Rome’s Colosseum is one of Italy’s top tourist attractions and part of a must-see Rome itinerary. Lines can be very long so you should book a tour or buy tickets in advance. The best times to visit are first thing in the morning (it opens at 8:30) or near the end of the day to avoid the biggest crowds. In summer special night tours are also available. You will need to go through a security check to enter. A ticket to see the Colosseum also includes admission to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
Tip: Get through the security line more quickly & get more out of your visit with a guided tour. Use this link for 5% off any Colosseum small group tours with the Roman Guy except Colosseum underground.
To get to the Colosseum by public transportation, take metro line B to the colosseo stop. Because it’s a crowded tourist area, take precautions against pickpockets.
Symbol of Rome worldwide, the Roman Colosseum was built by emperors of the Flavian dynasty between 72 and 80 A.D. The site was already occupied by an artificial lake that was part of the huge Domus Aurea, a compound of buildings and gardens built by Nero, of which just the decorated ruins remain. Its name derived from a nearby colossal bronze statute of Emperor Nero.
Travertine quarried in Tivoli was used to build the amphitheater, the largest ever built in the Roman empire. A capacity crowd of 75,000 could be entertained by contests that sometimes included gladiators, animal hunts, and executions. The arena was also flooded to become an artificial lake in order to stage mock sea battles. It was in use by the Romans for shows and battles for about 450 years.
In the Medieval era, the Colosseum was turned into a fortress, then into a make-shift quarry to be stripped of material to build housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, hospitals. The pillaging was only put to an end when Pope Benedict XIV declared the Colosseum a sacred site.
History compliments of Roma Touristico, edited by Martha Bakerjian.