Key facts

Address Regio IV Templum Pacis (“Temple of Peace”), Rome, Italy
Capacity 50,000 seats
Build Date 72
Nickname Coliseum, Flavian Amphitheatre

Architecture: Roman Pride

The Flavian Amphitheater (or hunting theater translated into English), known by most simply as ‘The Colosseum’ is the most known, described and talked about stadium of all time. It was inspired by the Roman Emperor ‘Vespasian’ in the year 72AD and opened by his son ‘Titus’ is 80AD.

The Flavian Amphitheater was later named the ‘Colosseum’ as it is widely known as today in 480AD in honor of a 30m bronze statue of the Emperor Nero which at the time stood outside the Amphitheater. It is rumored that this statue was melted down in the middle ages.

The ‘Flavian Amphitheater’ was built on the grounds of Emperor Nero’s former palace known as the ‘Domus Aurea’ on what once was an artificial lake in the palace grounds.

The Colosseum was built to hold approximately 50,000 spectators and had a total of 80 entrances, more than most stadiums today showing that the Colosseum is still is of groundbreaking design almost 2000 years after its initial construction.

The stadium was split into different tiers, different classes of citizens sat in different tiers, the better the class, the closer to the action. The first teir was reserved for the Emperor, Senate and Vestals. The upper class sat on the second level, the professional and business class was on the third tier and on the fourth were common people, slaves and women.

Blood sport: The Roman Thirst

Most of the games held at the Colosseum were of bloody nature, for instance, when the Colosseum was first opened there were 100 days of celebration and during this time it is reported that 90,000 wild animals were killed.

The most common and popular type of combat at the Colosseum was that of Gladiatorial Combat, gladiators who were usually former slaves were pitted against each other to fight, usually to the death. The winners were given a ‘Status Quo’ within society.

Other games held at the Colosseum include fights between animals, fights between animals and prisoners of the Empire. It is thought that hundreds of thousands of people were brutally killed at the ‘Hunting Theater’

In one festival held by Emporer Trajan, the first Roman Emperor to be born outside of Italy, 9,000 Gladiators fought to the death in a competition that lasted some 117 days

Destruction & natural disasters: The Colosseum’s Demise

The Colosseum has suffered many disasters including a great fire of 217 following a lightening strike which put the Colosseum out of action for 21 years. Two earthquakes in 442 and 508 damaged to main structure of the historic stadium forcing it to shut down for good in 524

Other ancient stadia: Rivals to the Colosseum