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Colosseum exterior

The Colosseum, an ancient amphitheater built in Rome, Italy of grayish-brown concrete and stone, was once used for gladiator fights, dramas, and other entertainment. It is 188 meters in diameter and 48 meters tall and is believed to have had a capacity of 45,000 spectators.

Three main concentric rings make up the Colosseum. Each ring gets taller as it extends outward like stadium seating. From an aerial view, one can see the center ring is the shortest of the three. The middle ring is slightly higher, and the outer ring is the tallest; however, half of this outer ring is missing. This ring has two layers. Where the ring ends or is broken off, both layers cut inward diagonally from bottom to top. The inner layer sticks out a little farther than the outer layer and is shorter, about the same height as the middle ring, which is now the outer-most wall of half of the Colosseum.

There are four original stories, evident on the part of the outer wall still standing. The first three stories are lined with open arches that run parallel to each other on each story. These arches are the most prominent feature of the Colosseum. The square pillars that stand between each arch are wrapped with a band of molding where the vertical wall ends and the arched ceiling begins. Round columns are embedded into the center of the outer surface of these square pillars and extend from the base or floor of that story to just above the arch where it meets a band of molding all around the building. Each story or row of columns has a different ornamental top.

Colosseum interior

The top story of the Colosseum doesn’t contain arches, but instead has spaced out square windows. Stone blocks dot the surface above these windows in a row and have the appearance of small decorative ledges.

From far enough away the stone of the Colosseum appears smooth, but upon closer inspection, one can see that much of the building including the columns is made of many small, flat pieces of stone in a brick pattern or long flat pieces fanned out over the arches. Other surfaces, including that of the top story, are made of varying sizes of squares and rectangles.