Gypsy's Travels

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Exploring Rome - The Colosseum and Arch of Constantine

David is proving to be a good traveling companion. He doesn't complain, he likes to see everything, he tries the different foods, is enthusiastic, and pops right out of bed in the morning ready to go and experience all we can during the day. Can't ask much more from an 11 year old.

Breakfast is served a couple of blocks away from the hotel at a "Bar." This turns out to be a little "coffee shop" where a voucher from our hotel allows us a pastry and drink. There is a choice of pastries but we don't know what is inside them. The man behind the counter is clearly annoyed at our indecision. I finally settle on one that is filled, as surmised from the conversation, with eggplant. I am truly curious how a population considers eggplant, in a pastry, worthy of the breakfast menu. David is happy with his hot chocolate and lemon-filled pastry and I enjoy a sip of "American coffee" as I approach the tasting of my "eggplant pastry". Surprise! It is NOT eggplant. It is apple! We were really lost somewhere in that translation. A roll and coffee - the traditional Italian breakfast.

Plenty of camera action

Our destination this morning is the Roman Colosseum. I think David has allotted 1 1/2 hours, based on the info in the book, but I know we both like to explore a little more in-depth than most tourists.We have no time limit and David has a new camera. He is giving me a different viewpoint than I would have otherwise.

We bought a 3 day Roma City Pass which allows us unlimited rides on the Metro and buses plus ( a semi-complicated tier of) admissions to museums and sites for 3 days. The Metro is simple - only 2 lines, a North /South and an East /West. The buses are more complicated. David has learned some basic Italian phrases, but I am finding that my Spanish will serve me pretty well.
The Metro is uncomplicated
I have always pored over photos of the Colosseum, but seeing it in person is unbelievable. As with all the wonders we see on paper, the photo just doesn't compare to the real thing. The foundation was laid 70 - 72 AD and the building was completed in 80 AD.
Formerly known as the Flavian Amphitheater, it was the largest ampitheater ever built in the Roman Empire. It is a free standing structure with a base area of  about 6 acres. Today's ruins are primarily the result of earthquakes and stonerobbers.
Roman Colosseum
 Originally, this elliptical amphitheater, with a seating capacity of about 50,000 spectators, was used for  gladiatorial contests and public spectacles, such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles and dramas based on Classical mythology. The last recorded games were held in the 6th century, but gladiatorial fights were last mentioned around 435 and animal hunts continued until at least 523. There is no evidence to back the popular supposition that Christians were martyred here. The Colosseum has seen a variety of uses since that time, including a church, housing, and workshops.

   There were special boxes in the Colosseum, at north and south ends, for the Emperor and the Vestal Virgins, providing the best views of the arena. A portion of flooring has been added to one end to show how the original flooring covered the hypogeum (the underground area). Multiple underground  tunnel, elevators, and pulleys allowed access for presentations. At least one tunnel allowed access by gladiators from a nearby training school.

About 1740, the Pope forbade quarrying of the Colosseum stone and erected the Stations of the Cross around the arena. Every Good Friday, the Pope leads a procession to the amphitheater.
The Arch of Constantine
from the Colosseum
The Arch of Constantine is one of three remaining triumphal arches. Situated between the Colosseum and  Palatine Hill, it was erected by the Roman Senate to commemorate Constantine I's victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge on October 28, 312. Constantine ended the persecution of Christians because he believed his victory resulted from help by the Christian God.
The Arch of Constantine

"I want to see everything!"

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