The history of the Colosseum


Its construction began in 70 under the Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty. The work was funded as other public works of the period, with the proceeds of provincial taxes and the spoils of the looting of the Temple of Jerusalem (70 AD). The area chosen was a valley between the Velia, the Opium and the Celio hill, where he was an artificial lake (the stagnum mentioned by the poet Martial) dug by Nero for his Domus Aurea. This body of water, fed from sources which welled up from the foundations of the Temple of Divine Claudius on the Caelian, was covered by Vespasian with a gesture of "reparative" against the policy of the "tyrant" Nero, who had usurped the public land, and intended to use own, thus making clear the difference between the old and the new principality. Vespasian made hijack the aqueduct for civilian use, reclaimed the lake and there he lay the foundations, the more resistant the point where it should have been built in the auditorium. Vespasian saw the construction of the first two floors and was able to dedicate the building before his death in 79. The building was the first permanent amphitheater in Rome, after two minor structures or temporary Julio-Claudian era (the Amphiteatrum Tauern and the Amphiteatrum Caligulae) and after 150 years from the early amphitheatres in Campania.

The son and successor of Vespasian, Titus, he added the third and fourth tier of seats and ushered in the amphitheater with a hundred days of games, 80. Shortly after, the second son of Vespasian, the emperor Domitian, worked important changes, completing the work to clipea (probably the shields decorative gilt bronze), adding perhaps the summum maenianum in ligneis and realizing the basement of the arena: after completion of the work was no longer possible to hold in the amphitheater of naval battles (for naval battles), that instead the sources report for the previous era.

At the same time the amphitheater were built some service buildings for the games: the games he (barracks and training venues for the gladiators, including the Magnus are known, the Gallicus, the Matutinuse the Dacicus), the barracks of the detachment of sailors from the Classis Misenensis (the Roman fleet based in Misenum) operate the power of velarium (castrates misenatium), the summum choragium and armamentaria (deposits of weapons and equipment), the sanatorium (place of care for the wounds of the fighting) and the spoliarum a place where they were treated the remains of dead gladiators in combat


The imperial era

Nerva and Trajan did the work, attested by inscriptions, but the first restoration took place under Antoninus Pius. In 217, a fire, presumably triggered by lightning, caused the collapse of the upper structures, the restoration of the Colosseum made ​​close to five years old, 217 to 222, during which time they moved the games in the Circus Maximus. The restoration work was begun under Elagabalus (218-222) and carried out by Alexander Severus, who remade the colonnade at the summa cavea. The building was reopened in 222, but only under Gordian III work could be said to be concluded. Another fire caused by lightning was the cause of the repair work ordered by the Emperor Decius in 250.

After the sack of Rome in 410 by the Visigoths under Alaric, on the podium surrounding the arena was an inscription in honor of the Emperor Honorius, perhaps as a result of restoration. Honorius forbade gladiatorial games and since then it was used to venationes. The registration was later canceled and rewritten to remember major restoration work after an earthquake in 442, by the praefecti urbi Flavio Sinesio Gennadio Paul and Rufio Cecina Happy Lampadio. Constantius II admired him exceedingly. Other restoration following an earthquake there were still in the 470, by the console Messio Phoebus Severus. The restoration continued even after the fall of the empire after an earthquake in 484 or 508 in the praefectus urbi Decius Mario Venancio Basil oversaw the restoration work at their own expense.

Venationes continued until the time of Theodoric. We have the names of the most important senatorial families at the time of Odoacer carried on gradus: this custom is much older, but periodically the names were deleted and replaced with the new occupants (also according to the different degree among Clarissimi spectabilis and illustres), to which only those of the last preparation before the collapse of the empire.


From the Middle Ages to the modern era

After being abandoned in the sixth century it was used as a burial area and shortly after was used as a castle, under Pope Leo IV was severely damaged by an earthquake (about 847). Long used as a source of building materials, in the thirteenth century it was occupied by a building of Frangipane, which was later demolished, but the Coliseum continued to be occupied by other houses. The travertine blocks were systematically removed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to be reused in new buildings, blocks and fallen to the ground were still used in 1634 for the construction of Palazzo Barberini and in 1703, after another earthquake, to the port of Ripetta.

Benvenuto Cellini, in his Autobiography, told of a spooky night of demons summoned in the Colosseum, testifying to the reputation of the place.

During the Jubilee of 1675 assumed the character of sacred site in memory of the many Christian martyrs here condemned to execution (although the tradition that he wants a place of martyrdom of Christians is unfounded). In 1744 Pope Benedict XIV ordered the construction of fifteen Stations of the cross, and in 1749 declared the Colosseum church consecrated to Christ and to the Christian martyrs.


Contemporary era: the nineteenth-century restorations

Released in two great shots, with the excavations directed by Carlo Fea, Commissioner of Antiquities, in 1811 and 1812 with those of Peter Rose (1874-1875), early 800's, as well as being the most imaginative projects reuse up to half of 700, the Colosseum was statically compromise, having been inhabited for centuries, used as a place of Christian worship and used as a quarry for travertine. One of the main and most obvious problems was the abrupt termination of the outer sides in at the present Via di San Giovanni in Laterano and Via dei Fori Imperiali, which were not covered in the case of the most important restorations.


The intervention of Raffaele Stern

After the establishment of a special commission by Pope Pius VII, the first restoration began after 1806, when a violent earthquake compromise the statics of the two sides of the outer. The earthquake was particularly aggravated the situation of the third ring on the western side where, due to unsafe blocks now, it was required an emergency operation. After the shoring of the segments, were immediately mounted the scaffolding for the creation of a spur that would be a buttress. Raffaele Stern came up with two different modes of action to be submitted to the Academy of St. Luke: "taking away", which consisted in the elimination of part of the attic and damaged the arches of the third order, that solution was discarded, and "way to add" hypothesis then actually realized with the addition of a spur brick to the monument. The first two arches with every order were swabbed and the spur was built rustic devoid of architectural forms of the arches due to existing emergency and the need to practice intervention in the economy and speed. Even the segments shored, subsequently loaded with meaning and described as romantic blocked in the act of falling, are really just the result of an emergency. Stern had originally thought of tinting the ledge, then ironically called " rutch" with a travertine -colored plaster to avoid excessive contrast with the authentic parts, but the painting was never realized.


The intervention of Giuseppe Valadier

Giuseppe Valadier, who had already affected the Colosseum in 1815 with a project to close decently deleted by the Flavian Amphitheatre, in 1823 took charge of the recovery of the ring perimeter in the side towards the holes. The substantial difference between the setting of the restoration of Stern and to Valadier is that while the first is made under the danger of an imminent collapse, the other can be practiced throughout calm.

From the static point of view the intervention consisted in a new spur, in this case realized with the arches completely identical to the original. The addition, all brick, was built using a different material than the original for economic reasons and not for a desire for differentiation, with the exception of the bases and capitals of travertine, put into operation is identical to the original and with the same level of definition. Even in this case, not to impact too much with the seniority, the addition of bricks had to be painted with a color scialbatura travertine, never realized.

Ten years of work, the work was celebrated by Giuseppe Valadier like a new architecture works in Architecture and Ornament, where he described and illustrated in detail the construction site by the construction of the scaffolding at the end of the restoration, exalting him as a of his greatest achievements.


The work of Gaspare Salvi and Luigi Canina

From the thirties until the work is completed in mid -century, the work went under the direction of Gaspare Salvi and Luigi Canina.

The first intervention of Salvi involved the most severely compromised the entire building left standing: the third ring on the side of the Via San Gregorio. On the bases of travertine Salvi builds a brick arches with completion of tax travertine arches start from the spurs that connect the new building to the old part, which is thus statically assured. In new bows are indicated by brick bipedal arranged radially. Fills the radial walls are made ​​of travertine and brick to the first order in the superior orders, while the pillars of restoration are made entirely of bricks. On the death of Salvi, Dog picks up the direction of the work solving a problem on the same side of the cliff to the inside of the upper part of the building, which is secured by iron rods foothills brick new construction.

The last major intervention is operated on the north to the present via the Annibaldi, the most preserved except the attic, which had a sheer drop of over 60 inches out from the axis. It was therefore necessary to build a support for the outer part overhanging. Is so constructed inwards a sketch of fourth order in the second ring, in which they are sunk of chains coupled in order to ensure the part of penthouse no longer axis.

The twentieth century and contemporary works

Between 1938 and 1939 were completely excavated the underground structures of the arena, in part altered by reconstructions.

In 2007 the complex was included among the "Seven Wonders of the World." The Colosseum today is the largest tourist source and is the symbol of Rome.

After a long restoration, October 16, 2010 is reopened to the public on the third ring which rises to 33 meters in height and from which you can admire a beautiful view of Rome, opening for the underground, or the galleries where gladiators and animals roamed before the fight



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