Why is half of the Colosseum broken
Rome ruled as early as 29 BC. About a stone amphitheater, which stood on the Marsfeld and was significantly smaller than the later Colosseum. Since it was soon no longer able to meet the requirements, it was replaced by a wooden theater by Nero in 57 AD. A short time later (64 AD) the stone building fell victim to the great fire of Rome, while the wooden theater probably remained standing for some time.
When Emperor Vespasian seized power after the bloody Four Emperor Year (69 AD), he wanted to set an example and demonstratively give back to the people the area that Nero had a few years earlier with his new palace complex (Domus Aurea - The Golden House ) had usurped. In the area of the palace gardens, he therefore planned an amphitheater that would overshadow all previous buildings and bring eternal glory to the ruling family of the Flavians. Financed, among other things, by the gold treasure looted from the Temple of Jerusalem in AD 70, construction work began on the Flavian amphitheater in AD 72.
To this day, the Colosseum is considered an architectural and logistical masterpiece. It had a total of 80 different entrances, four of which were reserved for the upper class and the emperor. The arrangement of the entrances, the numerous stairs and the surrounding corridors enabled the facility to be filled and cleared quickly - a system that is still used in modern stadium construction.
Overall, the Colosseum is 156 meters wide and 188 meters long, so it has the shape of an ellipse. The height of the structure is 48 meters, plus cellars and a meter-thick foundation. In ancient times there was space for 50,000 spectators in the arena, which means that the facility could well compete with modern football stadiums.
Emperor Vespasian could no longer see the completion of the building; he died in 79 AD when the Colosseum was about to be completed. His son Titus, who succeeded him and was only to rule for 26 months, had the honor of inaugurating the amphitheater in the early summer of 80. To mark the occasion, he hosted hundred-day games like the city had never seen before. During the first few days, the arena, which at that time had no basement, was completely flooded to re-enact naval battles. Furthermore, there were numerous gladiator fights, infantry fights and animal baiting, to which around 5,000 animals fell victim during the celebrations alone.
The Colosseum retained its importance in the centuries that followed. From then on it was a permanent venue for all kinds of cruel games, with gladiatorial and animal fights being particularly popular. However, it is very controversial whether there were also executions around amphitheaters. What is certain is that every free resident of Rome had free admission to the events.
Only after the Christianization of the Roman Empire was gladiator fights fundamentally called into question, especially since Christians were banned as gladiators. The first restrictions came under Emperor Honorius (395-423 AD), as he had the gladiatorial games forbidden, at least formally. Nevertheless, financed by senators, they continued to be held until around AD 435. After that, the Colosseum continued to be used for animal baiting, which was continued by the invaded Ostrogoths until the year 523.
At the end of the 6th century, the Colosseum had lost its original meaning for good. In the meantime Rome had suffered a lot, was devastated by wars and had only a few inhabitants. Many of the remaining city dwellers now even set up living spaces in the Colosseum.
The Colosseum was badly damaged by severe earthquakes in 847 and 1349. Renovation work was no longer carried out at this time, instead the building even served as a quarry for popes and ruling families in the Middle Ages.
When Pope Benedict XIV ordered the preservation of the Colosseum in 1744, only the northern half of the former facade was preserved, as we still know the ruin today. From then on, the Colosseum served as a sight and admiration for Roman architecture increased. During the Middle Ages, the former purpose of the building was not even known to most of the people.
From the 19th century, the building was also examined archaeologically in order to gain knowledge about the former amphitheater and the Romans. Under Mussolini, the street "Via dell'Impero" was realized from 1924 to 1932, which runs straight towards the Colosseum and thus moved the building into the center of attention. Unfortunately, many ancient relics worth preserving were simply destroyed when the road was built.
Today the Colosseum, although it is only a ruin, has again the meaning it deserves. It has become the symbol of the city and is also a symbol for all of Rome. Every year the building attracts several million tourists. It has also found a place on the reverse of the Italian 5 cent coin.
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