Saturday, January 25, 2014

Colosseum, Rome

An icon of Rome is the Colosseum, the largest amphitheater in Rome. Emperor Vespasian began construction in AD 72 and it was opened in 80 by his son Titus. It was originally called the Flavian Amphitheater but came to be called the Colosseum because of a large bronze statue (a colossus!) located nearby (which no longer exists).

Colosseum, Rome

The design is very practical, with 80 arched entrances around the bottom to allow easy access to the 55,000 seats. The emperor naturally had his own entrance.

The entrances and first vendors of the morning

A peak into the hallways

The emperor (or wealthy citizens) would sponsor the games so the public got in free. Not free are the guys standing around outside in gladiatorial garb who will take a photo with you for money.

Fee for foto!

We wound our way around to the entrance and waited on a not very long line to get inside.

We arrive

We wait in line--not like it was in the old days

The internal halls have archeological exhibits showing different items discovered in and around the Colosseum, including statues, mosaics, and other items.

Horse and rider, or what's left of them

Heads of statues



Another display shows various coins and game pieces that were used by the crowd to entertain themselves during breaks in the action. Dice (aleae or tesserae) were popular though not always honest. The large crowd made good cover for people who wanted some extra entertainment between events.

Game pieces and dice and knucklebones from the excavations

The real attraction, both then and now, is the interior where the games were held.

L sees what it was like back in the day

L ready to go

The Colosseum floor

The arena held large crowds and had many different attractions. In the morning, the participants would parade in. Then hunters would go after wild animals who lurked in sets made to resemble the animals' natural habitats. At lunchtime, condemned criminals would be fed to the beasts. In the afternoon, the gladiatorial combats began. Combat was often to the death. Sometimes a badly wounded gladiator would appeal to the crowd. The emperor could give a thumbs up or a thumbs down signal depending on how merciful he felt. The floor was covered with sand so any blood could be raked over between combats. During the breaks, jugglers or magicians or acrobats would entertain.

The seating

More seating!

Excavations at the floor show a network of rooms where animals were caged and gladiators prepared for combat.

Workman's entrance!

Under the floor

One live animal still in the Colosseum!

Christians were also martyred here during the games and a cross has been erected in memory of them.

Archway to the Christian memorial

The cross

The views from upstairs are quite nice.

Arch of Constantine

The Roman Forum

J and L were fascinated with wandering around the ruins and were blissfully unaware of the bloody history of the place, so they had a lot of fun. We enjoyed seeing the history and the scale of the building. It is very large and well deserving of its iconic status.

Us at the Colosseum

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