Within Rome, the old and the new sit together in harmony. It’s the ancient that proves the biggest draw for tourists though, and with sights such as the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Pantheon, it’s not hard to see why.
The Colosseum is one of those things that you just have to see at some point in your life. Construction was completed in 80 AD and though the structure has been partially ruined by time, it is still absolutely a sight to behold.
Definitely invest in ‘skip the line’ tickets though or you’ll be queuing for ages. You can also get combo-tickets which also give you access to the Roman Forum, which is a few minutes walk away, so this is advisable too.
Whilst the Colosseum is best known for hosting gladiatorial contests, in its heydey it also held animal hunts which featured imported creatures such as crocodiles, lions and bears. Those condemned to death would be torn to pieces by the animals that they faced.
However, the Colosseum fell into disuse by the Middle Ages and became overgrown and overrun by vegetation. This is hard to believe today when considering how many measures have been taken in preserving the iconic structure, and how revered and beloved the Colosseum is by the people of Rome.
A quick walk from the entrance to the Colosseum is the Roman Forum. You can easily spend an entire day ruminating over the ruins of what was once the epicentre of the greatest city in the world. The site was originally a marketplace in ancient Rome and the plaza is surrounded by the remnants of government buildings.
The whole plaza is brimming with what is left of architecture that has become so synonymous with ancient Rome, with the pillars that are left standing presiding over the Forum. The Roman Forum sits in a small valley beside the Palatine Hill. It is here that according to legend, the city of Rome was born.
Even at the height of the Roman Empire, the Forum was at the centre of political life in the city, but after Rome fell, the Forum became more and more a relic of the past.
On the other side of the city is the Pantheon. Completed by Emperor Hadrian (yes, the one with the wall) in 126 AD, the building is circular with a hole – an oculus if we’re being pedantic – in the centre of its domed roof, which makes the Pantheon a religious building unlike any other in Rome. Small holes in the floor directly underneath drain away any rainwater when necessary.
Unlike the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, the Pantheon is incredibly well preserved, which can be attributed to the fact that it has constantly been in use since its completion.
The Pantheon is even to this day used to hold weddings from time to time, and Mass is held every Sunday.