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The Colosseum In Rome
cwo3ward @ 11/ 25/ 2009

The Colosseum is an unbelievable place. For years I wanted to go and see it. I dreamed of the day when I would finally find myself in Rome to experience the Colosseum first hand. In 2006, we took our first trip to Italy. We met up with a bus tour in Nice, France and proceeded to drive to Monte Carlo and then to Italy. We stopped other places as we made our way to Rome, the farthest south we would be going. In two days, we finally entered Rome and the bus dropped us off. We went on a walking tour with a local guide and finally walked past the Market of Emperor Trajan and there it was.... The Colosseum was amazing as we walked down the street toward it.  I had seen so many pictures over the years that it almost looked familiar.  There were cars driving up and down and we carefully made our way across the street and there it was.  I had read a lot about how to avoid standing in line for such a long time.  We bought our Roma Pass tickets in advance and only had to wait in the first line to get through the initial security. 


Once inside, we bypassed the line to buy tickets and went right in. My first thought was that the place was so reminiscent of the ballparks I've been to over the years.  There was an area underneath where a lot of people could move around.  There were ramps, walkways and stairs leading up to the higher levels.  Seeing so many arches was the only thing that was different from the stadiums I'm used to.  The Romans used arches everywhere for doorways to support the load and for strength in the building of the various floors of a building.   When they needed a ceiling, they built arches one after the other.and made an arched ceiling.  Very effective and it allowed them to build things that otherwise wouldn't have been possible. We walked all the way around the main floor of the Colosseum and marveled at the precise way everything was put together.  The place was so massive and you could see the travertine marble blocks all stacked up to the top level.  Much of the white marble was also still in place, although a lot of it has disappeared over the years.  I've heard that a lot of stone was carried away to build other things. 


Looking at the middle of the Colosseum, you can see the area called the Hypogeum.  This is the area under (hypo) the arena (geum or earth) where slaves and animals were kept in tunnels and chambers to be led up to the arena through trap doors.  A partial arena floor has been built to show how the arena must have looked.  Big marble blocks have also been placed around the arena and some restoration work is going on.   It has been estimated that about 500,000 people and over a million wild animals died in the Colosseum games.  WOW!  Hard to believe.  


We took the stairs to the upper level and once again walked all the way around the stadium.  The view from up there was even better and I remember thinking that I had to come back again to explore even further.  There is so much to take in that I felt overwhelmed looking at the stone construction, the sheer size of the stadium and the view from the upper level at the Arch of Constantine and the Palatine Hill.  This is a place like no other on earth. 

What were the WOW moments you experienced?
The Colosseum is massive. It's even big when compared with today's mega-stadiums in that it could seat approximately 50,000 spectators, had running water and used a ticketing system. Some of the seating sections still have visible markings. Oh, and there was a retractable roofing cover to keep the sun off the people in the stands. Amazing!
Italy, Rome, Colosseum

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