The Ancient Past at the Colosseum in Rome

colosseumMany centuries ago, the stone walls of the Colosseum in Rome used to echo with the roaring chants of tens of thousands of spectators. They would scream and cheer at the top of their lungs while gladiators drenched in sweat and blood fought each other, Classical mythical dramas were performed or mock sea battles were reconstructed. This immense building, constructed between 70-80 AD, was the largest amphitheatre in the Roman Empire and an absolutely iconic symbol of Roman architecture.

These days the screaming roar of the crowd is more often heard at football matches at the modern Stadio Olimpico located in the Northern part of Rome. The Colosseum is now a revered ancient monument that symbolises the excitement and spectacle that it used to showcase – and a must-see attraction while in Rome.

Stepping Amidst History

As I walked through the Colosseum, my boots clicking on the cold stone floor, I found it calm and almost peaceful. Of course there were crowds, but most people were quietly walking around with audio guide headphones in their ears or with their faces in a brochure. The late autumn sunshine bathed the exposed stone in a golden light, yet the shadowed corridors were cool and inviting.

As I walked through to the centre, I saw that half of the floor of the amphitheatre had been reconstructed and half was left exposed, so that you could see down into the underbelly and the subterranean corridors beneath the structure.

These underground tunnels were used to bring in performers and animals from the nearby stables and the gladiators barracks. There were also separate tunnels that were built especially for the Emperor and the Vestal Virgins, so that they could enter and exit the Colosseum without ever having to pass through the crowds. It takes a lot of imagination to picture this stadium as it must have looked in its day, but the scale is still impressive.

If you plan on visiting the Colosseum during your trip to Rome I would recommend researching this incredible landmark online first, or bringing a guidebook or an app on your phone. Reading about the history behind this amazing building really made the old stones come to life and enhanced my enjoyment of it. Ever the technical genius, my boyfriend and travel partner Lee had downloaded an app onto his phone about it and was reading me interesting facts about the Colosseum as I snapped photos. For example, did you know that this building was also used as a fortress, a Christian Shrine and a quarry?

Avoiding the Crowds

We visited during late November and the lines at the entrance of this famous historic spot were not nearly as long as they would have been in the height of summer, so consider this if you want to have fewer tourists in your photographs.

Here’s a clever travel tip that Lee and I discovered while we were there. You can buy your entry ticket for €12 at the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill Ruins as well, which are located nearby. These tickets are valid for two consecutive days.

If you go there the day before, you will already have your ticket when you arrive at the Colosseum and you can skip the ticket queue and go straight in up the stairs instead. It feels so good to beat the crowds that you might just want to let out a gladiator-style howl of victory.

About Kelly

A Canadian freelance writer with a love of art, culture, literature and adventure, Kelly loves exploring foreign lands and expressing her experiences through the power of the written word. With no fixed address and only the possessions that they can carry in their backpacks, she and her English boyfriend Lee have been perpetually wandering the world since Spring 2011. They share their adventures as well as helpful travel tips and guides on their website, Global Goose