Last updated: April 17, 2019
Want to know more about Colosseum? Here are 25 Interesting Facts about Colosseum that you probably didn’t know before reading this!
To make this even more fun, I want to challenge you as well. How many of these Colosseum facts did you know before reading this? Share your result in the comment section!
1. It was built from 72 – 80 AD
The construction began in 72 AD by order from Emperor Vespasian, who died before it was finished. The amphitheater was finished by his successor Titus.
During the inauguration, gladiator games were held for 100 days in a row to celebrate its opening and the people of Rome.
2. Gladiators fought in the arena
Some of the most infamous gladiator games took place here during the Roman Empire. The gladiators were mostly slaves or war prisoners, but could also be ex-warriors who fought for glory and money.
The gladiators fought each other and various exotic animals from time to time. Some battles were a fight to the death, but not all of them. Gladiators could win their freedom if they served a long time or won many fights, and was granted freedom by the emperor.
3. The Colosseum is one of the new seven wonders of the world
Even though it is heavily damaged, it was chosen as one of the new seven wonders of the world in 2007. It was also recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980, and still today it holds the record for being the largest amphitheater in the world.
4. Exotic animals were used and killed in the fights
There is evidence that the Romans used various exotic animals in the arena, either for hunting or included in the gladiator games.
Some exotic animals that were used and killed here are lions, wolves, wild boars, hyenas, tigers, cheetahs, crocodiles, and even elephants to mention a few.
Ostriches and zebras were also trained to pull the chariots. This is definitely one of the most horrible facts about Colosseum.
5. It was a gift to the Roman people
Contrary to many other historical buildings, the Colosseum was not built for the Emperor but rather built as a gift to the Roman people. That is also why the Romans had free entrance to the games, and it was only foreigners who paid to see the spectacles.
Of course, it was also used as a platform to spread political news and propaganda, but mostly for the entertainment and pleasing of its people.
6. The original name was not the Colosseum
It is actually named the Flavian Amphitheater, or Amphitheatrum Flavium in Latin.
The name Colosseum is believed to have come from the colossal statue of Nero, which is nearby the arena. It wasn’t until the year 1000 that Colosseum was used in reference to the Amphitheater.
In Italian, it is known as Il Colosseo.
7. It was used as a housing complex during medieval times
After the games were banished, and the Roman Empire fell, the amphitheater was used for other purposes. Before its current state, it was used as a cemetery, housing complex and even a castle during medieval times.
This is also one of the reasons why it’s damaged because much of the stones were moved and used to build other structures in Rome, such as the St Peter’s Basilica.
8. Up to 60,000 jews built the arena
It is believed that most of the workers were Jewish slaves, and the numbers vary wildly between 20,000 to 60,000 jews. The construction was completed in just 10 years.
9. The arena had 36 trap doors
To further create excitement and surprises for the gladiator games and various battles performed, there were at least 36 trap doors installed. From these, exotic animals could be risen or fall down as well as slaves and prisoners.
10. More than 1 million animals and half a million people were killed here
It is estimated that more than 1 million animals were killed from the opening of the Colosseum until the Gladiator games became banished. It was a blood arena for humans as well, and more than 500,000 people are estimated to have been killed or died from their wounds.
5 x Colosseum Facts for Kids
- Travertine stone and tufa were used to build the Colosseum, without using mortar
- Colosseum is nowadays one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world
- It is named “Colosseo” in Italian, and “Amphitheatrum Novum” in Latin
- At most, the amphitheater could host 87 000 people
- The last Gladiator Games were held in the 5th century, and they were fully banished in 438
General Facts about Colosseum
- Original name: Amphitheatrum Flavium
- Built in: 72–80 AD
- Built by: Emperor Vespasian and Titus
- Type of building: Amphitheatre
- Address: Piazza del Colosseo, Rome, Italy
- Height: 48 meters
- Capacity: 87 000 people
More Colosseum facts
- It was sometimes closed off and filled with water to reenact famous sea battles
- Every time a death sentence in the world is commuted, the Colosseum changes its color
- There were numerous underground passages and rooms below the Colosseum
- It is estimated that more than 100,000 cubic meters of marbles were used for the construction
- It has become a popular place for botanical studies
- Numerous earthquakes have damaged the Colosseum in history, especially in 847 and 1231
- The Gate of Death was located at the west exit, and this is where dead bodies were taken out
- The Emperor’s box had the best view of the arena
- The amphitheater has an elliptical shape
- It had more than 80 entrances
How many of these Colosseum facts did you know? Leave a comment below!