Facts about the Colosseum
2: The name 'Colosseum' is derived
from the Latin word 'colosseus' meaning colossal. This
was in reference to the gigantic statue of the
which had been previously erected near the site of the
3: The great amphitheatre covers and
area of 6 acres
4: Entrance to the games was free.
The massive amphitheatre had a capacity estimated at
between 50,000 and 80,000 Romans
5: The outer circumference measures
545 metres (1,788 ft). It is 50 metres high (187 ft),
189 metres (615 ft) long and 156 metres 510 ft wide.
6: The area beneath the Colosseum was
called the Hypogeum (meaning underground). The hypogeum consisted of
two-level subterranean network of tunnels and 32 animal
pens. It had 80 vertical shafts which provided instant
access to the arena for animals and scenery.
Emperor Domitian, the younger
son of Vespasian added the hypogeum and also a gallery
at the top of the Colosseum to increase its seating
8: The Colosseum is located in the
centre of the city of Rome, Italy (Piazzale del Colosseo,
Rome). The absolute location is 41 degrees latitude and
12 degrees longitude.
9: There were 36 trap doors in Arena
allowing for elaborate special effects
The animals displayed and killed
at the theatre were transported from every corner of the
Roman Empire reflecting the scale and scope of the Roman
provinces. Wild Animals at the Colosseum
The wild and exotic animals which
included lions, tigers, hyenas, hippos, rhino's,
crocodiles, ostriches, antelopes, bears and zebras
There were over 20 different types
The Roman Colosseum was used for
staging various events including gladiator fights, wild
animal displays, theatrical entertainment, executions,
religious ceremonies, mock sea battles and re-playing
famous Roman victories.
The Colosseum was built for
several reasons: As a gift to Roman
Citizens, increasing the popularity of the Flavian
dynasty *** Staging various forms of
entertainment in a purpose built stone amphitheatre,
creating a diversion for unemployed and unruly Plebs *** To utilize and showcase
the latest Roman engineering techniques
demonstrating to the world the power of Rome
The emperor took up a prominent
position in the imperial box was called the pulvinar
which was located on the podium
(meaning place of honor)
which was like a terrace and about 15ft wide astride the centre of
the minor axis of the arena on the north side.
Seating at the Colosseum
The Flavian Amphitheatre was built
of travertine on the outside and tufa and brick in the
interior. The main pedestals were built of marble
In the building of the Colosseum
the slaves undertook the manual labor and teams of
professional Roman builders, engineers and decorators
undertook the skilled tasks.
The Colosseum consisted of four
floors. The first three storeys had high, arched
entrances designed with tiers of
Ionic, Doric and
Awning called the
Velarium at the Roman Colosseum provided cover and shade. Brackets supported
240 wooden masts on which canvas awnings were hung.
20: There were 76 entrances which were numbered but
there were an additional four grand entrances which were
Entrances and Exits
were distributed for the shows, each
one marked with a seat number, tier
number and entrance number. The
inaugural games at the Colosseum
lasted more than 100 days.
22: At the end of the day the
gladiators who had been killed were dragged through the Porta
Libitinensis (Gate of Death) to the Spoliarium where the body was stripped and
the weapons and armor given to the dead gladiatorís lanista.
23: The arena was 287 ft long
and 180 ft wide. The arena was covered with 15cm of sand.
24: There were various entrances/
exits from the arena. The Porta Sanavivaria was the Gate
of Life where those who had been defeated but spared
would exit, the Porta Libitina was the Gate of
Death or Executions and the Porta Triumphalis where the
victors would exit the arena.
25: The bisellium was
a richly ornamented seat of honor at the games. It was so called
because there was room for two
persons upon it, although only one sat there, usually the
26: 42 Roman Emperors witnessed the
carnage at the amphitheatre
27: An estimated 700,000 people died
in the bloody arena
28: Executions of Christians or
Criminals provided popular midday entertainment.
29: As many as 5000 animals were
slaughtered in one day - wild animals were killed to the
point of extinction. See
Wild Animals at the Colosseum
30: The massive Flavian Amphitheatre
took less than 10 years to build
Facts about the Colosseum
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