Where have I seen wall on wall of bricks? The title of this Pink Floyd song immediately brought to mind our visit to the Colosseum in Rome. So many bricks, so many walls, such a vast and fascinating place.
The Colosseum, a world landmark, sits in the middle of Rome, visited by masses of people year round. Construction started in AD 70 and finished about 20 years later. Today, this grand structure is officially a ruin. Stones, bronze, and bricks were “borrowed” through the years, leaving the Colosseum without some of the top level. The roof over the gladiator dressing area is long gone. The ruined nature of the Colosseum adds to the romance and intrigue.
“The spectacle day began in the morning with the presentation of all the participants. This was followed by the hunts, in which hunters tackled wild animals lurking among sets replicating the geographical contexts from which they came. During the lunch interval, when executions took place, the condemned, naked, and unarmed faced the wild beasts which would eventually tear them to pieces. During the intervals there were performances by jugglers, acrobats, and magicians. . . . Finally, gladatorial combats were held in the afternoon.”
Here’s a rendering of what the Colosseum may have looked like in its heyday.
Our guide pointed out that some of the blocks and bricks overhead hold together without mortar. I think I walked pretty quickly under these freestanding giant stones, but they have been hanging there for centuries so far.
If you visit the Colosseum today, you learn that scholars are still trying to piece together its history. We know that people and animals died here, and that gladiators fought bravely, both by force and by choice. If only these bricks could talk, what stories they could tell . . .