Roman Colosseum – History, Facts & Travelers Guide

Roman Colosseum – History, Facts & Travelers Guide
Colosseum of Rome

Colosseum of Rome – Photo by Sebastian Anthony


History of the Roman Colosseum

The history of Rome, Italy comes alive in the Roman Colosseum

When you stand in the Colosseum you will feel the excitement that comes with knowing you are standing in a structure that was built almost 2,000 years ago.

The Colosseum was begun by Vespasian around 70 AD on the site of Nero’s residence (the previous emperor). The structure was inaugurated by Vespasian’s son Titus ten years later, although it was likely finished later by Titus’s son. The ceremonies and games held in
celebration of the opening went on for a hundred days.

The Roman Colosseum has been known by a number of different names; The Amphiteatrum Flavium, Amphitheatrum Caesareum, Colosseum, Coliseum or Il Colosseo. It is about the size of an American athletic stadium with seating for about 50,000 and is 160 feet high.

The floor of the arena was wooden and covered with sand. Beneath this floor was a series of rooms and passageways for wild animals and storage rooms for items needed to stage the events.

There are 80 entrances through which spectators entered the stadium. The passageways were built so it would only take 15 minutes to fill and 5 minutes to evacuate.

Roman Colosseum

Roman Colosseum – Photo By Sebastian Anthony

Wooden masts supported a linen awning that was hung from the fourth story. The awning was built to protect spectators from the sun and to catch the wind and provide a breeze for the audience. Archers stood on a catwalk above the stadium and shot animals that got loose.

Roman Colosseum Facts

Seats for the upper class were made of marble; the lower classes had benches made of wood. The seating was divided by classes. The Imperial court were in the lower tier, next to them were the Vestals. Next came the aristocratic families and behind them the commoners. Women were seated in the very top tier, though very few women attended events. The lowest classes had standing room only.

Public events included mock naval battles, wild animal hunts and of course, gladiator fights. Mock naval battles were held by removing the wooden floor and flooding the lower floor.

During the middle ages, stones from the Colosseum were removed for new buildings. Rumor has it that much of the stone that was removed was used in the building of St. Peter’s

It is generally believed that the western portion collapsed in an earthquake in the middle of the 14th century.

The Roman ruling class was under legal obligation to organize games. The Colosseum was used for four and a half centuries and over that time withstood lightening strikes and earthquakes. Events were very expensive to run so the Colosseum went into disuse with the end of the empire, somewhere around the 8th or 9th centuries.

As you walk down the Fiori Imperiali watch the Colosseum come into view. But, if you are visiting in the summer bring a very modern product: sunscreen. There is little shade and it can be very hot.

History Channel YouTube on Roman Colosseum

Map & Directions

Important Address Information: The address is Piazza del Colosseo.  The Colosseum closes at 3:00 p.m. in the off season (from November through March) otherwise it is open from 9 until one hour before sunset Monday through Saturday and 9 until 2 on Sundays.  There is a metro stop nearby and several buses have routes that will take you there.

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  • shelby says:

    thankyou i used some of your information for my report!!!! im doing it on the roman coliseum!!

  • Nikole says:

    hello, my name is nikole and i acually love the roman coliseum. But i have some questions for u that i need to find out but i can find anything on the internet.
    1)What does the coliseum look like today?
    2)Where is it located?
    and thats pretty much it. If u can help me thank you very much!
    I appreciate your help!
    Yours Truly,

  • Jay says:

    Can you tell me where the Roman Coliseum is lockated?

  • rohan says:

    It is located in rome. The nearest metro station is the Termini Central Station, which is just few minutes of walking distance from the monument. Buses and cars ply between the area and other parts of the city.

  • Jane says:

    Appreciate your articles. Thanks

  • My brother worked in Rome for 3 years and I was only to happy to use that as an excuse to go out there regularly to see him.

    Despite having visited Rome many times I still stood in awe at each time I visited the many tourist attractions in the city. Having seen each attractions many times and in particular the Coliseum I never felt it necessary to do a guided tour of the place until my last visit when I’m glad I did. It’s a much better way of getting what is a fascinating insight into the historic events that took place in this famous arena all those years ago and is well worth the time and money!

    A great tip I picked up from my brother when eating out in Rome near or around the Coliseum is stay away from the many bars and restaurants located directly outside and instead look out for the many bars located within the side streets of the tourist venues. They offer much better value for money without hurting your wallet whilst still offering quality and authentic food!

  • NZstays says:

    nice post

    very useful travel guide

    Thank you

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