Who built the Colosseum?Construction of Colosseum began under the rule of Emperor Vespasian around 70-72 AD. By the time of his death, in 79, it was completed up to the third story. Vespasian son Titus completed the construction in the year 80. It underwent several changes during the region of Domitian, also known as the Flavian and was therefore called the Flavian Amphitheater. The construction of the Colosseum was financed from spoils taken during the Siege of Jerusalem. The majority of the manual labor was undertaken by Jewish prisoners brought to Rome after the war. But for the more specialized tasks, Emperor Vespasian hired the team of professional Roman artists, painters, builders and engineers.
Where is Colosseum located?It is located in the valley between Palatine, Esquiline and Caelian Hills, in an area that had previously been part of the imposing Domus Aurea, a complex built by Emperor Nero after the Great Fire of Rome in 64. The Domus Aurea palace was surrounded by pavilions, gardens, and porches, with the colossal bronze statue of Nero, commonly known as „Colossus of Nero“ in the vestibule. Although the majority of Domus Aurea was destructed, the Colossus was preserved and eventually moved on a place outside the Flavian Amphitheater, and it is believed that the name Colosseum originated from the statue of Nero.
The main purpose of the Colosseum was to satisfy the public enthusiasm for games and spectacles.
What was Colosseum used for?
The Colosseum was built primarily for hosting gladiatorial games as well as for other various events. The games, also called “munera”, were typically organized by private individuals rather than the state – first as the religious ceremonies and after as the demonstration of family prestige and power. They became very popular due to political reasons. Romans from aristocratic class organized games for the plebeians to get their favor (and the votes). Apart from “munera”, which represent a battle between two men, very popular were “venationes” which set men against animals. For this purpose, a vast number of animals were imported from Africa. The gladiators were free Romans, slaves, condemned criminals or prisoners of war. In case that gladiator won several fights, he had the right to ask the emperor for his liberty. As the sign of the accepted request, the fighter would get a wooden sword, which represented his liberty and a promise that he would never have to fight again.
The shows at the Colosseum were held until the 6th century AD when the costs became too high to justify the expenses, and the public’s interest had changed. Over the centuries it has been reused for different purposes, even as a material quarry. Today it is the symbol of Rome and one of the most visited archaeological sites in the world.