The Colosseum, originally known as Amphitheatrum Flavium or simply as Amphitheatrum, is the largest amphitheater in the world, located in the city center of Rome. Able to contain a number of spectators estimated between 50,000 and 75,000, is the most important Roman amphitheater, as well as the most impressive monument of ancient Rome that has come down to us, known throughout the world as a symbol of the city of Rome and one of the symbols of Italy.
Inserted in 1980 in the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, together with the entire historical center of Rome, the extraterritorial areas of the Holy See in Italy and the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, in 2007 the complex, the only European monument, it was also included among the New Seven Wonders of the World, following a competition organized by New Open World Corporation (NOWC).
The amphitheater was built in the Flavian period on an area on the eastern edge of the Roman Forum. Its construction was started by Vespasiano in 72 AD. and inaugurated by Titus in the 80s, with further modifications made during Domitian's empire in the 90s. The building forms an oval of 527 m of perimeter, with axes measuring 187.5 and 156.5 m. The structure clearly expresses the Roman architectural and constructive conceptions of the early imperial age, based respectively on the curved and enveloping line offered by the oval plan and on the complexity of the construction systems. Arcs and vaults are chained together in a tight structural relationship.
The name "Colosseum" spread only in the Middle Ages and derives from the popular deformation of the Latin adjective "colosseum" or, more likely, from the proximity of the colossal bronze statue of Nero that rose nearby. Soon the building became a symbol of the imperial city, expression of an ideology in which the celebratory will comes to define models for the amusement and entertainment of the people.
In ancient times it was used for gladiatorial shows and other public events. The tradition that wants it to be a place of martyrdom of Christians is without foundation. No longer in use after the sixth century, the huge structure was variously reused over the centuries, even as a quarry of material. Today it is a symbol of the city of Rome and one of its major tourist attractions in the form of a regularly visited archaeological monument.