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Seven Wonders of the World: Colosseum

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Seven Wonders of the World:
Colosseum


The Colosseum, originally the Flavian Amphitheatre, is an elliptical amphitheatre in the center of the city of Rome, Italy, the largest ever built in the Roman Empire. It is one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and Roman engineering.

Occupying a site just east of the Roman Forum, its construction started between 70 and 72 AD under the emperor Vespasian and was completed in 80 AD under Titus, with further modifications being made during Domitian's reign (81-96).The name "Amphitheatrum Flavium" derives from both Vespasian's and Titus's family name.

Originally capable of seating around 50,000 spectators, the Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles. As well as the gladiatorial games, other public spectacles were held there, such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology. The building ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era. It was later reused for such purposes as housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry, and a Christian shrine.

Although in the 21st century it is in a ruined condition due to damage caused by earthquakes and stone-robbers, the Colosseum is now an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome. It is one of Rome's most popular tourist attractions and still has close connections with the Roman Catholic Church.


Physical Description - Interior Seating History

The Colosseum could accommodate 87,000 people, although modern estimates put the figure at around 50,000. They were seated in a tiered arrangement that reflected the rigidly stratified nature of Roman society. Special boxes were provided at the north and south ends respectively for the Emperor and the Vestal Virgins, providing the best views of the arena. Flanking them at the same level was a broad platform or podium for the senatorial class, who were allowed to bring their own chairs. The names of some 5th century senators can still be seen carved into the stonework, presumably reserving areas for their use.

Each tier was divided into sections by curved passages and low walls, and were subdivided into cunei, or wedges, by the steps and aisles from the vomitoria. Each row of seats was numbered, permitting each individual seat to be exactly designated by its gradus, cuneus, and number.


Tourism

The Colosseum is today one of Rome's most popular tourist attractions, receiving millions of visitors annually. The effects of pollution and general deterioration over time prompted a major restoration programme carried out between 1993 and 2000, at a cost of 40 billion Italian lire ($19.3m / €20.6m at 2000 prices). In recent years it has become a symbol of the international campaign against capital punishment, which was abolished in Italy in 1948. Several anti-death penalty demonstrations took place in front of the Colosseum in 2000. Since that time, as a gesture against the death penalty, the local authorities of Rome change the color of the Colosseum's night time illumination from white to gold whenever a person condemned to the death penalty anywhere in the world gets their sentence commuted or is released,or if a jurisdiction abolishes the death penalty. Most recently, the Colosseum was illuminated in gold when capital punishment was abolished in the American state of New Jersey in December 2007.

Due to the ruined state of the interior, it is impractical to use the Colosseum to host large events; only a few hundred spectators can be accommodated in temporary seating. However, much larger concerts have been held just outside, using the Colosseum as a backdrop. Performers who have played at the Colosseum in recent years have included Ray Charles (May 2002), Paul McCartney (May 2003),and Elton John (September 2005).

On July 7, 2007, the Colosseum was voted as one of New Open World Corporation's New Seven Wonders of the World.


Popular Culture



Demetrius and the Gladiators is a 1954 sword and sandal drama film and a sequel to The Robe. It was made by 20th Century Fox, directed by Delmer Daves and produced by Frank Ross. The screenplay was by Philip Dunne based on characters created by Lloyd C. Douglas in The Robe.

Gladiator is a 2000 epic film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Djimon Hounsou, Derek Jacobi and Richard Harris. Crowe portrays General Maximus Decimus Meridius, friend of Emperor Marcus Aurelius who is betrayed and murdered by his ambitious son, Commodus (Phoenix). Captured and enslaved along the outer fringes of the Roman empire, Maximus rises through the ranks of the gladiatorial arena to avenge the murder of his family and his Emperor.

The Core is a 2003 science fiction disaster film loosely based on the novel Core by Paul Preuss. It concerns a team that has to drill to the center of the Earth and set off a series of nuclear explosions in order to restart the rotation of Earth's core. The film was directed by Jon Amiel, and starred Aaron Eckhart, Delroy Lindo, Tchéky Karyo, Hilary Swank, DJ Qualls, Bruce Greenwood, and Stanley Tucci.

Reference/Image Credits: Wikipedia, Go Porta, Igougo, Wikipedia, wiki/Image, Wikipedia, Wikipedia


  1. lucyinthesky saidMon, 24 Nov 2008 21:11:00 -0000 ( Link )

    I read that one of the early uses of the Colosseum was not only to have gladiator fights, but also to simulate “sea battles” – known as naumachiae, or navalia proelia. They would fill the place up with water to display specially training swimming horses and bulls, and re-enact famous sea battles.

    Historians debate whether this would have been possible – after all, how do you waterproof the Colosseum? Hehe. But nevertheless, ancient writers spoke about this as one of the many uses of the Colosseum. I would love to see something like that today!

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