The Colosseum of Rome, Italy

The Colosseum of Rome is the iconic symbol of the historic Roman Empire. Like every year, we just observed ‘World Heritage Day’ this week on 18th of April.It is done to raise awareness and adopt ways to preserve the rich cultural heritage and heritage sites. The first thing that came to my mind was my visit to the Colosseum. I literally had goose bumps as I was taking a guided tour inside the humungous structure. We were treading paths of the gladiators, wow!

Who Built The Colosseum of Rome?

‘Rome was not built in a day’ definitely has deeper meanings, however, when you see the city you realize this statement in its literal sense. Colosseum of Rome is the largest ancient amphitheatre ever built. The first phase of construction happened from 69 to 79 AD, commissioned by Emperor Vespasian. It was completed in 80 AD by Emperor Titus and later modifications were commissioned by Emperor Domitian from 81 to 96 AD. Since all of them belonged to the Flavian Dynasty, the Colosseum was called ‘Flavian Ampitheatre.’ At the centre of Rome lies Roman Forum and to its east stands the magnificent Colosseum. It is one of the 7 Wonders of the World and is of course a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Colosseum of Rome

The Colosseum was oval shaped, 186 meters long, 156 meters wide and the outer wall is 57 meters high, accommodating around 80000 spectators at a time. Limestone, volcanic rock and roman concrete were used in construction. The entire structure was covered in white marble which had been pillaged completely. Besides marble robbing, fire and earthquakes are the major reasons why the Colosseum of Rome is in ruins today. These ruins are witness to such enormous contests of the gladiators, animal hunts and brutal executions that the world still hears stories of. Performances of Roman Mythology and reenactments of famous battles which Rome won also took place at the amphitheatre. Later in the Early Medieval Era, the place was used as a fortress with quarters. Later it became significant for Roman Catholic Church too.

Inside the Colosseum

The spectators sat according to their ranks inside the four storied Colosseum. The emperor, other noblities who were his guests and the Vestal Virgins had the best views from boxes. Noble families sat on the second course, and the general public sat in the third and fourth levels. One cannot ignore the architectural magic of rows of seating and internal passages and staircases. The arches are so artistic. I felt as if time has reversed while listening to our guide. She also had a book with illustrations of original structures of the Colosseum of Rome. Another design that blew me was the Hypogeum, which was added during the modifications of the Colosseum by Emperor Domitian.

The Hypogeum

The arena floor, which no longer exists, was 83 by 48 meters, built of wood, and covered with sand. Today we see the walls of the hypogeum, a vast two-story complex underground labyrinth connecting rooms for gladiators, cages for exotic wild animals and passages through which they entered the stage. Elaborate machines and pulleys lifted scenery backdrops for plays and caged animals to the arena for sport. There were store-rooms that were hidden underneath the floor too. Hypogeum literally means ‘underground’ and this structure is crucial to the Colosseum of Rome.

Walking around the Colosseum

Arch of Constantine is a marvelous arch standing beside the Colosseum. The carvings on the arch are amazing. Sprawling Palantine Hill and Roman Forum are included in the walking tours of Colosseum of Rome. We had pre-booked the guided walking trip online. Since numerous tourists come from all across the globe to the Colosseum, it is ideal to have pre-booked tickets; else one may have to wait for hours. The Roman Forum, Churches and Nero’s Golden House and the Palentine Hill are wonderful. I was gaping open mouthed at one point of time at such massive structures, even though most of them are in ruins. From Roman Forum we walked to ‘Altar of the Fatherland’, another terrific palace. One more thing; please remember to wear comfortable shoes; there is loads of walking.

Arch of Constantine

Roman Forum

Altar of the Fatherland/Victor Emmanuel II Monument

The Charm of Colosseum of Rome

Around the Colosseum there was live music, tourists roamed around happily and painters sat and painted, making the overall environment very festive. I bought a piece of painting of the Colosseum by a street side artist. There are a few Italian cafes and pizzerias and gelato places. There is a store inside the Colosseum selling lovely souvenirs and some street vendors selling simple souvenirs too like magnets and key chains. There is also a gladiator institute near the Colosseum where they dress u and train you over a Gladiator like sword fight. After visiting this magical site, my happy and satisfied soul decided to satisfy the stomach with three cheese pizza and some gelatos. The charm of Colosseum is going to remain vividly etched in my memory for ever.

Dipannita Bhattacherya
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