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This is my favorite spot to waste time in all of Rome.
2007: We'd just come limping from the Colosseum (and nine hours on our feet) and were heading through the park across the street when we saw a little kiosk and scattering of tables in a cool, green corner. Sinking gratefully into a couple of chairs, we ordered up a beer and spent a delightful hour or two within view of the ancient arena and the ruins of Nero's Golden House (Domus Aurea.) Our brews came with an attentive waiter and lighthearted chatter from little groups of Italian friends and families seated nearby: grownups sipped coffee and wine in the shade; tiny babies were fussed over and passed around; older children dribbled ice cream and sped around on scooters; lots of laughter... this is still one of my favorite memories of Rome.
We made a beeline here on a return trip in 2012, crossing fingers and toes that it hadn't closed. Not only was it open but our Senegalese waiter from 5 years earlier was still scuttling about with trays of espresso and wine. It was a joyful reunion all around, and Mustafa was very glad to see us - once we jogged his memory.
The best part? It remains virtually undiscovered by the hordes mobbing the pile down the street. We've been here four times (would have been 5 but it's closed on Mondays) and have yet to see or hear another tourist - not that it couldn't happen.
Chiosco has been a park fixture for over 40 years, and you'll find it close to the corner of Viale Della Domus Aurea and Via Mecenate in Parco Colle Oppio. Don't worry about the name of the park as it may not be clearly marked; it's the green space across the street from Colosseum. Best way is to enter the park on Viale Serapide and follow it to the east. The bar is also east of the Domus Aurea ruins, and close to a playground so it's a great place to bring the kids. I'm including a website with a fun write-up from another big fan of this little gem (when it was Pavilion Bar):
Addendum: what with long-awaited weekend tours now available of some restored areas of Domus Aurea, Chiosco will likely be discovered by more tourists: the Parco Colle Oppio excavation is within splittn' distance.
- Family Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
One of the things I had looked forward to see in Rome
was the colosseum. When we came there the queues
were very very long so unfortunately we didn't enter.
Anyway it was still impressive to see it from the
outside if you want to enter it can be good to book
tickets in advance on Internet.
Colosseum is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Rome.
It is an ancient Roman amphitheater which was built between
70-80 AD. It could take up to 87000 people in the audience, an
audience that came here to see gladiator tournaments, fights
between wild animals and executions.
Colosseum is 48 meters high and it is 524 meters in circumference. We walked around the whole building.
Colossum by night looks just stunning. It is extremely well illuminated and one who did it is a master of his job. The light is graduated from almost poor to very bright and this combination was perfectly executed. This play of shadow and light in rotation makes Colosseum very attractive in a dark night, as it was during my stay in Rome.
The outer walls of travertine stone were set without mortar, they were held together by iron clamps. During the centuries, however, it has suffered extensive damage and its large segments collapsed following several earthquakes. The present day exterior of the Colosseum is in fact the original interior wall. The amphitheater was ringed by eighty entrances at ground level.
In medieval times the arena of the Colosseum was converted into a cemetery, and numerous vaulted spaces in the arcades were converted into housing and workshops. Around 1200 Frangipani Family took over the Colosseum and fortified it, using it as a castle. Later on, the interior of the amphitheater was extensively stripped of stone and such devastation culminated in the 15th and 15th centuries, when the stone of the Colosseum was massively used as construction material.
In 1780, the Pope declared the Colosseum a holy place where until the fourth century mass torture and martyrs of the Christians took place and thereby further devastation stopped.
Yes, it looks huge when looking at it from the outside but its real proportions one can be aware of only after getting inside. There were seats for about 60.000 spectators on three different levels. Each class had separate entry and separate seats. First level was dedicated exclusively to judges, senators and aristocracy. The second one was for the middle class while third on the top for those who were poor.
There were the underground levels too, called "hypogeum", where gladiators, servants and animals stayed during the games. Hypogeum itself had different levels with huge network of paths, staircases and elevators. The ground floor, where gladiators fought, was called "harena", it's Latin name for the sand. The colloquial name for the amphitheaters soon became arena.
Gladiator fights took place approximately 500 years. In the 6th century the Colosseum was practically abandoned, because it no longer served its purpose. Namely, the last gladiatorial fight mentioned around 435.
The Colosseum was originally called "Flacian Amphoteatre" but the name that is popularly called has received after the colossal statue of the Emperor Nero, which once stood in front of the amphitheater. It was primarily built for the gladiator fights but it also served for various other spectacles, such as, hunting of exotic animals or for a sea battles. The construction was completed around year 80, during Emperor Domitianus, who was the last emperor of the Flavian dynasty.
The Colosseum has a shape of large cylindrical body in an elliptical floor plan, with seats that are slanted down towards the arena.
Colosseum had a wall mantle, that has almost disappeared in the arcade openings through which the corridors, on three floors, treated with light and air. Same arcades were decorated with sculptures, which in passed centuries have disappeared, and on top of the amphitheatre was a wooden structure with a sliding roof of the canvas.
So-called "hypogenum" is a series of underground tunnels, used to house animals and slaves while waiting their turn for a fight. It consists of two level subterranean network of cages and tunnels beneath the arena. Around eighty vertical shafts provided instant access to the arena for caged animals and scenery pieces, while larger hinged platforms (hegmata) provided access for elephants and other big animals.
The hypogenum was connected by underground tunnels to a number of points outside the Colosseum, like stables for animals, gladiator's barracks at the "Ludus Magnus". (Ludus was a training school for gladiators.). In hypogenum existed elevators, lifting cages for animals and hydraulic mechanisms to flood arena rapidly. Except for gladiator fights, the Colosseum was used for staging spectacular naval battles and then the arena was kept filled with water.
The Colosseum was out of time architectural project, if necessary it could be emptied of crowd in about ten minutes, and it is very difficult to achieve in modern stadiums. The Colosseum was entered on 80 gates, in the ground level, while the emperor had at his disposal a separate entrance through the tunnel.
The viewers were strictly separated by status. The best seats were reserved for the emperor and Vestal Virgins, then for senators and patricians, while the top of the amphitheater was for the common people. Each entry had a numeric number and the tickets were of clay tablets on which there was wrote the gate number and the seat. Better places, close to arena, were called "immum" (the lower seats), while those for the common people have been called "summum" (the upper seats).
The first impression one gets when approaching to it is, gosh this construction is so huge. With all technique and skills we have today it takes several years to build the football stadium and finish it, what a brilliant effort was to build the Colosseum two thousands years ago.
The Colosseum was commissioned by the Emperor Vespasian, who died in year 79., and finished during era of his sons Tit and Domitianus. As most of the other constructions in Rome, the Colosseum was never finished according to its plans. Truth is, fourth level is missing.
It was built for about 50.000 spectators but sometimes there were around 80.000 of them. In order to protect the spectators from a heat, kind of sailing canvas (called "vella") was added to its top. More than thousand sailors needed to operate with that huge vella.
The Colosseum was architectural wonder in many aspects. Over twenty entries leaded to its interiors, on three different levels, and less than half an hour needed to empty it. It takes more than that in most of football stadiums built nowadays.
We started from Brussels and on the third day morning we arrived in Rome; traffic was fluid. We aimed at the Colosseum, turned around the monument and parked our car, a Fiat 600, in front of it without any obstruction by anybody.
We quietly admired the Colosseum. For me it was the first time, my wife had already visited Rome.
That was in 1966.
Things have slightly (euphemism) changed since then. Since August 2013 even the access by the Via dei Fori Imperiale is closed for traffic.
On our last visit we stayed in a hotel close to the monument so that we could see it from the terrace and walk around in the evening when the crowds are gone and the atmosphere with the illuminations of the monuments changes from touristy in day time to some romantic as we like to imagine antiquity.
As for the monument itself I think I wrote everything I could in my reviews :
"Roman Building Efficiency".
"The Coliseum and the Martyrs."
"The Coliseum in the Middle Ages."
What else can I say without repeating what everybody knows? It has nothing to add to what we saw in movies, TV, guides and books. Only the sensation of being there, the sense of proportions, the success of passing all lines and controls.
Reaching an high place, we have the opportunity to free your imagination and mentally replace the crowds with guides and cameras by thousands of nervous people, breeding the smell of blood from below, and the comfort of being out of the arena.
Browsing the lower corridors, it's possible to feel the imprisonment of the fighters, waiting for their destination.
- Historical Travel
The Colosseum was one of the things I really wanted to see while in Rome. It's fab. When you look at the old tiered walls of this elliptical amphitheatre that provided seating for 50,000, you cannot just but marvel how much of it is still preserved. Ok, the seating has clearly gone, but the exterior walls look pretty solid.
It is truly amazing when you really think about it. You have to remember the building is ancient, as it was completed almost 2000 years ago in 80 AD. Clearly it is just a ruin compared to what it used to be back in time, as it was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1349 which caused the outer south side to collapse. Much of the tumbled stone was taken away from the site and reused for other buildings in Rome. But it is the largest ever built construction in the Roman Empire, and it is a pretty fab example of Roman architecture and engineering.
The Colosseum was initially used to host gladiatorial games and other public spectacles including simulated sea battles (naumachiae), animal hunts (venatios), re-enactments of famous battles and dramas based on Classical mythology. It remained in use for nearly 500 years.
In the medieval times, the Colosseum underwent several radical changes of use. By the late 6th century a small church had been built into the structure of the amphitheatre and the arena was converted into a cemetery. The numerous vaulted spaces in the arcades under the seating were converted into housing and workshops.
By the 16th century, the Colosseum had become derelict and the church officials sought a productive role for it. The plans included turning it into a wool factory or a bullfight ring. Both projects were later abandoned.
The Colosseum was made a sacred site in 1749. Later popes initiated various stabilisation and restoration projects, removing the extensive vegetation which had overgrown the structure and threatened to damage it further. Several reconstruction projects were carried out throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
Directions: Next to the Roman Forum. Metro: Colosseo
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Historical Travel
The Colosseum is located just east of the Roman Forum, the massive stone amphitheater was commissioned around A.D. 70-72 by Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty as a gift to the Roman people. In A.D. 80, Vespasian’s son Titus opened the Colosseumwith 100 days of games, including gladiatorial combats and wild animal fights. After four centuries of active use, it fell into neglect, and up until the 18th century it was used as a source of building materials. Though two-thirds of the original Colosseum has been destroyed over time, the amphitheater remains a popular tourist destination.
An amazing piece of art like so many other buildings in Rome
Address: Piazza del Colosseo, 1, 00184 Roma, Italy
Even though visiting the Colosseum is not the first thing we did when we got to Rome, it's such a must-see attraction that I thought I'd put it at the top of my tips. We spent one day touring around the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, and began our day at the Colosseum first thing in the morning. Even though we got there pretty early on a Monday morning, there still was a sizeable crowd, which made me happy I'd followed the advice of a VTer and bought my tickets in advance online (14 Euros, print at home option, no fixed time, valid for two days, includes entry to the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine). When we got to the Colosseum, a young lady offered us a to join an accredited English guided tour for an extra 13 Euros. While I'm usually quite hesitant to book anything that's offered off the street, Sylvain thought we would get more out of our visit if a guide provided us with some background information. As always, he was right! Our guide Gaston did an amazing job of telling us plenty of historical facts and anecdotes, all told with a quirky, dry sense of humour. The guided tour lasted about 45 min and included plenty of free time at the end to roam around the Colosseum on our own and take all the pictures we wanted. It all made for an excellent introduction to Ancient Roman times and culture!
Address: Piazza del Colosseo
Directions: Truly at the centre of Rome
Phone: 39 06 3996 7700
The Colosseum's history is a fantastic, almost mythological and definitely medieval existance. The construction of the Colosseum started in 72 AD under Emperor Vespasian and completed in 80 AD under Titus. The largest elliptical amphitheatre ever built in the Roman Empire.
Used as the stage for competitions between gladiators and various animals acquired from around the world. The animals would be kept beneath the Colosseum floor. Gladiators were essentially criminals that were allowed to fight for their freedom if they won (not in all cases).
The spectators were all the Roman dignitaries and citizens. Invited by the emperor, tickets would be issued to attend. It was quite organized and everyone knew, in advance, where they would be sitting. (This is the quick, short story version)
Today, the Colosseum appears to be partially dismantled. Stripped of the beautiful marble that once lined the skeleton that is left. This marble was taken and used to build the churches during the rebuilding of Rome.
I will recommend you participate in a group tour when you visit the Colosseum because the tour guides will give you a lot of information that helps you to understand the history of the Roman empire. You don't need an individual tour guide. Save your money and join a group once you arrive there. They will take care of purchasing your entrance tickets and your wait is not that long. We paid €25 per person (in 2011) for a combined tour of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.
Exit the Colosseo metro station and you're right there.
See more photos on my travelogue.
Address: Piazza del Colosseo, Roma, Italy
- Museum Visits
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I remembered enjoying my previous visit to the Colosseum a lot, and initially hoped to revisit it on this brief stay in the city. But time was against us, and while we could have managed a short visit it would not have really justified the cost and would have been frustratingly short. So we decided instead to just stop off here (from the Hop On, Hop Off bus) to soak up a little of the atmosphere and take some photos. Even just from the outside, it is an impressive sight and one not to be missed.
The Colosseum’s real name is the Flavian Amphitheatre. It was constructed between AD 72 – AD 82 as a venue for gladiatorial fights, and was in use until the early part of the 6th century. It then fell into neglect. The arena itself started to fill with earth and its structure was plundered for materials to be reused in the construction of the domestic dwellings that started to grow up around it in the Middle Ages. In the early 19th century the ruins had to be reinforced after an earthquake threatened to bring them down, and thus started a period of restoration, alongside archaeological research, that led to the Colosseum’s reinstatement as one of the major monuments of Rome.
The website linked below has a very informative leaflet detailing the history and architecture, and as we didn’t go inside on this occasion I’m not going to attempt a detailed description if something I haven’t seen for 27 years! It also gives opening hours, prices etc. Note that this is a popular attraction and queues to buy tickets can be long, so you might want to buy in advance. I’ve also read that buying your ticket at the Forum, for which it is also valid, can be quicker.
The Colosseum is open every day of the year apart from 1st January, 1st May and 25th December. It opens each day at 8.30 AM but closing times vary according to the season, so check the website before making an afternoon visit.
Directions: See the map and directions on the website. The nearest Metro station is Colosseo on Line B.
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