17 Interesting Facts About The Roman Colosseum

The Roman Colosseum in Rome, Italy is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, voted by more than 90 million people. It’s a big iconic structure well recognized around the world. This Roman amphitheater resides in the heart of the city of Rome. Also counted as the World Heritage monuments recognized by UNESCO. Let’s explore some interesting facts about The Roman Colosseum:

The Roman Colosseum
The Roman Colosseum, Rome, Italy – Image by Christopher Chan, Flickr
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1. Originally called “The Flavian Amphitheater”

The Roman Colosseum was made during the period of the Flavian Dynasty. The “Colosseum” word was derived from the statue located alongside the amphitheater called ‘the colossus of Nero.’
Source: Wikipedia

2. When was it constructed and under whom?

Emperor Vespasian
Emperor Vespasian

The construction started in 72 AD under emperor Vespasian. Vespasian’s son and successor Titus completed the construction in 81 AD. Although it took only 9 years to built the Colosseum, it would have taken more years by modern architects to create it now.
Source: softschools.com, Image: Ethan Gruber

3. World’s largest amphitheater!

It was created as an amphitheater as never before and is still the largest amphitheater in the world. Vespasian wanted to make a local arena for housing free gladiator games, entertainment and to convey the Glory of Rome.
Source: Wikipedia

4. Made by Jewish labors!

It’s interesting to know that around 60,000 Jewish slaves were used to build the Colosseum. To construct it as quickly as possible, hundreds of skilled stonemasons were also used. Professional local builders, engineers, artists, painters and decorators were involved as a guiding force to the labors.
Source: tribunesandtriumphs.org

5. Material required

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It was made using a mixture of gravel, sand, lime and water. Blocks of travertine were used for the piers and arcades, piers and walls of lower levels with tufa. Whereas for higher levels and vaults, concrete brick and tufa were used. Metal clamps were used to join huge blocks. Whereas, marble and stucco were used to decorate the walls.
Source: wikiarquitectura.com

6. Dimensions of the Colosseum

The Colosseum is indeed a huge structure. It is around 615 ft long, 510 ft wide, 187 ft high and covers an area of 6 acres. Whereas, the arena was 287 ft long, 180 ft wide and was covered with 15cm of sand.
Source: tribunesandtriumphs.org

7. Perfect crowd management!

As it was built as an amphitheater, it had to be big in capacity. It can accommodate between 50,000 – 80,000 people. Special attention was given to crowd management and therefore, the entrances, corridors and staircases allowed the crowds to enter and exit quickly and easily. With 80 separate entrance arches, the Colosseum could be cleared in less than 10 minutes.
Source: tribunesandtriumphs.org

8. Bloody arena!

As the amphitheater was used for entertainment purpose for about 390 years, it took lives of a huge number of people in gladiator fights, etc. More than 400,000 people died inside the Colosseum along with about 1,000,000 animals as well.
Source: softschools.com

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9. Free Food & admission

Interestingly food and admission were free of cost for the Romans as a reward for attending the events. Fruits were mainly given so that the spectators can throw fruits on those who hadn’t performed well.
Source: softschools.com

10. Deteriorating by natural forces!

The Colosseum got damaged mainly due to earthquakes, lightning, fires and stone-robbers. In 847, an earthquake destroyed the southern side of the Colosseum. Also by being so old it had been put through years of weathering, the damage was apparent.
Source: Wikipedia

11. Gladiators at the Colosseum

Gladiators were the ones who fought at the Colosseum and were engaged from slaves captured as prisoners. They fought against each other, wild animals and condemned criminals, sometimes to the death, just for the sake of entertainment.
Source: tribunesandtriumphs.org

12. Major events at the arena

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The Colosseum witnessed various events such as the gladiator fights, wild animal displays, theatrical drama, executions, religious ceremonies, mock sea battles and re-playing famous Roman victories.
Source: tribunesandtriumphs.org

13. Symbol against capital punishment

As capital or death punishment was eliminated in Italy since 1948, the Roman Colosseum is considered as the symbol against death penalty. Now when at any time anyone in the world any sentence of death gets overturned or released, the lights in the night time illumination of the Colosseum changes from white to gold.
Source: softschools.com

14. Concerts at the Colosseum

Being such a historic amphitheater, concerts are bound to happen here. Famous artists such as Ray Charles, Paul McCartney, Billy Joel and Elton John have performed concerts here.
Source: softschools.com

15. Gate of Death

A painting describing the Gate of Death at Colosseum
A painting describing the Gate of Death at Colosseum

The west exit part of the Roman Colosseum is also denoted by the name “Gate of Death” as this was the exit gate from where dead gladiators were carried out.
Source: luxeadventuretraveler.com, Image: travelbig.com

16. Popular for botanists

Botanist or plant scientists are highly attracted to the Colosseum mainly because of over 337 different species that have taken root amongst the ruins.
Source: luxeadventuretraveler.com

17. Gladiator movie connection

A Gladiator fight scene from the movie Gladiator
A Gladiator fight scene from the movie Gladiator

Gladiator, a famous Hollywood movie of the year 2000, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Russell Crowe was based on the concept of the ancient events at the Roman Colosseum. Although the director got all the legal permissions to shoot here but because of too many restrictions and that the Colosseum just wasn’t big enough for Hollywood, he built a replica in Malta at an estimated cost of $1 million.
Source: luxeadventuretraveler.com, Image: theathleticnerd.com, Gladiator Movie

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