It is an hour after sunrise and you find yourself surrounded by tens of thousands of people. Everyone is nervous and you can cut the tension in the air with a knife. All of a sudden, the entire structure roars to life and vibrates as the crowd goes crazy. The Gladiators are entering the building, a day at the games in the Colosseum of Ancient Rome is about to begin.
Today, on average, 7 million people a year visit this iconic building of Ancient Rome. Considering it is two thousand years old, has endured pillaging, earthquakes and lightening strikes, it has held up extremely well for all of us to marvel at today.
When & why was the Colosseum built?
While we tend to to romanticize past times, life in Ancient Rome was anything but romantic. Life, for the common man, was hard. They worked from sun up to sun down and the idea of weekends didn’t exist. The Roman emperors understood this and also understood that this could lead to civil unrest if there was not some kind of outlet for their desperation. Hence the expression- Give them Bread and Circuses. The idea was if they set up a welfare system and provided entertainment, the people would be too distracted to start an uprising.
Vespasian became Roman Emperor in 69 AD. Rome had just been through years of excess from Emperor Nero and after his assassination there was a year of civil unrest. As a new emperor, Vespasian’s key to success would be stability, which meant avoiding civil unrest and making sure the people were happy.
Vespasian wasn’t short on money due to his successful quelling of the revolt in Judea. He believed, if he built a massive stadium to host the Gladiator games, he would have the public on his side. For this reason he ordered the construction of the Flavian Amphitheater – today known to us as The Colosseum, in 72 AD.
Who built the Colosseum?
We do not know the architect of the building nor do we know how many people were involved in building it. We assume that tens of thousands of slaves were involved in building such an enormous structure. What we do know is that it took only 8 years to build and was built so well that the combination of concrete, brick and travertine stone has allowed it to survive two thousand years.
What was the Colosseum used for?
The Colosseum was a stadium for Gladiatorial contests. These contests took on many forms; from animal hunts, to group battles to one-on-one competitions. It was also used as an arena for executions. Slaves were trained for years to become professional killers and were paraded into the stadium to fight, many times to the death for the enjoyment of the people. While it seems cruel to our modern mind, in ancient times it was the main event with Gladiators being worshiped as idols. A testament to their popularity is the fact that these games went on for over three hundred years.
Where is the Colosseum and how to get there?
The Colosseum is located in Piazza del Colosseo. You can get there by using:
- Metro line B (Stop: Colosseo)
- Tram 3 (Stops right in front of the Colosseum)
- Tram 8 (Last stop is Piazza Venezia and from there you can walk 10 minutes to the Colosseum)
- Bus 75, 81, 673, 175, 204
- Walking depending on the location of your accommodation
Colosseum opening times
- 2nd January to 15th February 08.30 – 16.30 Last entrance 15:30
- 16th February to 15th March 08.30 – 17.00 Last entrance 16:00
- 16th March to 31st March 08.30 – 17.30 Last entrance 16:30
- 1st April to 31st August 08.30 – 19.15 Last entrance 18.15
- 1st September to 30th September 08.30 – 19.00 Last entrance 18:00
- 1st October to 27th October 08.30 – 18.30 Last entrance 17.30
- 28th October to 31st December 08.30 – 16.30 Last entrance 15.30
Colosseum CLOSED: 1ST January and 25th December
Ticket office: closes one hour before closing
- Visit the Colosseum with your own eyes on your next trip to Rome. Join us on one of our Colosseum Tours to learn more about this amazing structure, visit restricted areas and most of all, have fun!
- Did you know you can also visit the Colosseum at night from May to October? Discover our VIP Colosseum at Night Tour.
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