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Colosseum, Palatino & Roman Forum

A bit of history about the Colosseum, Palatine and Roman Forum

Colosseum. The construction of the Flavian Amphitheater, better known as the Roman Coliseum, began around AD 7 under the Emperor Vespasian. The Coliseum was built in a valley, having dried a small lake that Nerone used for the Domus Aurea, between the hills of the Palatine, Esquiline and Celio. The Emperor Tito inaugurated the Coliseum in the year 80, but 2 years later finished the works that included the last floor.

The Colosseum became the largest Roman amphitheater, with an elliptical structure of 188 meters long, 156 meters wide and 57 meters high. Made in brick and covered with travertine was divided into five levels with a capacity for more than 50,000 people. Its areas were delimited depending on the social class, the closer to the arena they were the greater the rank to which they belonged.

In the nineteenth century, work was done on the settlement and remodeling of the Coliseum, and although during World War II suffered the effects of the attacks, this majestic and imposing monument has become a cultural asset of the city and the world surviving the time and wars.

Palatine Museum. According to an ancient tradition, it was in this hill that Romulo built the first nucleus of Rome in the second half of the 8th century BC. Excavations have revealed huts and tombs of the Iron Age and the ancient fortification. The Palatine was also the center of worship as that of Cibeles, the personification of the fertile land, an ambivalent goddess symbolizing the creative and destructive force of nature.

Between the 2nd and 1st century BC the Palatino became a residential colony for the Roman aristocracy. In this period the House of Griffins was built, famous for its paintings. Emperor Augustus transformed the Palatine into the official power center and began a program of building imperial palaces and restructuring and expanding buildings built by former emperors.

Roman Forum. At the end of the 7th century BC, the Roman Forum was built in the center of public life in Rome for more than a millennium. Throughout the centuries several buildings were built for political, religious and economic activities, and in the second century civil or basilica buildings where judicial activities took place. At the end of the Republican age the old Roman Forum was inadequate and not functional as a civil and administrative center of the city.

The emperors and their dynasties added only monuments of prestige: The Temple of Vespasian and Titus and the one of Antonino Pio and Faustina dedicated to the memory of the emperors, the monumental arch of Settimo Severo, built at the west end of the square in 203 AD to celebrate its military victories. In the IV century AD under the Emperor Massenzio a temple dedicated to the memory of his son Romulus was built and the imposing Basilica in the Velia was restructured. The last monument that rose in the Roman Forum was the Column of the year 608 AD in honor of the Byzantine Emperor Phocas.

What are the Colosseum, the Palatine and the Roman Forum nowadays?

The Roman Colosseum is currently the symbol of Rome in the world. It has been considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World becoming a historical and archaeological treasure able to remind us of the greatness of the Roman Empire. According to a calculation made by the Ministry of Culture, the Flavian Amphitheater receives 6 million visitors a year and ranks first among the most visited monuments in Italy.

The Palatine museum is located on the hill of the same name, among the monuments various objects are exhibit from the Iron Age tombs and works of art from the imperial buildings. The most important of these works are the decorative paintings of the reading room of Isiaca.

With the end of the Empire, the Roman Forum was forgotten and little by little buried. Although in the sixteenth century it was known its existence was only until the twentieth century that the excavations were made. Currently the Roman Forum is one of the most beautiful and interesting places in Rome, walking the Via Sacra you can imagine how it was more than 20 centuries ago, when Julius Caesar walked around.

Curiosities about the Colosseum, the Palatine and the Roman Forum

Did you know that for the inauguration of the Roman Colosseum a party was organized that lasted 100 days and in it died dozens of gladiators? In the year 80 AD the Roman Colosseum was inaugurated after three years of work. Cassius Dio, historian, told us that during the inaugural games of the Colosseum 9,000 animals, both trained and savage, perished.

Did you know that according to Roman mythology, the cave where lived Luperca (the Capitoline wolf), the wolf who cared for Romulus and Remus, was at the Palatine Hill? Legend has it that when the brothers grew up they decided to form a city on the banks of the river, but without being able to agree, Romulo killed Remus and founded the city of Rome.

Did you know that the area where the Roman Forum was originally a swampy area? This entire area was drained in the 6th century BC with the Cloaca Maxima, one of the first sewage systems in the world.

Why visit the Colosseum, the Palatine and the Roman Forum?

Why visit the Colosseum? Because it is part of the history of an empire that for the pleasure of the residents of Rome organized fights between gladiators or against wild animals and fabulous shows called "naumachie", that were real naval fights in the sand full of water. Beneath the Arena of the Colosseum, numerous corridors and rooms housed gladiators and ferocious beasts that could be carried to the center of the Arena thanks to a series of elevators and ramps.

Why visit the Palatine? Because it is located between the Roman Forum and Campo Marzio which is part of the so-called “Roma Quadrata”. The Palatine is the most central hill of the 7 hills of Rome and in ancient times was the most precious place to live, many personalities like the poet Catullus, the orator Cicero and emperors like Caligula, Tiberius and Nero lived here.

Why visit the Roman Forum? Because it is a true sanctuary of the Ancient Rome and a valuable source of information if you are interested in the Roman Empire history. It is also the place where the life of citizens was developed: politics, justice, commerce, social life and worship of the gods, this was the heart of the city of Rome.

Other attractions in the area

Very close to the Colosseum, the Palatine and the Roman Forum are other must-see attractions of Rome such as:

  • The Capitoline Museums are located in the Campidoglio square with the famous "Loba Capitolina" (Luperca, the Capitoline wolf).
  • The Trevi Fountain, the first fountain built during the Renaissance and the most beautiful fountain in Rome.
  • The Pantheon of Rome, one of the masterpieces of Roman architecture built in the time of Hadrian, in the year 126 AD.
  • Navona square with its baroque style and its three fountains built under the mandate of Gregory XIII.
  • All this and much more!

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Useful Information

Hours

The Colosseum is open from 8.30 am to one hour before sunset depending on the season:

8:30 am - 3:30 pm from the last sunday of October to February 15
8:30 am - 4:00 pm from February 16 to March 15
8:30 am - 4:30 pm from March 16 to last Saturday of March
8:30 am - 6:15 pm from last Sunday of March to August 31
8:30 am - 6:00 pm from September 1 to September 30
8:30 am - 5:30 pm from October 1 to last saturday of October

The Ticket office closes one hour before closing time.

Closed on January 1st and December 25th.

Address and Map

Piazza del Colosseo, Roma.

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Exhibitions

Scheduled exhibitions inside the museums:

Colosseum: 08/03/2017 – 07/01/2018 “Colosseo. Un’icona”

Palatino & Roman Forum: no exhibition scheduled.

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