You are currently viewing The Colosseum in Rome

The Colosseum in Rome

The Colosseum is one of the most recognizable architectural monuments in Italy and around the world. For nearly two thousand years, the Colosseum, located in the heart of Rome, has attracted millions of visitors eager to see this iconic amphitheater for themselves.

The name “Colosseum” comes from the Latin word “colosseus,” meaning “huge.” To the Romans at the dawn of our era, this building seemed enormous, as most buildings at the time did not exceed 10 meters in height. Modern tourists perceive the size of the amphitheater differently, as skyscrapers have altered our sense of scale. However, it is crucial to understand that the Colosseum’s significance lies not in the height of its walls, but in the cultural and historical contributions it made to civilization.

Video – The Colosseum in Rome, Italy

Table of Contents:

History of the Colosseum

The Colosseum at Sunrise

Emperor Vespasian, who became the ruler of the Roman Empire in 69 A.D., spent enormous sums of money restoring places of worship, such as the Capitol. However, in 72 A.D., he embarked on a more ambitious project, commissioning the region’s best builders to erect the Flavian Amphitheater. This would forever leave his dynasty’s mark on world culture.

Vespasian also had an ulterior motive. The Colosseum’s foundation was laid on the site of a lake near Nero’s Golden House – the predecessor and enemy of the new ruler. This construction completely erased the lake’s existence from Rome’s map.

Historians estimate that about 100,000 workers, mostly prisoners of war and slaves, participated in the amphitheater’s construction. After eight years of relentless work, the Colosseum was fully completed and approved by the emperor.

In its first centuries, the Colosseum played a significant role in Roman life and constantly reminded them of its founder. Until the eighth century, it was known as the Flavian Amphitheater. It regularly hosted gladiatorial fights, animal battles, and festive performances. In addition to entertainment events, executions were also carried out here, leading Emperor Constantine I to eventually halt the Colosseum’s use.

Throughout the Middle Ages, the Colosseum was either ignored by authorities or used as a memorial site to honor early Christian martyrs. This neglect led to significant damage, and until the 18th century, no one considered the need for its reconstruction and restoration.

At the end of the 19th century, the Catholic Church initiated efforts to preserve as many surviving elements of the amphitheater as possible. This shift in attitude transformed the once-forgotten building into a symbol of European civilization.

In 2007, the New Open World Corporation organized a contest where people worldwide voted for the New Seven Wonders of the World. The Colosseum earned first place, the only European cultural heritage site on the list.

The Colosseum at Night

Design and Architecture of the Colosseum

The arena could accommodate up to 50,000 spectators

Scientists estimate that the modern Colosseum is only one-third of the original construction, yet this fact does not diminish its grandeur.

At the dawn of our era, the Colosseum could accommodate 50,000 seated spectators and an additional 18,000 standing. Although the Colosseum’s capacity is much smaller today, it still attracts thousands of visitors.

A revolutionary construction feature was the 240 huge arches in three tiers, faced with travertine on the outside, surrounding a concrete and brick ellipse. The walls are 524 meters long, 156 meters wide, and 57 meters high. The invention of concrete and terracotta brick was a construction breakthrough, requiring about 1 million pieces for the Colosseum.

The fourth continuous tier, completed later, has holes in its ledge for supports to stretch a huge awning over the arena and amphitheater, protecting spectators from rain and sun.

On the Colosseum’s sidewalk, posts with debated purposes are visible. Some believe they were additional supports for the awning, while others think the five remaining bollards served as turnstiles to manage crowds.

Inside the ancient amphitheater were vaulted galleries for spectator rest and commerce. The arches, each at a slightly different angle, cast varying shadows, creating a unique visual effect. The first tier contains 76 spans for entry, marked with Roman numerals to number the entrances. This large number of arches allowed rapid evacuation, a feature unmatched in modern buildings.

The Colosseum’s structure was lightened by supports of different styles. The first tier had stone Doric semi-columns, the second had concrete Ionic columns, and the third featured ornate Corinthian capitals.

Historians debate whether the second and third tiers’ openings were adorned with white marble statues, as none have been found.

The arena’s elliptical shape prevented escape during gladiatorial fights and animal showdowns. The floor, initially planked, could be removed for naval battle reenactments.

Slave chambers, animal cages, and other facilities were later built in the basement, along with elaborate stage machinery for special effects. Most interior decorations have not survived, but the room arrangements under the arena are still visible.

Interestingly, tourists initially visited the amphitheater at night to admire its illumination. However, historians have developed fascinating tours to restore the Colosseum’s historical glory, immersing visitors in its past.

Bread and Spectacles

“Panem et circenses,” or “bread and spectacles,” was the Colosseum’s motto for centuries. People sought not only sustenance but also entertainment, and the Colosseum provided a lavish program of deadly fights and bloody massacres.

The first recorded protest against violent performances dates back to 404 A.D., when a monk named Telemachus demanded the cancellation of a fight and was stoned to death by enraged spectators. The last gladiatorial fights and animal baiting occurred in 523 A.D., after which the Colosseum fell into disrepair. A 7th-century monk wrote, “As long as the Colosseum stands, so does Rome. If the Colosseum falls, Rome will fall with it.”

Colosseum Opening Hours and Ticket Prices

The Colosseum from Outside
The Colosseum from Outside

Until recently, the Colosseum was accessible 24/7. However, the authorities in Rome realized that unrestricted access could damage the building, so they put security measures in place. That being said, there are nighttime tours of the Colosseum that you can buy tickets for in advance. You can read more about them and purchase tickets here.

The amphitheater is now only open for daytime visits, from 8:30 AM to 7:15 PM from March 31st to September 30th, from 8 AM to 6:30 PM from October 1st to October 31st, and from 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM from October 27th to December 31st. If you can’t make it during these hours, don’t worry. The city has done a beautiful job illuminating the exterior walls, making it a must-see in Rome at night.

The Colosseum is closed to tourists on just two days each year: December 25th and January 1st. However, in 2024, the Colosseum will also be closed on March 29th.

Admission and guided tours cost €16 for adults, with an extra €2 booking fee. Kids under 18 can enter for free with paying adults on the same date and time indicated on the ticket; they can get their free ticket after passing through security, right at the ticket office inside the Colosseum.

There are also €4 tickets for young people between 18 and 25 from the European Community, from non-EU countries with reciprocity agreements, and from non-EU countries with a valid residence permit. The ticket is good for 24 hours and allows one entry to the Colosseum and one entry to the Forum – Palatine area.

Seniors can get discounted tickets, but they need to show the right ID.

Also, admission to the Colosseum is FREE on the first Sunday of every month.

Buying tickets can be tricky. A lot of tourists try to buy tickets at the Colosseum, which means long lines at the ticket office.

To save time and maybe even money, order tickets on the Colosseum’s official website at, a reputable online platform or at one of the two pre-sale locations – Biglietteria Ticket Office at Piazza Del Colosseo and Largo Della Salara Vecchia.

The official Colosseum website, available in both Italian and English, can be found at:

How to Get to the Colosseum

International flights typically land at Leonardo da Vinci Airport, known to Italians as Fiumicino. Located 32 km from Rome, this distance can be challenging to cover due to traffic.

Many tourists take the train from the airport to the city. The fare is 14 euros, and the journey takes about 35 minutes. However, you’ll arrive at the city station and need additional transportation to your hotel.

For large groups, a taxi from the airport is a practical option. Look for white cars marked “Comune di Roma.” Fares start at 40€ and vary based on hotel location.

Several bus companies also offer services from the airport to different parts of the city. Prices range from 9€ to 20€, so check the company’s website for specific rates.

Once in Rome, reaching the Colosseum is straightforward. It’s located at the Colosseo metro station in the city center. Metro tickets cost 1.50€ and are valid for 100 minutes of travel.

Buses to the Colosseum include numbers 60, 75, 81, 85, 117, 175, 271, 571, 673, 810, and 850. There’s also tram number 3.

Address: Piazza del Colosseo.