The Colosseum or Coliseum is an elliptical amphitheater in the center of the city of Rome, Italy. Built of concrete and stone, it was the largest amphitheater of the Roman Empire, and is considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and engineering. It is the largest amphitheater in the world.
The construction began under the emperor Vespasian in 70 AD, and was completed in 80 AD under his successor and heir Titus. The Colosseum could hold, it is estimated, between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators, and was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology. The building ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era. It was later reused for such purposes as housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry, and a Christian shrine.
Although in the 21st century it stays partially ruined because of damage caused by devastating earthquakes and stone-robbers, the Colosseum is an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome. It is one of Rome’s most popular tourist attractions and has close connections with the Roman Catholic Church, as each Good Friday the Pope leads a torchlit “Way of the Cross” procession that starts in the area around the Colosseum.
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