The Colosseum - also called the Flavian Amphitheatre - Ancient Rome for Kids and Teachers Illustration

The Colosseum

The Colosseum was the sports stadium in ancient Rome.

The definition of a coliseum is any large sports stadium.  The Colosseum was the name of the oval coliseum or amphitheater in the center of the city of ancient Rome.  The Colosseum is also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre. It was built in about 1 AD by Emperor Vespasian. It is still the largest amphitheater, or theatre in the round, in the world.

The Colosseum could not seat as many people as the Circus Maximus, but it was very popular. The Colosseum had seats for about 45,000 people, but if you were not lucky enough to get a seat there was also a standing section.  When full, and it often was, it would hold 70,000 people. Admission to the Colosseum was free. Anyone could attend.

The Colosseum was about as tall as a 12-story building is today, and you could fit an entire modern football field inside. There were 80 entrances to keep traffic flowing. People would come and go as their day allowed. Some people just nipped in for a quick peek. Others spent the day and brought lunch. Free food was sometimes served. To protect people from the sun, an awning could be pulled over some of the seats. The Colosseum had many underground passages. This is where the animals and criminals were held. There were many traps doors in the arena used for special affects. It was quite a place!

The Colosseum was the site of most of the gladiatorial contests.  In these contests men fought other men or wild animals.  To the Romans seeing someone killed in the Colosseum was entertaining.  The Romans eagerly went to the Colosseum to watch bloody battles. The Romans sometimes the Colosseum with water and held dangerous boat races.

The Colosseum was built of concrete and stone and is still fairly intact even today.  You can go to Rome and take a tour of the Colosseum, and imagine yourself in the audience or even as a gladiator in this famous sporting arena.


Nero Goes Insane

The Roman Flooded the Collosseum for Sea Battles (animated, short video for kids)

Roman Entertainment

Roman Architecture