vendredi, avril 09, 2010

Colosseum, Palatine and Foro Romano

The Colosseum

It rained non-stop on Sunday. Fortunately we had taken a quick look at the weather forecast before setting out and brought along rainwear for everyone. Except the Teenager who when asked to pack his own rain gear didn't do it (as usual). What can one do?

The Colosseum, Palatine and Foro Romano are less than 30 minutes away from our flat, but since there was a bus (N°87) leaving from the foot of our building to the ruins, we took it. The cost was 1 euro per person and you can buy the tickets from the ticket machine on the bus.


There was a very very long queue at the Colosseum and I hadn't bought any tickets online as I wasn't sure if we would make it there after all. It's never easy to plan too much in advance with the Hub. He's one of those people who always needs to take a break and have a drink when he's visiting.

Hub refused to join the queue, saying that he would take a look at the ruins from the outside and return to the flat. I ignored him and started queuing up with Baby Girl. He sat outside with the boys and would phone me from time to time to nag. When I told him that I was finally at the ticket counter, he happily turned up to collect his ticket and the audiophone that I got him. (French)men!

Children enter for free if you have at least one parent who's from the EU - so do think of bringing your identity cards.


The Colosseum is the largest amphitheatre ever built in the Roman Empire. It's a great work of Roman architecture and engineering and took nearly a decade to finish. Construction started under Emperor Vespasian with the spoils from the Great Jewish Revolt and was completed under Titus. It stands where Nero's private artificial lake used to stand, his successors pleased to drain the lake and return the land to the people after his suicide.

Gladiator exhibits

In its time it could seat more than 80 000 (seating was according to rank and status) and was used mainly for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles like animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology. In medieval times, it was used for housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a cemetary, a quarry, a fortress. And it was ruined mainly through neglect, earthquakes, pollution and systematic robbery of its marble, bronze and stones for use elsewhere (e.g. to build churches, palaces, hospitals...).

The upper level

There were periods when thousands of wild animals (e.g. brought in from Africa and the Middle East) were killed or where thousands of gladiators fought to the death in a matter of days and months. Most of these shows were sponsored by private individuals like politicians to boost their popularity.

Arch of Constantine

On the upper level, there was an exhibition on the gladiators. The fights started out probably as a part of funeral rites before becoming popular entertainment. Most gladiators never lived past 30. Some were volunteer gladiators (mercenaries) but usually they were slaves, condemned criminals, prisoners of war, and during Commodus' time, even the handicapped. Most of the shows were really sick and they gave us some insight into the Roman people of those days.

Hypogeum below the arena

Underneath the arena was a series of tunnels (hypogeum) that were used to house the caged animals, props, slaves and gladiators before each show.

Aqueduct

View from the Palatine hill

Greek stadium (or was it really a garden?)

Next to the Colosseum are the Palatine and Foro Romano. They constituted the political, religious and commercial centre of ancient Rome and were constructed over 900 years. But they have been in ruins for a very long time not just due to abandon and earthquakes, but the Romans dismantling the ancient city brick by brick in the name of progress to build churches, palaces and other monuments.

17th century aviaries

Temple of Romulus

Temple of Antoninus and Faustina

Temple of Castor and Pollux

We have enjoyed the whole visit very much and I particularly appreciated the opportunity to educate myself about ancient Rome which had somehow escaped me in my formative years (probably because those fat men in bedsheets have never attracted me). Rome, the Eternal City, is amazing. Personally, I think that Paris is a more beautiful city, but it doesn't have an illustrous and glorious civilisation like ancient Rome. The Italian capital is steeped in history. In just 3 days it wasn't possible for us to visit it all, but I hope to attack the museums, shops and other monuments on another visit. If that coin I threw into the Trevi Fountain would work its magic (again).

View of the Temple of Venus and Roma from the Colosseum

The Foro Romano

2 commentaires:

Anonyme a dit…

Your efforts in documenting your trip to relive it sometime later has not been wasted, I enjoyed it thoroughly. Though I was hoping you would cover Tivoli Gardens in the outskirts of Rome. As you said, you will be back.

Beau Lotus a dit…

Wanted to go to the Spanish Steps and Villa Borghese but with those 4 others complaining about their feet etc all the time ended up with no time. Maybe next time I should go alone.