What Is the Roman Coliseum?


Quick Answer

The Roman Colosseum was built in A.D. 75 and finished in A.D. 82 in Rome for gladiatorial competitions as well as other brutal contests involving men and animals. The Colosseum held up to 50,000 people with four tiers of marble seats. The Colosseum is an oval-shaped building made of stone and concrete.

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What Is the Roman Coliseum?
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Full Answer

The name “Colosseum” was the common name for its official name, Flavian Amphitheater. The Colosseum is located between the Palatine and Esquiline hills in Rome. Beyond its massive size, the construction of the Colosseum was significant at that time due to its free-standing structure; most similar buildings of the time dug into surrounding hillsides for support. Roman emperor Vespasian began the Colosseum construction for his son, Titus, to complete it. It has since withstood significant damage from earthquakes, lightning and vandalism, but went through an intense restoration in the 1990s. The Colosseum is now popular tourist area often combined with the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum sites. The Colosseum has also been used a symbol for anti-capital punishment; many demonstrations have been held there recently for protests. Today, the image of the Colosseum can be found on Italy’s 5-cent coin, and on every Good Friday, the Pope leads the “Way of the Cross” to the Colosseum, a torchlit parade from the Vatican to the Colosseum.

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