The Roman Colosseum
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When one thinks of Rome, Italy, one likely thinks of its famous landmark, the Roman Colosseum. Considered one of the world’s most remarkable architectural feats, construction of this famous stone amphitheater began around A.D. 70-72 under the auspices of Flavian emperor Vespasian. Taking roughly 10 years to build, the giant arena was finally completed in A.D. 80 and presented by Vespasian’s son Titus as a gift to the Roman Republic.
Capable of seating approximately 45,000 people, its initial purpose was to serve as venue for a number of “games”, providing entertainment to both the privileged and otherwise of Rome‘s citizens. The most popular of these games were the gladiatorial combats. In these games, “gladiators”, typically men of low standing such as slaves, criminals or prisoners of war, fought to the death while theater-goers looked on. If this did not satiate the blood-lust of Rome’s citizenry, the venue provided animal hunts and executions as well. Still, the arena was used at times for more civilized entertainment like mythological dramas and re-enactments of celebrated Roman battles.
The Roman Colosseum serves today as one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. Thousands of tourists visit the landmark each year. While easily two thirds of the giant structure has been destroyed over the centuries, the Colosseum remains today the most identifiable symbol of Rome and its long and colorful history.