Today’s post comes from the top of the Colosseum!
One of the best preserved monuments of Ancient Rome, the Colosseum’s upper ‘Belvedere’ tier recently opened in November to the public for tours, following restoration. The Colosseum took only 8 years to build, with construction starting in 72AD under the emperor Vespasian and completed in 80AD by his son Titus. This building was highly political, constructed to gain the Emperor the favour of the public.
Vespasian ordered the demolition of the former emperor Nero’s palace, the Domus Area on the same site, to make room for the Colosseum. Originally called simply the Amphitheatre, it gained its nickname the ‘Colosseum’ from the 9th century after the lost Colossus statue of Nero, which was housed in the apse of the Temple to Rome and Venus. The remains of this temple can be seen from across from the Colosseum. as a form of spectacle and entertainment, the Colosseum was the stage for gladiator fights, mock hunts, and public executions.
The Colosseum’s underground network of chambers was originally hidden by a platform of wood. Beneath this surface, 600 slaves worked 88 lifts by a system of pulleys to bring wild animals, gladiators, and hunters to the stage by a series of trap doors. It is estimated around 70,000 spectators watched the games. For the opening of the Colosseum, the games ran for 100 consecutive days and approximately 500 wild animals were killed.
The Senators and the Emperor would sit on the ground level, protected by bronze gates. On the second level, men of across 300 professional trades were seated. Above them were people of the middle and lower-classes. Finally, on the fifth tier, women and children would watch. The Colosseum remains one of the most fascinating sites of Ancient Rome and the spectacular views from the newly opened top tier are well-worth the steep climb!
Photos: author’s own.