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The Cavea of the Colosseum and the Belvedere Terrace

Entry to the Colosseum was free: members of the various social classes entered through 76 arches with numbers carved and marked in red, 29 of which are still visible along the monument’s northern side. Spectators followed paths marked on the inner arches and indicated on the tesserae belonging to the head of each family. The assignment of seats followed a strict hierarchical order: the best view was available from the imperial balcony, located at the southern entrance, on the monument’s shorter axis. The senators could also enjoy an excellent view from the seats (loca) closest to the arena, which were reserved for them. The section behind the senators’ seats (maenianum primum) was reserved for knights (equites) while the two sections of the maenianum secundum seated progressively lower social classes. The worst seats, in terms of poor visibility and inconvenient accessibility, were the maenianum summum, the colonnaded portico at the top of the cavea, with wooden seats reserved for the plebs. It is here where the so-called Belvedere terrace is found, on the third level, from which spectators can admire the entire cavea from the different levels of the upper orders, with access to the terraces of the 3rd, 4th and 5th levels.

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The Colosseum