The Colosseum, built between 72 A.D and 80 A.D under Emperor Vespasian, in located the heart of Rome. This colossal stadium once held 50,000 spectators! But, looking at it now, where did all the spectators sit?
Unknown to many, there was a strict seating plan within the Colosseum. Each archway on the ground floor was a numbered entrance way. Your ticket indicated which one of the 80 entrance you should approach and your seating areas would be decided based on your wealth, social status and gender.
During the first few days of October 2017, the Colosseum opened the fourth and fifth level of the structure to tourists. On our special Colosseum Belvedere tour, you can now access these “nose-bleed” section of the stadium and take in some incredible views. Learn what each tier was used for in our info pack below!
Colosseum First Tier – The “Podium”
If you’re rich, influential and had the stomach for blood and gore, then this is where you’d be sitting during the games. Reserved for the most important Romans, such as the Emperor, Vestal Virgins, important priests and Roman Senators, this flatter area measure 15ft wide and was perfect for being up close to the action.
The Emperor himself would make sure he was visible to all who attended the games. He sat in a special Imperial box, also known as cubiculum. This box was placed on the podium level, located on the north side of the Colosseum.
Remember, games inside the Colosseum were the popular ancient Roman tradition that brought society together. They were a source of entertainments and a way for the Emperors to gain favor with their people. We compare it to the popularity of soccer today, but with more violence.
Colosseum Second Tier – Maenianum Primum
This area of seating in the Colosseum was reserved for the non-senatorial noble class called the Equites, or knights. The area consisted of about fourteen rows of stone or marble seats and you were still close enough to the action, but far enough that blood splatters may not reach you quite as easily.
Colosseum Third Tier – Maenianum Secundum Imum
The third level of the Colosseum was where Rome’s plebeian class would sit. They would spend entire days watching gladiator battles, as well as the odd wild animal fight. A fun fact that not many know about the Colosseum is that on these high levels, the spectators would often bring pots and pans to cook food in while they watched. Imagine that! Nowadays, a medium to large backpack is not allowed inside, never mind nonna’s cooking implements and utensils. This area can be accessed on a special Belvedere Colosseum Tour.
Colosseum Fourth Tier – Maenianum Secundum Summum
The fourth and fifth tiers served similar purposes. They were both areas for common women and the poorest of poor. The tier consisted of steep wooden seats which ran around the very top wall of the amphitheatre. This area did not exist when the Colosseum was first opened in 80A.D., but was wadded during the reign of Emperor Domitian.
If you were not fortunate enough to find a seat on the wooden benches, then you could watch the games form standing areas on these two levels.
Colosseum Fifth Tier – Maenianum Summum in Ligneis
The highest fifth tier of the Colosseum, as explained above, was the area reserved for common women and the poorest of poor. Some historians say that slaves were also seated in this area, yet other argue that slaves, along with showmen, gravediggers, slaves and former gladiators were forbidden from watching the games inside the Colosseum.
Regardless, those that were fortunate enough to score a ticket, yet unfortunate enough to sit so high, may just have suffered from nose bleeds. It’s a long way up!
If you’d like to visit these areas, you can access a variety of them on select Colosseum tours. If you’re interested in taking a Colosseum tour, we cannot recommend enough that you have enough memory and battery on your phone or camera. The higher you climb, the better the view – down into the Colosseum and out over the ancient Roman forum just across the road.