The Colosseum is an oval amphitheatre located in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy. Listed as one of the New7Wonders of the World (“New Seven Wonders of the World”) since 2007, it is one of Rome’s most popular attractions. In 2018, with 7.4 million visitors, the Colosseum was the most popular tourist attraction in the world.
The Colosseum was built during the reigns of Roman Emperors Vespasian and Titus (between 72 and 80 AD). During Ancient History, this arena notably served to host:
- Gladiatorial contests;
- Mock sea battles, etc.
The Colosseum could host from 50,000 and 80,000 people at the height of its popularity, with an average of 65,000 spectators by show. During the Early Middle Ages, the arena stopped to be used to entertain people and was notably used as a fortress, a quarry or even a housing instead. The Colosseum is made of volcanic tuff, brick-faced concrete and travertine; it is also the largest amphitheatre of the world.
The 1349 Rome earthquake severely damaged the Colosseum, along with many other buildings in and around the capital. Most of the Colosseum tumbled stone was used to rebuild churches, palaces, hospitals, and many other edifices. However, the Colosseum remained inhabited, even after the disaster, by a religious order until the early XIXth century. It has since been regularly restored, reinforced and stabilized throughout the centuries to become an iconic symbol of the Roman Empire.
How to get to the Colosseum? How long does it take?
The Colosseum, located on Piazza del Colosseo, is very well serviced by public transports. Here's how to get there:
By metro. Take lines B or B1 to the Colosseum closest metro stop, Colosseo. The main entrance is 4-minute away by walk from the station through Via Nicola Salvi.
By bus. Lines 51, 75, 85, 87 and N2 will take you to the Colosseo station, 4 minutes away by walk from the main entrance through Via Nicola Salvi.
By tramway. Lines 3 and 8 lead directly to the Piazza del Colosseo stop, which is 3 minutes away by walk from the Colosseum.
Transport tickets in Rome allow you to use all public transports available in the Italian capital. Here are the options available to you:
- One-Way Ticket (BIT): it costs €1.50 and lasts 75 minutes with unlimited transfers, except for the metro line (where it can be used one time only).
- Day Pass (BIG): this pass costs €6 and lasts from the moment of validation until midnight on the same day with unlimited transfers.
- 3 Day Tourist Pass (BTI): it costs €16.50 and lasts three days from the validation moment with unlimited transfers.
- Week Pass (CIS): this pass costs €24 and lasts seven days from the moment of validation with unlimited transfers.
What will you see?
The Colosseum physical description can be divided into four main parts: the exterior, the interior seating, the arena and hypogeum, and finally the supporting buildings.
The exterior of the Colosseum is iconic and counts with very distinct decoration and arched entrances. There are about 80 different entrances and they are all supported by massive columns. The outer wall is estimated to have required over 100,000 cubic metres of travertine that they were held together by 300 tons of iron clamps.
The Colosseum interior seating was divided into four main tiers. The first one, the closest to the central ring, was reserved for the senators, the Emperor and his Vestal Virgins. This tier provided the best views of the arena. The second tier, located above the first one, was occupied by the non-senatorial noble class and the equestrians (Roman knights). The third tier, situated above the second one, was reserved for people from intermediate categories (heralds, soldiers, priests, scribes…). Wealthy citizens were also located in this tier. The last tier, located at the very top of the Colosseum, was occupied by slaves, women and the poor people.
The arena was 83 metres by 48 metres, had a sandy wooden floor and an underground structure called the hypogeum. This structure was connected by underground tunnels to a number of points outside the Colosseum and allowed performers and animals to enter the arena. Separate tunnels were reserved for the Emperor and his virgins to allow them to enter and exit the Colosseum avoiding the crowds.
The Colosseum also counted with other buildings around it, like a training school for gladiators, an armory to store weapons, a machinery storage, a infirmary for the injured gladiators or even a spoliarium (a room in which the dead gladiators bodies were placed and stripped of their armor). Finally, the Arch of Constantine (the largest Roman triumphal arch) is located right next to the Colosseum.
What are the opening hours?
Although it is open every day (except on December 25th, January 1st and May 1st), the Colosseum opening hours are varied:
- 08.30am - 4.30pm: until February 15th;
- 08.30am - 5.00pm: from February 16th to March 15th;
- 08.30am - 5.30pm: from March 16th to last Saturday of March;
- 08.30am - 7.15pm: from the last Sunday of March to August 31st;
- 08.30am - 7.00pm: from September 1st to September 30th;
- 08.30am - 6.30pm: from October 1st to last Saturday of October.
It is possible to access the monument until one hour before closing.
What is the best time to visit the Colosseum?
The densest crowds at the Colosseum are systematically registered during the summer months, the mid-season (between March and October), and during Christmas and New Year’s holidays. It is better, during these periods of high attendance, to plan to visit the Colosseum early (for example, at 8.30am, when the monument opens). Otherwise, the best time to visit the arena is during the low-season (between November and February), if possible during the week, as tourists are more numerous on week-ends.
- Avoid Waiting in a Long Line – Don’t hesitate to buy a guided tour so you can skip the lines and get extra information from your tour guide.
- Look at the Colosseum by Night – The Colosseum is incredible day and night: its night illuminations will fill you with wonder. How to miss this magical show?
- Wear Appropriate Shoes – The Colosseum is very ancient and many of the paths inside and outside the arena are rough.
- Possibility to Enter for Free – The Colosseum entrance is free if you are:
- aged under 18;
- holder of a Roma Pass;
- a disabled person with valid medical documentation of the disability;
- visiting the Colosseum on the first Sunday of each month between October and March;
- visiting the Colosseum during the Culture Week (it occurs each year in March).