Old Rome: Colosseum & Roman Forum
As an historian, I really appreciated our day at the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. So much can be said about both places, and yet I’m choosing to say very little. I think these places can and should speak for themselves. I’ve opted to share some of my photos, instead of going on and on about all of the incredible history therein. Should you ever find yourself in Rome, you mustn’t pass up the opportunity to immerse yourself in the Ancient Roman world.
The Colosseum: Are you not entertained?
I probably asked our guide about 1,000 questions in the hour and a half tour that we had of the colosseum. I gleaned a lot from our guide, and I learned a lot about one of the most famous structures in Italy.
It was built in 72 A.D. and was completed in 80 A.D., taking approximately 8 years to complete. Nobody knows who the architect was because they were simply unimportant. Those who really mattered were the individuals who financed it. Vespasian ordered the construction, and it was later continued under his son, Titus. During the first 100 days after it opened, between 9,000 and 11,000 animals were killed in the colosseum. I was assured that this brutality was enacted in the spirit of celebration. Alas, my modern sensibilities don’t blend well with those of the Ancient Romans.
Originally, the structure could be covered with the same fabric used to make sails. Thus, sailors sat in the uppermost of 5 levels to reel in and let out the retractable ceiling. As part of the lowest class of spectators, those in the 5th level (the nosebleeds, if you will) sat on wooden seats. Moving down into the other levels you would find brick and finally, marble on the lowest level. To this day, one can see graffiti carved into some of the marble seats.
The exterior of the structure is under heavy construction. Most photos that you see show a black and grey façade, which of course, is quite different from its original pristine white. Marble absorbs the pollution and takes on its colour. Moreover, the exterior marble was heavily mined (most of the remnants of said mining can be found in the Vatican) and thus, it is holey and incomplete. Scaffolding covered much of the colosseum upon my visit, and so much of it was obscured from view.
Having said that, it is a remarkably beautiful place to visit and well worth the time and the cost.
The Roman Forum, a leisurely walk from the colosseum, was the epicenter for socio-political happenings in Ancient Rome. The forum takes its name from the Latin “foras” which means outside, because the Roman Forum was located outside of inhabited areas.
We were given basic information about the Forum, and we were left to navigate it on our own, at our own pace. As expected, there is a rich cultural, political and religious history in this area of Rome. Bring good walking shoes and give yourself at least 3 hours when visiting the Forum. It is quite vast, and has very hilly and uneven terrain.
Of what we saw, I enjoyed the panoramic views of Rome, the Arch of Titus, the Temple of the Vestal Virgins, and the Circus Maximus.
Until next time, keep wandering,