Sometimes I find it is hardest to write about the world’s best known tourist attractions, like the Colosseum or the Eiffel Tower. I could give you a history lesson, but you can get that from just about any other website or from any Rick Steve’s or Frommers guidebook. I could rattle off numbers about its size, how many spectators it held, and how many entrances it had, but you’ll hear all that no matter if you decide to visit on a guided tour or on your own with an audio guide. Instead, I thought I’d give you some fun facts about the Colosseum (followed by some practical tips for visiting, so be sure to read to the bottom):
1. Originally it was known as the Amphitheatrum Flavium and you can still see this name on the Colosseum today. Eventually, it just came to be called the Colosseum, referring to any large amphitheater used for sports and entertainment. Though the one in Rome is always capitalized and spelled differently than the generic coliseum.
2. The West Exit was called the Gate of Death because this was the exit that dead gladiators were carried out from.
4. The very first games at the Colosseum, held in 80AD by Emperor Titus, lasted for 100 days and there were over 3000 gladiator fights during them. The very last gladiatorial games were held in 435AD.
6. The wooden floor of the Colosseum was removed and the lower cells would be filled with water for mock naval battles to take place. They weren’t quite as popular as the gladiator battles, so eventually were moved elsewhere and the wooden floor became permanent.
8. The Colosseum appears on the reverse of Italy’s five cent Euro coin. Bonus fun fact: Countries in the Euro Zone can mint their own coins and important monuments from their country of issue appear on their reverse.
10. Even though director Ridley Scott made it through all the red tape and bureaucracy required to film the movie Gladiator at the Colosseum, he decided that there were too many restrictions and that the Colosseum just wasn’t big enough for Hollywood. Instead, he built a replica in Malta at the estimated cost of a cool $1 million.
- The Colosseum opens at 8:30am year round and the line begins forming around 8am. The Colosseum closes 1 hour before sunset and the times vary throughout the year.
- Avoid waiting in line with a Roma Pass.
- If you chose to wait in line, tickets are €12 per person and under 18 years of age are free. Tickets are valid for 2 days, though you can only enter once. The ticket is good for entry to the Colosseum, the Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum.
- There is free admission for all on the first Sunday of every month.
The Walks of Italy’s ‘Colosseum at Night Tour with Underground & Arena Floor’ gives you VIP access after the Colosseum has closed to the general public and you’ll visit areas like the arena floor and underground that are only accessible on special guided tours.
You’ll get a gladiator’s view of the Colosseum when entering through the Gladiator’s Gate, which is only open on this special Gladiator’s Gate Colosseum Arena Floor Tour. This one offers excellent value for VIP access to areas not open to the public on a regular tikcet.
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