Colosseum or Flavian Amphitheatre (Anfiteatro Flavio o Colosseo)

"Colosseum or Flavian Amphitheatre (Anfiteatro Flavio o Colosseo)" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Sunday 3rd July 2011

It took only eight years to erect the greatest monument of ancient Rome. Its original name is Flavian Amphitheatre, because of the form of the construction as an amphitheatre and because it was built by emperors of the Flavian dynasty: Vespasian, Titus and Domitian. Vespasian begun it in 72 A.D., Titus completed the works in 80 A.D. and Domitian added the higher steps and some service zones beneath the arena. The inaugural festival lasted 100 days, during which many gladiators and 5000 wild beasts were killed.

Colosseum or Flavian Amphitheatre (Anfiteatro Flavio o Colosseo)
The emperors of the Flavia family built this large amphitheater for gladiatorial shows and hunts of wild animals, which in the following centuries became the symbol of the Eternal City. The building, called Colosseum starting from the Middle Ages perhaps due to the vicinity of an enormous statue of Nero (Colossus), rose on the area covered by the artificial lake of the Domus Aurea.

The popular name "Colosseo" or "Colosseum" was first mentioned in the 7th century in the writings of the venerable Bede, who quotes a prophecy of Anglo-Saxon pilgrims: "Quamdiu stabit Colyseus stabit et Roma; quamdiu cadet Colyseus cadet et Roma; quamdiu cadet Roma cadet et mondus", i.e. "Till the Colosseum stands the Rome will stand; when the Colosseum falls the Rome shell fall; when Rome falls the world shall fall".

The name "Colosseum" derived from a colossal statue of emperor Nero (35m high) with the head in form of the Sun, which stood in the square in front of the Amphitheatre.

Together with the 7m high basement the statue reached the height of the amphitheatre, and it was the largest bronze statue ever made, even larger than its model, the Colossus of Rhodes. It was moved here from the vestibule of the Domus Aurea of Nero on the Roman Forum by Hadrian when he built on its side the Temple of Venus and Rome. There were 24 elephants used to shift it.
Colosseum - greatest monument of ancient Rome.
The project of the construction belonged to an architect of the imperial family Quintus Aterius. Its basement is located in a natural cave formerly occupied by water and named the lake of Domus Aurea. The lower part of the amphitheatre could be used already after four years. From outside it looked like an enormous ring with four storeys entirely made of travertine.

The first three storeys included 80 archways with the Doric columns on the ground floor, Ionic on the 2nd floor and Corinthian on the 3rd floor. The 4th floor was in form of a wall with the rectangular windows and corbels destined to support 240 piles holding a huge velarium served to protect the spectators from the sun or rain. The Colosseum stands on a 13 meters high concrete platform, which is thought to be the secret of the resistance of the amphitheatre to the time, earthquakes (in 422, 1231 and 1349) and other possible damages.

The arches on the ground floor gave access to the steps and stands for the public. Above the arches the Roman numbers that indicated the various sectors of the cavea are still visible. Only the main entrances, situated in correspondence of the main axes, were not numbered because reserved to privileged categories: magistrates, vestals, religious colleges, etc.. The northern entrance lead to the tribune reserved to the Emperor. The underground basements where used to keep the machinery and the cages for the beasts, or as storage and service rooms. They are still visible today at the center of the amphitheater, but were originally covered with wooden boards that formed the surface of the arena.
arches of Colosseum or Flavian Amphitheatre in Rome Middle Ages the Colosseum


188m x 156m, the circumference in 527m, the height from outside is 50m. Construction was made of 100,000 cubic meters of selected travertine (from the cave of Acque Albule under Tivoli) and 300 tuns of metal served to keep together the blocks with the iron tenons (these were torn out in the Middle Ages and their sockets are visible). Its capacity was 70,000 spectators. Gladiatorial combats were suppressed in 407 and fights with wild beasts in 523.

The performances were free. There were 80 entrances that supplied the quick entrance and exit of the people. All of them were numbered except the four main entrances. Each spectator entered by the arch corresponding to the number of his ticket.

Interior was divided into three parts:

the arena, the podium and the cavea. The arena measures 76m by 46m. Its name comes from the sand (arena) which covered the floor in order to prevent combatants from slipping and to absorb the blood. The subterranean passages were used for the arrangement of the spectacles, and provided space for the mechanism by which scenary and other apparatus were hoisted into the arena. There were also cages for animals and rooms of gladiators.

The arena was surrounded by 5m high wall to protect the spectators from the animals. At the top of it was a podium, i.e. a broad parapeted terrace in front of the tiers of seats, on which was the imperial couch and places for senators, pontiffs, vestals, foreign ambassadors. The cavea was divided into three tiers: the lower one was reserved for knights, the middle one for the wealthier citizens, and the top one for the populace.

The steps on which the spectators were sitting were made of bricks, except those of the emperor and nobility that were marble. Above the topmost tier was a colonnade, to which women were admitted. At the very top was the narrow platform for the team of sailors from Misenus, who were responsible for the velarium (awning).
Colosseum or Flavian Amphitheatre - as a whole. Colosseum or Flavian Amphitheatre -at Piazza del Colosseo.
According to a legend Colosseum was a place of martyrdom of numerous Christians, but it was never proved by historical documents.

During the Middle Ages the Colosseum was adapted for the fortress of the Frangipane, and later of Annibaldi, till the emperor Henry VII didn't present it to the Roman people in 1312. Until 1743, when Benedict XIV consecrated Colosseum to the cult of martyrs and built inside a little church of S.Maria della Pieta', it was endless source of the building material for the other monuments.

Important works of consolidation were undertaken by the popes of the first half of the 19th century. When Rome became the capital of Italy the Colosseum was cleaned from the vegetation which covered it, isolated from the overbuilt and adjoining constructions, and was profoundly studied, eliminating the arena.

On the site where the Via Sacra and Via di S.Gregorio meet were located "meta sudante", a fountain, and a statue of Nero. The ruins of these two monuments were demolished by fascists in 1934 as they were the obstacles for the parades performed here. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the first interventions to statically reinforce the structure were performed and the large brick walls that still retain what remains of the external perimeter were built.

Practical Information:

Colosseum or Flavian Amphitheatre (Anfiteatro Flavio o Colosseo)
Piazza del Colosseo
00184, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Zone: Rione Monti (Colosseo - S.Giovanni - S.Maria Maggiore) (Roma centro)
Colosseum or Flavian Amphitheatre (Anfiteatro Flavio o Colosseo) is Shown By "Map K Zone" As "62"
Hours: January 2 - February 15: 8.30 am - 4.30 pm., February 16 to March 15: 8.30 am - 5.00 pm., March 16 - last Saturday of March: 8.30 am - 5.30 pm., Last Sunday of March - August 31: 8.30 am - 7.15 pm., September 1 to September 30: 8.30 am - 7.00 pm., October 1 - last Saturday of October: 8.30 am - 6.30 pm., Last Sunday of October - December 31: 8.30 am - 4.30 pm., Last admission 1 hour before closing time. Closed: January 1, December 25.

Note: Booking Fees and Timetable may have changed. For current situation, Visit:

As you visit 'Colosseum or Flavian Amphitheatre (Anfiteatro Flavio o Colosseo)' you may also like following articles . . .

All’Ombra del Colosseo (shadow of the Colosseum)

All’Ombra del Colosseo (shadow of the Colosseum) - Soaking away with poolside at All'Ombra del Colosseo through Rome's Colosseum Thousands of tourists shuffle

Colle Oppio Park or Oppian Hill Park (Parco del Colle Oppio) next to the Colosseum

The Colle Oppio Park/ Oppian Hill Park (Parco del Colle Oppio) next to the Colosseum with the remnants of the "Domus Aurea" (Nero's villa) was created here in

Roman Forum or Forum Romanum (Foro Romano)

The Roman Forum/ Forum Romanum (Foro Romano) occupies the plain zone between three hills: Palatine, Capitoline and Quirinal. Its birth corresponds to

Domus Aurea - Nero’s Golden House

This enormous complex construction (50 hectares) compound of palaces, gardens and lake was erected by two architects of emperor Nero, Severus and Celerus,

Second day - Plan Your Trip to Rome In 48 Hours

F. The Colosseum The Colosseum owes its name to a colossal bronze statue, representing the Emperor Nero, more than 35 m. tall, that used to stand in this area