Rome in ruins – Colosseum

Artindex is looking for culture and art enthusiats who can and wish to translate its content in English. My younger friend Mihai Galu breaks the ice. He chose by himself this article and here is the English version in his translation. Many thanks!


I start with the Colosseum because it is the north-east extremity of the Roman Forum and represents, even today, after  1931 years since the opening (year 80 AD), an impressive construction.  Emperor Vespasian  –  who became a noun due to an invention which is strange for many people even at the moment  – wished to impress his people and control the capricious plebeians of Rome  with the greatest amphitheater of all time. And so it was. But pay attention!, the colossus was completed in eight years… Fill in the dots with everything you want regarding the mastery and the speed of the civil constructions. Below you see the map of the Roman Forum, which I will be illustrating in further articles.

Some textures of the materials used for building the Colosseum fascinated me so I took photos of them in detail.

On the Colloseum site there was an artificial lake previously  built by Nero and a gigantic statue of himself – named Colossus -. That’s where the name of the Colosseum comes from, probably being already a well-known landmark by the roman citizens. Besides, the circus could have been flooded for games which involved the simulation or reconstitution of some glorious naval battles. Moreover, the Colosseum had a bunch of sailors as permanent employees. For what do you think? For maneuvering arena’s roof formed of gigantic sails anchored by 240 poles at the top of the walls. Wait, what?!! Yeah, but all of these things were necessary because you wouldn’t be very glad if the show was compromised by rain or heat.

Eclipse-shaped, with the big axis being 186m long and the small one being 150m long, it had a perimeter of 520m and a height of 55m, offering seats for approximately 50.000 spectators. The foundation on which it was built was 12m thick. The central arena it is oval-shaped, being 86m long and 156m wide, surrounded by a 4,5m high wall, which rises until the level of the first rows for the audience. The entire complex stretched for approximately 6 hectares.

We are dealing without any doubt with a tremendous engineering mastery. When it comes about the art which decked the arena and if you ask Vespasian about the styles, he would probably and gladly say: “Use everything you want”. So the Colosseum was filled with Ionic, Doric and Corinthian columns and a bunch of statues obviously inspired from what the Olympus’ Greek panoply once was.

Below you can see one of the access ways. 80 entrances were situated at the ground-floor, 76 for the usual people and 4 for the rich ones. The spectators entered with a “ticket”, which was a piece of ceramic on which the floor and the seat were written. When necessary, the arena could have been evacuated in a few minutes by all of the 50.000 occupants. I can’t wait to see the new National stadium from Bucharest.




After Vespasian, the emperor Diocletian tied his name to the Colosseum even more for the infamous way in which he played with Christians and wild beasts to his delight and that of the spectators.

The necessary information for us to make an impression about the original aspect of the Colosseum was probably never lost. In 1896, the painter Lawrence Tadema knew about the countless statues which decked the arena wall and about the retractable roof held in place by wooden pillars.  Anyway, lately I feel like rewatching  The Gladiator, the movie starring Russell Crowe…