The great Roman Colosseum, considered to be one of the finest examples of Roman architecture, was designed to hold up to 80,000 visitors. It is the epitome of Romes grandeur. Built long before modern machinery and heavy equipment was available, it is an architectural marvel of its era. Unlike most structures, this towering amphitheater does not have one or two entrances, but 80 of them!
This massive amphitheater was designed to hold as many as 80,000 people at once. The numerous entrances were part of a complex, ancient crowd control system. In addition to the numerous entrances allowing access from the outside, there are dozens more inner doorways, walls, corridors and tunnels.
The brilliant design allowed tens of thousands of spectators to enter the building, funneled by passageways to the appropriate seating section. It is estimated that in as little as ten minutes, the entire crowd could be dispersed in an organized manner.
Inside the Colosseum entrances, visitors are led to a corridor which encompassed the building. From this corridor, they would continue to staircases and inner passageways. Each of the highly ornate entrances is in the shape of an arch. There are 76 entrance arch gates, designed for access by the general public. These were numbered, allowing visitors to easily locate the correct entrance leading to their designated seating.
The remaining four Colosseum entrances, called the grand entrances, were not numbered. These gates were reserved for important visitors such as Emperors, senators, wealthy patrons, visiting dignitaries, and the Vestal Virgins. Although all entrances are detailed and ornate, these special arches are fantastic.
The North Entrance is still in existence today. It is located between gates 38 and 39. The South Entrance is directly between the first and last general public entrances. The other two Grand Entrances are called the Gate of Life, and the Gate of Death.
During gladiator games, the participants would enter through the Gate of Life – and exit that way if they survived. Those who perished in battle, were stripped of weapons, and removed through the Gate of Death.