The Colosseum is an attraction that is meant to be admired for its grandeur. Apart from simply taking in the scale and architecture, there are more than a few gems hidden in the rubble. Here’s a look at the top six things you should check out when you're at the Colosseum in Rome.
Spending an afternoon exploring the Colosseum and surrounding sites is an absolute must if you're in Rome. Walking up to the monument, there's a sense of awe and wonder, mixed with a bit of horror at all that took place in the amphitheater. Sitting where spectators sat, thousands of years ago, seeing where the animals were led in, and looking down at the maze of subterranean tunnels, you get a real taste of Roman history.
6 Things to Do When You Visit The Colosseum in Rome
Tour the Tunnels Under the Colosseum
The Colosseum featured a floor originally built of wood and covered with sand, but the original structure has long since been destroyed. The result is that visitors are now able to see that labyrinth of tunnels that once existed below the floor. The underground levels, or "hypogea," were where gladiators and animals waited before going into combat. 2021 was the first year in the monument's history that tourists have ever been allowed in.
While you can look down onto these areas from the Hypogeum level of the Colosseum, visitors can explore the maze of passageways that only Gladiators and wild beats once had access to. Tourists are invited to walk on a wooden platform and take in the corridors, archways, and rooms where gladiators and animals were held. You can see where these brave men waited for battles centuries ago and get a sense of the anxiety, excitement, and terror they must have felt!
Visit the Eros Museum at the Colosseum in Rome
Located on the upper level of the outer wall of the Colosseum, you can find a museum dedicated to Eros, the Greek god of love. The museum is an interesting stop because it contains a multitude of artifacts, including a large collection of busts, collected directly from the excavation of the Colosseum.
Visit Italy and Explore the Colosseum
Take a trip to Italy and get an insider's look at the history of the Colosseum from a local guide.
Located outside of the Colosseum itself, this towering archway stands more than 60 feet tall and pays homage to Emperor Constantine. The tribute, hailing Constantine's 312 AD victory of the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, is the largest and best-preserved Roman triumphal arch remaining. Showcasing a total of three archways, the structure plays a little trick on unsuspecting guests. You see, it is actually composed of relief items taken from other fallen structures. That means that not all the symbolism and pictures on the arch have much to do with this victory, or even with Constantine. While viewing the arch, try to find images of a boar hunt and a sacrifice to Apollo.
Walk Through the Roman Forum in Rome, Italy
With sites dating back to 500 B.C., the Roman Forum, Forum Romanum, or simply "The Forum" was the center of day-to-day life in Rome. Originally a marketplace, the site evolved to be the stage for elections, speeches, trials, and most publicized events of Roman life. Today you can stroll the paths walked by the likes of Julius Caesar, and come across ruins of several important ancient buildings including the Temple of Saturn and the Curia Julia, the official meeting place of the Roman Senate built by Julius Caesar in 44 BC.
Check Out the Flora of Rome's Colosseum
Don’t overlook the plant life around the Colosseum as you take in the grandeur of the structure and bloody history of her past. In fact, life is growing here in abundance. The plant life that grows within the structure is not there simply for beautification, it’s there by its own choosing. There have been more than 684 species of plant identified here since the first cataloging in 1643. In the 1800s scientists attempted to remove all of the vegetation, concerned that the roots would damage the deteriorating stone structures. Today there are roughly 200 active plant species that call the stone walls of the Colosseum home.
Explore Palatine Hill in Rome, Italy
Located just across from the Colosseum, you can find the centermost of the Seven Hills of Rome. This location is also considered one of the most ancient parts of all of Rome. Many of the original Romans are believed to have lived on Palatine Hill, and in fact, the city itself is believed to have been named for one of the original residents; Romulus. According to Roman mythology, this is the site where Romulus killed not only his great uncle but also his twin brother Remus.
When in Rome, it's a must that you visit the ancient Colosseum. To help you get excited, here are some quick facts about why the Colosseum is an important monument and what it was originally used for.
FAQs About the Colosseum in Rome
When Was the Colosseum in Rome Built?
The Colosseum, also called the Flavian Amphitheater, is a large amphitheater in Rome. It was constructed by the Flavian emperors Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian. Built of little more than sand and concrete, this iconic amphitheater is the largest of its kind ever constructed. A massive undertaking, construction began in 72 AD and took eight years to complete.
What Was the Rome Colosseum Used For?
Part of what drives the interest in this large-scale building is that it has played host to so many vastly different activities. The Colosseum is best known for the gladiator battles that took place in the arena. The amphitheater was also the setting for executions and animal hunts. The famous damnatio ad bestiasepic, executions were even carried out using the wild beasts. Perhaps most interesting, at times, the Colosseum was flooded for staged "sea battles," called Naumachia. The arena has also been used for housing, as a cemetery, a center for artisans and craftsmen, and as a Christian shrine. Today the Colosseum serves primarily as a tourist attraction, though the Roman Catholic Church does host ceremonies there from time to time.
How Many Spectators Can the Rome Colosseum Seat?
The estimated seated capacity is up to 80,000 guests, but a more realistic estimate puts capacity closer to 50,000. Either number is massive and would be considered a gargantuan capacity for its day. It is no surprise that so many otherworldly structures have been modeled after the Colosseum. For example, the exterior of the Vancouver Public Library, the Los Angeles Memorial Colosseum (used in the 1932 and 1984 summer Olympic games), and the Palazzo Della Civilta Italiana in Italy.
What Is the Colosseum in Rome Used for Today?
Over the years many popular musicians, including Elton John, have played near the structure, though not inside. In addition to live performances, the Roman Catholic Church, headquartered in nearby Vatican City, hosts events at the Colosseum a couple of times a year. The most popular event, “The Way of the Cross Procession” is held on Good Friday (the Friday preceding Easter).