If you’ve been to Rome, or plan to go to Rome the Colosseum is hard to miss and definitely worth a visit! Don’t just take the time to walk around and view the outside, but be sure to go in and do a tour inside. The history and importance of the Colosseum is just to rich to miss and perhaps because of the bizarre things that happened there it truly is captivating.
From the outside you see the seemingly endless arches of this iconic amphitheater, but it’s the inside that will prove to be the most interesting. Here are some facts that you (probably) didn’t know about the infamous Colosseum.
- Compared to Other Historic Structures; it’s Practically New!
In reality the Colosseum is over 1950 years old, as its foundations were laid way back in 72 AD, and the construction was completed in just eight years. But despite it’s long ago beginning, it’s practically a modern, new-build compared to the Pyramids of Giza, which are over twice as old, while Stonehenge is thought to have been built some 5000 years ago.
- It Went Through a Name Change
Believe it or not, Italy’s iconic Colosseum was originally called the Flavian Amphitheater. Let’s face it, this name just doesn’t have the same appeal and would look pretty sad on a magnet! The name Flavian comes from the all-powerful Flavian dynasty who ruled the empire from 69 AD to 96 AD. Historians believe the current name originates from “The Colossus of Nero,” a 35-meter tall bronze statue that stood outside the amphitheater.
- Julius Caesar Never Set Foot Inside
When you think of the Roman Empire, one man’s name springs to mind: Julius Caesar. You can just imagine him watching gladiatorial battles in the Colosseum while enjoying a glass of vino or two. Yet, while the Colosseum and Julius Caesar are two icons of Rome, the infamous Emperor never set foot inside the great arena. Actually, Julius Caesar was assassinated almost 125 years before the first games even happened there.
- Emperor Commodus Fought as a Gladiator…kind of
Generally the gladiators were comprised of slaves or former prisoners, so when Emperor Commodus took his obsession of sport onto the arena floor it was quite a surprise, to say the least! His fights, however were far from fair. In fact, Romans were outraged when Commodus would order wounded soldiers and amputees into the arena to be slayed.
- Damaged Parts Have Been Repurposed
Several earthquakes have shaken the famous site, causing damage mainly to the south side. The rubble was quickly used to build churches and palaces found across Rome.
- The Gate of Death Existed
There were two gates for the gladiators — but they served two very different purposes. The Gate of Life was located on the eastern side of the Colosseum. This is where gladiators would enter before the spectacle began. The Gate of Death was located on the west side. This is where unlucky gladiators were carried out.
- Romans Attended the Games for Free
Emperors used the arena to promote their political policies, so entry to the games was free to all Romans. Since foreigners were of no political use to the leaders, they had to shell out a coin or two to watch the spectacle.
- It’s one of the New 7 Wonders of the World
This history and international admiration earned the Colosseum a place on the list of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Thousands of people voted for the Colosseum to make the list, and the honor was announced on July 7, 2007 (7/7/07)!
- Around 1,000,000 Animals Died There
Around 1,000,000 animals died over the 390 years that the amphitheater was active. A sport called venatio, which translates literally as hunting, was introduced at amphitheaters across ancient Rome.
- It’s Believed Around 400,000 People were Killed
It is impossible to know with certainty, but it is believed that as many as 400,000, between gladiators, slaves, convicts, prisoners, and myriad of other entertainers, perished in the Colosseum over the 350 or so years during which it was used for human bloodsports and spectacles.