History of the Roman Colosseum for Kids: All About the Colosseum for Children – FreeSchool


You’re watching FreeSchool! In the city of Rome stands an ancient stadium
– the largest amphitheater ever built. Once the home of battling gladiators, staged
sea battles, and re-enactments of ancient myths, today it is a tourist attraction, and
an icon of ancient Rome. Although partially ruined, it has endured
for nearly two thousand years. Originally called the Flavian Amphitheater,
it is now known around the world as the Colosseum. Construction began on the Colosseum in 72
AD under the direction of the Emperor Vespasian. Built by thousands of slaves and made of stone,
bricks, and concrete, once complete it could seat 50,000 people. It was 620 feet or 189 meters long, 512 feet
or 156 meters wide, and 158 feet or 50 meters tall. That’s as tall as a twelve story building! Although it would take only eight years to
build, Vespasian died before it was finished and the Colosseum was opened by his son, the
Emperor Titus. The first games held in the newly completed
Colosseum lasted for a hundred days! Admission to these games was free, and helped
keep the emperor popular with the people of Rome. Thousands of animals fought and were killed
as crowds cheered – everything from elephants and tigers to bears and bulls. Criminals were also executed there. Sometimes they were used in reenactments of
ancient myths and stories where the character would be attacked by animals, like Prometheus,
or flung to their death, like Icarus. The most famous attractions of the Colosseum,
however, were gladiators. Professional fighters, they battled each other
in a combat to the death for the entertainment of the people. Successful gladiators could become celebrities,
drawing huge crowds and earning riches that would allow them to retire in comfort – assuming
they lived that long. Sometimes, however, a more impressive spectacle
than gladitoral combat was held in the Colosseum: mock sea battles, called Naumachia. The Colosseum had been built on the site of
an artificial lake, and underneath it ran channels that could divert water from a nearby
aqueduct to flood the arena floor until the water was deep enough that real ships could
sail on it. Once the sea battle was over, the Colosseum
could be drained quickly to allow another event to take place on dry land. These sea battles were only held in the Colosseum
for a short time. Soon, the area under the arena floor was remodeled
and a complicated structure, called the hypogeum, was built. The hypogeum was an underground maze of tunnels
and cages, with elevators that allowed animals and gladiators to suddenly enter the arena
through trapdoors in the floor. Fighters in the Colosseum could never be sure
what their next challenge would be, or where it would come from. Fights and hunts were held in the Colosseum
for hundreds of years. Over time the amphitheater was damaged by
fire and earthquakes, and by the 6th century its use as an arena was largely over. In 1349 a major earthquake toppled part of
the outer wall, and the fallen stone was taken away to use in other buildings. For centuries, the Colosseum crumbled gradually
into ruin. Restoration of the Colosseum began in the
1800s and continues to this day. It is now a major tourist attraction, as well
as a World Heritage Site. Millions of people each year visit the Colosseum
to learn about its ancient history and stand where emperors and gladiators once did. I hope you enjoyed learning about the Colosseum
today. Goodbye till next time!


  1. I enjoyed watching your video. My family and I recently traveled through Europe. We spent about a week in Rome and visited many of the city's amazing sites, including the Colosseum. We we're so impressed. It is so and magnificent and beautiful. I know we will visit again to explore more. – Michelle


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