After 3 days in London, my next step was in Rome, Italy on the 25th. I arrived at my hostel in the evening, which was not too expensive coming from the airport. A free shuttle bus running every half hour was provided by the hostel from the metro station to the hostel itself.
My first destination in the ancient city was the famous Coliseum.
This building was the site of gladiator battles and other public spectacles. The majority of the original structure is gone, but enough of it is left to make it one of the better preserved buildings, and one of Rome’s most popular tourist destinations.
The inside is heavily ruined, with all of the original wooden floor gone. They have reconstructed part of it at the back.
I took a morning tour with a company called Tourus Maximus which allowed me to skip the line, saving lots of time. It seems to be a small company run by a guy named Max, but he is very friendly and funny. I met another tourist in the Coliseum who has actually been to Saint John. He had traveled there and stayed there one night, even seeing the Reversing Falls among other sites.
The Coliseum itself is a tad over-rated, but my admission included 2 other free tours to Palantine Hill and the Roman Forum. The archway behind me in this photo leads through to these sites.
The walkways were a bit coarse to walk on, because the stones are mostly original and have deteriorated over time. During ancient times though, the stones would have been perfectly tight and aligned with each other. My tour guide said that the emperor would never tolerate a bumpy ride, and anyone subjecting him to such an experience would be thrown to the lions, no problem at all.
This photo of the Roman Forum ruins gives little justice to what was once the centre of everything in Rome, as the sight of it in person was much more profound. It was hard to imagine that I was standing in such a centre of ancient power. To the left, you see pieces of white stone from the Temple of Saturn, and another large arch to the right. To the far right is a barely visible building which housed the senate, which was very popular and worked well for the Roman Empire for a long time. As the empire was ending, the senate wasn’t so popular and would sometimes be trapped inside as protesters would be waiting for them outside for whatever reason.
Mostly everything in the Forum has been ruined over time, but some remains have stood the test of time from a very different era in history. The door shown above is something like 2000 years old, and has never needed restoration at all, hanging exactly as it always did, complete with a Roman lock that still works. The only change over the centuries is the colour of the door, but not much else.
Next to the Forum is Palantine Hill, the location of many important palaces over the years.
This room was a dining area in one of the palaces. Parts of the original floor are still visible, as are one set of stairs which would have once been restricted only to very important people. As palaces, these rooms would have of course been very lavishly decorated complete with a majestic roof of some sort. All of this is gone now. My tour guide explained a lot of what used to be there for some rooms, although not much information is known about most of the palaces. Additionally, large parts are still unexcavated having been filled in with dirt and garden development over the centuries.
Another part of the palace, overlooking Circus Maximus to the left, which itself has lost most of its original appearance. Originally there was a major stadium that could hold thousands and thousands of people. There is records of a few incidents in which thousands of people died due to collapses of the stadiums, leading historians to believe they were constructed of wood. If the Romans would have used stone and concrete for everything, we’d have it all better preserved today! I make that statement in today’s electronic age where we store much of our important information is now stored in mediums that are designed to decay over time.
That’s all for now. More Rome in my next post!