When one thinks of Rome, the Colliseum leaps to mind. Crumbled and damaged from 2000 years of history and earthquakes, the Colliseum is a structure that when built in the first century could house as many as 50,000 spectators. It is easy to forget when taking in the enormity of the construction marvel it was for it’s time, that its true history is as much a monument to horror as to architecture. Historians estimatedthat half a million people and a million wild animals took their final breaths in the colliseum. For the Christian faithful the place is particularly haunting.
It is interesting to note that the Colliseum, the place where so many Christians met their end, (along with a great number of gladiators) was also home to a church in the 6th century. It should be noted that despite the significance to church history, that the colliseum was not always considered the religious shrine that many consider it today. Indeed, in Medieval times the Colliseum was used as a fortress, and has at various times throughout it’s history been used for rooming houses, threater, and other sorts of non-religious events. In many ways it was like a big convention center that time forgot. The practices of the cultures that built the colliseum are, to us gruesome, and horrific, but the the ancients who built it, were like a Sunday afternoon at the ballpark.
No matter your take on the colliseum, the fact is that this enourmous edifice has graced the roman skyline for nearly 2000 years and has historical significance no matter your background. When in Rome, due as the Romans. Stop by the Colliseum and learn all you can. For those who do not take the time to learn from history, as the saying goes, are destined to repeat it. May your next vacation to Italy include a stop over at Rome’s largest monument to architecture and to depravity. Some things are worth remembering.