Colosseum | Definition, Characteristics, History, & Facts

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In the heart of Rome, Italy, stands the enormous Colosseum. It was constructed during the reign of Rome.

When was it constructed?

Vespasian, the Roman emperor, began work on the Colosseum in 72 AD. In 80 AD, eight years later, it was completed.

What size was it?

Big was the Colosseum. It has room for 50,000 people. It is 620 feet long, 512 feet wide, and 158 feet tall, and it occupies a space of almost 6 acres. The Colosseum was constructed using more than 1.1 million tons of concrete, stone, and brick.


Roman law dictated who might sit where in the Colosseum. The Senators were given priority seating. The equestrians or high-ranking government officials were in behind of them. The troops and common Roman citizens (men) sat a little higher up. The slaves and the women were finally seated at the top of the stadium.

Emperor’s Box

The emperor, who sat in the Emperor’s Box, had the best seat in the house. Of course, the emperor frequently footed the bill for the games. The emperor used this as one strategy to keep his subjects pleased and loyal to him.

Underground Passages

The hypogeum, a maze of subterranean corridors, lay under the Colosseum. These openings allowed for the rapid appearance of actors, animals, and gladiators in the middle of the arena. To incorporate special effects, such as scenery, they would use trap doors.


Stone was used to construct the Colosseum’s walls. They used several arches to keep the weight down while maintaining their strength. There were four distinct floors, each of which had stairs. Each level’s access was strictly regulated. The Colosseum’s floor was made of wood and coated in sand.


The Colossus of Nero, a 30-foot-tall bronze statue of the emperor Nero, stood outside the Colosseum. Later, it was transformed into a statue of the Sol Invictus, the sun deity. According to some historians, the Colossus is where the word Colosseum originates.

In the Velarium

There was a retractable awning called the velarium to shield spectators from the sweltering sun and the rain. Around the top of the stadium, 240 wooden masts held up the awning. When necessary, Roman sailors would erect the velarium.


There were 76 entrances and exits to the Colosseum. This was done to make it easier for the large crowd to leave the arena in the event of a fire or other emergency. Vomitoria was the term for the hallways leading to the seating places. Each of the public entrances had a number, and spectators were issued tickets that indicated which entrance they should use.

Why is that how it’s spelled?

The Amphitheatrum Flavium was the Colosseum’s initial name until that name eventually took over. “Coliseum” is the typical spelling for a big, generic amphitheater used for sporting events and various forms of entertainment. However, it is capitalized and spelt “Colosseum” when referring to the one in Rome.

Interesting Colosseum-related information

The Colosseum was off limits to some social groups. They included actors, grave diggers, and ex-gladiators.

Under the stadium’s floor, there were 32 separate trap doors.

The Colosseum’s initial games, which lasted 100 days and featured more than 3,000 gladiator battles, were held there.

The Gate of Death was the nickname for the west exit. Dead gladiators were taken from the arena in this location.

In 847, a major earthquake caused the Colosseum’s southern side to collapse.

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