Explore the ancient amphitheater where gladiator battles entertained crowds of up to 80,000 people.

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The Colosseum or Coliseum is a large oval amphitheater in the city of Rome, Italy. The structure is also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre and was built between 70 and 80 AD under the Roman emperor Vespasian and finished under Emperor Titus. More modifications were made to the Colosseum between 81 and 96 AD under Emperor Domitian. Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian are known as the Flavian Dynasty, hence the name Flavian Amphitheatre. Many historians believe the name Colosseum came from the colossal statue of Nero that was nearby. Successors of Nero altered the statue to look more like Helios, or Apollo, the Sun God. Despite having links to the pagan religion of the Romans, the statue remained standing throughout much of the religiously intolerant Middle Ages.

The Colosseum is huge, and was estimated to have been able to hold between 50,000 and 80,000 people when it was still active. The space was used for battles between gladiators, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and even as a large stage to put on Classical mythology plays. When the Roman Empire fell, the Colosseum fell into disuse, but found different purposes during the Medieval era. The marble was removed and used in other buildings in Rome including St Peter’s Basilica. The Colosseum was used for everything from housing, various workshops, a fortress, a Christian shrine, and even a zoo.

Despite its condition, the Colosseum remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in Rome with thousands of people visiting each year. Starting in 2011, a private company was contracted by the Italian government to restore the Colosseum, costing 25 million euros. The first stage was to clean and restore the exterior with the second stage being to replace the floors to be used to provide more extensive guided tours.

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