Visiting The Colosseum, Rome
One of the most recognizable landmarks in the world, the Colosseum is an ancient amphitheatre in Rome that attracts over 5 million visitors annually. Originally constructed to serve as Rome's epicenter for entertainment; the amphitheatre hosted numerous public spectacles including gladiator matches, mock sea battles, animal hunts and more! With a total capacity of 70,000, the Colosseum was the biggest amphitheatre of its time and presently stands tall at 157 feet. While the structure has experienced its share of natural wear and tear over the years, there's no denying its epic scale and your visit to the Colosseum will be nothing short of extraordinary. Travel back in time to 70 AD when the Colosseum was constructed and marvel at its architectural grandeur and majestic aura.
History of The Colosseum
The Colosseum was built by the Flavian Dynasty, under the guidance of Emperor Vespasian and his son Titus, between AD 72 and AD 80. Historically known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, the arena’s colloquial name draws its inspiration from a colossal statue of Nero that once stood nearby.
The land on which the Colosseum was built used to be a densely populated region of ancient Rome situated between the Caelian, Esquiline and Palatine Hills. However, the area was completely destroyed in the Great Fire of Rome in AD 64. Following the disaster, Nero seized the grounds and added them to his personal domain. He built a grand palatial complex, the Domus Aurea, and landscaped the ground to house an artificial lake, pavilions, gardens and porticoes. The gigantic bronze Colossus of Nero stood at the entrance of the Domus Aurea.
Eventually, the Domus Aurea was torn down, the lake was filled in and construction of the Flavian Amphitheatre began, with gladiatorial schools and other support buildings nearby. Unlike other amphitheatres of the time that were built on the city’s outskirts, the Colosseum was built in the center of the city, placing it symbolically and physically in the heart of Rome.
What To See In The Colosseum
A substructure of the Colosseum,the Hypogeum was built 10 years after the inauguration of the Colosseum. The Hypogeum functioned as holding rooms for animals and gladiators before they fought for their lives in the amphitheatre. Built entirely in masonry, the Hypogeum included a system of tunnels along with two major corridors. Presently, the section offers visitors a thrilling peek at life in the Colosseum.
The arena was essentially a wooden floor covered entirely by sand. It was created to cover the Hypogeum, which wasn't part of the original construction. While most of the arena has been destroyed over the years, there are few sections that remain. The arena is where the gladiator and animal battles took place and offers visitors the opportunity to explore the battleground.
The third tier of the Colosseum offers fantastic views of the amphitheatre and the city of Rome. Unlike other sections which are either on surface level or underground, you'll get to experience the Colosseum from an incredible height at the third tier. Do note that most tours don't offer access to the third tier so make sure you book a tour which explicitly mentions it.
A relatively new addition to the Colosseum tour, the underground section of the Colosseum was closed off to the public until 2018. The underground section functioned as the backstage area before big gladiator battles, where all the prepping work happened. If you enjoy a spooky experience, a Colosseum underground tour is the perfect option for you.
Arch of Constantine
Situated between the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill, the Arch of Constantine was erected to commemorate Constantine's victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge. The largest triumphal arch in Rome, the Arch of Constantine features parts of older monuments and showcases heavy use of spolia.