The doors opened and we pushed our way out into the sea of people at the metro station. The dingy station opened onto a busy street where we caught our first glimpse of the Roman Colosseum looming above us. It really was a spectacular sight to finally see. I imagined how it might have looked like all those centuries ago; the stands full of Romans cheering, the clink of swords crashing as mighty gladiators fought, and the emperor presiding over them all.
“Hmm, it’s not as big as I imagined,” I thought to myself. Having visited two other wonders of the world already, I expected to be blown away. Yes, it was beautiful and looked exactly how I imagined it otherwise; I just thought it would be even bigger!
Don’t get me wrong; I really enjoyed my visit to the Colosseum! It is, after all, a must-see while in Rome and one of the most recognizable buildings in the world. You feel small next to it, both in actual size and longevity. You realize that this structure has been here long after its creators, and will be here long after you are gone. But it was lovely, nonetheless.
Steeped in history, the Colosseum was built in AD 72 by the emperor Vespasian, and was the site where the infamous gladiators fought. It fell into disrepair throughout the Middle Ages, and much of it’s exterior was removed or damaged, giving the building it’s classic Swiss cheese façade.
I visited Rome in March, and I highly recommend visiting in the off-season as well to avoid the crowds. The Colosseum is easily accessible from the subway. The metro stop is just across the street, but first I had to fight my way through the many tour salespeople.
It was a gauntlet of avoiding eye contact and pushing forward until I made it to the entrance of the Colosseum. My advice? Ignore them all! I arrived around 10am and only waited in line for about 15 minutes to get tickets. I imagine it can be much longer in the summer, though. The ticket office has official tour guides too, that I took advantage of. It was a good introduction to the history of the Colosseum.
After the tour, I was free to wander on my own. Honestly, it didn’t take too long to walk the circumference of the amphitheater. My only regret is not taking the underground tour to walk in the footsteps of the gladiators; but this requires advance booking. Instead, I imagined myself as an ancient Roman walking to my seat, excited for a day of entertainment. It was hard to imagine parts of it though, like the thousands of animals that were slaughtered during the inaugural games, or the many men. But that’s because of the modern woman and animal lover that I am!
I can see why the Colosseum is considered one of the New Wonders of the World. It was an incredible feat of architecture and so telling of the culture at that time. It is a history lover’s dream! While it may not be #1 on my list of New Wonders, it was an amazing sight to visit!