Guess where we were?
It’s only one of the most iconic, famous places in the world. We heard time and time again that when you visit Rome, the one place you have got to visit is the Colosseum. It’s true. And if you visit the Colosseum, you should do it properly. You need to give this majestic monument the time and care that it deserves. Skip those long lines and tour around exclusive restricted areas. Come along with us as we show you the best Colosseum tour in Rome!
We took a tour with The Roman Guy called Colosseum “Dungeon, Third Level and Arena Floor”, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. The tour lasts about three hours in duration, and you get to see a lot of sights in those three hours. Not only did we visit multiple levels in the Colosseum including all of the restricted areas, but we also walked around Palatine Hill, the Roman Forum, and learned about everything along the way. We were arranged into two small groups of twelve with two tour guides, Alisse and Raffaela. During our time at some of the restricted areas, we formed into one large group as there are time restraints for tour operators in these spots. For all of the other times, we stayed in our small group with our guide, Alisse. Everyone in the group received headsets to wear with earbuds to make sure that we could hear Alisse at all times. This was crucial as it can get quite loud in some spots, making it difficult to hear the history lesson otherwise.
We started at the Colosseum. There were huge crowds of people all around and we waltzed ahead of the line with our group. It was one perk of booking a tour with a guide!
Throughout our visit, Alisse would reference a book with photos of what the Colosseum used to look like when it was first built in comparison to today. It was so interesting to try to envision how it may have looked back then. The most amazing part of visiting the Colosseum was setting foot inside a place that you’ve learned about so much in school and seen so many times in photographs and movies. It almost didn’t seem real.
Here’s a short video of our entire visit to the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum!
Our first stop was the Colosseum Arena Floor, a restricted area where only our two small tour groups with The Roman Guy gathered.
The arena floor was where the gladiators went into battle. Could you imagine yourself entering a fight for your life, surrounded by 60,000 spectators? The Colosseum is the largest amphitheater ever built. It was constructed in only eight years by over 60,000 Jewish slaves, completed in 80 AD. The outside of the building was built from travertine stone, and both tufa and brick were used on the inside. On several occasions, Alisse pointed out areas where you could see the original brick versus spots that had been reconstructed or repaired. The main pedestals were created using marble, though you won’t be able to see any marble at the site today. Most of the marble was taken from the Colosseum to build St. Peter’s Basilica. Much of the damage that was caused to the Colosseum over the years was from natural disasters, such as two major earthquakes; however, lots of stone from the interior was removed and used in other building projects during the Middle Ages.
Back in the day, the arena floor was wooden and covered with sand. Beneath the arena floor was the hypogeum, which was where most of the magic happened. Literally meaning “underground”, the hypogeum was a complex multi-tiered network of tunnels and cages that contained live animals and traps to intensify the gladiatorial performances. As most of the arena floor is gone today, this structure is mostly visible from many levels. Our next stop was The Dungeon, another restricted area limited to small tour groups. There were eighty vertical shafts where scenery set pieces or animals could be concealed beneath the arena floor. Systems of pulleys and elevators would raise and lower entertainers, props, and animals. Wild animals were brought to the Colosseum from all over the Roman Empire, including lions, tigers, hippos, rhinos, bears, and even elephants. There were even mock sea battles as it was possible to flood the entire arena floor very quickly due to a nearby aqueduct. There were several underground tunnels connected to the dungeon where animals and performers could be easily transported inside without having to go through the crowds outside.
We left the dungeon and traveled up to the second floor by way of visiting the Third Floor. The second floor was where most of the tourists gathered and it was quite crowded. We meandered through the crowds. While we got some great glimpses of the amphitheater, our views were even better up on the third floor.
Up on the third floor, we were able to see sweeping views of the whole interior of the Colosseum. We were also treated to panoramic scenes of the surrounding cityscape. If you’re looking for the best views, be sure to book this tour and visit this space which isn’t open to the public.
So, we toured around the entire Colosseum, but that wasn’t all. This particular tour also took us to many important historical sites surrounding the Colosseum, too. Unfortunately, it had just started to rain, but we were prepared with our umbrella. It really didn’t put a damper on anything as it only rained for a moment. It actually helped cool the weather down, so it was actually nice that it did rain!
Arch of Constantine
Rome’s Emperors used to live on Palatine Hill, one of the seven founding hills of Rome. We saw beautiful gardens here, and there were some spectacular views from the top of the hill overlooking Rome. It’s a bit of a climb to get to the top, but it’s completely worth the exercise!
Stadium of Domitian
The Roman Forum
After seeing Palatine Hill and the Stadium of Domitian, we ventured down to the Roman Forum. Remains of columns and buildings stood proudly. We slowly walked down the cobblestone roads as I attempted to travel back in time in my mind to picture this place as it once was. It was the political, economical, and religious center of ancient Rome. I tried to imagine Romans having lively political debates on the streets, or bartering for goods at the local marketplace. We first entered the Temple of Romulus, an ancient church in the Roman Forum. There were remnants of wall murals and statues on display. Next, we walked past the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina. I always find it truly remarkable when buildings that are this ancient are still standing in tact today. We wrapped up the three hour tour in the middle of the Roman Forum, viewing the remnants of the ancient structures all around. Many notable events in ancient Roman history occurred in the Roman Forum, such as the funeral of Julius Caesar and Marc Antony’s famous funeral oration. There is a temple for Julius Caesar here, too. Other important sites to look for at the Roman Forum include the Arch of Titus, Rome’s Eternal Flame, the Atrium, the Senate House and the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine. After this tour, we had an even greater appreciation for these architectural marvels of the ancient world. On this tour with The Roman Guy, Colosseum “Dungeon, Third Level and Arena Floor”, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, we caught exclusive looks inside the Colosseum, traveled to the surrounding buildings within the Roman Forum, and saw beautiful views from on top of Palatine Hill. Our tour guide, Alisse was very knowledgeable and was excellent at explaining many interesting details to the group. She answered any questions along the way, and even made some area restaurant recommendations and tips at the end of the tour. Thank you so much to The Roman Guy for an amazing and memorable tour. It’s not to be missed when you visit Rome!