Exterior of the Coliseum, Rome, Italy


This photochrome print of the Coliseum is from the “Views of architecture and other sites in Italy” section from the catalog of the Detroit Publishing Company (1905). In 64–68 AD the Emperor Nero built an extravagant palace in the center of Rome. After he died, his successor, Vespasian (Titus Flavius Vespasianus) had an amphitheater built on the site of the lake within Nero's palace. Construction began around 70 AD and was completed circa 82 AD under Vespasian's son Titus. The structure consists of three levels of arcades with alternating Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian columns. It forms an ellipse, measuring approximately 190 meters long by 155 meters wide, and is about 50 meters high. The tiered seating could accommodate about 50,000 spectators who surrounded an oval-shaped arena that comprised the fighting stage. On this stage, gladiators, typically slaves, criminals, prisoners, or other individuals who had lost their rights as citizens, would fight to the death. The term “arena” comes from the Latin word for sand, which was spread on the stage to absorb blood from the fighters. Beneath the stage was an extensive complex that included tunnels and animal cages. Trap doors on the stage were used to add surprise to the spectacle. The Coliseum remained a center of Roman entertainment for nearly 500 years.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Detroit Publishing Company, Detroit, Michigan


Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photomechanical print : photochrom, color


  • The Detroit Photographic Company was launched as a photographic publishing firm in the late 1890s by Detroit businessman and publisher William A. Livingstone, Jr., and photographer and photo-publisher Edwin H. Husher. They obtained exclusive rights to use the Swiss "Photochrom" process for converting black-and-white photographs into color images and printing them by photolithography. This innovative process was applied to the mass production of color postcards, prints, and albums for sale to the American market. The firm became the Detroit Publishing Company in 1905.
  • Title from the Detroit Publishing Co., Catalogue J--foreign section, Detroit, Mich. : Detroit Publishing Company, 1905.
  • Print no. "6782".

Last updated: May 24, 2017