Sunday, 3 July 2016

Up Early,

for our next day in Rome,

 after breakfast,

 we took a stroll,

 then back into the hotel as another group were leaving,

 along the road to the bus stop,

 and we were off, passing this strange looking piece of art work,

 and on to the metro,

 and in no time at all we were at the Colosseum,

 looking exactly like we have seen it,

 in so many pictures,

 in the distance,

 some more reminders of ancient Rome,

 but first a refrigerator magnet,

 we buy one at almost every place we stop at,

a panorama of the building,

whilst waiting for our local guide, we went to the upper road,

where one of our group offered to take a picture of us,

there is a lot of construction work going on nearby for a metro line I believe, which at the moment is running 3 years behind schedule, every time a start is made more artifacts are found so work has to stop to let archaeologist remove the find,

next to the Colosseum is the Arch of Constantine (Italian: Arco di Costantino), it is a triumphal arch in Rome, and was erected by the Roman Senate to commemorate Constantine I's victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312,

whilst on the upper road this chap drove past, offering a hop on hop, off service, I can only think it is going to be a bit crowded if two customers want to hop on with him,

looking up at the top of the building,

when there is no one in the way,

like this, you can see what look like small holes in the upper level,

these are for the posts that would support the awning that would be stretched over the seating area of the Colosseum on sunny days,

according to the Codex-Calendar of 354, the Colosseum could accommodate 87,000 people, although modern estimates put the figure at around 50,000, it has also been shown that when the show ended it was not a mass of people pushing and shoving to get out,   
each gate and area of seating had a number, in all the total time for the stadium to go from full to empty was estimated at just 20 minutes,

our local guide had arrived and we were off,

we went around the outer ground level floor,

a before and after view of what the affect of traffic fumes does to an ancient building,

as we were in a tour group we passed the long queues,

a glimpse through one of the archways to what awaits us next,

the archways themselves,

still have some messages and pictures to tell,

some with the original decoration,

still in place,

we went to the inner circle,

where the building looked so new,

but in some places weathered,

the view from near the Emperors seating area,

a quick pose from Diana,

and a look across the arena,

mentioned by our guide over the years many of the interior iron reinforcing stays were removed,

some 200 tons of them! so later ones were added,

like these,

to secure the building,

but if you look carefully in the center of this picture one of the originals is still in place,

the one that got away!

Diana strikes the pose,

our tour group,

making it's way to the spectator seating,

and for a brief glimpse here it is,

you may remember me saying how new construction was being held up by discoveries made as digging was underway, well this is one of them,

there are a number of pictures of its discovery,

and this is how it was found just a few feet below the surface in 2008,

the only Colosseum cat here today,

evidently there used to be hundreds of the here but with a system of stopping them breeding there is now just this one,

we continued our walk,

with findings being pointed out to us on the way,

the tops of columns,

and artifacts from gambling,

which seemed very popular at the time, well still is today I guess,

if only I read Latin I could tell you what this says!

all along the inner circle,

there were finds that were on display,

this one from the ends of a freeze,

and I guess the top of a column,

now this was interesting, some of the pulleys and weights that we were used to raise and lower the lifts from below the arena to the surface, this is one of 60,

below the surface oil lamps had to be used,

in excavations many animal and bird bones were found including camels, bears and ostriches,

our guide explain to us about the seating arrangements,

OK Colosseum history lesson 101, the spectators were seated in a tiered arrangement that reflected  Roman society, special boxes were provided at the north and south ends respectively for the Emperor and the Vestal Virgins, providing the best views of the arena, flanking them at the same level was a broad platform or podium for the senatorial class, who were allowed to bring their own chairs, the names of some 5th century senators can still be seen carved into the stonework, presumably reserving areas for their use, the tier above the senators, known as the maenianum primum, was occupied by the non-senatorial noble class or knights, the next level up, the maenianum secundum, was originally reserved for ordinary Roman citizens the plebeians or as we would say today the plebs, and was divided into two sections. the lower part was for wealthy citizens, while the upper part was for poor citizens, specific sectors were provided for other social groups, for instance, boys with their tutors, soldiers on leave, foreign dignitaries, scribes, heralds, priests and so on, stone (and later marble) seating was provided for the citizens and nobles, who presumably would have brought their own cushions with them, inscriptions identified the areas reserved for specific groups, at another level, the maenianum secundum in legneis, was added at the very top of the building during the reign of Domitian, this comprised a gallery for the common poor, slaves and women, it would have been either standing room only, or would have had very steep wooden benches, I have to say rather surprisingly for me some groups were banned altogether from the Colosseum, notably gravediggers, actors and former gladiators, but there it is,

considering how many people were here, every so often we almost had a part of it to ourselves,

we continued our walk,

looking at the way arches with their keystone had been made,

then to the arena itself,

if you have ever wonder why such places are called arenas,

an arena is an enclosed area, often circular or oval-shaped, designed to showcase theater, musical performances, or sporting events, the word derives from Latin harena, a particularly fine/smooth sand used to absorb blood in ancient arenas such as where we are today, in the Colosseum,

and here is a part of the arena filled in,

and a panorama of it,

it almost defies belief that all of this could be completed without modern day power equipment,

at the top level,

remains of interior staircases can still be seen,

whilst below,

the passage ways are in full view,

we continued our walk,

taking pictures as we went, this one a panorama,

we made our way,

back to ground level,

and entered the arena there,

as our guide told us,

it must have been so intimidating to appear there,

Diana took a rest,

then we were off again,

looking across what was once the floor,

opposite us,

where the stripes are is where the Emperor and his retinue sat, a later addition, a cross to remember the Christians that were thrown to the lions, but of course although still worshiped today our guide told us the whole story of throwing Christians to the lions is a pack of lies spread to discredit the early Roman culture, there is not a single thread or written account to make this fairy tale true, what is true is that 115 Christians were shot and killed with arrows in the arena, but then the victor always writes the history of the event!

by now we had moved around the arena,

and then made our way outside, what a fabulous place to look around,

next to the Colosseum is the Arch of Constantine (Italian: Arco di Costantino),

it is a triumphal arch,

and was erected by the Roman Senate to commemorate Constantine I's victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312,

we made our way from the arch way,

to join the queue to start our walk up to the the Palatine Hill,

we passed some of the steps,

on the left of our walk which led to the Emperors villa,

then continued, through a shady pathway,

looking back to the arch and the Colosseum,

this was the Emperors villa over the garden area,

but some of the walkway had collapsed,

giving visitors a chance to see what the original flooring looked like,

the trees hiding the damage to the Colosseum that happened in 1349, the biggest one, but there have been many earthquakes over the years, here is a list of some of them, including the one that in 477 lasted for 40 days!

almost everywhere you look,

archaeologists are at work,

I zoomed in to some of the viewing areas in the Colosseum,

with onlookers on the first,

and second floors,

at this point on our tour,

there was a bathhouse,

and these hollow pipes are the reason that is known, hot air would pass through these pipes to heat the water and rooms for bathing,

we continued our walk,

 to the Arch of Titus, this is the archway where out guide explained  tat Jewish slaves had been brought in to construct the Colosseum, the work on the Colosseum started in 73-75 A.D. and was almost completed in 79AD when Vespasian died, Vespasian's older son Titus saw the completion of building the Colosseum and the inauguration games in A.D. 81,

under the archway,

that commemorates this, it is easy to see a menorah in the freeze on the inside of the building, to this day the Talmud forbids Jews from walking under the Arch,

 to the side of the arch another building,

 with these statues above it,

 looking towards the forum, a square which was surround by important buildings and a meeting place,

 the Emperors villa over looks it all,

nearby a meeting place, 

where some of the original ceiling decorations can be seen,

looking back towards the Emperors villa,

there were a few more people as we stopped,

outside this door,

of this imposing building,

the forum itself,

just 3 pillars are left from the Temple of Castor and Pollux, it was originally built in gratitude for victory at the Battle of Lake Regillus,

we were now walking on the actual streets of ancient Rome,

we took a rest,

then had a look at the Arch of Severus Septimius,

and the statue of a chariot behind it,

our tour now ended,

so we started looking for a place to eat our lunch, the pieces of coconut looked nice,

and wandered along a few streets nearby,

and spotted another couple,

of original Fiat's,

Diana really liked the blue one,

one of the worst combinations in the world, me and a map!

but all was not lost,

as I knew my way around a menu,


and baked salmon,

the piece was huge,

and for Diana pizza,

one of the waiters kindly took our photograph,

and looking over Diana's shoulder the rest of the restaurant,

for dessert,

a shared ice cream,

we then spent the rest of the afternoon,

by ourselves,

exploring this part of the city,

no forgetting where we are, with the drain covers embellished with the letters SPQR, it is an initialism of a Latin phrase Senātus Populusque Rōmānus ("The Roman Senate and People"; Classical Latin: [sɛˈnaː.tʊs pɔpʊˈlʊs.kᶣɛ roːˈmaː.nʊs]), referring to the government of the ancient Roman Republic, and used as an official emblem of the modern-day comune (municipality) of Rome,

so many buildings to look at in the area,

with streets,

and stairs to walk along and down,

we found our way back to the Colosseum where the metro station was,

and a wedding photo shoot was just finishing,

by now it was late,

so a last pose,

a last look around,

and it was goodbye to the Colosseum,

and hello,

to the metro system, 

at the station where we had to catch a bus,

there was a small market,

so we just had to stop,

and have a look around,


back to the hotel,

a look at the pool,

then into the shopping complex next door,

it had a domed glass ceiling with a central meeting place under it,

as it was evening,

a bottle of bubbly,

to go with our evening meal,

it was a tiring day, but what memories we have of it, a nightcap for us at the hotel bar and we were off to bed.

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