Ancient Rome was pretty incredible. Walking through the Roman Forum on the original stone streets from BC (!), entering the arena floor of the Colosseum where gladiators would wait for the fight that would likely be their last, drinking freezing cold water from the public fountains, the same as the ancient Romans would have done thousands of years ago. It was so much to take in. We would walk each day until both of us had throbbing feet, and we’d still feel like we couldn’t go home yet. Here are some of the highlights:
We splurged on the VIP tour and were one of the lucky few who were able to walk on the arena floor, tour the underground, and also climb to the third tier. It was one of the more expensive tours we’ve done, but it was absolutely worth it.
Built around 80 A.D., the Colosseum’s history is dark. It is hard to imagine a culture that was advanced enough to produce these engineering marvels, and at the same time considered witnessing death a daily, enjoyable social event.
We learned that there were typically three games per day, and they varied between animal vs. animal, animal vs. human and human vs. human. The numbers are unclear, but we were told it is estimated that 500,000 fighters and 1,000,000 animals died there as part of the games. There was so much ongoing gore that the arena floor was covered in sand to soak up the bodily fluids. Not-so-fun fact: The word “arena” is derived from the Latin word for sand because of this exact reason.
The Roman Forum was the city-center of Ancient Rome and today holds the ruins of several temples, arches, judicial and governmental buildings, open markets, basilicas and more. Our guide helped paint the picture of what the ruins would have looked like back then and what life might have been like for ancient Romans living there.
Arch of Constantine
Built around the year 315, the Arch of Constantine is a victory arch used to tell the story of war and celebrate a victory. When the army returned to Rome, there was a huge victory march where the emperors and armies paraded through the arch and through the streets of the Roman Forum for all to celebrate. This particular arch is the Arch of Constantine, but there were several other victory arches still standing in the Roman Forum.
You’ll have to use your imagination to see the grandeur that would have been from the ruins that remain, but even without imagination it’s easy to see what amazing engineers the ancient Romans were. It was unbelievable really to stand in the shadows of these amazing ruins and imagine what it must have been like trying to build without the use of our modern tools.
Love from Greece,
Cathleen & Christopher