I’m pretty sure that the Colosseum is on most must-see lists of visitors to Rome. Even if you don’t go inside it, you will want to walk around it just to see Rome’s greatest amphitheatre that was begun almost 2,000 years ago. Despite having seen the Colosseum in many pictures, it was impressive to see up close. Once inside, the best way I could describe it would be to think of a modern day football stadium without its field and seats. That’s how big it is!
Tickets: If you plan to go into the Colosseum, you are going to need tickets. I highly recommend you get them somewhere other than the Colosseum, where the ticket lines tend to be the longest. Some people use the ROMA Pass, some purchase their tickets online ahead of time, and others, like us, purchased our combo ticket at the Roman Forum ticket counter. We were there in late February so it wasn’t as crowded as the summer and the line was very short. If you are coming in high season, you will most likely want to get your ticket ahead of time.
Once you have your tickets, you can climb the steps up into the arena. Even in February, the Colosseum had many people and the steps are steep; this part seemed to go slowly, so I can only imagine what it would be like with double or triple the amount of people to work around.
There are various places you can enter the arena area – on three sides of the arena and on different levels. Once you are there and inside, I would suggest you visit all of them as each gives you a different view point. While photographs are allowed, it is difficult to find a good position due to the throngs of people. If you want that perfect photo, be prepared to wait for a space to open up. This requires patience as many people seem to stand in their spots for a long time, reading their tour books, taking photos, or just chatting about what they are seeing.
Audio Guide While not always a fan of Rick Steves’, he does a good audio tour of the Colosseum (as well as other sites in Rome) that you can download for free from iTunes. You can download this to your iPod before you come to Rome and enjoy it as you explore the Colosseum. They are informative and provide some good details about what you are looking at.
The end of the games occurred in the 5th c. The taste of the public changed, the declining Empire entered in a military and financial crisis. The expenses needed to organize the shows were so enormous that the function of the amphitheatre became obsolete.
Although damaged by earthquakes in the fifth century, it seems that the Coliseum remained nearly intact till the 8-9th century.
In the 11th c. it became the property of the Frangipani family, with whose palace it was connected by a series of constructions. In the 14th c. the Coliseum belonged to the municipality of Rome; a third of the building was used as hospital. Very bad for the Coliseum was the earthquake of 1349 by which the western and southern portion of the shell collapsed. The enormous mass of stone mainly travertine of this part of the structure served as a quarry for the Romans. Four churches were erected in the vicinity from this material. Many thousands of cartloads of travertine from the Coliseum were carried off by contractors.
It should be noted that in the Middle Ages the Coliseum was not considered as a sanctuary of the martyrs. This idea developed only in the 17th c. where an end was put to the plunder.
The growing vegetation in the wall cracks increased the damage to the structure.
Since 1643 botanists are studying the plants and their variation over the centuries at the Coliseum (684 species have been identified). A well-documented history of flora shows the monument's progress from slum to tourist attraction!
Open all days from 08.30 h.
Closing times: 16.30 h in winter, increasing to 19.00 h in summer
Attention: closed on 1/01 and 25/12 !
NEW: Diego Della Valle, owner of Tod's shoe company, will invest 25 million euros in the RENOVATION of the Coliseum. The amphitheater looks black from the pollution and the vibrations of the nearby subway make bricks fall down. The renovation would start late this year and will last for 2,5 years. The monument will remain open to the public.
No tradition existed in Rome in the Middle Ages which associated the martyrs in any way with the Coliseum. It was only in the 17th c. that this amphitheatre came to be regarded as a scene of early Christian heroism.
It were pious personages like Carlo Tomassi and several popes (Clement X, Benedict XIV) who first closed the exterior arcades and made the Coliseum become a sanctuary.
It is a fact that when the Coliseum stood in grave danger of demolition it was saved by the pious belief which placed it in the category of monuments of the early Martyrs.
But are there real historical grounds for regarding it so?
In the Catholic Church the specialists of the acts of the Saints and Martyrs are the Bollandists, they are Jesuits and have strong links with Belgium where they started and continue their hagiographical work.
According to father H. Delehaye, a famous Bollandist, it is probable that some of the Christians were killed by wild beasts in the Coliseum but there is just as much reason to suppose that they met their death in one of the other places dedicated to the cruel amusements of imperial Rome: the Circus Flaminius, the Stadium of Domitian, etc.
Little attention was paid by the Christians of the first age to the actual place of a martyr's sufferings so that historical evidence is inconclusive.
You can't go to Rome and not visit the Colosseum that would be a sin. It was started around 70AD by the emperor Vespasian and finished in 80AD by his son the emperor Titus. My favourite thing about the Colesseum is the sheer size of it, it can rival any modern stadium. It had a capacity of seating 50 000 spectators, it was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as executions. It now costs 12 euros to get in and includes entrance to the Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum and the tickets are good for 2 days so you don't have to see everything in a day but they are so close together it is worth seeing it all at once, imo. I also suggest getting your tickets from the Palatine Hill office because the queue's aren't as long as the ones at the Colosseum. You can pay the extra 10euros and go in with a tour guide and not wait in any queue's but I recommend doing it on your own because the tours can get quite large. For older people and people with wheelchairs. there is an elevator. It is also quite easy to get to by metro. Just take the A line to Termini and transfer to the B line, the station is called Colosseo, you can't get much more straightforward than that.
By this point, everyone knows the colosseum. Here are a few things you might not know. The colosseum, forum and palatine hill are now on a combo ticket for 12 euros. You get 2 days to see all three sites. If you start at the capitoline hill and continue on through the forum you will end up at the colosseum. As you come toward the end of the forum, there is a path that goes off to the right, up hill. The palatine hill. Approaching the colosseum you will see several things. Vending trucks, people dressed as gladiators, sovenier carts and tour touts. If you want to take a tour, approach a tour tout or allow them to approach you. They are cheap and last about an hour. You don't have to leave the colosseum when the tour is finished, your ticket lets you stay as long as you like. Ignore the gladiators , who charge 5 euros for the privalage of taking their picture (with your camera). As for the vending trucks, they are over priced. They will sell you a soda for 3 euros. That is ONE CAN of coke, 3 EUROS!!!!! Just avoid them. Last is the souvenier carts, one by the entrance, one by the exit. These souveniers are very overpriced, but you can bargain with them. Once you get past the line to get into the colosseum, continue to the end of the main corridor you will see an elevator. Take this to the top for great views. Spend as much time as you like inside. While you're inside, don't forget to look outside. When you decide to leave you will go out the right hand side of the colosseum (if your back is to the forum). If you need to use the restroom, there is one if you head to the left. So just turn left and continue toward the "back" of the colosseum. There is a small building next to the wall, the restroom. It is never crowded and always clean.
The colosseum combo is covered by the romapass. With the romapass you get entrance into the three sites for 2 days and you get to bypass the lines. Just go to the line marked for tours and use your pass. The three sites only count as one site on your romapass.
What surprised me most with the Flavian amphitheatre is that this huge construction with a circumference of about 540 m and 50 m high was build within a period of only six years (excepting some decorative elements who took more time).
The construction of the Coliseum is a brilliant example of the efficiency of the Imperial Roman organisation.
The main material is travertine of which it is estimated that 100 thousand m³ were used, with 6000 tons of concrete (so called "Roman concrete") for the vaults and 300 tons of iron clamps to fasten the stone blocks together. I read that to speed up the construction the building site was divided in four operational sectors - quadrants attributed to four different contractors following a meticulous plan.
If nothing is known about the architect of the Coliseum, we know from Suetone that Emperor Vespasien puts hands at work and removed and carried a load of rubble on his back.
VT members who are interested in the technique of this antique building can find full details on
The money for the building came according to an inscription whose translation means:
"Emperor Caesar Vespasian Augustus had this new amphitheatre erected with the spoils of war" probably the Palestinian war and the plundering of the Temple of Jerusalem.
The spectacle inside the amphitheatre was not as glorious as the construction.
For the inauguration in 80 AD by the Emperor Titus there were 100 days of "munera" i.e. fights with gladiators and "venationes" fights with wild animals.
The difference between Greek and Roman mentality was very visible here. Romans liked strong emotions; entertainment showing more dignity like athletic competitions was not in favour with the Roman public as it was with the Greeks.
Open all days from 08.30 h.
Closing times: 16.30 h in winter, increasing to 19.00 h in summer
Attention: closed on 1/01 and 25/12 !
Tickets available at the Coliseum but also at the "biglietterie" of the Palatino, via di San Gregoriano, 30 or Piazza Santa Maria Nova, 53 at 200m from the Coliseum (also the ticket offices of the Forum as the ticket is a combined one).
Price (2013): normal 12 €, reduced 7,50 € for EU citizens between 18 and 24 years old. (on line + 1.50 or 2 €). Free for EU citizens less than 18 or 65 years old.
NEW: Diego Della Valle, owner of Tod's shoe company, will invest 25 million euros in the renovation of the Coliseum. The amphitheater looks black from the pollution and the vibrations of the nearby subway make bricks fall down. The renovation would start this year and will last for 3 years. The monument will remain open to the public.
It's true name is the "Anfiteatrum Flavium" (Flavian Amphitheater). However you choose to spell it, most people find it, rush to see it - this ancient Roman amphitheatre is, most often, the first destination for visitors. And, if you happen to be one of the few who choose not to visit Rome's icon, you would still be unable to avoid the sight of it. It is immense and has been called "Colosseo" due to its colossal proportions and proximity to the Colossus of Nero.
The numbers: occupies 3,357 square meters - external ellipse 188 x 156 meters - 49 meters tall. Elliptical in shape: 187 meters at the long end and 155 meters at the short end.
The material: Great variety - Travertine from the Tivoli area - Tufa, a soft volcanic rock - Concrete that you now see because the original marble facade was stripped - Bricks for the non-structural walls and screens - Marble for the facade, which was subsequently harvested for the construction of other Rome monuments and Basilicas.
The history: A bloody history - built by Jewish prisoners - the primary site of carnage (both human and animal) through Roman gladiator "games." Construction began by Vespasian in 72 A.D. - completed in 80 A.D. by his son, Titus.
The Rome Pass gets you into 2 Museums, including the Colosseo if you choose, without waiting in lines + 3 days free transportation - or, you can pay a Colloseum tour guide double the 11€ entrance price just for the Coliseum (more than the 18 € cost of the Rome Pass) and hear its history which is nice also - I took the Rome Pass and bought a book with a neat overlay depicting the ancient history. It opens at 8:30 a.m. - closing time varies. Official website below.
Ancient Romans cultivated the war-like spirit here that drove them to conquer the world in their era. Their bloody games ended at the beginning of the 5th Century when the monk, Telemachus, entered the arena to put himself between gladiators. He was martyred there but the games did come to an end.
PHOTOS - Colloseum in different light
Il Colosseo! Everything glorious, and many things despicable, about the Roman culture of 2000 years ago can be found in its history. What an astounding pummeling of feelings hit me the first time I saw it.
But first, how to avoid the lines.
1. Buy your ticket at the Palatine Hill entrance. A ticket allows you entrance to both the Palatine Hill and the Colosseum. The entrance to the Palatine is only about 200 meters southwest of the Coliseum. Just follow the path, around the Arch of Constantine, buy your ticket there. Then walk back, past the line at the entrance (the line should form on the right, but often snakes over to the left). Walk up to the turnstiles, place your ticket in the slot, and voila, you're in!
2. There are actually 2 lines at the Coliseum - one for tickets, one for tickets plus audio guide (an extra 4 euros). The audio guide line is always much shorter.
3. Buy the Rome Archeologia Card which costs 20 euros and will gain you entrance to a number of archeological sites including the Coliseum, Palatine Hill, Baths of Caracalla, the National Museum of Rome, etc. You can buy this ticket at any of these sites all of which have a shorter line (most likely, no line) than the Coliseum, then just bypass the line as above. It's valid for 7 days.
4. Make a reservation by phone: 39 06 3996 7700. But I would wait to see what the weather is like. There is a special ticket window to pick up your reserved ticket, so again, no waiting in line.
5. Make a reservation on the internet. (read the fine print): http://www.pierreci.it/do/show/list/20
6. Take a commercial tour. There are a some cheesy "guides" hawking tours outside the Coliseum. Better to go with a reputable company.
At the end of the Via dei Fori Imperiali, you will find The Colosseum, the symbol of the city of Rome. It's real name is Flavian Amphitheatre;however, it's always called the Colosseum.
On my first visit to Rome, I was very excited about seeing the Colosseum. As we walked closer to its location, and we actually saw it, I was somewhat disappointed. It was not nearly as large as I had imagined. The tourist gimmicks bothered me with such things as the fake guards dressed in period costume charging a good deal of money to have a picture taken with them and the hawkers trying to sell their tacky trinkets.
But then, I shook myself and realized that this might be my only time to view such an historical place. Once I focused on the positive, I discovered fascinating details.
I discovered that the Ludi Circenses were the favorite shows of the Romans (games that were invented in the last days of the Republic to develop a war-like spirit which had made them the conquerors of the world.)
Thus, the professional gladiators came into being, and they were trained to fight to the death. As time moved on, the kinds of animals the gladiators had to fight became more and more wild. It is said that "9000 wild animals were killed during the hundred days of festivity to celebrate the dedication of the Colosseum."
The area was also used to stage naval battles. In order to accomplish this, they would flood the arena!
Constantine and his successors did try to stop the gladiatorial fights but to no avail. The Romans would not give up their favorite form of entertainment. They changed the fights to an animal hunt about the 6th century.
I can just imagine how marvelous this amphitheatre was in its glory days. We are all lucky that at least some of this historical structure has endured and is still the pride of Rome and a must see for visitors to marvel at.
The Colosseum is one of the most famous building in the world and rates high on my list of the most important archeological monuments that I have ever visited. The Colosseum was begun in A.D. 72 when it was originally know as the Flavian Amphitheatre. The Colosseum is known as such for it was built by the three Flavian emperors, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian.
When completed the Colosseum must have been a stunning building. It's exterior was highly decorative with, Iconic, Doric and Corinthian columns. The interior seated 60,000 people. The Colosseum could also be canopied to cover the audience on rainy days or from the hot summer sun. The seats, rows and sections were numbered much like they are today in modern stadiums.
The sport that the Colosseum played host to must have been quite exciting for it was here that the gladiators fought. The battles between these gladiators were quite elaborate. Often teams of them would fight each other resulting in a gory bloodbath. The floor of the Colosseum could actually be flooded so that small naval vessels could go to war against each other.
The Colosseum fell into disuse when Rome became Christianized in the 4th century A.D. The walls of the Colosseum began to fall apart, the result of both earthquake, neglect and the need for stones to build the walls that surround Rome. You now can see beneath the wooden floor of the Colosseum where today there is nothing more than a maze of walls and passages.
The Colosseum is a easy place to visit for people of all ages regardless of health. There are elevators that can take you up to upper tiers of the building in case the stairs are too difficult. There is also an audio guide that can be rented for 3.75 Euros. There are also guided tours in English throughout the day. It costs 6.50 Euros to visit the Colosseum. The hours of admission to the Coloseeum is staggered throughout the year but during the height of tourist season, it is open from 9am to 7pm
Entry ticket of Colosseum will cost you 12 euors, as of today, and covers entry to Roman Forum and Platine Hill as well, all of these sites are actually situated in one vicinity which represents historical city of Rome. Actual price of Colosseum tikcet is 9 euors but they charge 3 euors extra for the exhibition. Usually there is always an exhibition, therefore, you will most probably end up paying the full price.
There is no need to buy the ticket in advance or through internet unless you have specific reasons for doing so. The best and the tested method is to buy the ticket from the entrance of Roman Forum and not from Colosseum. I got this tip from fellow VTers, tried it and found it making a lot of sense. Finding the entrance of Roman Forum is not tricky, once you see the Colosseum don't enter into Colosseum's premises and rather ask for Roman Forum from someone and you will be there.
The ticket office at the Forum is located just inside the premises, you will most probably see no or very few people in the queue. After getting your ticket, you may like to refer to the map showing legends fixed on the left of the ticket office.
There are host of reasons to start your trip from Roman Forum rather from Colosseum. There is always a queue at Colosseum which will eat your one precious hour, if not more, and will have a toll on your energy also. Secondly, the impression of Colosseum is so deep, specially for first time visitors like me, that you may loose interest in the ruins, which require fresh mind in order for one to appreciate the genius. If you plan well and start your trip early in the morning, say 9 am in summers, then you may like to avoid the afternoon heat as most parts of Roman Forum and Platine Hill are not covered, on the other hand you will have the luxury of shade in Colosseum. Finally and most importantly, going from Roman Forum to Colosseum is easier. Why? Actually there is pedestrian street that joins both these sites but this street is one way, so if you want to come to Forum from Colosseum then you need to come out of the premises and enter again from the entrance of Roman Forum.
Have a great time!
First time I went to the arena I was just standing outside it, totally perplex of it’s beauty. It’s really hard to believe that so many people have been cruelty killed inside there. Every stone in the building seems to have been put there for a special reason, and it totally took my breath away to see the monument.
The feeling didn’t get less good when I returned on the night, only to find Coliseum up-lighted by hundreds of lamps. An amazing sight!
Unfortunately the chock made me forget to go inside it too, so I missed the next amazing view. It’s actually almost even more breathtaking from the inside.
So I had to make the trip again, and the next time in Rome I made sure to go inside. Not sure how much I paid, but it was quite cheap, around 7-8 euro if I’m not mistaken. Didn’t include a guided tour thought, since that would have cost around 15 euro instead. And I would have had to wait too, which I wasn’t interested in.
It’s possible to walk around the whole arena inside, as seen on the photos in the travelogue. Just walk around carefully, so that you don’t damage the building. Cause as the old saying from the 700s says: When Coliseum is falling - so is Rome. And when Rome is falling – so is the world.
I don't need to describe the Colosseum to you. You either already know it from school or movies, or have read one of the other dozens of tips for it.
However, a couple tips from our visit regarding this marvel and monument to the ancient Romans:
Buy a ticket in advance or buy a Roma Pass and use this as one of your 2 free entries. DO NOT WAIT IN LINE TO BUY YOUR TICKET. I am guessing the ticket line would have taken 2 hours to get through when we were there (late morning). We used one of our free Roma Pass entries for the Colosseum. There are no signs, but if you look you will notice ropes with 2 different entry lines. One (on the right) will be full of people buying tickets. The other (on the left) was empty and that was where group tours, Roma Pass holders and those with pre-purchased tickets walked through. Security took about 10 minutes to get through and we were inside in less than 20 minutes! Unless you enjoy standing in line, I cannot stress this enough.
Beware Tour Group Salesmen. During the day, it is impossible to walk around the Colosseum without being accosted by someone trying to sell you a Colosseum Tour. I am sure some of these tour operators are reputable, but how do you now which ones? My advice would be to avoid them all or to pre-book a tour through a company such as Rome Walks (recommended by Rick Steves in his books).
Gladiators. Outside the Colosseum and in its vicinity are men dressed in gladiator costumes trying to get you to take their pictures or your picture with them for money. Rick Steves warned of them in his book. From inside the Colosseum we watched these charlatans at work and took the picture below. It is amazing how many people paid to have their pictures taken and some appeared to be surprised by the price after they were done with their pictures.
I took this photograph while touring the Colosseum. It shows the underbelly of the Colosseum where the animals were kept (the ones who fought with the Gladiators).
Back then, there was a moveable wooden floor that was covered in sand to soak up the blood! This subterranean area hid the animals and the mechanical lifts. Also, a net encircled the area so that the wild animals could not escape.
There were two gates at the Colosseum: one gate was for the victors, and it was called the Gate of Life. The other gate was for the losers, and it was called the Gate of Death. How morbid.
Although anyone could view the combat in the Colosseum, the seating arrangements were by social class and power.
Of course, the poor people sat on the wooden seats at the top; whereas, the emperor and other politicians sat on the podium, which was on the lowest level.
I've often read and also heard a tour guide say that there is an 8th Century Prophecy that said, "While the Colosseum stands, Rome shall stand; when the Colosseum falls, Rome shall fall; when Rome falls, the world shall fall."
One guide that I heard talking to a tour group told them, "This quote was truly believed, so the often- neglected and plundered Colosseum was finally restored." From the looks on the tour member's faces, they were amazed, as was I.
Don't get the idea that the Colosseum is exactly the way it used to be. From what was left, they restored that part. I visited the last time in 1999, and I've been told that it has been restored even more since then.
We started from Brussels and on the third day morning we arrived in Rome; traffic was fluid. We aimed at the Coliseum (without GPS). We turned around the monument and parked our car, a Fiat 600, in front of it without any obstruction by anybody.
We quietly admired the Coliseum. For me it was the first time, my wife had already visited Rome.
After a quarter of an hour we left and drove for Amalfi where we arrived late in the evening.
That was in 1966.
Note: VT members (non-Italian; sorry for the discrimination) who have parked their own car in front of the Coliseum are invited to register here for a free membership at the "We parked our car at the Coliseum" VIP club.