Its been quite some years in Europe but Rome was dodging me and I was dodging Rome. So when I took an hour flight to the city rich in history I knew it would be an enriching experience.
Well if Rome was not built in a day it can definitely not be captured in a post. In a two day trip I definitely had to cover the two most magnificent structures The Colosseum and the Peters Basilica.
I reached on a rainy evening not the best to capture the Colosseum at night but that was my only chance so I picked up my camera and left my hotel (I stayed in one of the most offbeat studio apartment in the heart of the city, it was luxurious and very unique).
So more on the colosseum, the Colosseum, which was originally named Flavian Amphitheater, is the most impressive building of the Roman Empire and the largest building of the era. It is also considered as the greatest work of Roman architecture and engineering.
Colosseum is an elliptical building measuring 189 meters long and 156 meters wide with a base area of 24,000 m² with a height of more than 48 meter. It has about 80 entrances and can accommodate 50,000 spectators. And it would take only 15 minutes for all spectators to vacate the venue after games were over. (the guide while explaining this also grumbled saying the people who came to watch the games were luckier than us as now there is only one entrance and takes an hour due to security reasons).
Construction of this huge edifice started in 72 CE and was completed in 80 CE. Just 9-10 years that’s all.
In 847, the southern side of the Colosseum collapsed because of a devastating earthquake. It looks magnificent even now but can image how it would be in its full glory.
The Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as animal hunts, mock sea battles, re-enactments of famous battles, executions and dramas.
During the inaugural games of the Colosseum in 80 CE held by Titus, some 9,000 wild animals were slaughtered.
In 107 CE, Emperor Trajan is said to have celebrated his victories in Dacia with contests involving 11,000 animals and 10,000 gladiators within 123 days.
It is estimated that the games played in the Colosseum for hundreds of years have taken the lives of about 500,000 people and over a million wild animals.
The last gladiatorial fights occurred in 435 CE and the last animal hunts stopped in 523 CE. It was primarily due to the cost of procuring animals and gladiators and maintaining the expensive facility. (more on Gladiator just in a bit).
The total amount of marbles used for the construction of the Colosseum was estimated at 100,000 cubic meters.
Elton John, Billy Joel, Paul McCartney and Ray Charles were some of the few famous singers that performed at the Colosseum.
And more on the Gladiator fights:
Gladiators were slaves who were given a chance to fight other gladiators or fierce animals and huge bets were laid on them, if they won they would be freed. Successful gladiators were the movie stars of the first century – so famous that free men queued to take their chances in the arena. Bloody, brutal but popular, gladiatorial contests are often seen as the dark side of Roman civilization.
The games were so popular that successful gladiators could become extremely rich and very famous. As a result, while most gladiators were condemned criminals, slaves or prisoners of war, some were freedmen who chose to fight, either as a way to achieve fame and fortune, or simply because they enjoyed it.
Naturally, it was a dangerous career with a high turnover. The few lucky ones would survive years in the arena and retire. Some would then become instructors at gladiator training schools, controlled by the state so that they couldn’t be used to train private armies.
The games took place in amphitheaters. Gladiators would be sent to the arena – named after the sand which covered the ground and soaked up the blood – to fight to the death before cheering crowds of thousands. As the contests became more organized, gladiators became more specialized. There were five types of gladiator, each with their own unique weapons.
The Mirmillones were heavily armed and wore helmets decorated with fish, while the Thracians carried just a shield and scimitar, making them much quicker on their feet. The Retiarii were armed with just a net, a long trident and a dagger, and the Samnites had a sword, an oblong shield and a helmet with a visor. Finally, the Bestiarii fought wild animals.
I was left amazed at the need of brutality as a part of entertainment but at the same time I was spellbound at the deep rooted history this city and the walls of the city held. My take do visit Rome for its untouched charm, rich history, Italian food and wine, you will love it and would definitely say Rome was not built in a day.