Describe the architecture of the Roman Colosseum and the Pantheon. 

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Renowned structures of classical architecture, the Colisseum and the Pantheon of Rome are yet marvels of construction and art. 

The Pantheon resembles a Greek temple from the outside with eight huge Corinthian columns crowned by a triangular pediment. But, as is typically of the Romans, they fashioned the Greek structures with non-Greek forms to produce something essentially Roman and new:  a vast interior space. Behind the classical facade lies a large square block and an enormous domed cylinder. With this new interest in interior arrangement, the Romans turned architectural interestfrom exteriors to the inside as this interior is a vast space that is 140 feet high and equally as wide; the ceiling is pierced in the center by an oculus, or round window, which is the only source of light. The rest of the ceiling is a complex relationship of circles and squares that are integrated through color and design. Instead of using stone as the Greeks, the Romans, lacking natural stone, used concrete and brick. As the oldest roofed building, the Pantheon is an eloquent expression of Roman culture.

The Colisseum of Rome, orignially known as the Flavian Ampitheatre,  is not so well preserved as the Pantheon. Begun in 72 A.D. during the reign of Flavius, the Colisseum was completed in 80 A.D. The Colosseum at times was covered with a huge awning known as the velarium, which protected spectators from the sun. It was much like a circus tent as it was connected to poles and secured with ropes by means of a team of 1,000 men.

Considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and engineering, the Colosseum remains an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome. It is elliptical in shape with underground tunnels, four storeys above ground, and eighty entrances. 55,000 spectators could be accomodated with the first floor reserved for royalty and prominent citizens. The Colisseum has been damaged by stone poachers, fire, and earthquake, especially because it is a free-standing structure unlike earlier Greek theatres that were built into hillsides. Its basic exterior and interior architecture was modeled from two Roman theatres that were put back to back. The wall which remains is three stories of superimposed arcades framed by half-columns of the Ionic, Corinthian, and Tuscan order. Each of the arches on the second and third storeys formed a frame around statues honoring various divinities or figures of mythology.  These arcades are surmounted by a podium, or slightly raised platform; on the podium stands a tall "attic" divided by windows that are arranged in regular intervals that is decorated with what is called Corithian pilasters, or columns that project slightly and are built into or applied to the face of a wall. Two hundred and forty corbels were used for the awning. To this day the Colisseum remains as one of the Seven Wonders of the Medieval World.


astrosonuthird | Student

Hello! mwestwood did you went to Rome, it must be a very nice place as it was not built in a day.

astrosonuthird | Student

Colosseum is one of the most famous buildings of Rome. It is of four floors. I don't know the achitecture because I did not went to Rome.

odette95 | Student

These architectural structures are very known for the columns. It would help you if you study or read about the columns: doric, ionic and corinthian. Also, you can start describing these structures by mentioning the balance, texture and proportion of the elements used to build them. I hope this helps or just gives you idea.