The Colosseum (Colosseo; Flavian Amphitheatre) is one of the most world-renowned symbols of Italy, Rome and of the Ancient Roman Empire. As well as being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s also one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It served two purposes in Roman society. To signal the continued prowess of the Roman Empire and to distract the masses by satisfying their bloodlust. In fact, when it was inaugurated in 80 AD, thousands of human and animal lives were lost inside this amphitheatre over 100 consecutive days of nonstop gladiator combat. And all of it spectated by almost 75,000 locals!
Highlights at the Colosseum
A series of rooms and passages beneath the Colosseum, known as the Hypogeum, reveal its gruesome past. Undoubtedly, it used to house wild animals and gladiator training rooms. It must have been a terrifying place to find yourself! Unfortunately, entry is denied to tourists unless you’re on a guided tour.
Here’s a scene from Ridley Scott’s Gladiator (2000) to give you an idea of what these battles were like. WARNING: This video contains violence and gore.
Did you know?
Modern day pollution and vibrations from public transport have had a disastrous effect. As a result, Tod’s (the luxury shoemaker) has sponsored the Colosseum’s first ever clean-up and restoration project.
Time to Explore: About 2 hours for the Colosseum alone.
Top Tips: Skip the lines and make life a bit easier by buying your ticket from the office at the Palatine Hill. There are rarely queues here, and your ticket will include entry to the Palatine Hill, Roman Forum and, of course, the Colosseum.