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Colosseum - Description

Colosseum - Description (10)

The Colosseum is a massive oval-shaped building 189 metres long and 156 metres wide and 48 metres high. In fact, it is the most grandiose work of Roman architecture, and it is often said that this building has been a model for modern sports stadiums due to its brilliant design.

The façade of the amphitheatre is divided into four storeys, each with columns of a different style. The lower storey has Doric order columns, the central is Ionic and the third is Corinthian. The top storey has an undefined style that was catalogued in the 16th century as “compound”. 

These storeys are connected to each other by concentric stairs and galleries. Moreover, access from the internal corridors to the terraces was by 160 vomitorios, thus called because it enabled an enormous amount of people to leave in a very short time. They were so well designed that the spectators could be evacuated in just ten minutes. That is quite amazing when you realise that the venue had a capacity for between 50,000 and 90,000 spectators. 

The large central arena was an oval measuring 75 by 44 metres, and in fact was a platform built in wood and covered in by earth. The excavations at the end of the 19th century revealed beneath the arena a whole complex of tunnels and dungeons where the animals were kept and where the gladiators and those condemned to death were placed. The wooden cover is no longer preserved, so you have the possibility of examining the entire underground labyrinth, which today is in the open air.

The animals and the gladiators came up to the arena via a lift activated by pulleys, which had a wooden hatch that led directly to the fighting ground.

The Colosseum also had a velarium, a fold-away fabric cover that was activated via pulleys. This cover was for protecting the public from both the sun and the rain, and was originally made from sailmaking fabric, later replaced by linen, which was much lighter. This velarium was unfolded and gathered in again by sailors of the imperial fleet. 

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