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The Colosseum is the most famous monument of Ancient Rome. Its original name is Flavian Amphitheatre. It was started by the Emperor Vespasian between 70 and 76 AD, and completed by his son Titus in 80 AD. The Colosseum was dedicated the year after Vespasian's death by Titus. They celebrated the opening by holding 100 days worth of games there. It was built on the site where Nero had had a huge villa for himself. Vespasian wanted to build something for the people rather than for himself. It got its popular name, the Colosseum, because it was built near where Nero had erected a huge statue, or colossus of himself. It showed him as the god of the sun. It was 100 feet high, and it was the largest gilded bronze statue in antiquity. It was later moved away. It took 24 elephants to move it!

All over the empire, Romans enjoyed going to the theater to see concerts and plays, and to the stadium to watch chariot races and the amphitheater to watch bloody sports. Going to the amphitheater (Colosseum) was probably the most popular. Gladiatorial combats, fights with beasts and other fights were held in the Colosseum. The Colosseum was big enough to hold the whole population of a town--as many as 50,000 people would sometimes spend the whole day there watching sports. The games were really bloody and for four centuries, men died as an entertainment for the crowd. Gladiators went to training schools; most of them were slaves and criminals. At first there were fights to the death between wild animals: bear against buffalo, buffalo against elephant, and elephant against rhinoceros. Sometimes there would even be fights between men and tame beasts. These fights were called venationes.

The Amphitheater is built of travertine outside, and of tufa and brick in the interior. It had Greek columns decorating the outside, but these did not support the architecture. The Colosseum had a circumference of 527m and it was 50m high. There were 80 entrances, all numbered except for the four main entrances which were wider than the others and were reserved for the Emperor. It was designed so that the crowd could get out in five minutes. The interior was divided into three parts: the arena, the podium, and the cavea. Now more than two-thirds of the original building has been removed and the rows of the seats in the cavea are missing. It is very similar to other amphitheaters except this one is much bigger.

The Great Wall started as earth works thrown up for protection by different States. The individual sections weren't connected until the Qin dynasty (221-206 B.C.). Qin Shihuangdi, First Emperor of Qin began conscripting peasants, enemies, and anyone else who wasn't tied to the land to go to work on the wall. He garrisoned armies at the Wall to stand guard over the workers as well as to defend the northern boundaries. The tradition lasted for centuries. Each dynasty added to the height, breadth, length, and elaborated the design mostly through forced labor.

It was during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) that the Wall took on its present form. The brick and granite work was enlarged and sophisticated designs were added. The watch towers were redesigned and modern canon were mounted in strategic areas. The Portuguese had found a ready market for guns and canon in China, one of the few items of trade that China didn't already have in abundance. The Ming Emperors, having overthrown the Hun dominance and expelled their Mongol rulers of the North devoted large portions of available material and manpower to making sure that they didn't return.

Throughout the centuries, armies were garrisoned along the length of the Wall to provide early warning of invasion and a first line of defense. Great piles of straw and dung used to build signal fires have been found during excavations. There must have been small garrison towns spotted along the length. There weren't many farms or trade towns to provide ease, relaxation and food. The supply trails were over mountains along narrow paths. To bring supplies to the top, ropes were slung over posts set in the Chinese side of the wall and baskets were hauled up hand over hand. Supplies must have always been short and chancy, particularly in the winter.

The Wall served well. Only when a dynasty had weakened from within were invaders from the north able to advance and conquer. Both the Mongols (Yuan Dynasty, 1271-1368) and the Manchurians (Qing Dynasty,1644-1911) were able take power, not because of weakness in the Wall but because of weakness in the government and the poverty of the people. They took advantage of rebellion from within and stepped into the void of power without extended wars.

Over the past few centuries, the Great Wall has served as a source of building materials for local farms and villages. Aerial photos show that in sections, only the top battlements show -- the center of the wall has filled with sand and silt. The same brutal isolated conditions which made the Great Wall a triumph of engineering and determined planning make restoration problematic and slow.

Big Ben and Parliament

The British Parliament

Parliament: is legislative assembly of GREAT BRITAIN.

It has evolved into the nation's sovereign power, while the monarchy remains sovereign in name only.

Technically, it consists of the monarch, the House of Commons, and the House of Lords, but the term usually refers only to Commons, a democratically elected body of 651 members.

The House of Lords is composed of peers and Anglican prelates. Since 1911 its powers have been negligible.

The House of Commons is presided over by a nonpartisan speaker elected by Commons, which also elects the PRIME MINISTER; the executive head of government, by modern tradition, must be a member of Commons.

The rest of the government's ministers, the CABINET, may be selected from either house. Thus, the executive branch is, in effect, a committee of the legislature. Elections must be held every five years; the prime minister may call elections earlier, If the party in power fails to obtain a parliamentary majority on an important issue, it may call a general election.

The major parties in Parliament are Conservative, Labor, and the coalition of Social Democrats and Liberals.

The origins of Parliament go back to the medieval Curia Regis, or great council, a body of noble and ecclesiastical advisers to the monarch that evolved into the House of Lords.

Quasi-legislative, it was primarily a judicial and executive body. In the 13th cent. representatives of the knights and burgesses were also assembled to approve royal of the monarchy.

During the ENGLISH CIVIL WAR (1642-48) and its aftermath Parliament gained legislative supremacy over taxation and expenditures.

Parliamentary sovereignty was permanently affirmed by the GLORIOUS REVOLUTION (1688). Demands for representation by the new classes created by the INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION led in the 19th century to passage of REFORM BILLS which greatly extended suffrage; universal male and female suffrage was granted in the 20th century.

Ben: This 316ft clock-tower was completed between 1858-59.Big Ben is named, probably, after Sir Benjamin Hall, the First Commissioner of Works.

Big Ben was first broadcast on New Year's Eve in 1923. The light above the clock is lit while the Commons is sitting. Big Ben weighs over 13 tons.

The clock mechanism, alone, weights about 5 tons. The figures on the clock face are about 2 feet long, the minute spaces are 1 ft. square; and the copper minute hands are14 ft. Long.

Whitechapel Bell Foundry - Makers of Big Ben and the Liberty Bell. Also hand bells, tower bells, clock bells, carillons, and turret bells.

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