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The Roman Colosseum: One of the Seven New Wonders of the World

November 10, 2011 - 2:24am
The Roman Colosseum: One of the Seven New Wonders of the World
The Colosseum is one of the most iconic sites in Italy's capital and visitors can get a taste of Ancient Rome at this historic ruin. It was built during the reign of Emperor Vespasian in the year 72 A.D., more than 1,900 years ago, and was originally referred to as the Flavian Amphitheater. The massive structure is perhaps best known for its gladiator battles, one of the most popular forms of entertainment in Ancient Rome.

Gladiators were usually slaves, criminals and prisoners of war who were trained to fight one another to the death for the pleasure of Romans, rich and poor alike. The Colosseum held as many as 55,000 spectators at a time to watch gladiators go head-to-head to battle for their freedom. This was not the only type of event held at the amphitheater - there were also wild animal fights, chariot races, sporting events and war reenactments.

Emperor Julius Caesar suggested the idea of reenacting famous naval battles for entertainment, but it was not until Vespasian's successor, Emperor Titus, came into power that the Colosseum was used for just such a purpose. The lower chambers of the arena would be flooded by a series of man-made aqueducts for the spectacular acts.

As recently as a few months ago, visitors were only able to tour the upper levels of the arena, where patrons would have been strolling about and watching events in ancient times. Now, the underbelly of the Colosseum is open to the public as well. Visitors can get an up-close view of the pens that held wild animals such as tigers and lions. There are also ancient elevators where gladiators and animals were lifted to the surface when it was their time to do battle. This area has been preserved well enough that guests can easily walk along the ancient hallways that were once filled with gladiators.

The massive structure is magnificent to behold from outside and in, and its rich history can provide those on a tour of Italy with a real sense of what life may have been like so many centuries ago.