The Colosseum, was built over 2000 years ago and has stood through the whole history of civilisation as we know it.
A UNESCO World Heritage site and the largest amphitheater on Earth, the Colosseum has to be on your to visit list when in Rome. Thanks to billionaire Diego Della Valle, owner of luxury shoe brand Tod’s, the Colosseum recently underwent three years of restoration work which now allows visitors to visit areas of the Colosseum previously closed off. Built from concrete and sand the exterior is back to it’s pristine colour.
Originally named the Flavian Amphitheatre, the building was commissioned by Emperor Vespasian (9–79 A.D.) of the Flavian dynasty, the amphitheater served as the country’s entertainment centre. It took eight years to build and was finished by Flavian’s son Titus in 80 A.D. Holding up to 80,000 spectators, they came to view gladiatorial contests, battle reenactments, animal battles, dramas and sometimes public executions.
The opening festivities lasted 100 days and it is said that 5,000 wild African animals were brutally killed in one day alone including lions, tigers, ostriches, panthers, bears and hippos. It was because of these horrible combats between gladiators and animals, which were the most popular form of entertainment in arenas, that the North African elephants became extinct as all were fights to the death.
All kinds of weapons were used and the people involved were both male and women, included professional gladiators, hunters, convicted criminals, professed Christians and hunters. The arena was decorated with theatre backdrops representing forests and deserts. On occasion the arena was flooded and small boats launched to imitate a sea battle.
Amphitheatres soon became a trend and over 180 smaller versions were built throughout the Roman Empire.
Over the centuries that followed the fall of the Roman Empire, the Colosseum was used for different purposes such as a fortress, convent and hermitage. Unfortunately during the Baroque period it was used a source of building material for many churches.
Lightning strikes and earthquakes helped in it’s ruination, however most of the damage to the building was when it was used as quarry as a source of building materials for innumerable churches during the building boom of the Baroque period. Some of it’s stone was used to build the steps of St Peter’s Basilica. The quarrying of the Colosseum stone stopped two hundred years later and several restoration attempts were made.
Every Good Friday the Pope leads a candlelit procession through the archways of the Colosseum to remember the martyrdoms of professed Christians who died there.