Featured on countless postcards, advertisements, film, books, and more, Rome’s crumbling Colosseum is one of the most recognisable landmarks on earth.
Built-in the ancient times of the Roman Empire, this building once hosted a range of historic performances, with thousands of spectators cheering from the stadium seats. Sadly, over the years, this once grand stadium has undergone some hardship. Causing parts of the building to collapse, and resulting in the Colosseum’s broken appearance.
It wasn’t just in the later years of the Colosseum’s life did it face hardship, but also during the Roman Empire times. First with a fire causing damage in 217 AD, with many of the upper wooden levels of the amphitheatre’s interior destroyed. It wasn’t until 320 AD that these wooden sections were fixed, with the building’s interior structure overall weaken.
Following the collapse of the Roman Empire, Rome’s Colosseum was taken over by the church. Here they built a small chapel into the structure of the amphitheatre, changing the arena into a cemetery, with the spaces under the seats for housing. These houses were rented out until the 12th century. After this, the Frangipani family came and reinvigorated the building to use it as a castle. Finally, a major earthquake in 1349, caused a devastating effect that leads to the entire south side to collapse. However, many of the stones that crumbling off the building during the earthquake was reused, with many of the surrounding buildings near the Colosseum, today built with their old stones, such as the cathedrals of St Peter and St John Lateran.
14th to the 19th century
After this, the Colosseum continued to be plundered of its bare materials. The stone was stripped from the amphitheatre’s interior, as well as the bronze clamps were hacked off the building’s walls. These harsh hack jobs left server scars on the Colosseum’s walls, which are still able to be seen today.
Colosseum in the 1700s
During the 16th and 17th century, Pope Benedict XIV declared the Colosseum to be a sacred site. As early Christians had been martyred there, resulting in any restrictions of any pillaging. He instead commissioned the restoration of the building, with later Popes continuing this project of clearing overgrown greenery and repairing the crumbling structure. Luckily for us, this project was a success, allowing millions of visitors to visit this historic site and to marvel at the sheer beauty this building possesses.
Related article: Why was the Colosseum Built?
Explore the Colosseum Tours from Rome
Rome Day Tour with Vatican & Colosseum
Spend the day exploring the highlights of Rome with local guide including Skip the Line tickets.
Afternoon Private Colosseum Tour
Enjoy an exclusive guided tour of the Colosseum & Roman Forum with Skip the Line Tickets.
Afternoon Ancient Rome & Colosseum Tour
Discover the heart of Ancient Rome with knowledgeable local guide and Skip the Line Tickets.
Colosseum & Rome City Tour
Walking tour exploring the highlights of Rome with local guide and Skip the Line Colosseum tickets.