History of the Great Italian Coliseum

Remnants of the iconic amphitheatres in Italy still stand and continue to impress visitors, engineers and architects more than 2000 years later.

Coliseums (also known as Colosseums), were built for the entertainment of Roman citizens and many settlements around the country each had their own. These were usually constructed out of wood and have not lasted into the 21stCentury as has the Coliseum in Rome; the most famous of all. Men were trained as gladiators and the circular arenas would ring out with the noise of the crowd urging them on to do or die. Wild animals were introduced as an extra incentive and the spectators would become hysterical.

Epic engineering

The construction of one of the modern-day listed ‘Seven Wonders of the World’ began with orders from Vespasian and it was duly completed in 80 CE under the rule of Titus. Greek architectural principals were followed and a vision of grandeur was born. Originally called the Flavian Amphitheatre, the advent of the Middle Ages saw it renamed The Colosseum. This was in honour of the gigantic statue of Nero that once was part of the building. The word ‘amphitheatre’ literally translates as a ‘double theatre’. This epileptically arena has a diameter measuring approximately 615 x 510 feet. Mainly constructed of marble and stone, this monolithic structure has valiantly fought the tides of time, conquerors and vandalism. Standing at 160 ft high over 4 floors, it features the distinctive columns of the Doric, Ionic and Corinthian order.

Free admission

To get a better idea of what this marvel of mankind may have looked like, you may consider an Italian city break. Posters would have been placed around the citadel walls, advertising the main attractions in the Colosseum.  Imagine yourself ensconced in a crowd of 50 000 people; with no admission charges to the 80 entrances and the audience all encouraging their favourite contender or laughing the day away at the parody of jugglers, acrobats and ethnic dance routines. Seating was in order of a ticketing system based on social standing; this meant women and plebeians had the highest seats. Hear the roar of the crowds; the atmosphere must have been incredible. The savagery of these times faded circa 6th Century and for the next 1300 years, this incredible structure was left to the wild elements of nature and humans alike. It makes me shiver to realise what barbarous natures we have evolved from.  Venerable Bede, a Benedictine Monk, wrote: “While the Colosseum stands, Rome will stand; When the Colosseum falls, Rome will fall; When Rome falls, the world will fall.”

Ancient ambiance, everlasting legacy

Christians all over the world book holidays to Rome to follow the Pope and the annual Good Friday torch-lit procession that begins its journey in the surrounds of the Colosseum. Such has been the influence of this structural type, that modern-day stadia builders, even with huge finance at their disposal, still base their designs on the original Roman amphitheatre. A recent travel guide survey asked readers to vote on whether tourist attractions such as the Colosseum should be seen or left out of the itinerary and a resounding 92% declared that this Roman legacy needs to be experienced even though tickets to enter should be booked beforehand.

No comments:

Post a Comment