Walking from the Arch of Constantine to the Colosseum, on Piazza del Colosseo street is like stravaiging right inside the movie, Gladiator. Such is the first feel of Colosseum, Rome’s Amphitheatre of Death. Although you may not find Maximus displaying exceptional swordsmanship at the venue, his very essence echoes with the ruins of this remarkable Amphitheatre. From winning the crowd to winning the freedom, Rome’s Colosseum debuts gladiatorial combat on a legendary level. Yet, with every step, I took towards this medieval site, I could not stop thinking about Maximus the Merciful. War without mercy was favoured by gerontocracy until a true warrior rose from the Roman soil and altered the perceptions.
Get close to the oval Flavian ruins, and you will see the magnanimity of the largest Amphitheatre of its time. Built-in the centre of Rome, this was the largest oval building at the time. It boasts an open circular space that can accommodate up to 80,000 spectators. You will be surprised to know that the inception of this design was initiated in AD 72 under Emperor Vespasian. The Amphitheatre, however, was completed in AD 80 under his heir, Titus. More amazing fact is that this gigantic Amphitheatre is built from volcanic rock, Tuff, Travertine limestone and brick-faced concrete.
Together, Emperor Vespasian, his heir, Titus and Domitian form the Flavian dynasty. Which, is why Colosseum is known as the Flavian Amphitheatre. Step inside and you will see where these emperors watched gladiatorial contests, mock sea battles, re-enactments of dramas, animal hunts, executions, as well as, other public spectacles. It’s quite bizarre to imagine how violence was mostly the only form of entertainment. How Roman audiences were entertained with violent confrontations, whether it be gladiators, condemned criminals or wild animals. While I was succumbing to the violent thoughts, the tour guide whispered something I could not believe. He told me that this ground wasn’t a battlefield forever. Colosseum, in fact, later became a base for religious orders. From a Christian shrine to workshops, and from housing to a fortress – these ruins are cloaked in idiosyncratic antiquity.
While roaming around, you will wonder what destroyed this iconic symbol of Imperial Rome? Apparently, it wasn’t wars. Instead, Colosseum was considerably harmed by earthquakes, but most importantly, stone-robbers and thieves. None expected that eventually, this monumental landmark will become one of the new 7 wonders of the world. Goes without saying, it is one of Rome’s most-visited tourist spot. The significance of this landmark is also carved on the five-cent euro coin. However, Colosseum, the name took its inspiration after a colossal statue of Nero that once stood nearby. Funny fact is that Nero’s head was remodelled several times. It was either replaced by the heads of Helios, Apollo or the succeeding emperors. That pretty much explains the solar crown! Some even believed that the statue was ascribed with magical powers. As of today, only the base of the statue exists. It is located between the Temple of Venus Roma and the Colosseum. By all means, both the base and the Amphitheatre are an iconic symbol of the immutability of Rome.
It took me over five hours to explore this entirely elliptical free-standing structure. For the statistics, Colosseum is 615 ft long and 510 ft wide. It’s base area extends up to 6 acres while its walls are 157 ft tall. The central arena is 287 ft long and 180 ft wide, surrounded by a 15 ft tall wall. The entire structure is built with stones, set without mortar. What holds them together – iron clamps. The present-day exteriors are in fact, the original interior wall. To visit this staggering landmark, you will have to purchase a ticket that costs 12 euros. It is valid for 2 days. You can walk freely between the Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum once you obtain the pass. Needless to say, this archaeological site deserves every ounce of your attention.