Monday, July 6, 2009

The Roman Coliseum

Enormous and imposing on the outside, but just intimate enough for blood sport on the inside, the Roman Coliseum was as awesome as we had hoped. We spent one of our mornings in Rome exploring its innards and imagining the many gladiatorial contests that took place there.

The Coliseum was constructed starting in the 1st century AD and has stood through the ravages of fires, earthquakes, and pillagers. The south side nose bleed seats, for instance, fell to an earthquake in 1349. However, Bill Bryson notes in his book Neither Here Nor There that "the coliseum isn't the hulking ruin that it is today because of the ravages of time, but because for hundreds of years people knocked chunks from it with sledgehammers and carted them off to nearby lime kilns to turn into cement."

One of the most interesting things about the Coliseum interior was a look at the hypogem, or the underground tunnels beneath the now non-existent arena floor. It was from these passages that animals were hoisted into the arena through trap doors.

You can see more pictures of the Coliseum at Flickr.

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