If you're heading to the Eternal City, there is one stop that needs to be on your bucket list: The Colosseum. The Colosseum is Rome's heart and soul and this structure has withstood the test of time of over 2,000 years and is still standing strong. It is no wonder that Rome is nicknamed the Eternal City, as no matter what natural or man-made disaster has struck it, Rome, Italy always rises triumphant. The Colosseum has taken many hits over the years, but like its city, it remains upright and will not crumble.

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If you have heard of the Colosseum referred to as the Flavian Amphitheater, then you are not alone. Many people believe that the Colosseum is the original name of the Flavian Amphitheater, but it is not. The construction of the Colosseum began in 72 A.D. and was ordered by Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian Dynasty. The Colosseum was built to hold a capacity of up to 80,000 people. Emperor Vespasian died before its completion, so his son Titus oversaw the project until the end. Concrete and sand make up most of the Colosseum’s exterior, and although it has withstood major fires, earthquakes, war, and natural disasters, these have slowly chipped away at the once oval amphitheater. The earthquake of 1349 destroyed the south side of the Colosseum, causing stone and concrete to break off, and this fallen material was used to build and rebuild different parts of Rome’s buildings and monuments. To this day, the Colosseum is the largest amphitheater in the Roman Empire.

Ancient Events and Other Uses

In Ancient Rome, private individuals would use the arena of the amphitheater to host different kinds of shows. Gladiatorial shows were one of the biggest shows, attracting over 60,000 people to watch these gruesome events. Gladiators were mostly men who had been enslaved or imprisoned. Although the Colosseum is best known for its gladiator days, this was not the only type of show hosted. The Venatio, or animal hunt shows, also took place during the ancient Roman era. Many animals from around the world were brought to the Colosseum’s arena to be hunted and ultimately slaughtered. Animal shows were also the method of execution for anyone who was to be put to death by the state. Invigorating “sea battles” took place at the arena of the Colosseum and during these shows, the arena was filled with water for the re-enactments of famous battles. In order to keep the arena from being destroyed by the water, channels were dug to allow easy drainage.

Since the Colosseum is over 2,000 years old, the use of its space constantly changed throughout the years. Magic shows and acrobatic shows were a huge hit with ancient Romans. During the medieval age, the Colosseum was used as a cemetery and for housing, markets, workshops, and chapels. The Catholic community sought to make the Colosseum a place of worship or sanctuary, but it never happened. Artists, painters, and sculptors have also used the stage of the Colosseum to perform services and small shows.

Current Day

Even though the Colosseum is over 2,000 years old, there are still events that occur there today. Many movies have filmed at or around the Colosseum, such as Roman Holiday, La Dolce Vita, Eat Pray Love, and Angels and Demons, to name but a few. Before the restoration, only small concerts were held at the Colosseum as the wooden stage could not support enough weight. With restoration underway, the new stage and seating in the Colosseum will hold more people and host more events. Although large concerts are not permitted inside the structure, many shows have been performed outside the Colosseum. A proposal for the 2024 Olympics has been made, but Rome is still unsure if they will be taken into consideration. Exhibitions, tours, trails, and visits are constantly being attended by tourists from around the world. Many elementary and middle schools host events at the Colosseum to promote education and history, and a number of Roman Catholic events are also held in or around the Colosseum, such as the Pope’s Walk on Good Friday.

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What's Nearby

The Colosseum is easily accessible via metro, bus, or tram, which make multiple stops here throughout the day . The Colosseum is located in the Historic Center of Rome and is therefore close to many attractions, such as the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill.

1 Piazza del Colosseo, Rome 00184, Italy

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