The Colosseum, Rome
15 June 2022
Visiting the Colosseum fulfilled my ambition of visiting all the seven wonders of the world. The Colosseum was voted in sixth place, the Great Wall of China was first, Petra in Jordan was second, and Machu Picchu was voted fourth, and Chichen Itza was voted fifth place. I plan to visit Christ the Redeemer, third place, in Brazil and the Taj Mahal, seventh place, in India. So it was one of the ‘must see’ places on my bucket list. I travelled solo and combined my top ten tourist attractions in Rome with visiting the Colosseum.
Unsurprisingly, the Colosseum is Rome’s second most popular tourist attraction after the Vatican with over four million visitors a year. The Colosseum is huge. Built in AD 80, as an oval amphitheatre, it has a capacity to sit 50,000 people. It has been used for various things over time, including a christian shrine.
For safety reasons, there is a limit of 3,000 people at any one time inside the building. That is still a lot of people! There are three floors and these can only be accessed by guided tours. I booked a guided tour which was helpful as there was so much of the area to cover. I still can’t work out why visitors are told to turn right on entering the site, a bit like entering an aircraft really but without the benefit of a first class cabin! I suspect it had something to do with crowd control and management.
The centre of the Colosseum, the arena, was the stage for the sporting event. It was basically where the fighting took place! The floor was made of wood and covered with sand to absorb the blood that was shed. Half of the stage has been reinforced for people to walk on and the other half showed what was underneath.
The Roman architects and engineers built an elaborate network of structures and tunnels underneath the floor. The scale and size of the Colosseum can only be experienced from above. But seeing the arena helped me to get a sense of what it must have been like to be there, either as a spectator to watch the barbaric event, or the animals, or people who were forced to fight. The place gave me an eerie feeling. I was glad I was in a group.
It was clearly evident that the Colosseum had been neglected for hundreds of years and as a result, it had been stripped of marble and precious travertine that were used in its construction. You will see evidence of renovations that have taken place here and there, and work still in progress. I noticed, and I was fascinated by the holes in the walls everywhere. These holes were made as a result of the iron clamps that were removed when the Colosseum was a ruin and used somewhere else.
While it was hard to imagine the blood thirsty spectators and gladiators who once attended and played at this Amphitheatre, it was not difficult to feel the sheer history and a sense of being part of something special. The Colosseum is the largest ancient amphitheatre, and remains the largest standing amphitheatre today. I can understand how the Colosseum is voted one of the seven wonders of the world. The Colosseum is a special place and deserves its place in history, religion and architecture.