Archaeology buffs are spoiled for choice when it comes to exploring ancient ruins in Rome and below is some information about two of Rome’s most famous highlights that are not to be missed on a visit to the Eternal City.
Much of the success of the ancient Romans was due to their ingenious architecture. The Romans were the first to utilise construction as a method of managing infrastructure, urban administration and communication, and they did so by developing materials and techniques that meant they could create solid structures on a massive scale. These structures have gone on to stand the test of time and today, thousands of years after they were first erected, enormous ruins dominate the centre of modern Rome.
Surely the most thrilling of these ruins is the Colosseum, the magnificent gladiatorial arena with a brutal history, that was first inaugurated in 80 AD. The 50,000-seat amphitheatre was built above an underground complex where gladiators and wild animals were caged before being publicly pitted against each other to entertain bloodthirsty spectators.
When the Roman Empire fell in the 5thcentury, the Colosseum was abandoned but it has evolved over time into becoming known as the world’s most famous sport arena and Rome’s top tourist attraction. A section of the seats and floor has been recreated to give a sense of how it appeared to those fierce spectator’s centuries ago, and visitors now have access to the gladiatorial warren to see where the unfortunate souls were held before being thrust into the arena to fight for their lives.
The impressive sprawling ruins of the Roman Forum give a remarkable insight into the evolution of the Roman Empire. Originally an Etruscan burial ground in 7thcentury BC, the site progressed and became the social, commercial and political hub of the Empire, resplendent with basilicas, temples and vibrant public spaces.
Like the Colosseum, the Forum fell into disrepair after the fall of the Empire but excavations began in the 18thand 19thcenturies and are still being carried out today. Recently a light show was launched that allows visitors to go into restricted areas to witness the ruins being spectacularly illuminated and even projecting images of what the Forum looked like in its glorious bustling heyday.
The Roman Empire held court for over a thousand years and at its peak it ruled from the deserts of Egypt to the borders of Scotland. The remains of that empire can be found all over the world but undeniably the most important reminders are located where it all began. So, while in Rome, head to the ruins and stand right at the epicentre of the one-mighty Roman Empire.