Travel info for the Colosseum in Rome

Legendary temple of gladiators


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Piazza del Colosseo 1, 00184 Roma, Italy

GPS: 41.892101214435, 12.494209997921

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The Colosseum in Rome home of the gladiators is most famous as the site of gladiator battles staged during the time of the Roman Empire. It is claimed that 9,000 animals were slaughtered when the games were inaugurated with 100 days of festivities under the reign of Titus. Today, the ruins stand testimony to an era in history that will never be forgotten. The Colosseum in Rome played host to human blood sports and pompous spectacles during its 350-year lifetime. During that time, more than 400,000 gladiators, prisoners, slaves, convicts and entertainers lost their lives in the amphitheatre. In 1349, a severe earthquake caused the southern side of the Colosseum to collapse. The rubble was collected and reused to rebuild a badly damaged Rome. The building continued to be vandalised for its materials – stones were stripped and iron clamps were wrenched from the walls. These acts of vandalism left scars that are still evident today on the walls of the Colosseum.

The Colosseum in Rome is the largest amphitheatre in the world and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. It wrote its script for moviemakers many years later. Films like “The Gladiator” and “Ben Hur” depict an era during which gladiator blood sports took place within this amphitheatre. Brutal one-on-one battles that were fought to the death and were the most popular of all the entertainment staged in the Colosseum. The gladiators were professional fighters and operated for 700 years in ancient times.

When you visit the Colosseum in Rome you will be able to explore a section of the underground network of tunnels where the animals and the gladiators prepared for battle. Today, the Colosseum is an empty shell but, if you listen closely, you can perhaps still hear the roar of the crowd as gladiators emerged from the bowels of the amphitheatre to fight to live another day.

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  • The biggest amphitheatre in the world – 188 meters long, 50 meters high and 156 meters wide ; the most beautiful example of an entertainment industry in Roman times and a forerunner of the modern-day stadiums.
  • The Colosseum is an engineering wonder combining Tuscan, Ionic and Corinthian architectural styles.
  • The vaults, the pillar complex and the three levels of arcades; the system of inclined bleachers to optimize spectator vision.
  • The ingenious system of hatches, pulleys, access ramps, lifting with counterweights behind the scenes of the underground passageways to catapult wild beasts and gladiators into the arena; the underground labyrinth of galleries.
  • The network of canals to drain wastewater ; the remains of an old hydraulic system intended to flood the centre of the arena to promote the full-scale reconstruction of naval battles.
  • The tumultuous story associated with the monument; the recent discovery of a palace buried close to the Colosseum which could have been occupied by Nero.
  • The Colosseum is in the historical and archaeological heart of Rome.
  • The Roman Forum (former shopping centre of the ancient city of Rome) and Palatine Hill (one of the seven historic hills of the city where the emperors lived) located near the Colosseum.
  • Free entry on the first Sunday of each month.
  • The Colosseum owes its name to a giant bronze statue representing the Emperor Nero, of which only the base remains today. Named the Colossus of Nero, it was almost 40 meters high. Appointed emperor when he was only 17 years old, Nero reigned from the year 54 to 68. His reputation is one of a cruel and despotic leader with adopted brutal methods. He is said to have murdered his mother and several of his wives. Hated by the people of Rome who blamed him for the great fire that ravaged the city in 64, he committed suicide four years later. After his death, the Senate voted a condemnation to obliterate all traces of his reign.
  • On the terraces of Palatine Hill, overlooking the Roman Forum, an extraordinary dining room belonging to the former palace of Emperor Nero (anterior to the Colosseum monument) was recently uncovered. Dating from the 1st century, this imperial residence was known as the “Golden House” and was mentioned in a single ancient text written by Suetonius, a high Roman official. This round-shaped dining room imitated the movement of the world of stars (thanks to an ingenious system of ball bearings). According to the archaeologist Françoise Villedieu, the mechanism was powered by a water wheel operating day and night and connected to a huge aqueduct.
  • The Colosseum had 80 different entrances to accommodate an estimated 50,000 to 75,000 spectators. The size of the amphitheatre is equivalent to the height of a modern 17-story building. Recent computer simulations have shown that it can be emptied of spectators in just five minutes. The Colosseum was a gift from the Flavian dynasty to the people of Rome.
  • A total of 160 bronze statues and massive shields adorned the outer arches of the monument.
  • On the top floor, a sort of retractable roof in the form of an awning (called velarium) was inspired by the sails of the ships. It was used to protect the audience from the sun. A water-mist system enhanced the comfort of spectators. The site of the Colosseum was linked to a gladiatorial school and the barracks, called Ludus Magnus, included a training ground, a health centre, accommodation and a kitchen.
  • Together with the neighbouring Theatre of Marcellus, the Colosseum fulfilled several functions: to serve as a popular entertainment site to increase the emperor’s popularity and distract the citizens from politics, to advocate the glory of Rome to establish its domination over Europe and the Mediterranean basin, and to enhance Roman engineering techniques in the eyes of the world. It served as a model for building other similar structures within the empire, including the Amphitheatre of El Jem in Tunisia.
  • Seating in the amphitheatre reflected the social class of its audience. The poorest people occupied the upper tiers.
  • Roman concrete reinforces the solidity and durability of constructions such as Colosseum and is said to be more robust than modern concrete.
  • According to French historian Virginie Girod, the first gladiatorial fights were organised in the 3rd-century BC by the Etruscans, a civilization who predated the Romans. This practice became more and more professional and became a great leisure enterprise generating a lot of money. But the advent of Christianity put an end to these fights, just like the shows held in theatres. Only chariot racing continued in the Byzantine Empire.
  • Specialists of ancient Rome believe that several hundred thousand men and animals lost their lives in the Colosseum arena.
  • Unknown fact, gladiatorial women fought in the arena of the Colosseum under the Roman Empire (notably under the reigns of Augustus, Domitian and Nero).
  • According to various legends, ghosts representing wild beasts, prisoners, slaves and bloodthirsty gladiators would wander the passageways of the Colosseum after dark.
  • In early 2020, archaeological excavations led to the discovery of an underground chamber, a tuff sarcophagus and an altar under the Roman forum. They were dated from the 6th-century BC and corresponded to the burial of Romulus, the legendary founder of the legendary city of Rome.
  • By 2023, the Colosseum will have a new arena where visitors will be able to admire the monument. This reconstruction will include a removable floor for cultural events.
  • You can buy your ticket online or at the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
  • Palatine Hill is one of the seven hills of Rome and offers good views of the Italian capital.
  • A maximum of 3,000 visitors are allowed to visit the interior of the Colosseum simultaneously.
  • The upper levels of the Colosseum overlook the arena and are open to the public.
  • The arena will soon undergo restoration work.

Where to eat

  • Caffe Valorani
    (excellent sandwiches)
  • Zizzi Pizza
    (pizza by the slice)
  • Ai Tre Scalini-Bottiglieria dal 1895
    (animated wine bar)

Where to go

  • Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran
    (major basilica of Rome)
  • Forum of Augustus
    (impressive ruins)
  • Parco Savello
    (masterful view)

Where to stay

  • Colosseum B
    (central and warmful)
  • Rome Downtown Accomodation
    (well placed guest room)
  • iRooms Rome Forum...
    (modern and high-tech)