Colosseum in Rome


Perhaps the history and culture of Ancient Rome did not know anything more grandiose than the Colosseum (Latin Colosseus - "huge"; Italian Colosseo), also known as the Flavian Amphitheater (Latin Amphitheatrum Flavium). Built during a large-scale reconstruction of Rome, the Colosseum, for 4 centuries, was the most prestigious place for the entertainment of the inhabitants of the capital and the empire. The colossal arena, in which captured soldiers and slaves showed their military prowess, eventually became the hallmark of Rome.

Colosseum history

It is noteworthy that the idea to build such a colossal structure came from the Emperor Vespasian (Latin Titus Flavius ​​Vespasianus) against the background of the architectural excesses of his predecessor. The ruler Nero (lat. Nero Clavdius Caesar), overthrown in 68 AD, left behind an obscenely luxurious Golden Palace (Nero's “Golden House” (lat. Domus Aurea)) and a number of no less expensive buildings. Vespasian and his associates spent several years trying to restore order in the imperial lands and fill the treasury devastated by the extravagant Nero.


In addition to state affairs, the new emperor did not lose sight of the Romans' need for cultural entertainment. An extensive garden, with a pond, located in the capital, Vespasian ordered to turn into a new center of social life - an amphitheater. The beginning of construction works is considered to be the end of 71 - beginning of 72 AD. The flat area between the three hills of Rome: Celio, Esquilino and Palatino was ideal for this purpose.

Such a large-scale construction required colossal costs: material and human. The recently ended war with the Jews brought Vespasian more than 100 captive slaves, as well as the necessary funds. The slaves worked in the extraction of travertine and building stone 20 miles from Rome near Tivoli (Tivoli), and also worked hard, delivering materials to the capital.

The amphitheater was erected in the eastern part of the Roman Forum (Latin Roman Forum) by 80 AD. By this time, Emperor Vespasian had died, having passed the reins of power to his son, Titus (Latin Titus Flavius ​​Vespasianus). The receiver not only built the Colosseum in Rome, but marked the end of the construction with a magnificent ceremony, and consecrated it with the generic name - the Flavian Amphitheater. The building accommodated from 50 to 80 thousand spectators, having an average indicator of 65 thousand visitors. The "repertoire" of the Colosseum consisted of gladiator fights, sea battles, fights with the participation of wild animals, executions, recreation of historical battles and even theatrical performances based on ancient myths.

Early ages

The Colosseum quickly became a place of interest, so Titus, his brother Domitian (Latin Titus Flavius ​​Domitianus) and subsequent emperors of Rome regularly worked on improving the structure. In the 3rd century A.D. the amphitheater was too badly damaged by the fire, so Alexander Sever (lat.Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexandrus) actually restored the building.

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In the 5th century AD, the great Rome renounced the pantheon of pagan gods in order to finally turn to Christianity. Immediately, the emperor Honorius Augustus (lat. Flavius ​​Honorius Augustus) issued a ban on gladiatorial battles, as contrary to the commandments of the new religion. However, the Colosseum retains its status as an entertainment venue, offering viewers a hunt for wild animals. In the 5th century, Italy fell under the rule of the West Goths, which led to the gradual destruction of the Flavian amphitheater.

Middle Ages

At the end of the 6th century, a small sanctuary was built inside the Colosseum, the arena began to serve as a cemetery, and trading shops and workshops were located in the niches and arches of the amphitheater. In 1200, the aristocratic Frangipane family received the building in their full possession and took up its fortification.

In the middle of the 14th century, a powerful earthquake shook Rome, which led to the destruction of the outer southern wall of the Colosseum. The building that began to collapse began to be actively used for the construction of medieval churches, castles, villas, hospitals, etc. Medieval architects showed particular zeal, breaking out bronze partitions from masonry. Without additional reinforcement, the walls of the gigantic amphitheater began to crumble many times more actively.

New time

Since the 16th century, the church has gained great influence over the Colosseum. Pope Sixtus 5 planned to build a wool processing plant on the territory of the ancient monument. And in the 17th century, a new entertainment appeared in the amphitheater - bullfights. In the middle of the 18th century, Pope Benedict 14 proclaimed the Colosseum a sacred place for the Catholic Church, an early Christian shrine.

Subsequently, the pontificate made repeated attempts to restore the historical monument. During the 19th century, extensive work was carried out to excavate the arena of the amphitheater and strengthen the damaged facade. The buildings acquired a modern look during the reign of Duce Benito Mussolini.

Our days

Today, the Colosseum has become one of the most famous landmarks in Rome. Every day, the ancient Roman amphitheater and its surroundings are visited by thousands of tourists, and the annual flow of visitors is several million.


The appearance of the Colosseum was borrowed from the theaters typical of the times of late Rome. In plan, the amphitheater has an ellipse, the dimensions of which are: 189 m by 156 m, with a base area of ​​about 24 thousand m2. The height of the outer wall in the old days reached 48-50 m, and the perimeter - 545 m. The arena itself is represented by an oval with a width of 55 m and a length of 87 m. The arena was fenced off from the audience by a five-meter-high wall.


The construction of the outer wall took about 100 thousand m3 travertine. The stones laid without cement were fastened with metal piles with a total weight of 300 tons. The past centuries and a strong earthquake have deprived the Colosseum of its former splendor. Only the northern segment has survived from the original building. The rest was spent on building materials for the medieval inhabitants of Rome. And only in the 19th century, the authorities of the capital set about restoring the historical monument.

The surviving part of the Colosseum is made up of 3 tiers of arches set on top of each other. The entire structure is crowned with an attic decorated with Corinthian pilasters. In Roman times, each arch of the second and third tier framed a statue depicting one of the divine patrons of the Latins.

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Interior view

The architects of antiquity faced a difficult task: to provide easy access to the stands of the amphitheater of impressive size. For this purpose, 80 entrances were implemented in the underground floor of the building. 76 of them were intended for mere mortals - the remaining 4 - for the august persons. The main northern exit was reserved for the emperor and his retinue. The four "elite" entrances were decorated with artificial marble and favorably differed from ordinary portals.

Ancient spectators bought tickets to visit the amphitheater, on which the number of the row and the seat were engraved. Visitors could get to their place by vomitorium (lat. Vomitorium) - aisles located under the stands. Also, with the help of vomitoria, an emergency evacuation of spectators from the Colosseum was provided.

According to historical records of the 4th century AD, the amphitheater could accommodate up to 87 thousand spectators. Visitors were seated according to their social status. Separate lodges were provided for the emperor and the vestal maidens, in the north and south of the Colosseum, respectively. From these boxes the best view of the arena was revealed.

Slightly higher were the lodges of the nobility, in which personalized places were created. Even higher were the tribunes of the Roman warriors - the maenianum primum. The next level, maenianum secundum, was reserved for wealthy Romans, followed by places for ordinary people. Separate places were provided for various categories of citizens: boys with teachers, soldiers on leave, foreign guests, priests, etc.

During Domitian's time, a gallery was added on the roof of the Colosseum, into which were admitted: slaves, women and the poorest spectators. There were supposed to be exclusively standing places.


The basis of the arena was a dense wooden platform 83 by 43 meters, generously sprinkled with sand on top, which in Latin was called "harena". This flooring concealed a deep dungeon under it, called the "hypogeum". In modern times, little remains of the original Roman arena, but the hypogeum can be seen in detail. It consists of a system of two-level tunnels and cages located under the arena's array. It was in this place that gladiators and wild animals were kept before they were released into battle.

80 vertical lifts ensured the delivery of animals, including elephants, to the arena of the Colosseum. Such complex mechanisms required constant repair and renovation. The hypogeum was connected by a chain of underground tunnels to various points of the amphitheater and had passages outside of it. Warriors and livestock were brought to the place of performance from nearby barracks and sheds. Also, a special passage was allocated to the dungeon for the needs of the emperor and the vestals.

Many mechanisms of various types were located in the dungeon. For example, the forerunners of elevators and structures that open the cages of especially dangerous predators. Scientists also discovered the remains of an ancient hydraulic system, which made it possible to quickly lower or raise the entire array of the arena!

Several auxiliary institutions existed near the Colosseum. As, for example, Ludus Magnus ("Great training ground"), otherwise - the school of gladiators. One of the 4 great gladiatorial schools delivered warriors to the lists using a special underground tunnel. Also nearby was the Ludus Matutinus school, where warriors specializing in fighting animals were trained.

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Interesting Facts

The internal content of the Colosseum has suffered greatly from time to time, today there are about 1500 seats in working condition. Nevertheless, some world-famous stars prefer this venue for their performances. Such celebrities include: Ray Charles, May 2002, Sir Paul McCartney, May 2003, Sir Elton John, September 2005, Billy Joel, July 2006.

The image of the Colosseum has been used many times in art: in literature, cinema, computer games, and music. The most striking examples of this:

  • strategy games of the series - Age of Empires, Civilization, Assassins's Creed;
  • as scenery for films - "Roman Holiday" (Roman Holiday), 1953, "Gladiator" (Gladiator), 2000;
  • the main character in the songs: Bob Dylan - "When I Paint My Masterpiece" and the Russian rock band "Aria" - "Colosseum".

Colosseum visit


  • A full ticket to the Colosseum will cost at least 12 euros. A visit to the Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum is also worth this price. Ticket valid for 48 hours - once for each attraction. The reservation costs an additional € 2.
  • The discounted ticket costs 7,5 euros and is valid for EU citizens between the ages of 18 and 24.
  • Tourists under the age of 18 can get free tickets at the box office, provided that there is a parental reservation.
From 2019, to get to visit the Colosseum, an online date and time reservation is required. During the high season from April to October, tickets must be booked at least one week in advance. Be sure to read this manual.

You can book tickets by phone. +39 (0) 6 399 677 00 or on the website:

Opening hours: from 8:30 am to sunset hours:

  • from 8:30 to 16:30 - from January 2nd to February 15th;
  • from 8:30 to 17:00 - from February 16th to March 15th;
  • from 8:30 to 17:30 - from March 16th to the last Saturday of March;
  • from 8:30 to 19:15 - from the last Saturday of March to 31 August;
  • from 8:30 to 19:00 - throughout September;
  • from 8:30 to 18:30 - from the first to the last Sunday in October;
  • from 8:30 am to 16:30 pm - from the last Sunday in October to December 31st.

How to get there

The Colosseum is located in the historic center of Rome, next to the Roman Forum and Piazza Venezia.

  • Address: Piazza del Colosseo.
  • By metro: line B (Colosseo station), line A (Manzoni) and then tram 3 heading south.
  • Buses: No. 60, 75, 85, 87, 271, 571, 175,186, 810, C3 and mini electric bus No. 117.
  • Tram: No. 3.