History of the Colosseum
The history of the Colosseum is a fascinating story. Few buildings from the ancient world remain and few are more famous and recognizable. The centerpiece of Rome for nearly 2,000 years, the Colosseum truly is a landmark for the ages. It's also one of the most visited attractions in all of Italy.
Literally at the center of Rome, just east of the Forum, the Colosseum dates back to 72 A.D. when Vespasian was emperor. It took teams of construction workers and engineers eight years to complete the marvel of design that would quickly become one of the most visited Roman attractions. Titus was ruler when work was finished, but upgrades came a few years later, under Domitian's rule. Its formal name was called the Amphitheatrum Flavium, inspired by Flavius, the family name of Vespasian and Titus. The name that we know it by today, the Colosseum, came from a giant statue of Nero that once stood nearby. The history of the Colosseum is an interesting story to be sure.
Over the years, the 50,000-seat theater hosted nearly every kind of event imaginable. Gladiators fought, famous battles were re-enacted, and exotic animals were hunted within the confines of the Colosseum. It is even theorized that the structure was even flooded to re-create famous battles at sea. As Imperial Rome's glory faded, the Colosseum's use changed. It was no longer a place for entertainment; it was used for housing, a fortress, and a religious shrine at various times.
The latest chapter in the history of the Colosseum comes in its status as a landmark and symbol of the ancient world. Tourists from around the world buy Colosseum tickets to see the ancient structure up close. Some of the tours travel through the subterranean tunnels—the same places where tigers and other wild animals once entered the arena.
Although the Colosseum is no longer the major venue it once was, it's still used for occasional events. On occasion, the Pope leads religious services, especially on Good Friday. At other times, the Colosseum sets the backdrop to concerts. Performers including Paul McCartney and Elton John have performed in the shadow of the ancient wonder.