Rome … colonnades, colourful characters and colossal queues at the Colosseum … and was that a famous boy-band singer spotted on site?

The Flavian Amphitheatre in Rome, better known as the Colosseum

The Flavian Amphitheatre in Rome, better known as the Colosseum

Getting to the Colosseum by public transport in Rome is fairly quick and easy, with the metro stop (on line B) helpfully called ‘Colosseo’ just a short walk from the site. Getting into the Colosseum without a prebooked ticket however, is not so quick and easy.

A typical queue for tickets into the Colosseum

A typical queue for tickets into the Colosseum

Next time, I'll book online

Next time, I’ll book online

The queue does move reasonably quickly, but the wait can be up to an hour long depending on the time of day. In the meantime there are some activities one can indulge in the kill the time, like …

... witnessing the equally large crowds within the Colosseum walls watching the ticket queue below ...

… witnessing the equally large crowds within the Colosseum walls watching the ticket queue below …

... and wondering whether parts of the Colosseum are actually safe to be under

… and wondering whether parts of the Colosseum are actually safe to be under

I guess the one on the left is supposed to be Russell Crowe

I guess the one on the left is supposed to be Russell Crowe

Less chariot racing, more chariot casing-the-joint

Less chariot racing, more chariot casing-the-joint

The ticket counters are actually inside the Colosseum, and once inside the queuing system becomes a little disorganised. The queue eventually splits off across the various available counters but there appears to be no one official at the head of the queue to organise and control this fairly. As a result people become impatient moving from one counter line to another, lines become lost in a crowd and less tolerant individuals waiting further behind start to become aggravated and verbal.

But, the wait and inconvenience (and may be the odd bruised elbow gained from defending one’s place in the queue) is eventually worth it. As soon as that ticket is purchased and entry into the Colosseum proper is finally granted, one can not but marvel at the surviving structure.

Interior walls that once held up the cavea (seating terraces)

Interior walls that once held up the cavea (seating terraces)

An arched window looking out over to the Roman Forum beyond

An arched window looking out over to the Roman Forum beyond

Typical thin Roman brickwork designed (and proved) to withstand earthquake tremors that plague Rome even to this day ...

Typical thin Roman brickwork designed (and proved) to withstand earthquake tremors that plague Rome even to this day …

... and some twenty-first century reconstruction brickwork that looks like it won't even last the day

… and some twenty-first century reconstruction brickwork that looks like it won’t even last the day

The arena floor has entirely perished, but the network of underground chambers underneath where gladiators and animals were held before fights, has survived the centuries relatively well

The arena floor has entirely perished, but the network of underground chambers underneath where gladiators and animals were held before fights, has survived the centuries relatively well

...

...

The podium over the main entrance to the arena, where the emperor would sit ...

The podium over the main entrance to the arena, where the emperor would sit …

... experiencing the best view in the house

… experiencing the best view in the house

...

Part of the arena floor has been restored, and smaller tour parties are allowed access to this and the underground chambers if booked in advance

Part of the arena floor has been restored, and smaller tour parties are allowed access to this and the underground chambers if booked in advance

There are three tiers to the Colosseum where access to the first two are open to every ticket holder. Access to the higher third tier has to be booked in advance. Access to the very top on those dodgy looking blocks is best left to reconstruction workers

There are three tiers to the Colosseum where access to the first two are open to every ticket holder. Access to the higher third tier has to be booked in advance. Access to the very top on those dodgy looking blocks is best left to reconstruction workers

On the upper second tier there is a small area displaying some of the artefacts excavated from the site, including these fragments of coping from an aedicula ...

On the upper second tier there is a small area displaying some of the artefacts excavated from the site, including these fragments of coping from an aedicula …

... and some beautifully preserved busts, some of which look rather familiar

… and some beautifully preserved busts, some of which look rather familiar

The most famous Roman emperor of them all, Julius Caesar and ...

The most famous Roman emperor of them all, Julius Caesar and …

... Boyzone's Ronan Keating?

… Boyzone’s Ronan Keating?

What more can one say about the stunning Colosseum that many other (and better) travel bloggers haven’t said about it already? It is certainly a must-see on any trip to Rome. Tickets can be booked in advance from the official Colosseum website here, where more information about booking private tours of the underground chambers and third tier can also be found.

If buying tickets in advance is not an option for whatever reason, then visit the Colosseum ninety minutes before it closes. Usually by then the crowds have gone and time queuing for the ticket counters is minimal. Last entry is one hour before close and opening times can be found on the official Colosseum website here.

PS hold on to that ticket! Not only is the ticket valid for the Roman Forum and Palatine as well, but it is valid for two days, so both sites do not have to be explored all in the one day. That doesn’t mean the ticket can be used again the next day to return to the Colosseum, just one entry per site across the two days.

TLT x

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