‘Did you see the Colosseum in Rome?’ I mean seriously, if you told your friends or family that you went to Rome, this would probably be the first thing they ask. In my opinion, no visit to Rome is complete without stopping at the Colosseum.
After settling into the best Rome apartments, it’s time to explore Rome and experience its beauty. There are few cities in the world that can truly blow you away with its appeal, and Rome is definitely one of them
One of your first stops would obviously be the Colosseum. To get to work, I often pass by the Colosseum and considering the long lines there every day, I am sure it’s a must see for first-timers to Rome. I am not surprised by the lines because even today, I marvel at the magnitude of this elliptical shaped-structure.
Though the building has suffered repeated fire and earthquake damage over the centuries, remnants of its ancient glory can be seen in numerous places.
The Colosseum began its life as the Flavian Amphitheater, a stadium capable of seating 50,000 spectators within its six acre domain.
The seats are arranged in layers, almost all of which look out over the many levels of arch upon arch surrounding this vast expanse. Sitting in one, a visitor can almost hear the roar of the crowd as the Emperor’s retinue enters through one of the four entrances used solely by them. The other 76 were for the average Roman citizen.
Opened in 80 AD after eight years of labor by 15,000 slaves and engineers, the Colosseum gained its now-common name from a 40m (130ft) nearby statue, the Colossus. Thought to have once had Nero’s likeness, the statue displayed the face of a succession of Roman Emperors down the years. Evidence of the base of the bronze giant can still be seen between the Colosseum and the Temple of Roma and Venus not far away.
For 100 days after its debut, the arena was host to celebrations both noble and barbarian (to modern eyes). Fights to the death among enslaved gladiators, Roman versions of lion taming, considerably harsher than modern circus acts and many other displays of violence were common fare.
Seating was arranged by rank – the Emperor had a box near the base and women who were not part of the Royal party were relegated to the upper levels. But even from there it would not have been too difficult to see the results of the combat. From that height you would still have a good view of the rhinos, hippos and elephants who were used in the ‘shows’ along with the more well-known lions and tigers.
For hundreds of years thereafter, the Colosseum continued to host grisly spectacles of human-human and human-animal combat. Slight evidence of those activities remains among the ruins, mainly the underground vaults and tunnels that served as storage and entrances for the combatants.
Looking over the huge arena from atop its 48m (157ft) height, it isn’t difficult to imagine the show below as if it had happened only yesterday. The masts and velarium – a canopy covering part the large area to provide shade – have disappeared long ago, succumbing to the changes of the ages. But the immense columns and walls remain, ranging from Doric on the first story, to Ionic on the second, finishing with Corinthian on the third.
The red brick arches are crumbling and the slaves and lions are definitely long gone but this popular Roman site remains alive with the ghosts of battles past and the many tourists in its present.
Visitors will always continue to flock to the Colosseum in Rome to marvel at the architecture that even today forms the basis of arenas around the world. It was one of the first, and certainly the largest and most well-known, to be free-standing.
Find more information on tickets and opening hours of the Colosseum, visit the website www.pierreci.it