12 Facts about Colosseum in Rome
Here are some fascinating facts about Colosseum to explain why these ancient ruins in Lazio attract more visitors than Disneyland Paris.
Even before Ridley Scott’s Gladiator film Colosseum was universally known as a symbol of man’s ingenuity and brutality. The pockmarked ruin is still the second most visited tourist site in Rome after Saint Peter’s Cathedral. Here are 12 facts about Colosseum to explain why.
No.1: A Roman Entertainment Venue
Colosseum was built on the grounds of Nero’s Golden House over a period of only 10 years. It was inaugurated in 80 AD as an entertainment venue for gladiator battles with wild animals and mock sea battles. The spectacles kept the masses occupied and served as propaganda for the emperor.
No. 2: A Guinness World Record
It still holds the Guinness World Record as the largest amphitheatre . While other antique amphitheaters were built into a valley, Colosseum was the first free standing structure of this kind.
No.3: Pottery Shard Tickets
According to Guinness, the amphitheatre could seat 87 000 spectators at a time, which is almost as much as Wembly Stadium in London. Spectators were given numbered pottery shards as tickets. These directed them to the appropriate section and row.
No. 4: Rapid Discharge from the Vomitorium
The amphitheatre was ringed by eighty entrances at ground level, 76 of which were used by ordinary spectators. They accessed their seats via vomitoria, passageways that opened into a tier of seats from below or behind. These quickly dispersed people into their seats and, upon conclusion of the event or in an emergency evacuation, could permit their exit within a few minutes. The name vomitoria derived from the Latin word for a rapid discharge, from which the English word vomit was formed.
No. 5: Wild Animals
Battles between gladiators and wild animals included creatures such as wolves, bears, lions, tigers, rhinoceros, hippopotamuses, elephants, giraffes, leopards and crocodiles. The spectacles had an elaborate scenery with moveable trees and buildings. The animals were kept in cages below the arena and could be brought forward by a system of rope-pulled elevators. That way up to 100 animals could appear at once.