As soon as we dropped off our luggage at the hotel, we zipped outside (as we usually do) to explore the new city. Since the Colosseum was about two blocks away, we made that our first stop. Here is my wife as we approach it for the first time.
We must have ended up going to the Colosseum five times while we were there, twice inside and three times outside. We enjoyed it that much.
I had forgotten that it was the epicenter of Roman life. Everything was measured as a distance from Rome and, to be more specific, the Colosseum in Rome. There will be an upcoming post on the history of the Colosseum, so I won't go into it here.
Bright and early the next day we had tickets for the Viator "Ancient Rome and Colosseum Half-Day Walking Tour". We had to be there at 8 AM, so you'll notice my wife looking a lil sleepy in the crisp morning air.
Here she is waiting for the tour to start.
We paid extra to get a small group size, so our group had 10 persons. As soon as everyone arrived, we headed across the street to the base of the Colosseum.
Here is our tour guide - a very nice man with an Italian accent. If you get a chance, we highly recommend taking this tour. For one thing, it is the only way to see the basement and 3rd level of the Colosseum.
Looking back across the street at the Colosseum Metro stop. We met at the plaza above the Metro.
Our tour guide said that the top level apartments around the Colosseum were owned by actors who typically paid about $1 million for their small "penthouse".
Looking up Via dei Fori Imperiali, one can easily see the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II.
If you'll recall on our tour of Pompeii, it had many resident dogs. Well, the Colosseum has resident cats. I joke that it's because the entrance sign says "No Dogs" (which it does indeed say!) but is silent about cats.
It's not hard to tell what section has been cleaned! (the rest of the photos in this post were not taken on the Viator tour, but on a different day. To continue the Viator tour, go the Basement post)
More than half the outer section has collapsed due to earthquakes hundreds of years ago.
The Catholics were impressed with the Colosseum enough to leave their mark on it too!
Pope St Pius (1566-72) is said to have told people to take sand from the Colisseum because it held the blood of Christian Martrs. Pope Bendict XIV (1740-1758) dedicated the Colosseum to Christian martyrs. However, medieval records do not mention Christians being killed there, unlike the many records of the gladiator and animal killings. Our tour guide, in fact, stated it is highly unlikely Christians were killed in the Colosseum. He said they were taken outside the Roman walls to be killed, since the Romans would not have wanted their spirits hanging around the Colosseum (since they thought spirits stayed where one died).
The extremely large pock marks that can be seen all over the Colosseum were caused by the removal of iron that held it all together.
The Arch of Constantine is just a few hundred feet from the Colosseum. It was built in 312.
I have not been able to determine what these ruins are, located next to the Colosseum. Drop me a note if you know. [8/2015: See Comments Section!]
They have been adding some new features to the Colosseum, which is probably a good thing if done right. For example, there is an elevator in this area to help those that need it get to Levels 2 and 3.
Another Pius marker at the other end of the Colosseum.
I haven't been able to determine what these are. They really look like tombstones, but I doubt that's what they are!
Interesting how this one section on the bottom level has deteriorated differently than the other sections. Is is a different type of stone? Each archway on the bottom had it's own number, so those entering knew where their seat was. Similar to stadiums today, eh?
Do you know your Roman numerals? Here is XXVIII. (answer given with next pic)
Prior pic was 28. Now we have XXVIIII. Wait a minute...weren't we always taught that the Romans used XXIX instead of XXVIIII? Wassup with that?
Prior pic was 29. Now we have XXX. Given the previous two were 28 and 29, you should be able to get this one!
There were tour guides all over. The good news is that these guides now use microphones in front of their mouth, and radios with earbuds for each of the persons in their group. Therefore, they don't have to shout like the tour guides we saw at Versailles a few years ago that really ruined our tour of the chateau. Much better having them whisper into these little mini-mics.
This is the walkway near where tickets can be purchased, right in front of the restrooms (I was waiting for my wife). Note the little black cat hustling along...
...still hustling along. You know where she went? Into the women's bathroom!
A bit of the original Roman road. Ready to go inside and continue the Viator tour?