Countries for travel
For travelers making their way through Italy, the Colosseum is a must see. This huge Amphitheater is the largest of its kind ever built by the Roman Empire and has remained a model for sports facilities right up to modern times. Today the structure stands in stark contrast to the modern development that surrounds it, and is a prominent reminder of ancient times and the extensive history of Rome.
The Colosseum was 186 meters long by 156 meters wide, an oval shape, although it appears to be almost circular. The outer wall, 57 meters in height and built of travertine marble held together by iron clamps instead of mortar, was damaged by several earthquakes, and its entire south side collapsed in the quake of 1349. The fallen stone was used to construct buildings throughout Rome, but you can see the original layers of pilasters and arches in the remaining north side. Those on the ground floor are Doric; the middle, Ionic; and the top, Corinthian. What appears to be the outer wall of the rest of the Colosseum is its original inner wall. Of the four main entrances, only fragments of their original reliefs of painted stucco remain.
The purpose of the Colosseum and the reason the Flavian emperors constructed it was to satisfy the public enthusiasm for games and spectacles. But the emperors and nobility also attended, each watching from a level determined by rank. The emperor and the Vestal Virgins had the best views from boxes at the north and south ends of the arena, and you can still see the names of senators carved in the stone of the area between these, which was reserved for them. Noble families sat on the second course, and the general public sat in the third and fourth levels. Rows of seating and internal passages and staircases were carefully arranged so the 50,000 spectators could get to their places or leave within a few minutes.
On the top level, there were originally 240 masts set around the walls that supported an awning over the audience. The entire interior was lavishly decorated, but only a few fragments survive to hint at what it must have looked like in the first centuries. A bronze cross at one end of the arena commemorates the Christian martyrs who were believed to have died here during the Roman Imperial period. In fact, there is little evidence that the arena was used for this, and the first mention of it as a place of Christian martyrdom was not until the 16th century.The arena floor was 83 by 48 meters, built of wood, and covered with sand. It has long since been destroyed, so you can now see the walls of the hypogeum, a vast two-story underground labyrinth of tunnels connecting training rooms for gladiators, cages for exotic wild animals, and store-rooms that were hidden underneath the floor. Elaborate machines lifted scenery and caged animals to the arena, and according to accounts of the period, the arena was sometimes filled with water for mock sea battles.