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Why is the Colosseum “broken”?

by | Must sees in Rome | 0 comments

Why is the Colosseum broken and partly detroyed?

A question you always ask me during the Live Virtual Tours is: why is the Colosseum “broken”? In fact, what we see today, is only one third of the original Colosseum. The rest has gone lost forever, and this is due to four different reasons:

  • abandonment
  • earthquakes
  • barbarians
  • the Romans themselves – which caused more damages than the three reasons above!

When I say Romans, I refer especially to those Popes and the most prominent families in Rome during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, that when the Colosseum fell in a state of abandonment, they used the ruins of Ancient Rome as a real quarry of marble and metal.

Why is the Colosseum broken
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The holes are the result of the detachment of marbles and metal rods

Have you ever noticed those holes?

That is why we see today so many holes in the structure inside and outside the Colosseum. From the middle ages, the romans stripped off marbles, statues and the metal rods in between the stones. These materials ended up embellishing churches and residential palaces.

For example: the marble of the facade and of some internal parts of the Colosseum ended up in St Peter Basilica and other private buildings, like Palazzo Barberini.

Why is the Colosseum broken
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It is estimated that only one third of the Colosseum is still standing today!

This practice took lace until the XVIII century, a period in which a sensibility and appreciation towards the ancient ruins of Rome started to increase. Also thanks to the consecration of the Colosseum to the Christian martyrs that, according to the tradition, had their death condemnation in here. It is since 1750 in fact, that the Colosseum is part of one of the stops of the via Crucis of the Pope on Good Friday. This is why a cross is standing right outside of the Colosseum. A tradition that still stands today.

I hope this short post has answered your question!

Why is the Colosseum broken
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In case you missed the first two posts about the Colosseum, go and have a look: Colosseum: what is it and why is it called like this? and Colosseum: tickets and seating rules.

Thanks for reading, see you soon! Ciao! 🙂

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