Europe Week Six: Colosseum + Roman Forum
Six weeks in and I finally got the chance to visit probably the most famous landmarks in Rome. Good thing we avoided the end-of-summer tourist rush and experienced these historical sites with less overwhelming crowds in less overwhelming heat.
The ancient Roman Forum was home to government buildings at the center of the city, as the main public gathering space in the Roman kingdom, republic, and empire. Today, remnants of these temples, basilicas, and buildings have been excavated into an archaeological site, allowing visitors to experience history and take selfies at the exact place Julius Caesar's body was publicly burned. Cool stuff, right? Just up above the forum lies the Palatine Hill and Farnese Gardens, where Roman emperors lived. After strolling though recreated landscapes, you end up at the edge of the hill, with a panoramic view of the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine.
Just east of the forum is the Colosseum, where gladiators fought wild animals during imperial times...need I say more? We took a guided tour to the closed off areas of the amphitheater, including a reconstructed part of the arena floor (you get to walk out from under the same archway every gladiator did as they took the stage), the hypogeum (the underground structure of tunnels and cages where gladiators and animals were kept), and the highest seating level (for the common poor, slaves and women.) Although much of the Colosseum has been destroyed due to earthquakes and stone-robbers, it's amazing how we today can experience how the ancient people entertained themselves learn great architecture techniques that are still used in modern stadiums! Case in point: the LA Coliseum.