A vividly illustrated guide-cum-history to Rome’s most famous – and most visited – ancient monument, with full details of how it was constructed and how it operated in its heyday. Colosseum details the prehistory and complex construction of this, the archetypal amphitheatre, showing how it influenced other arenas around the Empire. It explains the central role the arena played in the life of the ancient city. A special section details the latest excavations of the hypogeum – the underground network of tunnels and lifts that enabled the elaborate games to be staged. I visited Rome specially to consult Dr Jürgens of the the German Archaeological Institue for the most recent information. Other chapters outline how the massive structure  survived centuries of fires, earthquakes, lightning strikes and general depredation and neglect after the fall of Rome, and its later roles in the Middle Ages as castle, palace, botanical garden, place of black magic and above all as quarry. One chapter highlights its still ongoing restoration. There is also a useful guide as how and when to visit, avoiding the hottest and most crowded times, with money-saving tips.

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