Colosseum and the Ruins
When falls the Coliseum, Rome shall fall; And when Rome falls–the World. -Lord Byron
Many stories make up the blueprint of this magnificent structure and it’s believed that Rome wasn’t built in a day. If you’ve been to the Colosseum, you’d surely understand why. I call myself lucky to be even standing before this Wonder of the World – bucketlist #1. Kent and I reserved our second day for the Colosseum. We used our Roma Pass (48 Hours) because aside from access to all public transport, this pass also granted us free admission to one tourist attraction, in this case the Colosseum combined with Roman Forum and Palatine Hill (good bargain!) We didn’t have to go through a long queue because this pass alone has its own gate (double deal!) If you want a nice view of the amphitheater just like in the photos below, try to cross the street towards an elevated platform (you’ll spot it right away) before entering. Trust me, a few minutes spared for the perfect Instagram photo is definitely worth it. Because we didn’t go for an official tour of the place, we relied on Rick Steves’ audio for a detailed introduction. It’s the best – equipped with a clear map so you won’t get lost plus an informative commentary by Rick himself.
First impression? How did this astounding piece of architecture stand the test of time? I had to touch the walls for myself and be blown away by how these travertine blocks held thousands of spectators day in and day out. I can’t help but imagine those bloody fights and animalistic entertainment that have taken place in the arena. If it happened in modern-day Rome, it would have probably looked like a scene from The Hunger Games.
After an hour or so inside the Colosseum, we were ready to explore the Ruins (bucketlist #13). We didn’t have the luxury of time so we had to choose between the Palatine Hill or the Roman Forum. We decided to go with the latter. We went on a hot summer day so the heat was kind of wearing us down. It was definitely a wrong day to be wearing jeans but I had to suck it up since we were planning to visit the Vatican later in the day.
I find the story behind the Arch of Titus quite atrocious, so to speak. Back in the day when Roman Emperors regarded themselves as the most powerful, they required the people to worship them as their god. The Jews of Israel believed in only one God so the Romans had to cease and conquer their temples, and even forced them to be slaves and build this arch.
To get to the other side where the other important historical ruins are located, you have to pass through The Via Sacra. In the midst of the summer solstice, I thank the heavens for some trees to provide shade and Rome’s abundant water supply from the aqueducts. They say when in Rome, do as Romans do. So with this, bucketlist #8 done – drink water from the fountains like a local. We also got to see the world-famous original bronze door to the Temple of Romulus (I don’t know why the heck is that bronze door green, still intact and working after more than two thousand years) and the Temple of Antoninus Pius and his wife Faustina.
Looking at the forum’s main square, It is believed that this was where Rome itself was born according to the famous legend of the twin brothers Romulus and Remus. This place right here used to be the city center where all business and trade took place and was saturated with Rome’s growing population. History also introduced us to one of the world’s greatest dictator, Julius Caesar who by default was notorious in his political decisions but was able to make Rome rise to its full potential. That tiny little little space with a metal roof in the center was his temple, dedicated in his name by Augustus.
Touring the Colosseum and the Roman Forum refueled my ever growing love for world history. It took me a while to wrap my head around the fact that I was living and breathing the pages of my once old history textbook. Roman civilization thrived for a thousand years before finally giving in to its defeat during the reign of Constantine. It might have been the fall of the Roman Empire but the world gained much more, Christianity. I’m saying this because I’m Catholic :-).
Up to this day, this ancient city is very much alive – visible in its architecture, art, practices that we all still get to experience. We can’t be luckier enough.
Grazie Mille Roma,