When someone mentions Rome, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Perhaps, for most of us, this is the Colosseum.
I did not intentionally place it among the top attractions because it deserves a separate article, together with the Roman Forum.
Here you can find information about tickets and prices. It’s important to say that the Coliseum ticket also applies to the Rome Forum. For the Roman Forum, if many people are crowded at the main entrance, take a walk around the building because there are two more entrances, this is a helpful tip! You will easily find them and you may save yourself several hours of waiting. Now let’s move on to the description.
The Colosseum is not only a symbol of Rome and Italy but also of the dominance of an entire empire, where lions and gladiators faced thousands of people; the amphitheater once had 50,000 seating places arranged in 80 rows of benches. These figures show the grandeur of this cultural monument.
The innovation compared to the Greek theater was its round structure, completely surrounded by the audience, allowing it to accommodate a huge mass of people to see well.
The real name of the Coliseum is Amphitheater Flavius, named after the dynasty of the Emperor who asked for its construction, while the name ‘Colosseum’ comes from a colossal bronze statue of Nero, which is not preserved in our era. The Colosseum was built near the Roman Forum between 70 and 72 BC. and has been used for about 500 years.
Although the structure is seriously damaged, mainly due to earthquakes, the Coliseum has always been considered the greatest symbol of the Roman Empire (also for the best-preserved example of Roman architecture).
In 1990 it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. In addition, on July 7, 2007, the Colosseum was recognized as one of the seven new wonders of the modern world, voted by 90 million people.
What is the Colosseum?
The Colosseum is a huge oval-shaped structure, 189 meters long, 156 meters wide and 48 meters high (as high as a block of 17 floors). It is said to have been used as a model for today’s stadiums, given its mastermind design and the effective solutions for issues that exist even today.
Different building techniques have been used to construct it, and it is interesting that builders had to dig up to 14 meters as it is located on a lagoon.
The terrain where the games were held was called the Hypogeum. It was a wooden platform covered with sand. Below the Colosseum, there was a complex tunnels and chambers system where the gladiators, the convicts, and the animals lived. A complex drainage system has been discovered, supposedly designed for ship performances, but the idea was rejected by Emperor Domitian.
The social division of the public
Something very intriguing is the location of the stairs. Each floor is designed for specific social classes.
The podium was designed for senators, judges, and priests, and the best place was separated for the emperor’s tribune.
The first balcony was reserved for aristocrats not belonging to the Senate, the second- for rich citizens and the common balcony – for the ordinary citizens and the poorer. Upstairs were the modest places, made of wood and without seats, probably for the poor women.
Access to the different levels was through a special entrance, thanks to which a huge amount of people could enter for a negligible time. It was so well designed that 50,000 people could be evacuated in less than 5 minutes.
What was the Colosseum used for?
As everyone knows, the Colosseum has been used mainly for gladiatorial battles but not only for this. In fact, the events were more like hunting animals by using predominantly African animals, but also for executions where the sentenced to death was publicly killed as a historic hero. There were also animal fights, acrobatic performances, and major battles. Gladiators were mostly slaves or prisoners trained to fight with cruelty and courage to return their freedom.
The events were often celebrated for quite a long time, as Emperor Trajan did, celebrating his victory in Dacia in year 107 with games that lasted for 123 days and included 11,000 animals and 10,000 gladiators.
As you must have noticed, I am a big fan of the legends that are popular for a certain place I visit. Here is what I found as the most interesting:
According to some medieval myths and legends, the Colosseum is the entrance that leads directly to the underworld, where at dusk the souls of the dead wander in search of an eternal peace and which they probably will never find because they have died violently and prematurely. Spooky!
A new attraction in the Colosseum
Since June 2015 visitors of the Colosseum have the chance to enjoy a brand new attraction called „platform of beasts“ – a true reconstruction, in shape and size, of the original model used by Emperor Domitian to raise about 8 meters height composed of dozens of wild animals simultaneously to the arena (bears, wolves, members of Cats family, and ostriches)
And to move the structure as it is now, it was necessary to arrange eight men on two floors in the dungeons of the amphitheater plus three to run it on the upper floor.
The new structure is funded by the US film production company „Providence picture“ and is worth around 200,000 euro. The project was conceived in 2013 and has been finished for 15 months.
The Colosseum Today
Today the Colosseum is the biggest and major tourist attraction in Rome, visited by millions of tourists every year.
Inside, on the upper floor, there is a museum dedicated to the Greek god Eros, where other interesting and exciting exhibitions are displayed temporarily.
In the front, the Centurions are of interest to tourists.
These are people dressed as gladiators carrying different weapons and a flag with the motto of Ancient Rome – „The Senate and the Roman People“. Needless to say, you should pay to have a photo with them.
You may also encounter honeymooners taking pictures in front of the Colosseum.
We cannot fail to note that the Via Crucis (the Route of the Crucifixion) on Holy Friday, celebrated by the Pope, is just happening in front of the Colosseum where he is delivering a speech and an impressive big cross with torches burning illuminates the sky.
Absurd, isn’t it? In a place where so many murders have taken place, the pope gives speeches at Easter …
Colosseum is still the largest amphitheater in the world, proving its significance.
It is worth seeing, but the Roman Forum is also worthwhile.
The Roman Forum
Winter season – from 8.30AM till 4.30PM
Summer season – from 8.30AM till 7.00PM
Tickets are the same and are valid for the Colosseum and the Forum Forum. It is next to the Colosseum.
The Roman Forum is probably the most important archaeological site in Rome. This area has been inhabited since the Iron Age and turned into a center of urban life around the end of the 7th century BC. It can be traced back to the Via Sacra, which crosses the Forum in length, in the alternation of basilicas, temples, and triumphal arches, which are proof of the majestic history of Rome.
For centuries, the Roman Forum has been the center of political, religious and economic activities in Ancient Rome. Named Forum Magnum (The Great Forum) or simply the Forum, it is located in the valley between the hills of Palatine and the Capitol Hill.
This place was originally used as a necropolis. Then it became the background for the battle of Lake Kurzio, the battle between Romans and Stebbins, which came to us thanks to the writings of Titus Livius, one of the most famous Roman historians.
An interesting story – the battle between Romans and Sabines
I got truly impressed by this story!
Chronicles tell about the treason of Tarpea, the daughter of Spuro Tarpey, commander of a Roman fortress on the Capitol Hill. The city was hard to reach but the daughter, after having been bribed with gold by Titus Tatius (commander of the Sabines), left the door of the fortress open and left the armed Sabines to enter the citadel. The occupation of the fortress led to the battle between the Romans and Sabines on the two opposite hills of Capitol and Palatine. It is reported that Romulus, the legendary founder of Rome, managed to repel the enemies by referring to the wrath of Jupiter whom he promised to build a temple of glory in exchange for the victory (the temple of Jupiter Stator „The Resist“ built near the forum).
The battle ended with the signing of a peace agreement between the two nations, after the intervention of the Sabine women who had come to slay their fathers – Sabines and their spouses – Romans. The two armies got touched by this romantic view and stopped the battle.
After a meeting, it was decided that Romulus and Tacitus would become kings and rule together with the two nations: the Romans and the already included Sabines. The territory of Rome grew considerably, and the cultures of the two nations mingled: the Sabines adopted the Roman calendar, and the Romans – the armor and the elongated form of the shield.
Monuments and Temples within the Forum
The Roman Forum has undergone various periods of enrichments with buildings and monuments.
During the royal period (VI century BC), we have to mark the Black Stone (from Latin: Lapis is Stone, Niger is Black), a paved area of dark stone associated with the legend of Romulus’ death; and Rostra – the platform from which politicians have delivered their speeches to Roman citizens.
The temple of Vesta, an important temple dedicated to the goddess of family hearth and the seeds of life is there, as well. The fire symbolized the prosperity of the Roman state, which is why the watchers were taking care of the fire around the clock not to allow it to die out as it was a bad omen. The Romans were carrying the fire in the newly built villages for luck.
The republican period dates back to the Tabularius building and was used for the preservation of state acts and decrees, and the Emilia basilica – as a court building.
From the imperial period, we can highlight the temple of Divus Iulius, dedicated to Julius Caesar at the site of Caesar’s funeral pyre. In this place, Mark Antony shows Caesar’s blood-stained cloak in front of the crowd, and thus inflame the greatest civil war in the history of Ancient Rome.
The Concordia Temple, dedicated to an ancient Roman goddess of consent, was built as a symbol of the social peace between patricians and plebeians.
In the Middle Ages and the modern era, the Roman Forum was destroyed. Much of the monumental space has been included in medium-term constructions, in some cases even converted to pasture and used for other agricultural purposes.
Some temples and sanctuaries were completely destroyed during the Revival by Pope Julius II, who turned the Forum into a source of building materials to be used to construct modern buildings.
Today, the arches of Titus, Konstantin, and Septimius Severus are preserved, painted with inscriptions, sculptures and decorations.
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