On our trip to Rome, visiting The Coliseum was a must. We booked a three hour tour with Claudia to explore the Coliseum, Palantine Hill, and The Roman Forum. All of these sites are very close together.
The metro stop Coliseo literally drops you off at this vantage point! I loved the Christmas tree out front.
Claudia led us efficiently through, explaining that the Coliseum is in ruins for many reasons. When the gladiator games stopped due to rulers objecting to their bloody nature, the Coliseum wasn’t as needed so was left deserted. Earthquakes came in 847 and 1231 which caused significant structural damage. Finally, when St. Peter’s Basilica was being re-built by Julius II, they used all the marble from the Coliseum to build the church.
The entire thing used to be covered in white marble. You can see below the places where the marble was attached, leaving holes once it was taken.
She taught us about the levels of seating. Even back then, people received a “ticket” with their section and row. Important people such as Senators and the Imperial Family were on the bottom tier, with protective walls. Then, the upper class in the 2nd tier, the lower class in the 3rd tier, and at the top: the women. She explained it was common for women to be impressed with the gladiators. Thus, they were kept at the top, at quite a length.
If you aren’t familiar with Gladiatorial Games, it is when men fight to the death to entertain the crowd. The Gladiators are actually slaves / criminals forced to fight. You might remember from the movie The Gladiator that Maximus was actually a Roman general who became a slave due to the vengeful rule of the Emperor.
The gladiators are unfairly weighted against soldiers with chariots and better weapons. To keep an element of surprise, wild animals were also released during the fights. You can see a cross section of the lower part under the main floor, which contained staging areas.
They have built a modern floor in the Coliseum today so that you can imagine it as it were, with the underlying area revealing in the ruin of the Coliseum.
The Coliseum was quite advanced in design. They had sails that could protect the spectators from the harsh sunlight.
After being impressed by the Coliseum, we continued to Palantine Hill, the seat of many ancient Roman palaces and onto the Forum.
Just outside The Forum was the jail. This is the place that Jesus’s disciples, Peter and Paul, where kept before they died.
If you took Mr. Ward’s Latin class like me in high school, we learned a lot about Romulus & Remus, the twins who were raised by the she-wolf. A statue stands outside Capitol Hill demonstrating this legend.
We were really in awe of this area. Outside of Athens & Greece, no place that we have seen compares to the vast and significant history here in Rome.