Since I watched Russell Crowe’s Gladiator in circa 2000 one of the places that has ALWAYS been on my bucket list is to visit the Colosseum in Rome.
Our only free full day to visit co-incided with the first Sunday of the Month. This means that all Roman Museums are FREE OF CHARGE. This also means that official tours (including those of the catacombs) were not running and visitors have to play the tourist monopoly on unofficial tour guides.
Having being subject to poor tours in the past I scouted around several of the vendors before deciding to go with a tour company SPQR (Special Quality Rome) lead by a brilliant young guide called Mircha. The guide was €25 per person (as we didn’t have to pay for entrance fees)
Mircha was excellent and completely changed our experience, he was knowledgeable, humorous and gave us insightful snippets of information of the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
A Brief History of the Colosseum
Here are some of the facts I picked up from Mircha about the Colosseum. As I have previously alluded to. I LOVE a good fact.
- It was and is the largest ampitheatre ever built. It took 10 years to construct and could hold 50,000 spectators at its peak.
- Seating was based on class. Senators sat at the bottom and the common folk sat up in the gods. No too much different to a modern day trip to the Lion King, although actors were not allowed to attend the games.
- The Colosseum claimed the life of over 1,000,000 animals including Elephants, lions, bears, giraffes (even those that paint?) etc.
- There were 76 entrances and spectators were given individual tickets. This was the first ever emergency exits with stairs slanted to quicken the escape.
- Following the collapse of the Roman empire the Colosseum fell into disrepair. Through fires, thieves and earthquakes only a third of the original site is still standing.