Wednesday, September 18, 2013

ET 3.01.a - Roman Ruins (Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palentine Hill)

Actual date of this event: 5 September

Note: Luke and I took over 430 pictures between the two of us of JUST the Roman Ruins. So I will do my best to NOT show you too many pictures that look like a bunch of crumbled rocks. I promise that the real life Roman Ruins are pretty amazing!
I don't want to repeat myself too much for those of you that read my Tips & Tricks post from the other day, so I will try to make this brief. After reading up on the best way to visit the Roman Ruins, I determined the Underground Tour would be the best option for our visit. At the time of booking, the website was not working, so I called the number on the website. The lady spoke English well enough so it was not too difficult to communicate with her. She informed me that I would receive a confirmation email by the next morning. My nerves were calmed when I woke up the next morning as I saw a confirmation email waiting to be opened. Through my research, I read of other people getting scammed for other websites.

We arrived at the Colosseum around 12pm (our tour was scheduled to begin at 12:20pm), and I am glad we arrived early because it allowed us time to make sure we knew exactly where to go. The line for the non-reserved ticket holders was so super long, and I already felt like this tour was totally worth it. We walked right past that long line and waited a few minutes at the front while a non-reserved ticket holder lady was trying to weasel her way into a reserved ticket so she didn't have to wait in the long line. As one who followed the rules and as one who saw all of the other people who were at the front and had been waiting for hours, I was happy to see that the Italians in the ticket office were not budging and resulted to calling security. Yes! Note: For anything you book in advance in Italy, I recommend printing a copy of the confirmation as it will be extremely helpful to those checking passes.
We walked to the end of the corridor, which is where we were directed to go by the ticket office, and waited patiently for our tour guide. At 12:20pm, she showed up and handed all 20 or so of us in the group a set of headphones. As she spoke, we could hear her through the headphones, so we did not have to hover around her during the whole tour. This was awesome! Note: A regular ticket to the Colosseum does not include an audio guide, but you may rent one for approx 5 euros.
And we begin! The Colosseum is oval shaped and there are two corridors through which to enter/exit: one at the top of the oval and one at the bottom. One corridor is for the winners and one is for the losers. Our tour allowed us to go on the arena floor which was off limits to regular ticket holders but unfortunately we had to go through the losers corridor. During our tour, we were the only ones on the actual ground of the arena.

Video of looking around the Colosseum from the arena floor:
The cross below is on the ground level and is the ceremonial meeting point for the Pope on Good Friday. Click here to see a short video.
The Colosseum had a canvas roof that could be pulled open by sailors, and the arena floor was layered with sand so that any blood from the fights could be covered up.

The Colosseum was built around 80AD, and the underground portion was built around 83AD. Animals and slaves were held underground. There was no light, and it would often flood. Our tour allowed us to go into the underground portion, where we got a glimpse of how the Colosseum was built.

Travertine stones (similar to limestone) were laid like lego blocks (you can see the lego formation a few pictures up at the top of the Colosseum). They are held together either by pressure or by metal clamps. The arches you see below are underground and held together only by pressure. Yikes!

There are four levels to the Colosseum including the underground. Our tour allowed us to go to the top level which was blocked off by a locked gate so regular ticket holders could not enter. We were the only ones on the top level during that time. Again, this tour was so worth it!

From the top level, we were able to see that the Colosseum has three rings around it. One side has collapsed to only have one ring now.

We were also able to get a good view of the Roman Forum and other parts of the city from the top level.

"Colosseum" is a nickname given to the structure due to the size of the statue of Nero (35m tall compared to the Colosseum being about 55m tall) which stood just outside of the arena. The actual name is Flavian Amphitheatre.
After our tour, we wandered in the museum (available to all ticket holders) for a bit but to me it was just like the British Museum in London - a bunch of old stuff that in order to know what it was I had to read the plaque (boring). So we left the Colosseum and ate our sandwiches outside in some shade. Note: If you visit the Colosseum, there are a bunch people who sell random stuff around the outside and are very very annoying. Luke and I were pretty rude to them, but if we hadn't, they would not have left us alone.

A ticket to the Colosseum also gives you access to the Roman Forum and Palentine Hill. Our ticket allowed us two days to visit all sites - I believe it is the same for regular ticket holders. We could have gone back the next day instead to see the Forum, but we decided to continue on with the ruins.
The Roman Forum was the public square way back in the day. It was the home of many temples and shrines and kept growing as time went on.

In this picture below, you can see just how big everything is by looking at the size of the people walking on the path.

The Roman Forum and Palentine Hill is HUGE... we wandered around for about 3 hours looking at all of the stuff that was either still standing or just laying on the ground.

It is amazing how extremely old column posts and sculpted ruins lay there as if they just fell yesterday.
It was very very hot outside that day (around 90), but thankfully we could splash some water on our face and arms and also fill our water bottle up as we walked around.
Palentine Hill was the home of the Flavian Palace. Parts of it were still standing, not in use today, but most of it has been ruined. We walked around on whatever level we could get on, but we were fading pretty fast from the heat, the walking, and the lack of ... um ... beverages. It was 5 o'clock somewhere, but who keeps track of time when you're on vacation?

After more than four hours, we were done with the Roman ruins. To think that the ruins lay there as if people drop off pieces everyday is pretty neat. To think that the Colosseum is still "standing" and has not fully been destroyed by a bomb is pretty amazing. We also saw people still digging and doing research throughout the whole site. Can you believe it? After this many years, they are still making discoveries? Very cool!!

Other posts on Rome: Tips & Tricks, General Itinerary, Vatican City

The Colosseum had been damaged by lightening and fire way back when, but it was an earthquake in 847 that caused the south side to collapse.

1 comment:

  1. When I went to Pompeii they were also doing excavation work too. It was pretty cool!


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