Once the site of gladiatorial battles, wild animal fights, and many other public spectacles, Rome’s iconic Colosseum today is visited by over six million people annually. This attraction, as known as the largest amphitheatre in the world, was recently named as one of the new seven wonders of the world. With nearly two thousand years of history behind it, the Colosseum is without a doubt a must visit spot to anyone visiting Rome. During my family and I’s visit to Italy a few years back we toured the Colosseum, and it was definitely one of my favourite things we did during our entire trip. So, for this week’s post, I thought it’d be fun to write an overall guide to the Colosseum, which is what you’ll be reading throughout this article!
Visitor Info & Tickets
The Colosseum is located near Palatine Hill, in the aptly named Piazza del Colosseo. It is open everyday of the year except Christmas and New Years day, from 8:30AM until one hour before sunset. There are many ticket options available for touring/visiting the Colosseum, all slightly different from one another. The cheapest options include entry to the Colosseum & Roman Forum for €26, entry to the Colosseum (w arena access), Roman Forum & Palatine Hill for €39, and a guided tour of the Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill for €46. More expensive options include a guided walking tour of Rome (including the Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill) for €83, and an express guided tour of Rome (including the Colosseum, Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel) for €86. Since there are so many options for tickets, making choosing pretty overwhelming, I’d personally suggest to just choose a ticket based on both your budget and what you’re most interested in seeing.
link to tickets here
In 72AD, under the rule of the emperor Vespasian, the construction of the Colosseum was first ordered. It took less than 10 years to build, and was originally much grander than it is today. With eighty entrances on each level, each one was once decorated with individual Roman statutes. Over its long life span however, through takeovers, wars, and internal troubles, the Colosseum began to deteriorate. It was raided by both insiders and outsiders through the years, which is why entire parts of the building are missing today. Stones from the Colosseum can now be found in other structures throughout both Rome, Italy, and even other countries in Europe.
Considering its size, design as well as the date that it was first constructed, the Colosseum is a very architecturally and historically impressive building. Whether you choose to purchase the most expensive ticket option or no ticket at all, you can still see the Colosseum’s exterior, of course, for free. I’d still suggest touring or at least entering the structure, but if simply don’t have either the money or the time, getting to see the exterior is nevertheless a great experience.
Said to hold somewhere between 80,000 and 50,000 people, the inside of the Colosseum is just as impressive as the outside. The seats are arranged in tiers, with special boxes at the north and south ends for the royals. At the top seats you’d find the poorest people, while at the bottom you’d find the richest; similar to modern day arenas.
Used to hold many free shows for the public, some of the arena’s most famous events included battle reenactments, gladiatorial shows, animal hunts (venatio), sea battles, and more. Most of the arena floor, once a wooden floor covered by sand, is no longer visible. Parts of it were reconstructed though for visitors to the Colosseum, which can be seen above.
Today, what you see where the floor once was, is the hypogeum. Meaning underground in Greek, the Colosseum’s hypogeum is a two level network of tunnels and cages. They were once used to connect outside buildings to the Colosseum, as well as transport performers and animals into the shows; essentially the backstage to the arena floor.
Of course, when the Colosseum was still being used as a event holder, the hypogeum was covered by the floor. It is open today though so that visitors touring the Colosseum can see a bit of the behind the scenes to the shows once held there.
That’s all for my guide to the Colosseum! I hope it was either helpful or entertaining to you.
Thanks for reading!