Ancient Rome was the largest city in the then known world. It is thought that Rome’s population was over 1 million people when the city was at the height of its power. From Rome, the heart of government beat; military decisions were taken and the vast wealth Rome earned was invested in a series of magnificent buildings.
To start with, many buildings in Rome were built around the forum. Traditionally, this had been a market place and an area where people met. Therefore, it would have been a natural place to put government buildings, temples and palaces. As Rome grew, however, the forum became more and more crowded. Therefore, a second city centre was planned and built some distance from the forum but still in Rome itself.
Rome itself had some magnificent buildings erected within the city. Some exist to this day, all be it in a less wonderful state. The most famous is probably the Colosseum where thousands of Roman citizens would gather for their entertainment – be it animals fighting or gladiators etc. Such grand buildings were constructed so that emperors would be remembered by future generations. The Colosseum was built on the orders of the Emperor Vespasian and completed when the Emperor Titus was in power. The building was finally completed in AD 80.
Rome also had numerous triumphal arches constructed throughout the city to celebrate military victories. These served a dual purpose. First, they were a celebration of the military victories the Romans had and, second, they were a reminder to the people of Rome of how powerful the army was.
As with any city, Rome had its rich and poor areas. The poor could only afford to live in wooden houses which were a serious fire risk in a hot country like Italy. On a number of occasions, Rome suffered severe damage as a result of fires starting in the city’s slums. The slums were also dangerous places to go to if you had any money as crime was very common. The Emperor Augustus created a police force to patrol the city but the poor areas remained all but untamed. However, for the influential people of Rome, this was of little importance as they never visited such areas.
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