Visit the Colosseum with Kids
Growing up, I thought history was THE most boring subject in school (seriously- I would rather have done math!). A trip to Italy with Brett a few years ago quickly changed my mind! I was completely fascinated by the history of Rome’s Colosseum. During our visit, we first explored the Colosseum on our own, then went on the Underground Tour, which gave us access to locked areas of the Colosseum. We were able to explore the underground tunnels where gladiators once walked and view the amphitheater from the closed third level. The tour was also a wealth of information!
Opening in 80AD, the Colosseum was used to stage deadly combats of gladiators, wild animal fights, and mock sea battles for public viewing. Exotic animals were imported from Africa and the Middle East. During the first year of games, over 9,000 wild animals were killed (lions, elephants, rhinos, crocodiles, and many others).
The gladiators who fought were typically condemned criminals, slaves, or prisoners of war. They would attend “Gladiator School,” where their physique would be assessed to determine which fighting style they would be best suited for(if they would be better to wear heavy vs. light armor, etc.). They would then learn their particular fighting style, likely from retired gladiators. Most gladiators did not live to battle more than 10 times!
Where: Rome, Italy
Age: All ages can enter the Colosseum. The Underground Tour is probably best for children 7+.
Admission/ Tour Info: The Colosseum opens at 8:30 every morning, but closes at different times throughout the year. Arriving early in the morning can help avoid long lines and beat the heat during the summer months. Admission into the Colosseum is €12 per person (with a €2 online booking fee per ticket). Visitors under 18 are free.
To leave with a full grasp of the Colosseum’s history, I highly recommend the Underground Tour! The tour is an hour and 15 minutes long, with a maximum of 25 people per tour. The cost is an additional €9 per person. This tour is extremely popular and does sell out! Every three months, the Colosseum opens up tour reservations online for the following quarter. The Underground Tour is given in English, Italian, and Spanish, with multiple tour times each day.
Whether you choose to do the Underground Tour or not, buy your tickets online!! The regular admission line can take hours to get through. You can purchase your tickets online directly from the Colosseum and go to the line marked for internet tickets, which is MUCH shorter (Brett and I maybe waited 10 minutes)!
Colosseum Admission & Underground Tour Tickets: http://www.coopculture.it/en/colosseo-e-shop.cfm
Contact Info: email@example.com
Keep reading to learn more about the Colosseum’s history and see pictures from our trip!
The Colosseum could hold over 50,000 people, who were sorted into one of four levels of seating. The first level was for the wealthy, dignitaries, and government officials. The second level was for the noble class and knights, the third for ordinary Roman citizens, and the fourth for women. Slaves were forbidden from watching the games.
Death’s Gate is behind the wooden stadium floor that has been rebuilt. This gate was used to drag out the dead bodies of gladiators and animals that had been killed during the games.
Life’s Gate is a huge archway where gladiators, chariots, and exotic animals would enter the Colosseum prior to their battle. Only gladiators who survived were allowed to leave through Life’s Gate!
There were originally 5 underground tunnels, but one was partially destroyed during repairs to the infrastructure. One tunnel was where gladiators and animals entered the amphitheater. This tunnel also led to the above-ground Life’s Gate. Another tunnel was a private entrance for the emperor (and also led to Palatine Hill). Two tunnels were used for dead gladiators- one leading to a room where they would be stripped of their possessions, and the other leading to morgue. These tunnels start at Death’s Gate. The last tunnel stored costumes and props.
The Colosseum floor is no longer there. From above, you can now see the remains of animal cages and underground tunnels. Trap doors used to be under the sand flooring, “magically” releasing animals into the amphitheater.
The theater was originally covered in white marble. Thieves stole this marble when the Colosseum was no longer being used. They also stole iron clamps from inside the walls to make weapons. You’ll see holes in the walls throughout the building! Further damage was also caused by earthquakes.
Have you visited the Colosseum? What was your favorite part?
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