Monday, July 16, 2012

Colosseum ~ Forum ~ Rome, Italy

Today was another great day in Rome and we planned on getting to the Colosseum early to purchase a tour package that included the ruins of the Forum, as well.  The feeling of awe that I felt when I first saw this incredible structure was still there as we came to it this morning, this will be a very interesting tour.

We are across the street from the Colosseum
The Colosseum in Rome, Italy
We purchased our tickets from the area in front of the Colosseum and had a guide with a microphone for that part of the tour. We were about to enter histories greatest ancient stadium and see where they made history all those years ago.
We are able to see the inside of the ruins of the Colosseum in Rome
Inside the Colosseum in Rome
This famous ampitheatre has seen many forms of entertainment over the years and one that might not be well known is that it had a plumbing system when it was first built that allowed it to be filled with water and mock sea battles would be carried on here.  That story doesn’t seem to have a lot of credibility with historians but with the stage props and all that is known to be true, it could have happened.  There were sails used to protect the spectators during rain or sun and they were manned by sailors and used to create a breeze when necessary so why couldn’t there be mock sea battles?
The tunnels that were under the arena floor can be seen
Exposed tunnels in the Colosseum
The Colosseum has had many changes through the centuries but the one that might be most memorable is the contests of the gladiators and the animals.  They were brought in through underground tunnels and the animals then kept in cages in the two levels below the arena’s main area.  The lions are what we generally think of for the battles but there were different animals brought from foreign countries to be battled against including rhinos and hippos and so many others. The hunts would be staged with moveable trees and buildings. 
The ruins show the walls inside and the brickwork
Inside walls of the Colosseum in Rome
Before the Colosseum received major damage from an earthquake in 1349, it was also used for housing, fortress, workshops and a Christian shrine.  There was also damage including being stripped of the marble fa├žade.  There are different stories as to where that marble went but what it leaves is a stone building with some holes left by the bronze clamps that were also taken, still visible today.   
We could hear this musician as we wandered among the ruins in Rome
A musician plays in Rome
After a short break from the tour of the Colosseum, we began a tour with a different guide who led us about the other ruins and Forum.  She did not have a microphone, and that made it very difficult to hear what she said with all the outside noises around us, and those with hearing problems would hear nothing.  We did hear some beautiful music being played by someone set up nearby for everyone’s enjoyment. 
The Arch was covered in beautiful artwork, just outside the Colosseum
Arc di Constantino in Rome
The Arc di Constantine was named after and dedicated in 315 during a visit when Emperor Constantine visited the city and reference is made to his reign on the arc. This beautiful archway is just outside the Colosseum and was the finish line for the marathon event in the 1960 Olympics. Wouldn’t that have been a thrill to have participated in? 

Gladiators posed for pictures and horse drawn buggies gave rides
Entertainment and transportation in Rome

There were lots of gladiators standing out there waiting to get their photos taken with you, for a fee.  Apparently some are not licensed to do this but I am not sure how you’d learn who was and who wasn’t, do they carry a ‘gladiator license’?  Horse drawn buggies were offering rides that may closely resemble days of old.

Gladiator shows me his strong muscles
Gladiator Fabio

My sister happened to get this photo as I was approached by a Fabio lookalike (or was he the real one?) who proudly showed me his muscles but after a gentle squeeze and an ‘oohhh’, I turned down his offer for a photo.


Tours are walking among the ruins of the Forum in Rome, Italy
The ruins of the Forum in Rome

We walked through some other ruins until we reached the Forum where we were right down within the ruins of old Roman days.  Our guide had so much information which we were not able to hear properly but what we could see was worth seeing and we walked on the ground that had once been walked on by Julius Caesar before his assassination here in 44BC.
This shows a different view of the Colosseum from the Arc di Constantine
The Colosseum in Rome, Italy
This was quite a tour of history in the ancient city of Rome. The Colosseum and Forum are amazing to visit and there are still more digs being done to find more pieces of history in this incredible part of the world.  After hearing about Julius Caesar’s assassination and the gruesome gladiator battles it was time to get back to this real world and go have some lunch. As I say that I realize that this was a real world at one time and not just a story book we read when we were young. Hmmm, food for thought or better yet, food for lunch. Our time in Rome is not over so I will be sharing more of the sights later and here is our tour of St. Peter's Basilica.

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