Roman Coliseum History & Facts

Quandiu stabit coliseus, stabit et Roma;
Quando cadit coliseus, cadet et Roma
Quando cadet Roma, cadet et mundus.

In the eighth century, when Saint Bede wrote these famous lines that roughly translate to mean, While stands the Coliseum, Rome shall stand; When falls the Coliseum, Rome shall fall; And when Rome falls – the World, the Coliseum was still standing tall despite being witness to two devastating earthquakes. The magnificence of the structure that is the Coliseum is till date awe-inspiring. Even in a world where we are used to skyscrapers that threaten to surpass all highs, the Coliseum remains steadfastly inscribed in our memories as an impressive monument. Roman Coliseum history will always point out the many cruelties that humans and animals have been subjected to inside of this gargantuan monument. For centuries, this structure, situated in Rome, Italy, was the playground for criminals and professional fighters looking at a bloody ending.

History of Roman Coliseum

How old is the Roman Coliseum? Historical evidence suggests that the construction of this monument started sometime between 70 AD and 72 AD. It is believed that Emperor Vesuvius who came to throne after the barbaric regime of Emperor Nero, started the construction of the monument as a public amphitheater, in a bid to make his subjects forget the excesses that Nero indulged in. The site chosen for the Coliseum of Rome was just east of the Roman Forum, not far from the statue, Colossus Neronis or the Colossal statue of Nero. Roman Coliseum history tells us that this is where the name Coliseum was taken from, for the structure. Its original Latin name was Amphitheatrum Flavium, for the family name of Emperor Vesuvius.

While the construction of the amphitheater started in 72 AD, as mentioned before, the massive structure was completed only in 80 AD under the rule of Emperor Titus. During the reign of Emperor Domitian (in the period between 81 – 96 AD), the Roman Coliseum underwent more changes and modifications. Roman Coliseum facts tell us that when built, the amphitheater had a capacity of seating as many as 50,000 people. It had four floors and the each floor was between 32 to 42 feet high. The answer to the question, how tall is the Roman Coliseum, will tell you that it is about 158 feet or 48 meters high. The Coliseum has a base area of six acres. These are figures that are included in most books on Roman Coliseum history for kids. Originally the spectators to the bloody games played in the arena were protected by tall nets along the sides.

Roman Coliseum history tells us that the monument situated in Italy has been damaged by several natural and man-made calamities. It was first badly damaged by a huge fire which destroyed many levels of the Coliseum. The repairs to the monument took several years and were finished only in 320 AD. In the medieval times, a part of the area of the Coliseum was used to build a church. This event transpired sometime in the 6th century. In the 12th century, the area under the seating which was vaulted, was modified for housing purposes. Some of the space was also used for workshops.

The Roman Coliseum history records damage to the monument again in 1349 when it was affected by the great earthquake. This is what caused the southern side of the Coliseum to collapse. A lot of material from the Coliseum was used to build other monuments. In the 16th century, there was a proposal put forward by the then Pope, Sixtus V to convert the monument into a wool factory to provide employment to the city’s underprivileged but this plan never materialized. In 1749, Pope Benedict XIV put forward the view that the Coliseum was sacred and stood as a memory to all those Christians that had been martyred there. Since then the Coliseum has been considered a monument of great importance and a reflection of the Roman history.

Today, the Coliseum has been restored to a fraction of its original grandeur, thanks to the efforts of many religious leaders of the Catholic Church over the years. A major restoration program was conducted between the years 1993 and 2000, that cost almost 40 billion Italian lire. This was to reverse the damage caused to the monument by pollution and deterioration. Today, it is one of the most important tourist attractions in the city of Rome, and in Italy. More than a million visitors make a trip to the Roman Coliseum annually. The history of Italy is long and colorful, and the Roman Coliseum history is just one of the pages that is of worldwide interest.