Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rome: The Colosseum

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A piece of work which remains as one of the greatest ancient Roman architecture; today it still continues to attract visitors from all around the world to admire this great amphitheatre; which is also known as Flavian Amphitheatre/ Roman Coliseum (Latin: Amphitheatrum Flavium, Italian Anfiteatro Flavio or Colosseo).

Having read about the glory of the Roman Empire and the endless legends and myths about their heroes, I was definitely more than elated to be finally setting my foot to the spectacular arena which was once a stage for gladiatorial competitions in history.
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Remember Gladiator?
That was a fully digitalized resumed original form of the once majestic Colosseum, and today, you will see that this historical structure are half in ruins; but still maintaining that glorious front to impress the ardent fans of history.
In fact, they even had men dressed up in costumes from the past to pose with visitors for phototaking (of course, with a fee!)
Do be careful when you walk up to these men; I heard they may either grab you to take photos with them then they will charge you. So try to avoid that if you don't want to spare that unnecessary money.
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Inside, the halls of the Colosseum provide a much cooler atmosphere against the hot and glaring sun out there.
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They have turned it into an exhibition hall; displaying all the artefacts (or make-up ones) of the ancient ruins of the Roman empire
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These could be cellars; dungeons?
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The Colosseum is built in an amphitheatre environment
I have extracted the following information from Wikipedia for a more fact-based guide to this historical building
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Unlike earlier Greek theatres that were built into hillsides, the Colosseum is an entirely free-standing structure. It derives its basic exterior and interior architecture from that of two Roman theatres back to back. It is elliptical in plan and is 189 meters (615 ft / 640 Roman feet) long, and 156 meters (510 ft / 528 Roman feet) wide, with a base area of 6 acres (24,000 m2). The height of the outer wall is 48 meters (157 ft / 165 Roman feet). The perimeter originally measured 545 meters (1,788 ft / 1,835 Roman feet). The central arena is an oval (287 ft) long and (180 ft) wide, surrounded by a wall (15 ft) high, above which rose tiers of seating.

The outer wall is estimated to have required over 100,000 cubic meters (131,000 cu yd) of travertine stone which were set without mortar held together by 300 tons of iron clamps.[11] However, it has suffered extensive damage over the centuries, with large segments having collapsed following earthquakes. The north side of the perimeter wall is still standing; the distinctive triangular brick wedges at each end are modern additions, having been constructed in the early 19th century to shore up the wall. The remainder of the present-day exterior of the Colosseum is in fact the original interior wall.

The surviving part of the outer wall's monumental fa├žade comprises three stories of superimposed arcades surmounted by a podium on which stands a tall attic, both of which are pierced by windows interspersed at regular intervals. The arcades are framed by half-columns of the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders, while the attic is decorated with Corinthian pilasters.[18] Each of the arches in the second- and third-floor arcades framed statues, probably honoring divinities and other figures from Classical mythology.

Two hundred and forty mast corbels were positioned around the top of the attic. They originally supported a retractable awning, known as the velarium, that kept the sun and rain off spectators. This consisted of a canvas-covered, net-like structure made of ropes, with a hole in the center.[1] It covered two-thirds of the arena, and sloped down towards the center to catch the wind and provide a breeze for the audience. Sailors, specially enlisted from the Roman naval headquarters at Misenum and housed in the nearby Castra Misenatium, were used to work the velarium.[19]

The Colosseum's huge crowd capacity made it essential that the venue could be filled or evacuated quickly. Its architects adopted solutions very similar to those used in modern stadiums to deal with the same problem. The amphitheatre was ringed by eighty entrances at ground level, 76 of which were used by ordinary spectators.[1] Each entrance and exit was numbered, as was each staircase. The northern main entrance was reserved for the Roman Emperor and his aides, whilst the other three axial entrances were most likely used by the elite. All four axial entrances were richly decorated with painted stucco reliefs, of which fragments survive. Many of the original outer entrances have disappeared with the collapse of the perimeter wall, but entrances XXIII (23) to LIV (54) still survive.[11]
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Spectators were given tickets in the form of numbered pottery shards, which directed them to the appropriate section and row. They accessed their seats via vomitoria (singular vomitorium), passageways that opened into a tier of seats from below or behind. These quickly dispersed people into their seats and, upon conclusion of the event or in an emergency evacuation, could permit their exit within only a few minutes. The name vomitoria derived from the Latin word for a rapid discharge, from which English derives the word vomit.


Arena and Hypogeum (wikipedia)
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The arena itself was 83 meters by 48 meters (272 ft by 157 ft / 280 by 163 Roman feet).[11] It comprised a wooden floor covered by sand (the Latin word for sand is harena or arena), covering an elaborate underground structure called the hypogeum (literally meaning "underground"). Little now remains of the original arena floor, but the hypogeum is still clearly visible. It consisted of a two-level subterranean network of tunnels and cages beneath the arena where gladiators and animals were held before contests began. Eighty vertical shafts provided instant access to the arena for caged animals and scenery pieces concealed underneath; larger hinged platforms, called hegmata, provided access for elephants and the like. It was restructured on numerous occasions; at least twelve different phases of construction can be seen.[11]

The hypogeum was connected by underground tunnels to a number of points outside the Colosseum. Animals and performers were brought through the tunnel from nearby stables, with the gladiators' barracks at the Ludus Magnus to the east also being connected by tunnels. Separate tunnels were provided for the Emperor and the Vestal Virgins to permit them to enter and exit the Colosseum without needing to pass through the crowds.[11]

Substantial quantities of machinery also existed in the hypogeum. Elevators and pulleys raised and lowered scenery and props, as well as lifting caged animals to the surface for release. There is evidence for the existence of major hydraulic mechanisms[11] and according to ancient accounts, it was possible to flood the arena rapidly, presumably via a connection to a nearby aqueduct.

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The magnificent and amazing structure of the Colosseum, which once housed those cruel battles for the spectators' viewing pleasure.
I can't believe I was here; but it is sad when I thought of all those who have perished in those shows.
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Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo SharingPerhaps it is the high number of deaths that I've heard claims that the Colosseum is also one of the most haunted places in the world? Any claim to that?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Rome: Last Stop in Europe

My last stop in Europe; and in Italy itself before I fly off to home sweet home was the famous Rome - the historical and meaningful place to me and my religion as well.
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The train from Florence to Rome; took approximately 4-5 hours (if I was not mistaken)
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Roma Termini finally!
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Stay tune for the many adventures and tour in Rome!
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Colosseum, Vatican City, etc....we are coming!