Emperor Vespasian, founder of the Flavian Dynasty, started construction of the Colosseum in 72 AD. It was completed in 80 AD, the year after Vespasian's death.The huge amphitheater was built on the site of an artificial lake, part of Nero's huge park in the center of Rome which also included the Golden House (Domus Aurea) and the nearby Colossus statue. This giant statue of Nero gave the building its current name.
The elliptical building is immense, measuring 188m by 156m and reaching a height of more than 48 meters (159 ft). The magnificent structure was clad in marble and 160 larger-than-life statues graced the arches on the upper floors. The Coliseum could accommodate some 55,000 spectators who entered the building through no less than 80 entrances. Above the ground are four stories, the upper story contained seating for lower classes and women.
Emperors used the Colosseum to entertain the public with free games. Those games were a symbol of prestige and power and they were a way for an emperor to increase his popularity. Games were held for a whole day or even several days in a row. T hey usually started with comical acts and displays of exotic animals and ended with fights to the death between animals and gladiators or between gladiators. These fighters were usually slaves, prisoners of war or condemned criminals. Sometimes free Romans and even emperors took part in the action.