The Colosseum – A Spasso Con Sara – Archaeological Sites

Built in the first century AD and inaugurated with 100 days of games, the Colosseum is the symbol of eternity and greatness of Rome. A Spasso Con Sara to discover the largest amphitheatre in the ancient world.

 

A neverending story

Destined for shows of great popularity such as gladiator fights, but also hunts and re-enactments of famous battles, the Flavian Amphitheatre (this is the original name of the Colosseum), was built by Vespasian on the artificial pond of the Domus Aurea to return to the Romans that part of the city of which Nero had unduly appropriated after the great fire of 64 AD. The name Colosseum, with which the famous monument has gone down in history since the early Middle Ages, perhaps derives from a colossal statue of Nero that stood near him. Construction began with Vespasian in 72 AD and was financed by the spoils of the Jewish war. However, it was his son Tito who inaugurated the building in 80 AD. Completed by Domitian, the Colosseum was restored several times until the fifth century AD.

 

Before the Colosseum: 3D reconstruction of the Stagnum Neronisof the Domus Aurea (Credits: realmofhistory.com)

 

The colossal bronze statue of Nero near the Colosseum (Credits: romanoimpero.com)

Fallen into disuse in the sixth century AD, the amphitheater took on new functions and experienced periods of neglect. In the thirteenth century, the Frangipane fortress was transformed into a real castle. The monument then took on a sacred character from the Jubilee of 1675, in memory of the many Christian martyrs condemned in the arena. In 1744, Pope Benedict XIV affixed the 14 Stations of the Stations of the Cross to it and declared it a church consecrated to Christ and to the Christian martyrs.

Since 1980 it has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list and since 2007 it has been among the New Seven Wonders of the World.

 

The Colosseum during the Way of the Cross which is held every Good Friday in the presence of the Pope (Credits: larepubblica.it)

 

External

The exterior façade consists of four superimposed orders. Starting from the bottom, the first three orders are marked by a series of arches supported by pillars decorated with Tuscan, Ionic and Corinthian capitals. The structure is then surrounded by a fourth level, the attic, a full wall, without arches, animated by pilasters. The arches of the first lower order are numbered in order to facilitate and make rapid access to the amphitheater for the many spectators. Only the 4 arches along the main road axes are not numbered. Among them, the one to the north was the entrance that led to the emperor’s tribune. The other three entrances, on the other hand, were intended for the entry of prominent figures of Roman society.

Reconstruction 3d of the original appearance of the Colosseum (Credits: archeologiavocidalpassato.wordpress.com)

 

A team of sailors from the military port of Miseno (Capri) manoeuvred the velarium, the imposing slice tent that protected spectators from the sun on hot Roman days. The tent was supported by poles fixed to the top of the building and was held in place by ropes anchored to stone stones, some of which are still visible outside the building on the side of Colle Oppio. It is an ingenious system for which only the stands were covered but not the arena. Thanks to this central hole, an airflow was created between the top and bottom to cool the audience.

The velarium of the Colosseum (Credits: Artis SRL)

 

In the lower part of the photo some of the stones to which were anchored the ropes that supported the velarium of the Colosseum

 

The external appearance of the monument had to be very different from the current one. Travertine slabs covered the entire surface, giving it a characteristic whiteness that contrasted with the glow of gilded bronze statues placed between the arches. Today very little remains of travertine. The current surface of the Colosseum is characterized by numerous holes, made to recover the bronze grappas that held the slabs together.

In the photo you can see the holes that characterize a part of the surface of the Colosseum. They were used to recover the bronze of the grappas that held together the travertine slabs that covered the external surface of the monument. You can also see one of the numbered arches of the lower order. The numbering was used to facilitate the access of spectators to the amphitheatre as in modern stadiums (Credits: fantasysmileschool.blogspot.com).

 

The arena

The amphitheatre, as is well known, was elliptical in shape. On its stairways could accommodate from 50,000 to 80,000 people, arranged in an order that reflected the Roman social hierarchy.
In the upper sector, the plebs had their place. Near the arena, however, where you could enjoy the best view, were sitting the senators with their families. They had comfortable seats and on the balustrade that surrounded the lower section of the cavea, were even written the names of the senators who were reserved seats.

At the end of the minor axis of the arena, grandstands of honour were opened: on the first, the emperor took place with the consuls and the Vestals; on the second, the Prefect of the City and other dignitaries.

The arena, the battlefield itself, was formed by a masonry floor outside and wooden floor in the center, covered with sand. Below it, a series of underground tunnels opened up. From these levels, through a complex system of ropes, pulleys, platforms, it was possible to quickly change the scenery or make the animals suddenly appear in the arena. These were the special effects of the time.

 

Reconstruction of the Colosseum in the time of the ancient Roman VS Colosseum today. The oval-shaped structure now appears strongly altered due to collapses caused by earthquakes and phenomena of success and expoliation that weakened the static nature of the monument (Credits: archeolibri.com)

 

 

Among these galleries, the most famous was the so-called Porta Libitinaria (Libitarian Gate), destined to the exit of the corpses of the gladiators killed in combat. Also well known is the famous Gallery of Commodus, built as early as the Domitian era (end of the first century AD), under the imperial tribune, was the place where was the place where they tried to kill the Emperor Commodus.

For more details on the fascinating world of gladiators and the history of the Colosseum, contact me now at sara@aspassoconsara.it +39 329 8113372 and BOOK NOW YOUR WALKING!

 

Credits: pompeieventi.com

 

 

Posted by Sara Pandozzi

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