The Colosseum, Rome, Italy
The Flavian Amphitheatre, better known as the Colosseum, is probably the most famous monument in the world: this elliptical colossal construction, with a height of 48mt, has impressed and fascinated men of all Ages.
It was with no doubt the most favourite place by the Romans, who came to prefer above all other entertainment the slaughter of men armed to kill and be killed for their amusement.
The Colosseum consisted of four floors. The first floor was 11,50mt high adorned by half columns of the Doric order . The second floor, in the Ionic order, was 11,85mt high. The third floor, in the Corinthian order, was 11,60mt high. The fourth floor consisted of a plain wall with projecting corbels which supported the bases of the masts to which on days of strong sun were attached the strips of giant awning which sheltered the spectators. Staircases and galleries led the crowd to the different tiers of seats.
In the foyers of the Coliseum all kind of activities took place : chickpeas, hot drinks and souvenirs vendors, people who rented cushions and blankets to night viewers. Overlooking from the higher floors you could have a spectacular view over the largest city in the world. The name of the ingenious designer of the Colosseum is still unknown, perhaps Rabirio, the architect of Domitian, or a certain Gaudenzio.
Erected by wishes of the Emperor Vespasian to honour the grandeur of the Empire and inaugurated by Titus in 80 AD, the Colosseum was built in a valley surrounded by the Esquiline, the Palatine and the Celio hills draining a pond used by Nero for the Domus Aurea.
There was no military victory, religious festival, or anniversary not celebrated with bloody battles of trained galdiators in the Colosseum. About 70,000 excited spectators followed screaming the gladiator who challenged in death duels: Reziari, with nets and Trident against Mirmilloni; Samnites, with the short sword, against Traci these events one sponsored by Trajan, lasted uninterruptedly for 117 consecutive days, during which more than 9,000 gladiators died on the arena.
On the Arena were assembled, in record time, incredible sceneries to make more exciting fights that lasted from dawn to dusk and often continued at night.
The bloodiest, so-called sportule, invented by Claudio, consisted of enraged fighting with hundreds of gladiators one against the other, in which the massacre had to be fulfilled in the shortest possible time.Under the arena an inextricable labyrinth of corridors housed gladiators and wild beasts. In these underground rooms, anti chamber of the hell, with the noise of screams and roars, the gladiators, waited to emerge, thanks to pulling and inclined planes, in the dazzling light of the arena, where a delirious audience was screaming in excitement.
The Colosseum is linked to the memory of ferocious persecutions of Christians, interrupted by the Emperor Constantine who in 313 AD prohibited the battles between gladiators and proclaimed Christianity the official religion of the Empire.