An amphitheatre known world-wide, surely your first stop in Rome is the impressive Colosseum that has been standing since 70-80AD, however worn and torn by weather and age.
Located just east of the Roman Forum, the Colosseum was built to seat 55,000 spectators and is the largest amphitheatre ever built. It was once used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles but today it is available to visit through tours. Made of concrete and sand, it still stands today and is renowned as one of the seven wonders of the world.
“As long as the Colosseum stands, Rome shall stand; when the Colosseum falls, Rome shall fall; and when Rome falls, the world will end.”
Interesting Facts about the Colosseum;
> One of the walls is taller on one side, this wasn’t part of the design. The local white marble that it was made of was highly sought after by architects, so it was actually stolen and turned up at St Peter’s Basilica.
> During the inauguration games (that lasted 100 days and nights) about 5000 wild animals were slaughtered. Rhinos, lions, crocodiles, bears, tigers, elephants and giraffes were victims of the hunt shows that took place.
> A Russian tourist was once fined $24,000 for carving his name into a section of brick work, see here.
> The Colosseum has survived several earthquakes.
> When visiting you can see the underground chambers and passageways that were originally covered by wooden floors. These passageways were used to transport animals and gladiators into the arena through hatches.
> Gladiators were forced to fight by their owners but it is said that 60% of matches were choreographed for fun.
> Only about 20% of gladiator games were “to the death” fights, and the losing gladiator had the chance to appeal to the crowd – if the crowd gave the thumbs up, he lived. If thumbs down, he was killed by sword to the throat.
> Admission to the Colosseum was free, but seating was according to social rank. The Emperor was seated in a special podium on the northern end of the theatre.
Tips for visiting;
- Avoid peak hours between 11am-3pm if you want to steer clear of crowds
- A guided tour is a great way to really learn about the history
- Combination tickets are available including the Colosseum, Palatine and the Roman Forum.
Thatraveller was welcomed to Italy thanks to Contiki