Colosseum Exterior © Paul Zangaro
Known to be one of the most impressive buildings of the Roman Empire, the Colosseum was the largest structure of its era. Emperor Vespasian, founder of the Flavian Dynasty, started construction of the Colosseum in 72 AD and it was completed in 80 AD. This enduring symbol of ancient Rome, which used to be called the Flavian Amphitheater, tenaciously clings to its foundations as the site of former gladiatorial conquests and brutal public entertainment. Its architecture boasts an impressive array of Doric, Ionic and Corinthian columns and an underground network of cells, corridors, ramps and elevators that were used to transport animals from their cages to the arena. It could once hold a crowd of 55,000 spectators and had 80 entrances. Emperors staged days of free public entertainment in this vast building, and not all the games were brutal and blood-thirsty - they often began with comedic acts and exotic animal displays, but did invariably include gladiatorial fights to the death. The magnificence of the original structure has been eroded through the years by pillaging and earthquakes so that only a skeletal framework remains; however, the sense of history the Colosseum is still able to evoke is truly awe-inspiring and it remains one of Rome's knock-out attractions, featuring on the bucket lists of many a traveller.
Address: Piazza del Colosseo
Telephone: +39 06 700 4261
Transport: B line on metro to Colosseo station; Bus 60, 75, 85, 87, 175, 810, 850; Electric minibus 117; Tram 3 or 8
Opening times: Open daily from about 9am to 6:15pm in summer, and from 9am to 4:30pm in winter. Times vary depending on sunrise and sunset.