We got there at opening time (of course!) to avoid the crowds.
The Colosseum is really quite breath-taking, although its history is more than a little gruesome. Deadly gladiatorial combat and wild animal fights were staged for entertainment. At the inaugural games in AD 80, over 9,000 wild animals were killed.
It could hold about 55,000 people, seated according to social status, and it is amazing to think that all our modern stadiums are really based on the principles of design established way back then.
From the Colosseum it was onto The Palatine (once the residence of emperors and aristocrats)…
…where we wandered past another stadium…possibly used for chariot races?
And then we ended up at The Forum – the ancient centre of the Roman Empire.
The detail of some of the architecture is amazing. This is the underside of the Arch of Titus (AD 81) which was built to commemorate the sacking of Jerusalem. Cheery lot, those Romans.
Statues of the Vestal Virgins. A group of six Vestal Virgins kept the sacred flame of Vesta (Goddess of fire) burning in the Temple of Vesta. The girls came from noble families and were chosen between the ages of 6 to 10 and served for 30 years. They led privileged and comfortable lives, but if they were ‘naughty’ (that’s how we explained it to The Impossible Princess) during that time they were buried alive. If the flame went out, they were whipped by the high priest.
Between the Colosseum, The Palatine and The Forum, there’s a lot of ancient ground to cover, plus a lot of steps and stairs.
We kept running into this group of women over the course of the day…