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April 29, 2018

At the mouth of Via dei Fori Imperiali the Flavio Amphitheater, commonly known as the Colosseum, rises majestically. There are several hypotheses on the origin of the name, it could derive from the statue of Nero, a 30-meter-tall colossus standing next to it, or from the question asked to Christians before the sun simulacrum: colis eum (do you adore it?), after the replacement of the head of the colossus of Nero with that of the Sun god, desired by Vespasian; or from the place where it was built, that is Collis Isei, from a temple of Isis that stood nearby and gave the name to the whole area.

Today it is believed that the Flavian Amphitheater was called the Colosseum from the Middle Ages, after the disappearance, during the period of the barbarian invasions, of the colossal bronze statue of Nero and therefore the name is due solely to its exceptional size. Of elliptic shape, it seems that the model was the Theater of Marcello, with more orders of arches, it was started by Vespasiano in 72 in the area of ​​the pond of the Domus Aurea and completed by Titus Flavius, from which it took its name he inaugurated it in 834 years of Rome, 80 AD, with festivals that lasted 100 days, in the presence of the Emperor and of a great multitude of spectators. Fights of gladiators, venationes or hunts of wild beasts and naumachia were organized; many hundreds of lions, tigers and other wild beasts died and many of the three thousand gladiators who took part in the competitions. To shelter the spectators from the heat of the sun's rays, in the sunniest part of the cave, a large velarium was pulled whose maneuvers oversaw a detachment of sailors from the fleet of Capo Miseno. Struck and damaged by lightning in 217, it was restored by Alexander Severus and in 249, the millennium of the foundation of Rome, there were celebrations and shows including a battle between a thousand pairs of gladiators and the killing of an impressive number of animals.

The Flavian Amphitheater hosted the fights between gladiators up to 405, when they were suppressed by Honorius following the death of the monk Telemachus who, to prevent the fighting, entered the sand and was killed by the angry mob; those among the beasts lasted until the middle of the sixth century.

Damaged repeatedly by earthquakes it was always restored and finally, after the earthquake of 1255, transformed, at least in part, by the Frangipani, from which step to the Annibaldi and finally, in 1312, the emperor Henry VII gave it to the Senate and the people Roman. Since the Middle Ages the boulders fallen from the Colosseum were used for new buildings, but from the fifteenth century, it became a veritable quarry of travertine. From here the material was taken to build Palazzo Venezia, that of the Chancery, the port of Ripetta, for which the three arches of the second ring were used for the earthquake of 1703, finally San Pietro in Vaticano The amphitheater was declared sacred and consecrated to the Passion of Jesus for the blood shed by the Christian martyrs by Benedict XVI, who in this way saved him from devastation.

San Leonardo da Porto Maurizio built the 14 aedicules for the Via Crucis; Pius VII, Leo XII, Gregory XVI and Pius IX did many restorations even if, objectively, it is not proven that in the arena of the Colosseum there was the martyrdom of any Christian, but often there were held shows of condemned to death can exclude that among these, in the period of the persecutions, there were some Christians. Naturally, the Colosseum lent itself to the birth of many legends, especially in the Middle Ages, when it was considered access to the underworld and it was thought that the spirits of gladiators and slaves gathered for the pleasure of the emperors and the people. It was believed that the souls wandered when darkness fell in search of eternal rest. In fact, the Esquiline, unhealthy and therefore not very inhabited, was largely occupied by cemeteries and mass graves, where the bodies of slaves and criminals were thrown in without burial and where witches and wizards went, at night, to look for poor remains. to be used for the preparation of potions and powders.

So bad were the hygienic conditions for which on this hill rose, in addition to the Temple of the goddess Febbre, a sanctuary dedicated to the evil eye, one to the goddess Mefitis (the goddess of the stink) and an altar entitled Versus, the god of microbes

Another legend has it that the many holes on the walls of the Colosseum were the work of the barbarians, who would have made them and then filled them with the poor to blow up and destroy the monument. Given the failure to the Amphitheater was given the reputation of indestructibility. Much more simply these holes were due to the grappa that the Romans used for the buildings and which had been hidden by the travertine slabs that covered the monument. Under the ministry of Guido Baccelli (1893-96), work was done on external insulation and excavation inside the underground structures and on this occasion, the shrines of the Via Crucis were demolished

So, basically, The Colosseum is:

1. The Symbol of Rome

You cannot leave the capital without having visited its symbolic monument. The magic of the main monument of Rome goes far beyond its architectural or historical value, but finds its roots in the atmosphere full of majesty and pride that surrounds one of the most beautiful and impressive monuments in the world.

2. History of Rome

The Colosseum is one of the works to visit that perhaps best represents the most important and shining moment in the history of Rome: the empire.

3. Architectural miracle

You will certainly be amazed to admire the remains of the largest amphitheater in the world. Now it is only a pale image of what it used to be, but it remains one of the most fascinating demonstrations of the great architectural skills of the Ancient Romans.

4. Fun and violence

A visit to the Colosseum is a unique opportunity to understand the idea that entertainment and entertainment had the Romans and how it joined the violence in the exaltation of a people of warriors and soldiers.

5. Legend

Then as today the Colosseum is a building that arouses admiration and is the image of the immense power of the Roman Empire. The crowds gathered in the arena, the exotic animals from the remotest regions of the empire and the seduction of the strength and courage of the gladiators, exercised and exerted in our tales such a power of attraction to make it and make it remain one of the most loved places of Rome and today of the world.

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