The Colosseum in Rome is one of the most famous and most beautiful buildings in Italy. For such a beautiful building, it has a gruesome history as the amphitheatre was once home to gory gladiator battles. At nearly 2,000 years old, this Roman masterpiece has a rich history and heritage and plenty of tales to tell. What to know more? Here are seven interesting facts about the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.
7 Interesting Facts About the Colosseum in Rome, Italy
1. Its was originally called the Flavian Amphitheater
The Colosseum is nearly 2,000 years old. Emperor Vespasian began its construction around 70 AD. His son, Titus opened it in 80 AD. Vespasian, Titus and Domitian (the ruler from 81-96 AD) were known as the Flavian Emperors. This is why the Colosseum was called Amphitheatrum Flavium, The Flavian Amphitheater.
2. The Colosseum opened with 100 days of games
Unfortunately, Vespasian died in 79 AD which was before the completion of the Colosseum in 80 AD. It was his son Titus who opened the arena and he did so with 100 straight days of games. These included not only gladiator fights but animal hunts too. These games were held for centuries to come. Gladiatorial games ran until the 5th -century and the animal hunts continued until the 6th-century.
3. It is the largest amphitheatre in the world
Even though it took just ten years to build, the Colosseum was then and still is now, the largest amphitheatre in the world. It covers an area of 2 hectares (5 acres) with a maximum length of 187 metres (612 ft) and a maximum width of 157 metres (515 ft). The capacity of the Colosseum is estimated between 50,000 and 87,000 spectators.
4. The Amphitheater had a sophisticated seating system
As mentioned, the Colosseum could hold 50,000 to 87,000 spectators. However, there were separate sections for the rich and the poor, the upper and lower classes. Arches, rows and seats had numbers and charts which helped guide spectators into the appropriate section. There were five sections in total. The area called ‘the attic’ hosted the lowest class of people and slaves. The ‘Ima Cavea’ Auditorium was reserved for the Emperor, the Senators, Vestal Virgins and the equites.
5. The Colosseum has hidden trap doors
Located underneath the Colosseum are numerous rooms and tunnels. Colosseum officials held the animals and gladiators here until it was their time to fight in the arena above. On the arena floor are 36 trapdoors. Officials used these for special effects. For instance, the door could be opened from below and the men and wild animals could make a dramatic entrance. Even scenery was raised up through the trap doors.
6. The was a system to the fighting
For over 400 years, gladiators, slaves, convicts, prisoners, and myriad other ‘entertainers’ battled it out in the Colosseum. However, the fights were not as chaotic as often depicted. Officials classed fighters according to their size and fighting style. Who or what they would fight would be based on experience and fighting style. The battles also had referees and doctors and quite often matches didn’t end in death. The most successful gladiators had long careers and became celebrities.
7. Water fights took place in the arena
The Colosseum is the place where ancient Romans – rich and poor – came to see gladiator fights and animal hunts. Aside from these gory spectacles, the Colosseum also held mock naval battles called Naumachia. Advanced underground plumbing flooded the arena floor so that these water fights could take place.