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The Colosseum, Colosseo or Flavvian Amphitheatre in Latin, can represent the ultimate height of The Roman Empire and the lowest point of The Roman Empire. When construction was completed on the Colosseum in 80 AD it was the largest amphitheatre built in all of Rome and could house over fifty thousand people! The engineering skill and technology of the day was pushed to its limits by its construction and design. The stadium was even designed to flooded in order to provide for mock navel battles. To top it off the structure has a certain elegance and grace that most large stadiums do not generally have and an example is that Doric, Ionic and Corinthian columns are used in the decoration of the exterior of this amphitheatre.
At the same time the Colosseum was built primarily to entertain the masses in brutal and barbaric games. Some were beast on beast combat to the death. Others were people fighting animals to the death, while the most popular was the human on human combat. Most of the gladiators were slaves, often captured in war, others volunteers that were trained in special schools to fight each other to the death. Due to the high value of a gladiator most of the time the battles was not actually to the death although death battles were the most popular, and when a gladiator died the crowds would go wild. Other activities at the Colosseum were reenactment of famous battles, executions and classical plays.
The Colosseum provided entertainment to the citizens of Rome for over 500 years with the last recorded games happening in the 6th century. During medieval times the Colosseum was used for several different things. Large portions were converted into a cemetery and the lower levels on the street were converted into shops, workshops and housing for the natives of Rome. Many areas were still up for rent by the public as late as the 12th century. Around 1200 the Frangipani family turned the Colosseum into their own private castle.
In 1349 a large earthquake did massive damage to the Colosseum resulting in the collapse of the outer south side of the structure. Most of the stone was reused to build new palaces, churches and hospitals around Rome while the Colosseum was largely left to decay. After the earthquake a religious order moved into the Colosseum and remained there till the early 19th century.
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Today the Colosseum has become one of Rome’s major tourist attractions with over a million visitors every year. Between 1993 and 2000 a major restoration program was done costing €20.6 million. The Colosseum is a truly an amazing site and should be the number one site visited by any person in Rome or Italy.
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There are many ways to get a ticket for the Colosseum. Remember if you buy your ticket online at Ticket Clic or use a multi day pass, like the Archaeologia Card, you do not have to wait in the ticket line. Therefore if you have a pass or bought your ticket online go to straight to the entrance line and do not wait in the long ticket buying line. Another way to by pass the line, is to buy a combination ticket at the Roman Forum/Palatine Hill. The nearest entrance is to the right, about 100 metres, behing the Arch of Constantine.
At the entrance to the Colosseum there are usually men dressed as gladiators and will charge you to take a photo with them. Remember to bargain a price before taking the photo as some Asian tourists have been rumored to pay up to a €100 for a photo. Most of the time the gladiators will settle at around €1 to €5.
Colosseo Stop is the metro stop right in front of the Colosseum. The stop is on the A line (red). Be aware that you can only change from line B to A, and vice versa at Termini Station. Several buslines have a stop at the Colosseum.
It best to walk a few blocks away from the Colosseum to buy food in order to avoid very high prices.
The vending trucks are very overpriced charging €3 for a coke. Bring your own drinks.
There is no need to sleep near the Colosseum due to its central location. For a list of Hotels and Hostels check the section Sleep in the guide for the city of Rome.
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