After leaving Vatican City, we got back on the coach and crossed the Tiber River to visit the Colosseum, which was originally named, “Flavio’s Amphitheatre.”
This colossal place took only 3 years to build, but that was because they used 40,000 slaves to do so. Completed in AD 80, it is probably the most impressive structure of the Roman Empire. It could accommodate 55,000 people, had 80 entrances, and was covered with an enormous sun awning, called a velarium, which took 1,000 men to install.
Above the ground, there are four storeys, the lowest tier being reserved for the privileged prominent citizens who it was considered, deserved the best view of the proceedings. The upper seating catered for lower class citizens as well as women. No comment!
This photo taken from the very top, demonstrates how high the building actually was.
Below the ground were rooms with mechanical devices, and cages containing wild animals. The cages could be hoisted, enabling the animals to appear in the middle of the arena.
In this arena, the Emperor entertained the public with free games, which helped to increase his popularity with the people. The games started off with a few circus acts, but usually ended with fights to the death between wild animals and gladiators. To mark the inauguration of the building in AD 80, some 9,000 wild animals were destroyed. Here you can see the vastness of the place, and the compartments where they kept the animals; tigers, lions, elephants and crocodiles. There was a wooden floor over the top of the cages, on which the gladiators fought the animals. I would hate to witness such a spectacle, wouldn’t you? This sport was however hugely popular in those days.
In 847, an earthquake felled the southern side of the Colosseum, and parts of the building, including the marble facade, were used to construct later monuments, including the St. Peter’s Basilica.
When we emerged, we saw several jolly gladiators, who for a fee, one could pose with for a photograph.
This young girl seemed quite taken with them. 😉
After the Colosseum, we had a walk around to look at a few other ruins of ancient Rome’s city centre. In the middle of this place is where Julius Caesar was murdered.
This triumphal Arch of Constantine, was built in 315 AD to commemorate Constantine I’s victory over Maxentius in the battle at the Milvian Bridge three years previous.
It was such an interesting day, and in the evening, we took a walk down to the Piazza di Spagna to see the Spanish Steps. There are 138 steps, and it is the widest staircase in Europe. At the top, is the Trinita dei Monti church, built in the 16th century. The last time we were there in the late ’80’s, the sides of the steps were beautifully decorated with pots of colourful Bougainvillea, but I was disappointed to see only people decorating them this time around.
I hope you enjoyed our tour today. Next time we meet, I think we’ll all be off to Pompeii.