|Ancient Roman Architecture|
The emperor Titus opened the Colosseum in AD 80 with 100 days of games in which 9,000 animals died. The crowds came to the games to see fighting and blood as well as the color and pageantry of public celebrations.
The proper name of the Colosseum is the Flavian Ampitheatre. Nero never turned "thumbs down" on anyone in the Colosseum. Though he planned its construction--as part of a never-completed larger and more lavish palace complex--he died before it was opened in 80 A.D.
The word Colosseum comes from a "colossal" statue of Nero that once stood near the stadium.
The Colosseum had a canvas roof - the velarium - raised and lowered by a specially trained team of Roman sailors known for their skill with rigging ships. The canvas "big top" had a large hole in the center to admit more light.
The Colosseum's spectator capacity was about 50,000 persons-- dignitaries, their guests, their slaves, a select number of common people, and "foreigners"--people who did not hold Roman citizenship. Commoners, slaves and foreigners were seated right under the canvas roof, where it was hottest.
The word "arena" is Latin for sand. Sand was spread across the amphitheater fighting floor to soak up blood.
Deceased gladiators and animals killed in exhibitions at the Colosseum had their own exit. It was called the Libitinarian Gate-- after Libitina, the goddess of funerals.
The Hippodrome was an ancient Roman design to hold horse and chariot racing.The most famous one-The Circus Maximus- was 600 metres long and 200 metres wide. It could hold up to 250,000 people (1/4 the population of Rome).
A circus designates a circle or course for chariot racing. Aside from the Circus Maximus, the largest and oldest, there were three other circuses in Rome: the Circus Flaminius (221 BC), which actually was not a circus at all but a public square; the Circus Gaii et Neronis (circa AD 40), where many of the Christian martyrdoms occurred and on which St. Peter's basilica was built (the obelisk brought to Rome by Caligula to adorn its spina still stands in the square); and the Circus Maxentius (AD 309), built as part of his villa on the Via Appia and the best preserved.
In this view, the starting gates are in the forground, with the royal box dominating the viewing stands on the left. The palace overlooks the Circus from the Palatine Hill.
The Circus Maximus was another public entertainment center, and was just a single, specific facility in Rome. The Maximus was used mostly for chariot racing. It could seat 250,000 people! There were other circuses in ancient Rome.
This oval basin, nearly 600 meters long, is almost entirely filled in with dirt. It was once a race track. It was made in the time of the Etruscan kings (presumably Tarquinio Prisco). Augustus adorned the brick structure with an imperial stage, which was rebuilt by Trajan, enlarged by Caracalla and restored by Constantine. During the reign of Constantine, the Circus could hold more than 200,000 spectators. Today only the outline remains (the area it occupied is now a public garden).
The most popular events were the chariot races held in the Circus Maximus, an arena that held up to 300,000 spectators. Competing teams with brightly decorated horses attracted fierce loyalty, and up to a dozen four-horse chariots crowded together through the dangerous turns, lap after lap. Successful charioteers became so wealthy that even emperors envied their riches.
The largest of the Roman hippodromes and one of the largest sports arenas ever built. A U-shaped structure with seats on three sides and a low wall running down the middle of the arena around which the chariots raced, it was rebuilt in the time of Julius Caesar (1st century BC) to seat an estimated 150,000 spectators. Enlarged by later emperors, it reached a maximum size under Constantine (4th century AD) of about 2,000 by 600 feet (610 by 190 metres), with a seating capacity of possibly 250,000, greater than that of any subsequent stadium. Nothing but the site, between the Palatine and Aventine hills, remains today.
Palatino Hill which was the first nucleus of city life in Rome became thereafter the Imperial Headquarters. It is surmounted by the Villa Farnese, which, with its many gardens and staircases, covers much of the hill, and hence a good deal of the architectural remains of the Roman age. It was in the dirt around the base of this hill that Romulus drew the sacred line that outlined the confines of his city.
The Trajan Columns
Military architects drew detailed pictures of Trajan's conquest of Dacia, which sculptors in Rome recreated in marble. The 2,500 figures in the frieze are extraordinarily exact, and excavations have also confirmed the accuracy of barbarian costumes and buildings.
The armies are shown fighting battles, building camps, and besieging cities, while the emperor encourages his troops. Several divine figures also appear in this otherwise realistic depiction: The river Danube, portrayed as a person, stares at the ships, and Victory brings a storm to save the Romans from defeat. Trajan's Column still stands in Rome, topped by a statue of Saint Peter where the original image of Trajan once stood.
The inscription on the architrave of the portico "M. Agrippa L. F. Cos tertium fecit" refers to a temple erected by Agrippa in 27 B.C. to the tutelary divinities of the Julia family. In reality Agrippa's building was destroyed by a great fire in A.D. 80. Recent studies have proven that the present Pantheon is a reconstruction of the temple from the time of Hadrian. The interior measures 43,40 metres in diametre, and the same in height. Light and air still enter through the opening at the top (a circle of 8m. 92cms in diameter).
The Roman Arch
To support the tremendous weight of the arches, it was necessary to provide a way of transmitting the force to massive piers to the foundation of the arch. The Romans achieved this feat through the use of the Keystone block. The force was directed down onto the top of the keystone. Because of its shape the force was translated to the voussoir blocks of the arch which in turn translated the force through the impost to the piers. During construction, the voussoir's were supported by a temporary wooden frame until the keystone was inserted.
The Roman Forum
The forum is the meeting place for Romans, the center of political, religious, business, and social life. Built up over many years on an ancient site, the Forum Romanum is the oldest and most important forum. It is laid out on an axial plan and everything is organized within defined boundaries. At its peak during the days of the Republic and the Empire, the forum held the main public buildings, temples, basilicas, shops, colonnades, triumphal arches, pillars and statues.
The Roman Forum was the centre of the civic and economic life of Rome in the Republican era and kept its prominent role even in the Imperial age. The monumental complex lies between the Capitol, the Imperial Fora, the Colosseum and the Palatine.
Temple of Saturn
One of the oldest sacred buildings, the Temple of Saturn in the foreground was rebuilt many times after its dedication around 500 B.C. These eight surviving Ionic columns are from the temple facade, restored in 320 A.D. Romans frequently omitted the fluting from the column shaft. Other temples are in the background. The Coliseum is across the forum in the distance.
The wide, paved street originated in Rome. The Via Sacra or Sacred Way was the earliest street through the forum. In the fifth century B.C., the road was supported by a substructure to protect it from the rain. Later it was paved and during the reign of Nero it was lined with colonnades. In the background is the Arch of Titus.
Temple of Castor and Pollux
The monumental character of Roman architecture is apparent in three columns from the Temple of Castor and Pollux, rebuilt between 7 B.C. and 6 A.D. They are over forty-eight feet high and the entablature is nearly thirteen feet. Beyond is the triumphal arch of Septimius Severus, built in 203 A.D., with its three passageways.
Arc of Costantine
The People and Senate of Rome built this arch out of pre-existing materials in 315 AD for both the tenth anniversary of the great emperor, and in honor of his victory over Maxentius at the battle of Ponte Milvio in 312.
Forum of Caesar, Augustus, Pax and Trajan (including Trajan's Column) and Trajan's markets, mark the passage from the Republic to the period of Empire and constitute the archaeological area of the Imperial fora.
Pyramid of Caius Cestius
This pyramid was built during the last years of the Republic (1st century B.C.) to hold the ashes of Caius Cestius, Praetor, Tribune and Septemvirate of the Epulos, as the inscriptions recall.