During my 6 weeks backpacking travel in Europe, I had a transit stop in Rome, before heading to Lisbon. I had around a day in Rome and the number one thing I wanted to see was The Colosseum.
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From the time I had seen the Gladiator movie, I had dreamt of seeing the Colosseum one day as it is an ancient amphitheatre where gladiatorial contests were held. Does the Colosseum really need any introduction? The Colosseum is definitely high on every traveller’s bucket list.
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About the Colosseum
Completed in 80 AD under the Roman emperor Titus Caesar Vespasianus, The Colosseum is an oval amphitheatre in the middle of Rome city. Also known as Flavian amphitheatre, the Colosseum is the largest ancient amphitheatre ever built and is estimated to hold 50,000 to 80,000 spectators. It is part of the World Heritage property and is a UNESCO site.
The three tiered Colosseum is built using the travertine limestone, volcanic rock and brick faced concrete. It was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles for entertainment in the early medieval era.
A gladiator was an armed combat, in the Roman Republic and Empire, who would entertain public by fighting with other gladiators, wild animals and condemned criminals. Most gladiators were despised as slaves and had harsh upbringings. The gladiator games lasted for thousands of years but were disapproved by many religious beliefs especially Christians.
The Colosseum was one of the new seven wonders of the world. It is an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome and is a very popular tourist destination of Italy.
The best time to visit the Colosseum is early in the morning to avoid crowd and heat. But I believe the Colosseum also looks spectacular under the moon in the moonlight.
History of the Colosseum
The construction of the Colosseum began in 70 and 72 CE during the reign of the Roman empire Vespasian but was officially completed in 80 CE by Titus. More modifications were made in 82 CE by Domitian.
The Colosseum uses the complex system of vaults and is a freestanding structure. It was used for combats and contests for gladiators. According to the study, around 400,000 gladiators were killed in the Colosseum. In medieval times, the Colosseum was used as a church and fortress by Roman families.
The Colosseum was severely damaged because of many reasons, the earthquakes, lightning, pollution and vandalism. In the 19th century, the preservation of the Colosseum began by the efforts of Pius VIII.
Booking and cost to visit the Colosseum
The best way to see the Colosseum is by taking a guided tour and learning the history. As I mentioned, the visit to the Colosseum is the most popular thing to do while being in Rome. And hence the booking for the tour needs to be done well in advance.
Plan for the first Sunday of the month as the entry into Colosseum is FREE. But do note that there will be very long queues for free entry.
My visit to Colosseum was not on the first Sunday of the month and hence I booked the Skip the line Colosseum tickets with arena access (General admission) for 39 Euros.
The standard ticket cost 12 Euros but has longer queue.
The Colosseum is open at different times on each day but generally it is open between 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM. The entire tour usually takes about 2 hours 30 minutes.
- Be there at least 20 to 30 minutes before the tour starts.
- It is best to visit in the morning to avoid heat and crowd.
- You need to show a valid photo ID with the ticket to enter the Colosseum.
- Do not carry large bags as they are not allowed and unfortunately there is no storage space as well.
- Wear sturdy and comfortable shoes as there is a bit of walking in the tour.
- Certain sections of the area cannot be photographed. So ensure to check before taking pictures.
- Tripods are not allowed.
- Check your meeting point and tour agency details to ensure you join the tour correctly.
The tour was very well organised and my guide was very knowledgeable. She explained the history and the architectural importance of the Colosseum. My most favourite moment was when I walked by the gates through which the gladiators used to enter. After the tour was finished, we were led to the last upper level where there were ancient and historical exhibits and mini models of the Colosseum. It also had a souvenir shop.
How to get to the Colosseum?
- The public transportation is the best way to reach the Colosseum. It is around 3 minutes walk from the Colosseum metro station. The Colosseum metro stop is on the blue line of the metro. Tickets can be purchased at the metro stations before boarding the metro.
- There is also a dedicated bus and a tram to reach Colosseum.
- The Colosseum is about 2.5 kilometres from the Rome city centre and it is an easy walk of 20 minutes. I walked to the Colosseum and it was surely a beautiful walk with bustling cafes and coffee shops.
Safety for solo female travelers
I found Rome very safe. I travelled and walked around the city alone and I had no issues whatsoever. The locals usually minded their own business and I stayed at a hostel called Golden Tram in the busy area of the city centre, next to a metro station, which helped. However, like any other city, be careful while walking around and know your surroundings especially at night.
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