on November 26, 2012
The Colosseum is an amphitheatre and was started in 72 C.E. It was completed and opened in 80 C.E. under Emperor Titus. It was used for public spectacles and festivals and gladiator competitions but was probably not used to set the early Christians against the lions as is popularly thought. It is believed that it's name was taken from a statue of Nero erected nearby which in turn was modeled after the Colossus of Rhodes. It was covered in marble and was painted but after the fall of Rome, the stone was pinched over the centuries to be used to build other things in the city. The Colosseum was generally opened to the public for 3 or 4 times a year, but for weeks each time as the spectacles and festivals would last that long. It's one of the top attractions in Rome so if you just turn up you will have to queue for tickets and it could be some time during the busiest times of the year. If you can, it's well worth booking tickets ahead of time online. You can then zip through a much shorter line. We booked with Tickitaly.com and booked the tour that includes the dungeons/basement part which has only been open to the public for a couple of years as has the third level. You get to go into the dungeons with the guide who points out where the original floors and walls were, where the winches were to raise the props and cages etc. to the main arena, where the tunnels to the gladiator barracks probably were as well. You can't go right out into the various corridors as they have not been shored up but you get a unique view from where you are. The tour started outside with some discussion on the construction of the building. We then climbed up two steep sets of stairs to the second level. There is also a museum up there with lots of things to look at as well as a little gift shop. The views are good but even better from the third level, up another steep set of uneven stairs. The hypogeum (basements) are down a proper set of stairs. There is a lift but they seem to be restricted to disabled and elderly people. We really enjoyed the tour and had a good guide. They use radio devices similar to mobile phones so you can hear the guide without them having to shout. The ticket to the Colosseum even without the tour allows you entry to the roman Forums and Palatine Hill across the road though I think those two are free anyway. The basic cost for an adult is 12 euros, and is good for 2 days. The extra tour for just the Colosseum lasts a little over an hour and there are also 3 hour tours that include the Forums in the high season. We were there in November so the only thing available was the shorter tour and I don't know if we'd have had the energy for the full 3 hours anyway.
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