Iconic symbol of Imperial Rome
The Colosseum of Rome is the city's number one attraction. Constructed in around 70 AD it is the largest amphitheatre ever built. Located close to the Roman Forum, the Colosseum at its peak could hold between 50-80,000 spectators. It was used for gladiatorial contests, re-enactments of battles and public spectacles.
The building ceased being used for these purposes during the medieval era when attention was shifted to housing, workshops and religious orders.
Why was the Roman Colosseum built?
Construction of Colosseum was started by Vespasian (emperor 69-79), who succeeded the infamous Roman emperor, Nero, who is said to have fiddled while Rome burned in a great fire. Ancient writers claim that Nero started the great fire so that he could re-build the city-center with a huge pleasure palace for himself. However, that was not to be, as revolt and uprising led to Nero's suicide.
Vespasian, who succeeded Nero had to win public confidence. He decided to demolish Nero's palace and instead construct an arena for gladiator games and other entertainment.
Colosseum Underground Tour
Do not miss the Colosseum underground tour. The underground tour includes a visit to the arena floor, a visit to the underground section and a visit to the third tier.
Walking through the tunnels under the central arena, you can see where the slaves and animals were housed, where they entered form, and how they were transported through the complex.
To book the underground tour, purchase the package named "Colosseum, underground and third ring tours".
Book well in advance
The English tours are in great demand. July, August and September tickets go on sale mid June. Normally, they don't hold tickets back for walk-ups. If the official tours are sold out, you can check with private companies to see if they have any slots left but you'll pay more than the official tour costs.
The other option is to see if there are any night tours still available. If you do land up without tickets try your luck at the quieter Palatine entrance.
Hire a Guide
If you have the opportunity to hire a guide, do so. You will uncover more history than ever and they will point out everything that happened and where in your own language.
- There was a distinct pecking order in the seating. The front was occupied by the Emperor and the aristocracy, along with the vestal virgins of Rome. Vestal virgins were priestesses of the goddess of the hearth, Vesta. Everyone else sat away, and rising from the central front seats. The outer peripheries included women, slaves and commoners.
- More than 5000 wild animals were killed just for the inauguration of the Colosseum.
- The last man vs. animal fight took place in 523 AD by which time Africa had been seriously depleted of its wildlife.
- It was not always man that won. If you were punished for serious crimes of the day, you would be left unarmed to be the lion's lunch.
Key HighlightsThe colosseum is the unmissable symbol of Rome. A circus or a sports arena, depending on when you slice history, it offers unique insights into the workings of Ancient Rome. The history of the structure and how it was almost destroyed on many occasions is both fascinating and intriguing.
Located close to the Roman Forum, the Colosseum at its peak could hold between 50-80,000 spectators. It was used for gladiatorial contests, re-enactments of battles and public spectacles.
Should you take the Underground Tour? Find out.