This time Nicole suggested we joined her on a tour of the Colosseum. I have to admit I had seen the Flavian Amphitheater - as the Colosseum was originally known – many times before. But this time I looked at it with different eyes.
The Colosseum stands right there, in the historical center of Rome, so incredibly huge and wonderful it's impossible not to notice it.
However, after visiting it again with Nicole I realized that until then I had just looked at it passively, without understanding much of it and without the experience of learning the history, the tales and anecdotes that make of this ancient monument something more than an attraction for tourists: an actual place that apporximately 2,000 years ago was crowded with people.
Nicole gathered us at the entrance of the Colosseum. After passing the security controls we skipped the line and went inside. When you are there it's even more impressive: it took 10 years to be built, which doesn't seem such a long time when you think it was commissioned by the Emperor Vespasian in about 72 AD.
Nicole showed us some images on her book to help us to imagine how the area around the Colosseum looked like, surrounded by the Roman Forums, the Arch of Constantine and the Colossus of Nero.
After walking through the galleries of the first level we followed Nicole up to the stairs and got to the second level. There we could admire the arena and the seatings that could hold about 50,000 spectators. Below there were numerous tunnels and and rooms - that are just partially accessible to the public today – that housed gladiators and animals and an intricate system of elevators and ramps.
After 4 centuries of active use, the Roman Amphitheater was basically abandoned. During the centuries it was severely damaged by natural phenomena such as earthquakes and rains, and then was used as a quarry for other building projects.
Today, restoration activitities have been going on, also due to investments by the private sector and there's a great effort to preserve this priceless evidence of our past.
Our tour with Nicole continue to the Ancient Rome, i.e. the Roman Forums. If you want to walk with us along the Via Sacra keep reading the next article.