The Roman Colosseum, arguably one of the most famous landmarks in the world. Before I visited it, I honestly didn't know much about its history other than that it was where gladiator fights took place. I was able to learn more about the events that occurred at the Colosseum, and also more about the daily lives of the spectators, which I almost find even more fascinating than the fights themselves! Here are 5 things that I learned about the Colosseum that I didn't know before my visit.
Other than gladiator fights, animal hunts and executions also took place as forms of entertainment.
I was quite stunned at the cruel animal hunts and bloody executions that took place at the Colosseum, and that those were seen as part of the show at the time. I can't imagine enjoying a spectacle where a rare animal was brought in exclusively to get hunted and killed, or watching a human released, naked and unarmed, to get torn apart by an animal. But these were true events and shows that the audience enjoyed in ancient Rome.
Food was part of the viewing experience.
The audience could bring food with them, and based on a ceramic stove that they found there, it's possible that food was prepared or reheated at the Colosseum! In my head, I imagine an ancient Roman version of our modern day concessions stands that you can find at a hockey game (hah, I'm Canadian eh!).
They controlled how much alcohol people drank with tokens.
Just like how we enjoy a good beer at a hockey game, they've found evidence that wine was drunk at the Colosseum. As with modern day sports games, it seems that they also had spectators who drank a little too much and would get too rowdy. To control this, they handed out tokens that could be exchanged for one ration of wine!
Women would touch up their make-up at the games.
They've found little brushes that they believe were used for fixing make-up. They've also found hairpins and combs so they probably also fixed their hair while enjoying the show!
The Colosseum was also used for other purposes.
After it was no longer being used for gladiator fights, the Colosseum was used for a number of other purposes. It was rented out as workspaces for craftsmen, and was also turned into a fortress at one point by the Frangipani family. Parts of the Colosseum was also turned into a quarry and the stone from this landmark was used for other buildings, such as the famous St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City! It's hard to imagine that they would do that to a monument that is so loved and revered today.
Tips for Visiting the Colosseum
- Because it is such a famous tourist attraction, it gets crowded quickly! If you want to avoid the crowds, go early!
- The Colosseum can be visited with the Roma Pass. You'll be able to enter via a separate line with a Roma Pass, and I'm all for skipping lines! Outside of the Roma Pass, tickets and tours can be purchased in advance here, or of course in person.
- If you're visiting on the Roma Pass, the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and Roman Forum count as one museum!
- If you want to go for free (but beware of the crowds!), admission is free on the first Sunday of every month.
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