C is for COLOSSEUM; a trip to ancient Rome

C is for COLOSSEUM; a trip to ancient Rome

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I was never a history buff in high school.  I actually hated the idea of sitting in social studies class learning about the World Wars, who even won anyway?  [bad, I know, don’t rub it in…] It was all just very confusing to me (I was more of a math and science girl), and I just studied to get good marks in my classes (because I was one of those who wanted needed straight A’s or I wasn’t satisfied).  It’s funny, because when you finally grow up, you finally realize that those high school grades don’t matter.  One bit.

Let’s move on to the real reason behind the post = the letter C, for Coliseum.  And Cah-razy.  As we all know I can ramble on and on and on (Hey, look, I’m doing it right now…)

So when I visited the ancient Colosseum in the heart of Rome on my backpacking trip a few years back, I honestly didn’t know what to expect.  Sure, I’ve seen pictures of one of the most recognizable landmarks of Italy, but it was just that– only pictures.  The Eiffel Tower had a pretty big effect on me, however, Paris is always a good idea.  But would I revert back to my high school days and simply not give a damn about the Colosseum?

That changed the moment I laid eyes on the massive, half destroyed, yet beautiful sight.

To just think that Roman emperors built this entire stadium/amphitheatre WAY back in 70-80 AD surely is pretty impressive.  Surely something I could never do.  Although I did have a great time admiring the Roman Colosseum, (complete with some gelato on the way back), we viewed it alone, lacking a tour guide or Lonely Planet book to describe in detail more about this grandiose colosseum.  I later did some research after the trip.  Hey, better late than never, right?

Here’s what I found out:

How it was made:

Although it was made entirely out of bricks and travertine stone, it remains partially ruined, mostly due to damage caused by devastating earthquakes and stone-robbers.
 
Some Specs, in case you’re interested:

Shape: elliptical

Length: 615 feet long
Width: 510 feet wide
Height: 157 feet tall
Perimeter: 1,788 feet
Different Uses Over Time:
 
The Colosseum was originally built to house gladiatorial contests such as mock sea battles, executions, reenactments of famous battles, animal hunts, and even dramas (based mostly on classical mythology).
A small church was eventually built into the structure around the late 6th century, but did not hold religious significance on the building.
The area was eventually converted into a cemetery.
Spaces under the seating were rented out and used for housing and workshops.  Oh to live in the Colosseum, I wonder how that must have been like.
Around 1200, the Frangipani family took over the structure and used it as a castle.  I could see why, it’s gorgeous.

 Who was allowed in?
 
The seating for about 50,000 spectators was largely divided; the lower part for wealthy citizens, while the upper part was for poor citizens.

At the very top, a level was added to house the common poor, slaves, and woman.  Experts believe that spectators at this level had to stand during the entire performance.

Gravediggers, actors, and former gladiators were banned from the Colosseum altogether.
The Arena Itself

specs: 272 feet by 157 feet.
A wooden floor covered by sand was the basis of the “stage”, but unfortunately, little remains today.  Do you see it below?
Beneath the original arena floor were a two-level network of tunnels and cages, where gladiators and animals stayed before contests began.  I would totally get lost in there.  No question about that.


Preservation:

Parts of the outer wall were cleaned between 1993 and 2000, in order to clean the Colosseum from automobile exhaust damage.

A recent agreement has been made (with the Tod’s guy- how cool!) to restore the Colosseum.  I hope this €25 million restoration doesn’t change it too much!

And now some more photos for your viewing pleasure:

Have you ever been to the Colosseum?
Did you find it as fascinating as I did?
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