The Colosseum or Coliseum is today the most recognizable of Rome’s Classical buildings. Even 2,000 years after it was built, and despite centuries when the abandoned building was pillaged for building materials, it is instantly recognizable a Classical template for the stadia of today. It was the first permanent amphitheatre to be raised in Rome, and the most impressive arena the Classical world had yet seen. Located just east of the Roman Forum, the massive stone amphitheater known as the Colosseum was commissioned around A.D. 70-72 by Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty as a gift to the Roman people. In A.D. 80, Vespasian’s son Titus opened the Colosseum–officially known as the Flavian Amphitheater–with 100 days of games, including gladiatorial combats and wild animal fights. After four centuries of active use, the magnificent arena fell into neglect, and up until the 18th century it was used as a source of building materials. Though two-thirds of the original Colosseum has been destroyed over time, the amphitheater remains a popular tourist destination, as well as an iconic symbol of Rome and its long, tumultuous history.
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