Completed in the year 80 during the reign of Titus, the Colosseum was the biggest amphitheater ever built by the Roman Empire. It once regularly hosted 50,000 spectators cheering and jeering at combating gladiators, executions and battle reenactments. While the baying crowds are no longer there, the structure itself has defied earthquakes, stone thieves and car pollution to remain standing today at the heart of Rome.
If you plan ahead and purchase combined tickets to the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill in advance, entrance to the famous site begins by breezing past the long line straight inside. But, even if you have to stand in line, don’t worry too much. What you’ll see when you enter this enormous amphitheater is worth the wait.
To get the most of the site, pay to join a tour when inside. You can also rent an audio guide. Although the interior of the Colosseum is now largely deteriorated, there is still much to see. The structure’s centerpiece is the hypogeum, part of the subterranean network, above which the arena floor would have been. Weave your way through the pillars and plant life at your leisure.
It is also possible to visit the winding network of underground tunnels — where the gladiators would steel themselves before facing the crowds — and the third level of the Colosseum. This must be done with a special guide and booked in advance. If you don’t manage this, take a walk around the entire outer edifice to admire the three-tiered travertine arches and see how the whole structure fits together. In particular, take note of the very bottom layer of arches, built not for aesthetics but rather as an essential means of crowd control.
While the gladiatorial tussles and live animal hunts are long gone, the Colosseum is still used from time to time as a spectacular backdrop for summer concerts, often for big performers like Paul McCartney and Simon and Garfunkel, so always check the schedule before you visit.
The Colosseum is in central Rome. Bus stops and the Metro train station Colosseo are all nearby.
Central Rome hotel housed in a late 19th-century building retaining much Imperial grandeur, 500 metres from Quirinale Palace and one kilometre from the Colosseum.
Surrounded by artisans' workshops and antique shops in the up-and-coming Monti district of Rome, this townhouse hotel is 500 meters from the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.
Located in Esquilino, this townhouse accommodation is within a 10-minute walk of Porta Magica and Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. Teatro dell'Opera di Roma and Colosseum are also within 1 mi (2 km).
This 2-building Rome hotel lies steps from Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore, 500 meters south of the Termini rail station, and near the Roman Forum and the Colosseum.
Located in Rome's Quirinale district, this hotel draws a mix of tourists to its doors, which are 1 block from Teatro dell'Opera and a 5 minute walk to the Termini Station.
Located in Monti, this townhouse accommodation is within a 10-minute walk of Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore and Teatro dell'Opera di Roma. Roman Forum and Colosseum are also within 15 minutes.
Located in Monti, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Roman Forum, Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, and Colosseum. Teatro dell'Opera di Roma and Piazza Venezia are also within 15 minutes.
Built in the 1930s, the original façade mirrors the neoclassical furnishings in this Rome hotel, 200 meters from Termini Station and 400 meters from the shops of Via Nazionale.