Piazza del Colosseo 1, 00184 Roma, Italy
GPS: 41.890475263772, 12.492267142105
Formerly called the Flavian Amphitheatre, the Colosseum of Rome is certainly the most famous monument in the Old World. Located near the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill in the historic centre of the Italian capital, this stone giant can be considered the ancestor of modern stadiums. The Colosseum monument represents the largest building ever built by Roman civilization.
Characterized by its symphony of vaults and its elliptical shape, the Colosseum (“colossus” in Latin) retraces 2,000 years of history. Its location is chosen on the site of an ancient lake developed by Nero and its construction comes after a great fire that struck the city of Rome in the year 64 of our era. The Romans drained this place in order to host popular games, reconstructions of military wars, mythological episodes, naval battles (naumachiae), public executions, hunting parties with wild animals (venati) and bloody fighting gladiators (munera). It was the Emperor Vespasian, founder of the Flavian dynasty, who began the construction of the Colosseum in 70 AD to celebrate the victory of the Roman army during the Siege of Jerusalem. They are chased by his two sons, Titus and Domitian, before the end of the construction site ten years later. The inauguration games for the Flavian amphitheatre are sumptuous and are deployed for 100 consecutive days of festivities or shows during the reign of Titus.
In the bowels of the Colosseum, a network of underground passages called hypogeum is set up to accommodate wild animals, gladiators, chariots and imposing decorations emerging on stage. Reworked several times, the basements allow the actors to be propelled directly into the arena by a system of wooden hatches, rails, platforms and hoists (prefiguring today’s elevators). While its limestone is mainly extracted from the neighbouring quarry of Tivoli, the Colosseum was the first building to benefit from new building materials at that time: concrete and red brick. Altered by earthquakes as evidenced by its many apparent cracks (that of 1349 notably brought down an entire wall on the south side), the enclosure of the Colosseum ceases to be used in the Middle Ages. Its stone is extracted to build more modern monuments. Although in a state of ruin, this juggernaut today testifies to the power and ingenuity of the Roman Empire which dominated the Old World for centuries.