The Colosseum was begun by Vespasian was finished by Titus in AD 80. It is elliptical and measures 180 metres long and 156 wide. It could contain an audience of between 45'000 and 50'000 spectators.
The survival of the marvelous structure is largely down to the popes who sured up and repaired it, after it was beginning to crumble. They sought to preserve it as a monument to the Christian martyrs who died in the gruesome Roman games. It is in their memory that a large Christian cross stands overlooking the arena.