Built by the Roman emperor Vespasian between 73-79 AD, the Colosseum in Rome still stands as one of the great monuments of the world. Vespasian followed the notoriously insane Nero as emperor in 69 AD and was in charge of a Roman citizenry that was highly discouraged and beaten down. Not only had Nero’s maniacal reign taken its toll, but the great fire of Rome in 64 AD had left much of the city destroyed and in ruins.
When Nero had been emperor, he took a huge tract of land in the heart of the city and made it a monument to himself. There were expansive gardens, a giant man-made lake, a gigantic palace of unbelievable opulence, as well as a statue of Nero that stood over one hundred feet tall.
Vespasian decided to reclaim that land and build the Colosseum. He hoped that hosting games there would restore Rome’s brutalized morale. Vespasian died in 79AD and the building continued to be supervised and completed by his son, Titus.
Titus, in 70AD, conquered the city of Jerusalem and took most of the wealth there to finance the building of the Colosseum. Over 100,000 slaves were engaged in the hauling of travertine limestone located over 20 miles from Rome. In addition, the invention of concrete allowed the architects and engineers to build the stadium quickly and with materials that would last. The outer walls were constructed of the travertine and there was no mortar used in the placing of the blocks. They were held together by iron clamps and estimates suggest that over 300 tons of iron was used just for the clamps.
The seats and the stairs were all a standard size and were created and built off site. When they were completed, they were brought to the great stadium and inserted. There are four tiers with vaulted arches and the structure is 615 feet long, 187 feet high and 510 feet wide. It has a seating capacity for up to 80,000 spectators. In addition, the Roman authorities were quite focused on the handling of such large crowds. There were 80 different entrances created and, by having so many, the stadium could be emptied in an orderly fashion in around ten minutes.
Tile, marble, and brick were also used in the construction and the Roman Colosseum still stands testament to the Roman Empire, and the world, even after nearly two thousand years.