Visiting the Incredible Colosseum in Rome

I’d LOVE to be one of those bloggers who can use only 6 perfectly edited images to illustrate a point, an experience. But how can I be? How can I use only 6 images to tell a story as grand as the Colosseums’? Six perfectly illustrated images to show the depth, the story and the history of one of the world’s most famous structures?

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HOW when there are all these bricks…

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and arches…

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and tunnels?

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How do I imagine the lives of the men who found themselves in these corridors?

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Ripped away from their friends and families…

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Sold into slavery…

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Destined to fight for their lives,

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Watched by thousands…

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But to ultimately die, win or lose.

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And what of the animals? What of the animals brought to Rome from around the world? What of the African animals who found themselves so very far away, kept in chambers, stressed in darkness and blinded by the light? Turned into killing machines for entertainment? “…Over 9,000 wild animals were killed during the inaugural games of the amphitheatre.” – Wikipedia.

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History didn’t happen in 6 moments, in 6 photographs, in 6 glimpses and neither will my blog post. The majesty of the Colosseum deserves more than that.

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OUR AFTERNOON AT THE COLOSSEUM

My John and I walked up the warm road leading to the Colosseum. Lined with street artists, tourists and beggars, we made our way to the spectacular building.

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LUNCH AT THE COLOSSEUM

We decided to stop for lunch before going in. Naturally, the nearby restaurants and cafes would be exorbitantly priced so we literally had a bite and what better than bruschetta with olive oil and balsamic vinegar?

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With batteries recharged, we made our way towards the Colosseum, passing the Arch of Constantine which was built 1700 years AGO. “Erected by the Roman Senate to commemorate Constantine I‘s victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312. Dedicated in 315, it is the largest Roman triumphal arch and spans the Via triumphalis, the way taken by the emperors when they entered the city in triumph….” – Wikipedia.

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OUR AFTERNOON AT THE COLOSSEUM

The Colosseum is incredible. It’s not as tall as I had imagined it to be as, in my mind, it always towered above me, which it didn’t really in real life, from the outside anyway. It was completed in AD80, 1936 years AGO! And remains the biggest amphitheatre in the world!

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Our tickets afforded us access to the Colosseum as well as to the Roman Forum, for about 12 Euros per person. We entered the ancient site through the cool tunnels, greeted by thousands of bricks and concrete segments. It reminded me of the tunnels in Labyrinth.

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HEIGHT OF THE COLOSEUM

Immediately I realised that we were, essentially, entering half way up the building, with a few floors sinking below ground level and a few levels rising above us. While it had not been as high as I had imagined, I didn’t realise it was a deep as it is and if you’re on the lower floors, it would tower above you. The Colosseum could hold up to 65 000 people. That’s 10 000 bigger than Newlands rugby stadium in Cape Town!

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We walked along the corridors lined with remnants of columns fallen. To show the size of the structures, I sat next to a head of the corinthian pillar – I’m nearly 6 foot, so these are pretty big pieces.

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COLOSSEUM’S HYPOGEUM

As we turned the curves of the building, more and more of the site was revealed. While it was not as tall as I had imaged, it was far deeper. The underground chambers and cells that held slaves, fighters and animals, make the walls seems so much higher, especially if you were one of the people below the wooden ceiling. The underground segment is called the ‘hypogeum’ meaning underground.

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COLOSSEUM’S WOODEN FLOOR

I also didn’t realise that the ‘floor’ of the Colosseum was false, a wooden stage, which I know may be pretty ‘duh’ since we’ve all watched Gladiator (they had trapdoors in the floor). But I just didn’t really put two and two together because, I guess, I never thought they had such ‘modern’ technology on those days! Today, they have boarded up some of the floor so we can see the various layers.

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We moved around and walked up a floor so that we could see into the arena more clearly. Apparently it’s really difficult to get even close to this platform when it’s the height of season, so we were really happy that we get get right up close to it.

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After playing Roman-Roman, we thought it was quite befitting to have birds circling above us. Come for the scraps have you? 😀

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VIEWS FROM THE COLOSSEUM

The Colosseum also has some wonderful views across the nearby area. Rome has a lot of hills so if you’re in a dip, your view will be altered. Here, we seemed to be in a basin, yet we were still able to see across the ruins slightly.

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EXTRA WORKS AT THE COLOSSEUM

While we were exploring the higher floors of the colosseum, we found a marbel display that illustrated the different types of marbel used at the time. I didn’t even realise the styles and stones could vary as much within one colour!

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ROMAN FORUM AT THE COLOSSEUM

Unfortunately, we were too late to get into the Roman Forums so we just walked up the hill to see what we could. The sights were still really interesting. And it was nice to see a bride and groom on their special day considering we were on honeymoon 🙂

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THE COLOSSEUM AT NIGHT

Soon the sun was set and it was time for us to go. Because our mobiles weren’t working, we just hung around a bus stop until one arrived. It was wonderful to see the Colosseum light up at night.

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Rome is my second favourite city after London and the Colosseum is SO well worth visiting! Absolutely incredible piece of history, a true marvel. I recommend going after lunch in the late afternoon. It means the tourist numbers have simmered down a little bit. Apparently, you can’t even usually get onto the deck inside the Colosseum so we were happy to have gone later and had a bit more space to ourselves. Thank you Colosseum, I WILL BE BACK!

And farewell to this little kitty who was totally undisturbed by the dozens of visitors!

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