on August 22, 2012
The Colosseum was the first attraction we visited on our trip to Rome. When I booked the holiday with Expedia, I booked tickets for the Colosseum at the same time, and I'm so glad I did. The queue for entry was approximately an hour and a half long, much of the queue being out in the heat of the sun. Anyone who has bought tickets in advance can bypass the queue, go straight to the reservations window and go straight inside. Even though we were a bit early (12 noon rather than 12:30) there was no problem with going in early.For those who haven't bought tickets in advance there are plenty of people trying to sell you tours on the premise that they will get you in without waiting. This maybe true, but they are an awful lot more expensive than the normal price. I found out afterwards that children under 18 are free if they are EU citizens, but that was too late for us.Once in the Colosseum you are free to wander, presuming you haven't booked at guided tour. However, there are signs for 'Visitor Route', which I would recommend following in order to ensure you see all the parts of the Colosseum.For anyone who doesn't know, the Colosseum was a 'games' arena, where animals would be pitted against each other, gladiators fought to the death, or it was used for the persecution of Christians. The hypoguem is clear to see, this is the area under the Colosseum floor which was used to house the animals and the prisoners and gladiators. Not so clear to see is the seating area where patrons of the Colosseum would sit. Most of this area has been destroyed, and only the uprights from the sides of the concrete steps (seats) is visible, the wooden area at the top was completely destroyed by fire. Much of the stonework is missing, a lot of it tumbled during an earthquake and was used elsewhere in the city.Walking around the Colosseum is hot, there are only a few shaded areas, and these are generally quite full. There is a water fountain for filling bottles or drinking water, but there was a long queue here. However, this served to make the water taste even better when we got there.There were toilets, although pitifully few for the amount of tourists visiting, and directions weren't really necessary as you can find them by following your nose. I recommend mouth breathing when you get close though.Up the first set of steps is a small gallery showing fallen decorative masonry, such as stone heads, mosaics and bird frescos.Just outside the Colosseum is the Arch of Constantine, which fits in with the architecture in the area, but seems a bit of an odd structure just to be there by itself. Also you'll find a few souvenir stalls and ice-cream/drink stalls. At night there are a few street hawkers who can be quite persistent if you accidentally make eye contact. I really enjoyed the visit, despite the large number of people there, it was easy to imagine how the Colosseum would have looked and to imagine the baying crowds chanting during the fights.Definitely a must see if you are in Rome.
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