On a recent trip to Italy, we were lucky enough to get the chance to visit one of the world’s most iconic landmarks and one of history’s most interesting structures. It’s hard to get your head around the fact that Rome’s Colosseum lay in ruin for a long period of time in the Middle Ages, during which the marble features inside were looted and melted down to make cement, but there’s no doubting its importance today.
It also came as a surprise to us that the name ‘Colosseum’ is a relatively recently moniker given to the building. During Roman times, it was actually known as the Flavian Amphitheatre and owned by the very wealthy Flavian family. When the name was finally changed, it wasn’t for the reason you might expect, either. Many believe the term ‘Colosseum’ refers to the structure’s size, but it’s actually related to the fact that a large statue known as a colossus was located outside of the arena.
So, if you are planning a visit, here are a few dos and don’ts to keep in mind.
Don’t Visit On The First Sunday Of The Month
Whilst it may be tempting to coincide your visit to the Colosseum with the first Sunday of the month, when many of the city’s biggest attractions wave their entry fees, we would not recommend doing this. You will certainly not be the only person with this idea and queues will increase as tourists rush to see everything for free. If you don’t mind waiting in line and you’re on a tight budget then this may be your best chance, but otherwise, it’s a good idea to save your visit for the day after.
Do Book Online
Even on days when entry isn’t free, queues can often snake around the walkway outside the Colosseum and result in a long wait to get in. The best way to avoid the wait is to book online in advance and join the much shorter reservations line. You will pay a small fee for this privilege but this easily outweighs the time you will waste queuing to get in if you choose to pay on the day. When booking from the UK, the website Coop Culture offers tickets as part of an official partnership with the Colosseum. We found the website very easy to use and saw many other tourists with vouchers purchased from here.
Do Arrive Early In The Day
Whether you choose to pay on the day or book in advance, it is best to plan your visit for the morning. When we arrived at 9 am, the queues were quite short, but by the time we left at 11 am, they had really started to build up. Even the online ticket line was much longer by this time. The Colosseum is very easy to get to (it greets you magnificently as you exit the metro station), so even if you plan to go early, it won’t involve getting up at the crack of dawn.
Do Book An Organised Tour
Obviously, seeing the Colosseum is an amazing experience however you decide to do it, but it is one of those places where an organised tour will definitely enhance your visit. There are many different options available, in various different languages, including those that give you access to the underground level and the balcony on the highest tier. During our private tour, we learned about the pulley system below the ground that caused animals and gladiators to pop up onto the arena floor and also that the Romans flooded the Colosseum and staged mock naval battles as well as the famous fights – two things we would have never known were it not for our knowledgeable guide, an archaeologist no less.
Don’t Forget To Visit The Roman Forum And Palatine Hill
Any ticket for the Colosseum also includes entry to the nearby Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, two of the other major tourist sites in the city. Because of their proximity, it is easy to explore these on the same day, but the ticket actually gives you two days to see all three attractions. Once you have your ticket for the Colosseum, you can then skip the line at the other two. Inside, you will see some of the most impressive ruins Rome has to offer, including baths, houses, sporting arenas, ornamental gardens, temples and the dramatic basilica.
Do Come Back At Night
During the spring and summer months, the Colosseum closes at 7 pm, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t head to this part of the city at night. Like many of Rome’s major monuments, the amphitheatre is lit up beautifully after dark and offers a very different photo opportunity to during the day. You also have the added benefit of not having to fight off the crowds to get the best shots.
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