Colosseum, the unique amphitheater in Classic Rome

The Colosseum, one of the 7 wonders of the world.

The Colosseum, the gladiators´ arena in Rome´s center

The Colosseum is one of the most iconic and historic attractions in Italy, and one of the 7 wonders of the world. This relic from the heyday of the Roman Empire has been featured in everything from history books and TV to Hollywood films such as Ridley Scott´s epic “Gladiator” and Bruce Lee´s “Way of the Dragon”.  A totally unique amphitheater, steeped in dramatic events down through its ancient history.

About the Colosseum as an amphitheater

The architecture of the Colosseum building itself is impressive and conveys a strong sense of Roman history it has witnessed. When you visit the amphitheater, in your imagination you can hear the roar of the crowds as the bloody events unfold – entertainment to the death – no less.  This was the scene of countless, brutal gladiatorial contests and, for want of a better word,  ”inventive” struggles against animals which would have both human rights activists as well as animal rights campaigners up in arms today! The Colosseum, in its day, had more seats than many of our modern-day football stadiums and was the central stage for Rome and the Roman Empire´s dramatic entertainment.

A brief history of the building of the Colosseum

60.000 Jewish slaves played a part in building this massive amphitheater, which was considered unimaginably huge even at that time. Construction began in the year 72 BC under the Roman emperor, Vespasian. The Colosseum itself was completed around the year 800 BC and could hold approx. 50,000 seated spectators plus approx. 5,000 standing. It was the largest amphitheater in the Roman Empire. Whereas many of the other amphitheaters were carved into mountains or hillsides, the Colosseum was a free-standing structure.  Originally it was known as “The Flavian Amphitheatre”, but was later renamed after the huge colossus that was located in the square in front of it. This was, by all accounts, the statue of a Roman emperor. The Colosseum was originally built on marshland and remains nothing less than an architectural wonder in terms of design and construction. It measures an impressive 188 meters x 156 meters and is approx. 50 meters high. Even though approx. two- thirds of the Colosseum has collapsed during the many centuries since it was built, the remainder still stands as an exciting reminder of the past glories of the Roman Empire.  Over 400,000 people and more than 1 million animals lost their lives in the bloody fights that were held only in order to satisfy the spectators´ lust for blood.

Colosseum, Rom, Italien nat

The Colosseum illuminated in all its beauty throughout the Roman nights.

How to visit the Colosseum

To gain admittance to and visit the Colosseum, you need to pay an entrance fee. You do this by purchasing a ticket which also gives you entrance to the Roman Forum and the Palladian Heights (Palatine Hill) as well. These are two of Romes “big seven” and two attractions the first-time visitor to Rome shouldn´t miss. Opening hours are from 08:30 to approx. an hour before sundown. As opening hours can vary, we recommend that you check this website for exact times. Tickets can be ordered online to avoid the long queues. Tickets are sent via e-mail. You can order tickets here.

You can also gain access to another part of the Colosseum, the underground catacombs, by purchasing special tickets for the guided tour. You will pass through the entrance the gladiators themselves used many years ago. On this tour, you can explore the tunnels and passages where they prepared themselves for the gladiatorial contests, and where they kept the lions, tigers and other animals used in the “performances”. You need to buy separate tickets for this extra experience or liaise with one of the many tour guides on site. Guides and guided tours are available outside the entrance to the Colosseum. We recommend, however, that you book the tickets to the catacombs via this website before you leave.

Be prepared to go through a security check at the main entrance. Bags and rucksacks will be checked, and liquids are not permitted in the attraction, with the exception of water. It is forbidden to bring very large bags with you to the site. The queues can be long during high season and public holidays, so allow a little extra time for this. The Colosseum is visited by more than 4 million visitors a year.

You can order your tickets for the guided tour of the Colosseum here.

This is how to find the Colosseum  in Rome

You can take the metro to the Colosseum which has its own stop which is called “Colosseo”. If you choose to take the bus or drive instead, the address and map of the location are shown below.

Piazza del Colosseo 1
00184 Roma RM

The Colosseum’s 2,000th Anniversary

In 2020, the iconic Rome Colosseum celebrated its 2000th anniversary since its inauguration in AD 80 by Emperor Titus. This monumental amphitheater, known for hosting ancient gladiatorial contests and public spectacles, continues to stand as a testament to Roman engineering and architectural prowess. Despite facing various natural disasters and human interventions over the centuries, the Colosseum has been undergoing extensive restoration efforts to preserve its grandeur and historical significance. In recognition of its enduring cultural importance, the Colosseum was listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, further cementing its status as a must-visit landmark for travelers and history enthusiasts alike.

Want to read more about Rome?

City breaks

Read more about City Breaks in Europe

Paris – because you are irrisistible

20 tips to serious shopping in London

Barcelona – what to see, where to go, how to go

Holzmarkt– Berlin´s unique urban oasis of creativity

Book Italy tours with top travel agencies with best competitive prices

See tours, prices, dates, and travel agencies, book safely using Tour Radar, a world leader in ready-to-go travel tours.

Rome to Amalfi

The Italian Dream

Italy from North to South

Classical Italy

Italy City Break

Map overview

Latest travel articles