Monuments of Rome - Colosseum
"The Colosseum offers three or four completely different viewpoints. The most beautiful is perhaps that which presents itself to the onlooker when he stands on the arena where the gladiators fought, and sees those immense ruins rising before him all around. What impresses me most is this sky of such a pure blue that appears through the windows of the upper part of the building.
L'Flavian amphitheatre known to all as the Colosseum It is perhaps the most famous monument in the world: the gigantic elliptical construction, at 48 metres high, has impressed and fascinated people of all ages. It was certainly a favourite place of the Romans, whose unbridled thirst for gory spectacles was quenched only by the sight of the bloody gladiator fights. The Colosseum had four storeys. The first was ten and a half metres high with a Doric order of semi-columns. The second was 11.85 metres high with Ionic columns. The third was 11 metres 60 high with the Corinthian order of columns. The fourth was solid masonry with a system of poles to fix the Velarium, a large tent that served to shelter the spectators from the sun. Staircases and galleries gave access to the various sectors of the tiers of seats. In the galleries one encountered everything, vendors selling chickpeas, hot drinks and souvenirs, people renting pillows and blankets to night spectators. Looking out from the upper tiers, one could admire a spectacular view of the world's largest city. The name of the brilliant builder is unknown, perhaps Rabirio, Domitian's architect, or a certain Gaudentius. Commissioned by Emperor Vespasian to celebrate the grandeur of the Empire and inaugurated by Emperor Titus in 80 A.D., the Colosseum was built in a valley between the Esquiline, Palatine and Caelian hills by draining a small lake used by Nero for the Domus Aurea . There was no military victory, religious festival, anniversary that was not celebrated with bloody combat. About seventy thousand screaming spectators followed excitedly the gladiators who challenged each other in duels to the death: Rhaetians, with nets and tridents, against Myrmillons; Samnites, with the short sword, against Thracians, with shield and gladius. In just one of them, desired by the Emperor Trajan, and lasting for 117 consecutive days, more than nine thousand gladiators died in the arena. Incredible sets were erected on the arena in record time to make the fights more exciting, which lasted from dawn to dusk and often, lit by torches, well into the night. The bloodiest of these, the sportule, invented by Emperor Claudius, consisted of pitched fights of hundreds of gladiators all against each other where the slaughter had to be carried out in the shortest possible time. Under the arena, an inextricable labyrinth of dungeons housed gladiators and ferocious beasts. And in these infernal circles, amidst roars, screams, roars, the protagonists of the spectacle waited to emerge into the dazzling light of the arena, where a delirious public awaited them, using hoists and inclined planes for a most impressive appearance. The Colosseum is linked to the fierce persecution of Christians, which was stopped by Emperor Constantine, who in 313 A.D. banned gladiator fights and proclaimed Christianity the official religion of the Empire.