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General Information

Other name(s): Amphiteatrum Flavium
Beginning of works: 69 A.D.
Completion: 80 A.D.
Status: in ruins

Project Type

Structure: Barrel vault
Function / usage: Amphitheater
Material: Masonry structure
Architectural style: Roman


Location: , , ,
Coordinates: 41° 53' 24.90" N    12° 29' 32.45" E
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Technical Information


width 156 m
height 50.1 m
length 188.1 m
seats 48 000


stonework 100 000 m³


façade travertine
piers travertine
arches travertine
walls tuffa
vaults concrete



The amphitheater of Taurus is destroyed by fire. It is replaced by Nero with a temporary wooden structure that was unsatisfactory for its intended uses.

69 — 79

Reign of Vespasian. Construction of the Coliseum begins in the first years of his reign, though no exact date is known. The amphitheater was actually inaugurated before it was completed and before Vespasian died.


The amphitheater is completed under Titus. For the final inauguration, a feast of 100 days is organized in which 5000 wild animals are killed.


On the Vulcanalia, the Coliseum is struck by lightning causing a large fire. Much of the arena is destroyed and rendered unusable for several years.

218 — 223

Possible period of reconstruction, perhaps works continue as late as 238 A.D.


Another severe fire damages the structure during the reign of Decius.


Again hit by lightning, but no specific damage is reported.

5th century

Inscriptions document the repair works necessitated by damage due to the earthquakes of 429 and 443.


The last recorded games are held in the Coliseum. The amphitheater is mostly abandoned afterwards and until the 11th century.

11th century

The Frangipane occupy the theater and convert it into a fortress.

October 1805

Beginning of modern restoration works. The debris accumulated over centuries is removed in order to be able to make necessary repairs.


Work is suspended due to the political situation. Until then the outer ambulatories had been cleared, the passage of Commodus discovered, the drainage system was found and a large buttress constructed facing the Caelian.

1810 — 1814

Archeological works resume under French occupation. The excavations are overseen by M. Daru while restoration is the responsibility of the Accademia di San Luca under A. Canova. The architects are G. Valadier and G. Camporese.

December 1811

Excavation of the arena reaches 3.5 meters deep but is halted as water seeps in and the drainage system cannot be cleared to cope with this.


As the French occupation ends, Pope Pius VII continues the works with the same architects.


The substructures are backfilled as the water problem cannot be solved.

March 1816

Repair works resume as many parts are in grave need of repair.


Under Pope Leo XII, Valadier designs a buttress to support the dilapidated façade wall and ambulatories at the W entrance. The reconstructed part was to be built in brick for economical reasons.

December 1823

Designs for the buttress are finally approved.


Completion and inauguration of the buttress at entrance W.

1874 — 1875

Another attempt at excavation of the arena under P. Rosa is made. The ancient ground level is reached, though water infiltration is still a problem. The arena is backfilled again.


The arena is finally excavated in its current state.


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