Great and sumptuous, il Colosseo (the Coluseum) is one of the seven wonders of the world: everyone knows it and everybody wants to see it, touch its ancient marble. Havent’you done it yet? Well book a Rome Segway Tour and witness the wonder!
It was a huge arena wanted by the emperor Vespasiano as a gift to the romans. The amazing thing, is that it took only five years to build it.
It was used for gladiators’ fights, as you well know: imagine this great area filled with people, two people fighting (or a man and a lion fighting), and only the emperor with the right to decide who could survive… This is all you need to know, right?
Well, of course the answer is no! You can check some other historical informations… meanwhile, let’s find out some unknown facts about one of the greatest monuments of the world!
1 It’s huge, isn’t it?
Not really though. If you look at it you can easily imagine that almost 100.000 people would fit in, but a study proved that it was able to contain, at full capacity, not more that 50.000 spectators. Which is a great deal of course, but think about that: a Madonna concert would require two Coluseums!
2 Speaking of concerts, you might imagine how the world wide stars would love to exhibit in such a venue. But a very few amount of them succeeded in their purpose. Here a little list: Paul McCartney, Ray Charles, Andrea Bocelli, Elton John. And what about italian singers? Well, they are even less. Excluding charity concerts, the very first italian musician who played surrounded by the marble was Biagio Antonacci, only in 2011!
3 The Coluseum it’s so exclusive that neither the most famous movie about it, Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, was actually shot there. There were a lot of administrative and logistic problems to overcome, so Scott decided to shoot some scenes in Tunisia, in the roman amphitheatre of El Jem; build a reproduction in Malta and finish the scenes in CGI. And all this work was still way left than what was needed to shoot in the actual monument.
4 In The Gladiator characters refer to the monument as “The Colosseo”: but at the time the movie is set, romans didn’t call it this way! Its name was still “Anfiteatro Flavio”, the Emperor’s Amphitheatre. Why then they start calling it like we know it now? In Middle Ages the name started to spread. Now we think it was a Nerone statue’s “fault”: being the monument built next to this “colosso” (trad.), the nickname was lucky. Others say that it’s because Coluseum is built upon a hill where there was a time an ancient Isis cult (Colli Isei). And there’s also a creepy legend: not a cult of the Egyptian goddess of resurrection, but a black cult devoted to… the devil! At the end of their ceremony, allegedly officiants asked to the (adepti): Colis Eum? Do you worship him? And through the centuries, its infamy was kept alive by mysterious cults and “horror tours”!
5 Why is the Colosseo so decayed?
After the great gladiator age, the Coluseum was purposeless: its stones were often taken off to build other palaces, especially when the Pope started to erect the Vatican. If you go into Palazzo Barberini, you might actually walk through some Coluseum pieces!
The Frangipane family built inside of it their mansion, then a lot of normal people kept building their homes in the large arena. Not to mention the Earthquakes… All of this is a contribution to the ancient, solemn and majestic appearance that the Colosseo has today.