WC Art Encyclopedia Colosseum

As long as the Colossus stands, so shall Rome;
when the Colossus falls, Rome shall fall;
when Rome falls, so falls the world.
Prophecy of Bede, 8th century


The Amphitheatrum Flavium, better known today as the Colosseum is an elliptical amphitheater in Rome, Italy. It is the largest amphitheater in the world.

It was built by the Romans. Construction started in 72 AD under the emperor Vespasian. It was completed eight years later under the emperor Titus. However modification work never stopped until 96 AD. It is considered the greatest work of Roman architecture and Roman engineering.

The Colosseum offered room for 50,000 spectators. Until the early medieval era it housed entertainment events like gladiator contests and public spectacles. Later on it was used for such purposes like housing, workshops, a fortress, a quarry, and a Christian shrine.

Due to devastating earthquakes and stone robbers the Colosseum stands today partially ruined at a site just east of the Forum Romanum in central Rome. Nevertheless, it is an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome, one of the city’s most popular tourist attraction and the starting point for the Good Friday procession through Rome led by the Pope.

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