The Epitome of Ancient Rome: Visiting the Colosseum

I was offered a job in Italy 12 years ago as a nanny/tutor for an ex-political/military couple who had a summer house in Cannes. Good thing I didn’t accept; I may have never left. Today, I finally got to tick off a must do I had on my list all those years ago – The Colosseum. (I’ve been obsessed with the Julio-Claudians and everything Roman since I studied The Annals by Tacitus in 1999).

If I had purchased a sword with some foresight, I would’ve gotten all Gladiator on the tourists myself who arrived in droves, walked painfully slowly and stopped suddenly without warning. Tourists are allowed to walk around freely on two levels. (Though their definition of walk might differ slightly from your own) The underground level is where the Gladiators, criminals or animals were kept prior to the games. I sat staring at the areas used as ancient elevators where the gladiators were “lifted” to the main floor manually and wondered how many silent prayers were said in those adrenaline fuelled moments? Or were the Gladiators, like Frat Boys on Jager, yelling “Lets do this!” (The difference being Gladiators would’ve known what they were doing, Frat boys rarely do).

The stage placed over the base level is a reconstruction of where the floor was for the real games in ancient times (it was extended right across) The small marble pillar benches along the side of the floor were reserved for the most important people in ancient Roman society – Senators. The higher your seats rose towards the fifth floor, the lower your social status was – which is pretty much still the same today. The rich usually reserve the court side seats and the poor buy whatever they can; even sitting on the roof until shot down by security.

The Colosseum (named so after a colossal statue of Nero was erected, its official name is the Flavian Amphitheatre) is located in the archaeological centre of the city and directly opposite the Colosseo Metro Station. It’s the largest Amphitheatre in the world, and was built by the Flavian emperors Vespasian, Titus and Domitian between 71-72 and 80 AD in the place where the earlier Emperor Nero (37-68 AD) had his residence, the Domus Aurea. The Colosseum remained in service for around four and a half centuries with the last gladiatorial combat being recorded in 404. The capacity in ancient Roman times was said to be nearly 75,000 spectators.

After reading about the Colosseum in pretty much every history lesson ever, seeing photos of it as the epitome of Roman Archaeology, history and now, tourism; I am ecstatic I’ve been able to experience it before time, nature and mankind destroy it. The entrance fee is 15 euros for adults and the guided and audio tours are extra. (Audio tour in English is 5.50 euros plus entrance)

Have you been to the Colosseum? What did you think?

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One comment

  1. Pingback: Ancient elevators | Alheoma

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