Rome: The Colosseum

April 26, 2010 From the crest of The Forum: poppies and the Colosseum.

The construction was completed under the direction of Roman Emperor Titus in AD 80. The opening games lasted 100 days.

Today we see little beyond the framework of the original arena. Three fifths of the exterior wall is missing and most of it is pocked from the excavation of the lead and nails for reuse elsewhere when the Colosseum fell out of use.

Imagine a whitewashed oval 188 metres long and 156 metres wide, 80 arched entrances, seating for 45,000-70,000 spectators (free admittance, but seating according to rank of course).

Inside, nowadays, the Colosseum corridors house exhibits depicting the games of the times, mostly gladiator games.

There were all manner of "great" fights, shows and the hunting of animals. Here, where the wooden floor and trap doors used to be, we see the cavea exposed, the subterranean walls that temporarily confined the wild animals and men about to battle.

Sometimes the crowd implored the emperor to set a most revered gladiator free. If the emperor agreed, the gladiator was handed a wooden sword and freed.

Historians speculate that canals may have been used to flood the stadium in order to perform mock battles at sea.

The Colosseum served as Rome's main stage for 4 centuries.