Tips for Visiting the Roman Colosseum
The Roman Colosseum, or also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, is the largest amphitheatre in the Roman world. It stands nearly 50 metres and is as impressive in person as it is in photographs. It could hold 50,000 people. It made my top 10 attractions in Rome and it should be on everyone’s travel bucket list if you haven’t seen it yet.
The Flavian Amphitheatre started construction under Emperor Vespasian (of the Flavius family) in 72 AD and completed by Titus a decade later. It was built on the site of Nero’s Palace and the aim was to dissociate himself from the tyrant and to gain popularity by staging events such as gladiator battles and the massacre of animals.
The Roman Colosseum remained in use for 450 years but sustained damage in a lightning fire in 217 AD and an earthquake in 443 AD. Not long after, it ceased to be used for gladiator battles or animal hunts, possibly due to the rise of Christianity. The amphitheater soon was used for a multitude of things: a small church, a cemetery, housing, workshops and a castle during the next few centuries. In 1349, another earthquake caused great damage to the Roman Colosseum causing the outer south side to collapse. Stone and marble were pillaged from the Roman Colosseum for centuries and after the earthquake, much of it was used to build churches and other buildings in Rome. Even the bronze clamps were hacked out of the walls, leaving holes that you can still see today.
Avoid the Lines
There are several ways to avoid waiting in a LONG line. First, buy a guided tour so you can skip the lines and you’ll get extra information from your tour guide; I’ve always used Viator whenever I buy a skip the line tour.
Second, buy your ticket in advance from Palatine Hill located in Via San Gregorio No. 30 and Piazza Santa Maria Nova No. 53 (200 metres from the Colosseum). You will gain entrance to Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum as well. This joint ticket is absolutely the way to go if you do not select a tour. You may also buy a ticket near the Colosseum entrance but that line will always be long. Skip it and get it in advance or via Palatine Hill.
Third, you can use your Roma Pass to visit the Roman Colosseum along with many other sites.
Fourth, buy your ticket online if the other three options are not appealing.
Arrive before 8:30 am
The Colosseum opens its doors at 8:30 am so be in line a good ten minutes early and you will zoom through the queue. If you wish to visit Palatine Hill first, sure that works as well but I would recommend visiting the Colosseum first as it will get crazy busy as the day goes by. You will get some great pictures with little or no other tourists wrecking your photos. 🙂
Return at Night
As you can see from my above photo, the beauty of the Roman Colosseum must be seen at night. If nothing else, you must at least visit the Colosseum at night.
I would recommend staying near the Colosseum or the historic centre of Rome. It is a fantastic place; I was lucky enough to get a room in a small B&B around the corner from the Colosseum. There is nothing better than walking two minutes to see the Colosseum multiple times a day.
Rome’s metro system is quite good; you can walk from Termini station which takes 15 minutes (go straight down Cavour) or hop on the Line B and get off at Colosseo station which is right outside the colossal Roman Colosseum.
Price for entry is 12 euros for entry to the Roman Colosseum, Palatine Hill and Roman Forum. I would recommend getting the Roma Pass if you plan to be in Rome for a few days; it covers many museums and other sites. You get free admission to your first two archeological sites (so pick the most expensive) or one if you select the 48 hour pass; free admission to many museums; free use of the metro system; and discounts on numerous other exhibitions.
Restoration has finally started on the Colosseum so be prepared to see scaffolding. The Colosseum will still be open (they say 85% will be open and viewable). Work is expected to take over two years (it started in October 2013 so early 2015 maybe).
Keep an eye on your wallet in this area: lots of tourists plus many street vendors trying to sell crap. They have a hard time taking NO for an answer. Be prepared to be annoyed; be firm and say no. They may still not leave you alone so keep walking and DO NOT STOP!
Wear good footwear; the entire area is very ancient and many of the paths inside and out are uneven.
Water – drinks lots of water. Bring a bottle with you if you are touring the area during the hot summer months. It gets super hot in Rome! I visited in October and it was still blistering! Bring your own bottle to save money: lots of places to fill it up.