The Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre is an oval amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy. Built of concrete and sand, it is the largest amphitheatre ever built.
Construction began under the emperor Vespasian in AD 72, and was completed in AD 80 under his successor and heir, Titus. Further modifications were made during the reign of Domitian (81-96). These three emperors are known as the Flavian dynasty, and the amphitheatre was named in Latin for its association with their family name (Flavius).
Used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on classical mythology, reliable estimates suggest it could hold an average of 65,000 spectators.
The great earthquake of 1349 caused very severe damage to the whole area, and the outer south side, which sat on less stable terrain collapsed. Much of the fallen stone was reused to build palaces, churches, hospitals and other buildings elsewhere in Rome.
In 2011 a local businessman, entered into an agreement with local officials to sponsor a $25 million restoration of the Colosseum. The project was originally planned to last for two and a half years, but there were many delays before it could get started.
At the completion of the first phase, and amid great excitement from the public, Italy's culture minister Dario Franceschini described his vision for this iconic building.
There would also be the possibility to do cultural events of the highest level, although major sporting events could not be held there.
Before work began, there had been widespread speculation as to the type of events that could be hosted by the Colosseum. Would it look for cultural events or use the site's obvious prestige for business gatherings?
The nearby Circus Maximus, Rome's ancient chariot racing ground, was hired by the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen. While Franceschini did not detail the type of events to be allowed at the Colosseum, his approach suggested theatrical performances would be more likely than rock concerts.
Tourists visiting Rome were asked about their feelings about the project and for suggestions as to how it ought to be used. They were extremely excited and felt that events that reflected its ancient history would be the most appropriate, rather than modern forms of entertainment.