Our first experience of the Colosseum left much to be desired.
It was the very first thing we went to see when we arrived in Rome. At 10:00 in the morning, the queue already stretched outside and around the building. Not having bought prepaid tickets, there was nothing for it but to go stand in the sun and hope the queue moved quickly. It didn’t, and what was more, people were thronging and pushing and before we knew it, the two of us had been shoved out of the queue and left staring exasperatedly from the side as people streamed past us and refused to let us back in.
Hot and bothered, my fuse was too short to stand for it. We left in a huff, got onto the red Hop-On-Hop-Off and spent the rest of the day sitting comfortably as we toured around the streets of Rome. We returned much later that day, around 16:00 in the afternoon, to find that the queue had shortened considerably and that most of the morning’s crowd had come and gone, leaving the ancient arena relatively quiet, or as quiet as you can hope for on a sunshiny day in June.
We were not disappointed.
I’ve visited the Colosseum twice before, but both previous times visitors were not allowed inside and only onto a little balcony from which you could look down into the exposed belly of the arena. This time we could go in and walk through the arena itself, up onto the first floor and along the walkways around the whole circumference of the building. If we had arrived sooner, we could also have taken a tour of the hypogeum, the underground area where the wild animals and gladiators were once kept. Maybe next time.
It was an amazing experience. Construction of the Colosseum was completed in 80 AD and it was as if every stone in the building was layered with ancient history. Just imagine the sights it must have seen… the bloodshed, the mock naval battles, the death of so many martyrs. It sent goosebumps up and down my arms the whole time we were there.
No wonder the Colosseum was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Have you visited the Colosseum? Were you as awestruck as we were? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
For more posts in the Ciao Italy 2014 series, click here.