–81).[2] Further modifications were made during the reign of Domitian (r. 81–96).[3] The three emperors that were patrons of the work are known as the Flavian dynasty, and the amphitheatre was named the Flavian Amphitheatre (Latin: Amphitheatrum Flavium; Italian: Anfiteatro Flavio [aɱfiteˈaːtro ˈflaːvjo]) by later classicists and archaeologists for its association with their family name (Flavius).

The Colosseum is built of travertine limestone, tuff (volcanic rock), and brick-faced concrete. The Colosseum could hold an estimated 50,000 to 80,000 spectators at various points of its history over the centuries,[4][5] having an average audience of some 65,000;[6] it was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles (for only a short time as the hypogeum was soon filled in with mechanisms to support the other activities), animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Roman mythology. The building ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era. It was later reused for such purposes as housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry, and a Christian shrine.[citation needed]

Although substantially ruined because of earthquakes and stone-robbers (for spolia), the Colosseum is still an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome and was listed as one of the New7Wonders of the World.[7] It is one of Rome’s most popular tourist attractions and also has links to the Roman Catholic Church, as each Good Friday the Pope leads a torchlit “Way of the Cross” procession that starts in the area around the Colosseum.[8]

The Colosseum is also depicted on the Italian version of the five-cent euro coin.


1 Name

2 History

2.1 Construction, inauguration, and Roman renovations 2.2 Medieval 2.3 Modern

3 Physical description

3.1 Exterior 3.2 Interior seating 3.3 Arena and hypogeum 3.4 Supporting buildings

4 Use

4.1 Today

4.1.1 Restoration

5 Significance in Christianity 6 Flora 7 Works modeled on, or inspired by, the Colosseum 8 Popular culture references 9 See also

10 References

10.1 Notes 10.2 Bibliography

11 External links


The Colosseum

Originally, the building’s Latin name was simply the Latin: amphitheatrum, lit. ‘amphitheatre’.[9] Though the modern name Flavian Amphitheatre (Latin: amphitheatrum Flavium) is often used, there is no evidence it was used in Classical Antiquity.[9] This name refers to the patronage of the Flavian dynasty, during whose reigns the building was constructed, but the structure is better known as the Colosseum.[9] In antiquity, Romans may have referred to the Colosseum by the unofficial name Amphitheatrum Caesareum (with Caesareum an adjective pertaining to the title Caesar), but this name may have been strictly poetic[10][11] as it was not exclusive to the Colosseum; Vespasian and Titus, builders of the Colosseum, also constructed an Flavian Amphitheatre in Puteoli (modern Pozzuoli).[12]

The name colosseum for the amphitheatre is attested from the 6th century, during Late Antiquity.[9] The name Colosseum is believed to be derived from a colossal statue of Nero on the model of the Colossus of Rhodes.[9][3] The giant bronze sculpture of Nero as a solar deity was moved to its position beside the amphitheatre by the emperor Hadrian (r. 117–138).[9] The word colosseum is a neuter Latin noun formed from the adjective colosseus, meaning “gigantic” or “colossean”.[9] By the year 1000 the Latin name “Colosseum” had been coined to refer to the amphitheatre from the nearby “Colossus Solis”.[13]

The spelling was sometimes altered in Medieval Latin: coloseum and coliseum are attested from the 12th and 14th centuries respectively.[9] In the 12th century, the structure was recorded as the amphitheatrum colisei, ‘Amphitheatre of the Colossus’.[9] In the High …

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