Easily the most distinctive landmark in Rome, the Colosseum is truly iconic and is perhaps the most blatant reminder of the Roman way of life. Built between 70 and 82 AD, you’ll find the Colosseum in the same spot it’s been in since creation – directly in the heart of Rome. It’s one of the first stop on most tours of Roman landmarks and even if you’re trying to avoid the traps of a tourist in Rome, the Colosseum is a must-see.
The Colosseum Then
Thousands of years ago, the Colosseum was an arena large enough to hold most, if not all, of the citizens of Rome. They would pour into the Colosseum to see any number of contests including fights between gladiators, foot races and chariot races. At one time you could even visit the Colosseum and see a full naval battle when the floor was covered with water. It was a huge monument to the people and success of Rome. Entertainment was a way of life for the ancient people.
The Colosseum Today
Today the Colosseum is still just as impressive in size – it’s huge, but one of the most disconcerting things about it is the lack of floor. When you stare down into the impressive arena, you’ll immediately see all of the rooms and tunnels that existed under the arena floor. Normally these would have kept animals, trainers and even slaves waiting for their turn in the giant arena, but now, of course, they are empty except for the hundreds of cats that have made the Colosseum their home.
Stand up high in the Colosseum and try to imagine the arena as it would have once been. Try to hear the thousands of people it would have held and be transported back in time thousands of years to fully experience the thrills of the ancient people as they watched contests arranged by gracious leaders or savvy investors.
As you finish looking about, wander outside the Colosseum for one of the most popular photo opportunities in the city. You can even find a traditionally attired gladiator to pose with, but understand that posting with the gladiator requires a tip or payment. It might be worth it, however, for a truly classic tourist-y picture. Then, as you’re leaving, haggle with a street vendor for a statue or trinket to round out your tourist experience in the heart of Rome.