Rome's Single Most Impressive Monument
You can't miss a close look at Rome's single most impressive monument: the awe-inspiring
Colosseum. The bloodthirsty gladiatorial combats and slaughter of animals ceased
there around 500 AD, but architects still marvel at its construction. As you slowly
circumnavigate its façade, it's easy to understand why. Notice the pitted holes
punctuating its smooth curve—they were once filled with thousands of iron clamps
to hold the stones together, but were stolen by Roman peasants in the Middle Ages.
(It turned out that it didn't matter; the blocks of travertine marble held together
anyway, thanks to the brilliant mortarless construction). On the inside, the original
marble seats were also stolen—to make the steps of St. Peter's in the Vatican. If
you climb the steps to the top level, you can see the sockets for the 240 masts
that held up a great awning in summer, protecting 50,000 spectators from the sun.
The ancients said that Rome will stand as long as the Colosseum stands, and the
world will stand so long as Rome stands. So far, we are doing fine.